Going to Cuba was always on the first line of my bucket list, but honestly I have no clue why I didn't go earlier. So while taking an 8 months sabbatical I decided to go, and I took with me the best travel partner ever, my beautiful mom!
I started investigating on where to stay because apparently you can't use credit or debit cards there (actually you can but it's very restricted so take cash!), and the hotel booking sites do not include Cuba on their destination for political issues, the few outdated hotels in Havana i found are extremely expensive for what they really are, so a friend of mine suggested to rent a house on www.airbnb.com, we rented the second floor of an amazing old style Havana house, usually Cubans rent part of their houses to foreign visitors for a very cheap price, we paid about $25 a night for 2 (I think is very cheap right?) and honestly I was AMAZED by our host, actually by Cubans in general. She prepared breakfast for us, suggested places, and her husband drove us around the city up and down! heaven!
Cuba is a very interesting place, besides the country itself is the interaction with the people in the street, I’d also recommend you to chat, meet, ask around people cause you will see what I am talking about, a very interesting thing in Cuba, and for those who know me well I am very esoteric, I read the Tarot and I am very interested in Esoteric arts and Cuba is very big on it, so I met a Babalawo, which will be a sort of priest or spiritual guide in a afro religion, he interpreted some runes to me and if you get the chance to do it, or like this things go for it!
Things I’d suggest you to:
- Stay in a house rather than a Hotel, i promise your experience will be much much better, even if you don't speak Spanish.
- Bring cash in Euros if you can (dollars of course also work)
- Shampoo, toothpaste, etc. if you are staying in a house as they are not easy to find, if you take only a carry on, get the small ones.
- do take a stroll in a convertible old taxi... its about 20 CUC ($ 20) and its really worth it, I promise you will take a lot of Instagram pics there lol.
Places to visit that are no so cheesy:
-Plaza vieja and the beer pub in the corner.
-El Buda, where you can find the best mojito, is in the street that links Plaza vieja with Plaza San Francisco.
- The square of the cathedra and the cathedral, also in the corner there is always music at night, half block away you will find “la bodeguita del medio”
- The Aduana building, and the Handcraft center (is really huge warehouse full of handcrafts and art done by Cubans, my mom got crazy there and bought half of the place)
- Plaza de armas, the museums around, and the used book shops.
- Calle Obispo from the Plaza de armas till the central park, there you will find the Capitol and in front the Spanish restaurants,
-Nearby is “la floridita” (just ask around its easier) and have a Daiquiri next to Hemmingway.
- Have a walk on the Paseo del prado from the Malecon until the capitol (for those who watched the Chanel runway show last year, it was there).
- Plaza the la revolucion (revolution square)
- El Vedado neighborhood, the National Hotel (amazing)
- a Walk from the university of Havana on Neptuno street until the Hotel Telegrafo to see the city center of Havana.
Long story short : CUBA IS AMAZING!
PS: i wrote the name of the places in Spanish so you can ask around easier :)