While I’m definitely no expert when it comes to Havana, I wanted to share my favorite things I did while visiting. There were tons of things I wanted to do and didn’t get to, but these are the top 6 things I did–and recommend you do–in Havana, Cuba.
1. Make your own Perfume at Habana 1791
This was such a cool experience and the perfect souvenir to bring home. As you can imagine, there are tons of different scents to test out and pick from. You can mix as many as you like, or get just one scent. They let you test it on your skin and you can even walk around for the day and come back once you decide. I went with two different perfumes because I couldn’t decide on just one favorite. Also, the bottles you get them in are so cool. Perfect for pretty bathroom or vanity decor!
2. Eat at El Chanchullero
This was by far the best food we had the entire time in Havana. This little restaurant is hidden away deep in the city, but we were able to find it twice. That’s right, we ate there twice in the five days we were in Havana. The restaurant has a slight Hemingway theme, with a little reading nook area and menus served in envelopes, but the food and drinks are anything but gimmicky. The prices are dirt cheap and the portions are huge. Get the ropa vieja de cerdo and thank me later. Yes, the wait for a table might be long, but it’s totally worth it! I still dream about this food more than I care to admit.
3. Walk Around Habana Vieja
Habana Vieja, aka Old Havana, is gorgeous. It’s a touristy area, but something worth seeing while in town. We stayed in Habana Vieja, so we got to know the area well. This is where you will find all the old cars, souvenir shops, and street bands/dancers. The restaurants might be over-priced, but the atmosphere is fun and carefree. Definitely a cool area to explore for a day!
4. Have a Beach Day at Santa Maria del Mar
This local beach is just a short 20 minute drive from Habana Vieja. The streets are lined with vendors selling fresh cooked foods and beer. We went for a day and it was clear that this was the locals beach. Barely anyone spoke any English, but it was really cool to feel so immersed in Cuban culture. Read the full post on it here.
5. Drink Mojitos on a Rooftop
Not sure I really need to explain this one, but you can’t go to Cuba and not have a mojito. Enjoy it on a rooftop and you’re in paradise. Our Airbnb host actually served us mojitos on the terrace as a welcome. It was perfect! Another place we had rooftop mojitos was El Cocinero, but it felt too south beach for my tastes. I heard lots of English and I felt like I was in Miami, not Cuba.
6. Enjoy the Live Music in the Plazas
One of my favorite things about Havana was all the live music you would come across. There are countless latin bands, street dancers, and even a live orchestra in Plaza de Armas. At night, there’s a whole huge performance area in Plaza Vieja at one of the restaurants. After a few drinks, you just might be inspired to get up and join them!