Cuba: 4.5 days,4 nights

Old May 27th, 2017, 01:38 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2010
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Cuba: 4.5 days,4 nights

My sister and I are going to Cuba in June, and are seeking advice on where to stay and what to do in Havana and Varadero. We are 2 single ladies in our 30s and want to have fun submersing ourselves in the culture. We want to stay in a nice, safe hotel that is centrally located in both cities. Also any kind of tours or restaurant recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
karabearcb is offline  
Old May 27th, 2017, 02:27 PM
Join Date: Jul 2014
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You have very little time.
I would suggest staying in Havana. There are beaches 20 minutes from the city if that is a priority. Varadero is pretty, but not so much so to be worth the travel time/effort on a 4 night trip.
Get a guidebook like Real Havana.
Look at the monthly schedule of art, dance and music/clubs events/venues on as your departure date gets closer. There is also a long, rated list of restaurants.
Consider staying in a casa particular to get to know some Cubans. Try looking at CubaJunky or one of the other casa booking sites. (Avoid AirBnB for a number of reasons though.)
Most visitors stay in Havana Vieja or Vedado neighborhoods. You can see them both on video on YouTube.
SambaChula is offline  
Old May 27th, 2017, 03:09 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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I agree with SC that with that sort of time available you should concentrate on Havana. You won't run out of things to do even if you stick to the standard touristy things that you can do but as SC says, you can use to find out what else you could do that is a little bit different.

We spent our first 4 nights in a casa in Vedado which we liked very much because we met a lot of other travellers as well as the casa owner who was extremely friendly and helpful, [and felt that it was a gentle introduction to Havana which could be a bit full on at first] and after 2 weeks touring Cuba our last two nights in Havana Vieja which we felt more able to cope with as we already knew our way round.

Although it was perfectly safe, the casa we stayed in at the end of our trip I would not recommend for a first visit as it was in quite a rough looking area; once you've been there a while you adapt and realise that you are very safe everywhere, but there is a culture shock at first. The first one I would recommend; it was clean and reasonably comfortable, it has a garden to sit in and a balcony upstairs, where you have breakfast which was one of the best we had, and there is a very friendly atmosphere amongst all the other visitors.

We didn't do any organised tours in Havana but we did jump on the HOHO bus which has two routes - one goes west to Playa through Vedado and the other goes east across the river. We also [of course] took a ride in an old american car for an hour [also a good way of seeing the city, as they will take you along the Malancon and up to the Plaza de la Revolucion]. But it is essentially a city for walking - there is so much to see just walking round and looking. And as drinks are cheap, it's easy to sit down and refresh yourselves without breaking the bank. We found a bar that we liked on a street corner in Havana Vieja and went there at least once a day in order to watch the world go past, which was a lot of fun.
annhig is offline  
Old May 27th, 2017, 03:50 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 53,086
Here's a link to my TA entry for the casa "Hysteria Cartacuba" that we stayed in in Vedado:
annhig is offline  
Old May 28th, 2017, 02:34 AM
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You don't have time to see Havana and Varadero. There is nothing to see or do in Varadero apart from lie on the beach and Varadero is not a particularly pretty area. It is a peninsula lined with hotels so it is fine for beach time but nothing more IMO. Spend your time in Havana.

We stayed at the NH Parque Central in Havana which was perfect for us, being on the edge of Old Havana. Bar & cocktails were great, lovely breakfast esp pastries and coffee, rooftop swimming pool with views over the city, does not have much character but we chose it for convenience, comfort and location. I would recommend staying in or as close to Old Havana as possible.

We did not do any organised tours, just took taxis from outside the hotel and asked them to take us to various places eg Hemmingway's house etc. Did alot of walking, met and chatted to people along the way, visited museums, ate in paladares, had a great time.
Odin is offline  
Old May 28th, 2017, 03:24 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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I did not type "Hysteria" - trust me.

thanks for the review of the NH Parque Centrale, Odin. We didn't go in, though we walked past it several times. Looks as if we missed something. when we were ready to get the communal taxi back to our casa in Vedado, we often stopped for a drink on the terrace of the hotel on the opposite corner which was a very good spot for people watching, and not too expensive. The inside was interesting too - someone had had the idea of introducing a tropical theme with water and ponds, which was fun. no idea what it was to stay in though and if their public loos were anything to do by, I wouldn't bother.
annhig is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2017, 09:31 AM
Join Date: Jul 2017
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Since your trip is only 4 nights, I recommend you to stay only in Havana to save time, then schedule a one-day trip to Viñales, Las Terrazas or Varadero Beach depending on your interest.

Most visitors prefer to stay in Havana Vieja or Vedado neighborhoods since are closer to the main attractions.
peoplelovecuba is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2017, 09:38 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
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peoplelovecuba: Welcome to Fodors. karabearcb's trip was last month . . .
janisj is offline  
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