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. Museo de la Revolución

    Centro Habana | Museum/Gallery

    Batista's Palacio Presidencial, unsuccessfully attacked by students on March 13, 1957, was converted into the Museum of the Revolution after...Read More

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  • 2. Museo del Ron Havana Club

    La Habana Vieja | Museum/Gallery

    Housed in an elegant 18th-century mansion, this is one of Havana's best museums. A stop here provides a look at the history of Cuba's sugar...Read More

  • 3. Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes—Colección Cubano

    Centro Habana | Museum/Gallery

    Havana's fine-arts museum occupies two separate buildings, each of which deserves careful exploration. The original location on Calle Trocadero...Read More

  • 4. Asociación Cultural Yoruba de Cuba

    Centro Habana | Museum/Gallery

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

  • 5. Casa de Africa

    La Habana Vieja | Museum/Gallery

    This museum showcases a collection of art and various cultural artifacts from all over Africa. There's also a room dedicated to the orishas...Read More

  • 6. Casa de Asia

    La Habana Vieja | Museum/Gallery

    Housing an array of cultural treasures from all over Asia, this two-floor museum is well worth a look. It showcases a collection of exquisite...Read More

  • 7. Casa Natal de José Martí

    La Habana Vieja | 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. When...Read More

  • 8. Casa Simón Bolívar

    La Habana Vieja | Museum/Gallery

    Housed in an elegant colonial mansion, this museum is dedicated to the life of Simón Bolívar, a Venezuelan military leader who was instrumental...Read More

  • 9. Castillo de la Real Fuerza

    La Habana Vieja | Museum/Gallery

    Constructed in 1558 by order of Spanish king Felipe II three years after an earlier fortress was destroyed by the French pirate Jacques de Sores...Read More

  • 10. 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

  • 11. 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

  • 12. Centro Wifredo Lam

    La Habana Vieja | Museum/Gallery

    Dedicated to and named for the great Cuban Surrealist painter Wifredo Lam, who was known as the Cuban Picasso, this gallery and museum is just...Read More

  • 13. Fundación de la Naturaleza y El Hombre

    Miramar | Museum/Gallery

    This small, but fascinating museum focuses on the 17,422 km (10,825 miles) canoe journey lead by archaeologist and diplomat Antonio Nuñez Jimenez...Read More

  • 14. Museo Armería 9 de Abril

    La Habana Vieja | Museum/Gallery

    This old gun shop, and now gun museum, contains the vast personal arms collection of Fidel Castro, as well as other weapons used during the...Read More

  • 15. Museo de Arte Colonial

    La Habana Vieja | Museum/Gallery

    Directly across the square from the Catedral de la Habana, the museum's rich collection of colonial objects ranges from violins to chamber pots...Read More

  • 16. Museo de Artes Decorativos

    Vedado | Museum/Gallery

    The house containing this museum was built in 1927 and owned by José Gómez Mena, one of Cuba's wealthiest aristocrats. The collection is a staggering...Read More

  • 17. Museo de la Alfabetización

    Marianao | Museum/Gallery

    Located in a former military airfield, which has now been turned into a giant school complex called Ciudad Libertad, this museum is dedicated...Read More

  • 18. Museo de la Danza

    Vedado | Museum/Gallery

    This interesting and well laid-out museum explores Cuba's relationship with dance, specifically ballet. It focuses mainly on the history of...Read More

  • 19. Museo de Mexico

    La Habana Vieja | Museum/Gallery

    The museum aims to promote Mexican culture through a series of permanent and temporary art exhibitions....Read More

  • 20. Museo del Tabaco

    La Habana Vieja | Museum/Gallery

    This small museum, housed above a tobacco and cigar shop, provides insight into Cuba's tobacco culture, as well as the history of tobacco within...Read More

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