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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  • 1. Finca Vigía

    Historic Home

    Even those convinced that they've outgrown their thirst for Hemingway will feel a flutter of youthful romanticism on a visit to Finca Vigía...Read More

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  • 2. Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro

    Habana del Este | Museum/Gallery

    Begun in 1589, Havana's landmark fort is named for the Reyes Magos—the Magi or Three Kings of Bethlehem, who are the patrons of its chapel—and...Read More

  • 3. Castillo de San Carlos de la Cabaña

    Habana del Este | Museum/Gallery

    In 1762 Lord Albemarle took El Morro for the English after a 44-day siege. A year later, Carlos III recovered Cuba in exchange for Florida and...Read More

  • 4. Castillo de San Salvador de la Punta

    Habana del Este | Military Sight

    On a point (hence, the name) directly across from El Morro, La Punta took 11 years to build (1589–1600), under the supervision of the same Italian...Read More

  • 5. Cojímar


    The fishing village Hemingway described in The Old Man and the Sea is modeled after this sleepy maritime hamlet where the author's wooden...Read More

  • 6. El Cristo de La Habana

    Habana del Este | Public Art

    Sometimes referred to as El Cristo de Casa Blanca for the eastern Havana municipality above which it stands, the 18-meter (59-foot) Carrara...Read More

  • 7. Guanabacoa

    Guanabacoa | Town/Village

    Once a small sugar and tobacco center, Guanabacoa is inhabited primarily by the descendents of slaves who worked the fields here. Though the...Read More

  • 8. La Terraza


    Cojímar would merit a visit even without its literary significance as home of La Terraza . From the opening curaçao —a frozen daiquirí made...Read More

  • 9. Museo Histórico Municipal de Guanabacoa

    Guanabacoa | Museum/Gallery

    Installed in a handsome, if somewhat rundown, colonial mansion, this museum exhibits a comprehensive history of Guanabacoa, with emphasis on...Read More

  • 10. Museo Municipal de Regla

    Habana del Este | Museum/Gallery

    This museum offers insight into Regla's history. During the Revolution, this area was a rebel stronghold known as La Sierra Chiquita (The...Read More

  • 11. Parque Lenin

    Habana del Este | Park (National/State/Provincial)

    This vast amusement park was popular with Cubans before the 1992 collapse of the Soviet Union. The penury of the Special Period, however, has...Read More

  • 12. Regla

    Habana del Este | Town/Village

    Probably named for a West African Yoruba deity, this seafarers' and fishermen's enclave retains a rough vitality. Originally a camp for black...Read More

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