Havana Sights

To see La Habana Vieja and its many colonial palaces and Baroque churches at their best, plan to tour on foot. Although you could spend days here, you can easily see the highlights of Old Havana in two days. Make the fortresses across the bay a side trip from La Habana Vieja, and save the sights farther east, as well as the Playas del Este, for another day. Centro Habana also has many historic sights,

and it is here that you will truly see the sprawling everyday life of Cubans. The Capitolio, Chinatown, and Parque Central are must-sees for tourists, but a stroll in the southern reaches of Centro Habana and its dusty streets are an eye-opener. A tour of Centro Habana can begin and end at the Hotel Inglaterra and Parque Central. El Malecón, from La Punta all the way to La Chorrera fortress at the mouth of Río Almendares (Almendares River), is an important part of Havana life and a good hour's hike.

Vedado stretches from Calzada de Infanta to the Río Almendares and is difficult to explore on foot. Taxi rides to objectives such as the Museo de Artes Decorativos or UNEAC can be combined with strolls through leafy streets filled with stately mansions. Miramar, which stretches southwest across the Río Almendares, was the residential area for wealthy Habaneros and foreigners before the Revolution. A tour of its wide, tree-lined avenues is best made by car.

The streets in La Habana Vieja and Centro Habana have been, in European fashion, given such poetic names as Amargura (Bitterness), Esperanza (Hope), or Ánimas (Souls). Note that some streets have pre- and postrevolutionary names; both are often cited on maps. Throughout the city, addresses are also frequently cited as street names with numbers and/or locations, as in: "Calle Concordia, e/Calle Gervasio y Calle Escobar" or "Calle de los Oficios 53, esquina de Obrapía." It's helpful to know the following terms and abbreviations: "e/" (entre) is “between”; esquina de (abbreviated "esq. de") is "corner of"; and y is "and."

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Acuario Nacional

  • Zoo/Aquarium

At the national aquarium, you can learn about many of Cuba's 900 species of fish. Dolphin shows are very popular, and there are also...

Antigua Iglesia de San Francisco de Paula

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

The restored San Francisco de Paula Church stands in a plaza at the edge of the harbor at the southern end of the Alameda de Paula. Built...

Asociación Cultural Yoruba de Cuba

  • Museum/Gallery

The Asociación Cultural Yoruba provides a close look at African culture. The bigger-than-life orishas (Yoruban deities) on display...


  • Beach–Sight

Lying 18 km (11 miles) east of Havana, this tranquil crescent of sand surrounding a quiet lagoon is the first you'll come to along the...

Biblioteca Nacional José Martí

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

Along Plaza de la Revolución's northern edge is the National Library, which, with 2 million volumes, is Cuba's largest. You must call...

Cafe O'Reilly

  • Store/Shop/Mall

This newly opened café, housed in a beautiful old colonial building, complete with original tiles, is quickly becoming one of Havana's...

Callejón de Hamel

  • Arts/Performance Venue

This neighborhood project, directed by and featuring the painting (note the vivid street murals) and sculpture of Salvador Gonzalez Escalona...

Camera Obscura

  • Local Interest–Sight

On the northwestern corner of Plaza Vieja, located on the top floor of the early 20th-century Villa Gómez, you'll find the city's fascinating...


  • Building/Architectural Site

Modeled after Washington, D.C.'s domed Capitol building, Havana's Capitolio was built in 1929 and is rich in iconography. The statue...

Casa Natal de José Martí

  • Museum/Gallery

On January 28, 1853, Cuba's padre de la patria (father of the nation), José Martí, was born of Spanish parents in this humble house.


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