Without question one of the world’s greatest cities, and certainly one of its most unique, Havana deserves at least 3 days of anyone’s time. With an endlessly fascinating colonial core full of museums and hidden treasures, Cuba‘s capital a great place for serendipitous exploration.
Start your day by hopping aboard the HabanaBusTour for a double-decker sightseeing ride, taking in most of the major sites. Be sure to hop off at the vast Plaza de la Revolución to admire the Che Guevara mural and to visit the Museo José Martí, dedicated to Cuba’s national hero. The tour departs Parque Central, but you can pick it up at any of 40-plus stops along the circuit. In the afternoon, you’ll find heaps to do around bustling Parque Central, including visits to to architectural gems: the Gran Theater and Capitolio (both are currently closed for restoration, but should be open by early 2016). Now stroll down the Prado boulevard before boning up on history at the Museo de la Revolución and admiring the stunning art at the nearby Museo de Bellas Artes. Close out your day with a de rigueur ‘Papa doble’ daiquiri at El Floridita—Ernest Hemingway’s favorite bar.
Don your walking shoes for a full day strolling the cobbled streets and plazas of Habana Vieja—colonial-era “Old Havana.” Begin in Plaza de Armas, where the city was founded, with visits to the Castillo de la Real Fuerza (the New World’s oldest fortress) and the Museo de la Ciudad, in the former governor’s palace. Next, Plaza de la Catedral, with its astonishing baroque cathedral and, a stone’s throw away, Bodeguita del Medio—where Hemingway supped his mojitos.
This afternoon follow Calle Mercaderes to newly restored Plaza Vieja, replete with places of interest to visit. One block north awaits the Museo de Ron, telling the tale of rum production in Cuba. Now walk west two blocks to Plaza San Francisco to end your tour.
Stroll the Malecón seafront boulevard to Vedado, beginning with the iconic 1930s-era Hotel Nacional. Next ascend La Rampa to admire the 1950s retro interior of the Hotel Habana Libre, saunter the grounds of the Universidad de la Habana, and savor an ice cream at Coppelia. Close the morning with a walking tour of Necropolis Cristóbal Colón, teeming with flamboyant mausoleums.
This afternoon take a taxi or ferry to the Parque Histórico-Militar Morro Cabaña—a twin castle complex where you might linger for the 9pm cañonazo ceremony, when soldiers in 18th-century uniform fire a cannon. Don’t leave town without thrilling to a show at the Cabaret Tropicana; Las Vegas has nothing on this!