Havana Holidays

Havana is often accused of having stopped its clocks when the US imposed its embargo. But behind the colonial architecture, bitter taste of cigar smoke and sweet rev of classic cars, the Havanan truth becomes all too clear: it’s kept on keeping on.

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Holidays in Havana

Spend the warm mornings wandering the old town and beyond (there’s free walking tours daily) to take in the mix of architectural styles and the charming rigmaroles of Havanan life. Workmen stop for espressos served from kitchen windows and families bundle into classic cars. Take long boozy lunches, siesta and save your saunter down the Malecón for when the sun is setting and the art deco haunts of notorious wise guys like Al Capone are at their prettiest. This is also the best time for the fisherman to make their catch and for poets to find inspiration. With the sun gone, head to La Floridita and La Bodeguita bars – famous haunts of Ernest Hemingway or if you want to spend the night on your feet, try Trinidad for live music.

Essential Information

Neglected and Preserved

No one could have predicted that the US embargo would have created such unique holiday experiences. Over the last half a century, Cubans have had to rely on their intuition to get by without modern amenities. This has given birth to niche skills and clever stop gaps. Watch self taught mechanics cunningly cannibalise car parts on the roadside. Tuck into meals prepred by matriarchs earning extra cash from the chicken, rice and vegetable side dishes raised and prepared in the backyard. Then there’s the colonial, baroque, neo-classical, art nouveau and art deco architecture, whose withered facades are often all the more handsome for wistful signs of age. Restoration projects are underway on those worst affected by heat, humidity and neglect.


Cuban art isn't refined to the gallery, it's hidden in plain view like street graffiti that stands out all the more for the lack of advertisements. Treasure hunt in bric-a-brac stores holding more genuine articles than mass produced undesirables - thanks to the embargo. As American relations improve, Havana's art community is rubbing its hands as their freedom of expression and markets simultaneously explode. Check out Fábrica de Arte Cubana for films, concerts and art exhibitions that take place in an oil turned art factory. You can grab a few beers after the day's action and then hit the cinema or the dance floor - all under the same roof. The creativity and flare has always been here, it's just now Havana's citizens have somewhere to showcase it.

Coffee Culture

Cuba was once a coffee producing giant but now the government subsidises beans to try and keep up with demand. Despite that, it’s the first thing you’ll be offered in a Habanero home; an espresso prepared from a rattle shack tacita on a gas camping stove. With the coffee comes the culture. Ideas and ambitions are spreading like wildfire as government restrictions become more lenient. Small businesses and not just cafes, are in their element. There’s a buzz around the arts and crafts scene as boutiques, workshops and galleries set up shop in the cities empty spaces.

Best Time to Travel

Havana has hot and sunny weather year round because of its tropical savannah climate and Cuba’s position in the belt of the warm, regulating trade winds. Normal temperatures for the November – April dry season are 20 degrees Celsius, rising to an average of 27 degrees Celsius in the June – October rainy season. Havana is somewhat protected from hurricanes (August – October) which tend to strike the south coast. The best time of year to travel is between the dry season and the wet season (springtime), when humidity is low and crowds are fewer than the peak months of December and January.

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