As a frequent traveler, I find that I don’t usually like to return to a place I’ve already been, because, frankly, there are so many more places to see. However, every time I return to Cuba, I remember why I keep coming back. It is one of those special places where the people have everything to do with why you go. The incredible food, nightlife, coffee, dancing, and art are also top reasons to visit this beautiful country.
There is a misconception among Americans that Cuba is new to tourism because we haven’t been able to go in the past and it is still quite restricted. However, Europeans, Canadians, and pretty much everyone else in the world have known about this culture time capsule and have been enjoying it for years.
One incredibly important thing you have to face before you go is that you will MOST LIKELY be completely off the grid. No matter what anyone tells you or what you’re able to read on the internet, the Cuban internet is one entity. There’s only one company and it’s extremely inconsistent. You can buy wifi cards and some hotels, specifically Malecon 663, provides wifi for all guests as long as it’s available to them. Most US cell phone companies do not have service here or if they do, they charge you $10 per MB or $5 per minute for a phone call. If you want to escape to a place where your friends won’t be looking at their phones all day, this is the place for you. It’s actually one of my favorite things about Cuba. We recommend downloading google translate and the Spanish dictionary in advance as well as maps.me which is a free offline gps app. Cubans are incredibly friendly so it’s easy to ask for directions and get help with whatever you need.
For dinner, our favorites are Dona Eutimia, La Guarida, Tierra at FAC, La Esperanza and a little gem called Cafe Laurent. Most places need reservations and some require sleeves. Cubans pride themselves on attire so there are dress codes a few places but it mostly relates to no tank tops or shorts for men.
If you like cocktails, we love SiaKara specifically for the live music and performers as well as the unique vibe and delicious libations. O’Reilly 304/El del Frente is also perfect for rooftop drinks and also happens to be one of the hottest spots in the Havana foodie scene. If you’re looking for an upbeat jazz bar, EFE is the perfect spot in Vedado. And of course, the Cuban Art Factory (Fabrica de Arta) is one of our favorite spots for just about everything – drinking, eating, art, music, and dancing.
Dancing is like breathing for Cubans. Not only are they great at it but everyone is always doing it. If you’re looking to get in on the action Casa de la Musica is one of my personal favorites as well as King Bar. Other options include: Hotel La Florida, El Turquino, El Sauce, Don Cangrejo, Sarao, Fantaxy, and so much more. Just ask your hotel or Airbnb host for the best place to go dancing on whatever day it is and they’ll have at least two choices for you!
I could go on forever but on a final note, Cuba is incredibly safe. With the exception of very kind people trying to sell you things to make a living, no one will bother you. In fact, if someone is talking to you, they’re most likely trying to help. I’ve never met such genuine, happy, incredible people.
If you have any specific questions or anything you’re interested in knowing more about, reach out to us at [email protected]