On our first day in Havana we hit the ground running or should I say cruisin’. We landed at 11:40 and had a 2 pm pick up for a five hour tour of Havana; part car part walking. This was one of the best things we did in Havana. I speak so highly of a guided tours because it gives you context for what you want to see and immediately gave us a history lesson and knowledge of the city. Our guide was an amazing lady that gave us so much information on Cuba as well as her perspective. Coming into a country with such severe regulations and laws it was very interesting to get the perspective of our guides.
We were picked up from our AirBNB in Vedado and started our tour with lunch at a cute coffee shop called Ca Fefortuna el Cafe de Miramar (Miramar is another neighborhood). Here we enjoyed the first of many ham and cheese sandwiches. We drove through the town and headed to the Casa Fuster or Park Guell of Havana. Here we walked around the house of Jose Fuster, artist behind the beautiful tile artwork, and enjoyed the color and views. We then drove to Bosque de la Habana, aka Forest of Havana, located on the Almendares River. It is a forest plopped right in the Havana and our guide said it is a forest they don’t have much of an explanation for on how it ended up there. We learned about a very popular religion in Cuba called Santeria, which is a syncretic religion, and this is where people come to sacrifice chicken. Tourist though will come for the beauty of the old banyan trees and luscious greenery. We saw multiple chicken heads on the ground and and groups congregating.
Next stop was the Reveolution Square where there are different memorials and buildings with large iron sculptures on them of infamous leaders such as Che. It is also where thousands visited and Fidel’s brother Raul recently came to pay their respects to Fidel after is death on November 25th.
That ended most of the driving portion of our tour and we headed to La Habana Vieja, the beautifully historic Old Havana. We had a cafe cubanito pick me up at El Dandy and then explored. We saw Plaza de la Catedral, Plaza Vieja, Plaza de San Francisco, Plaza de Armas, Castillo de la Real Fuerza (oldest Spanish stone fortress in Latin America) the second hand book sale…we pretty much saw it all!
Our final site to see was the Christ statue for a great view of the dazzling city because it is located across the bay for Old Havana. We were told that the Cubans feel it is a Cuban Jesus statue because in one hand he looks like he is holding a mojito and in the other a cigar.
At this point we realized how ready for drinks we were. Though we had the best guide, in my opinion, and the perfect first day in Cuba, we couldn’t avoid our bodies reminding us that we took a red eye to get here. We ended our night at 303 Bar for drinks and had already made reservations for dinner at El del Frente.
The drinks at 303 Bar were our favorite in Havana—I mean look at those photos. I had a passion fruit mojito and it was tart and not overly sweet and refreshingly minty. The drinks were creative and it was mesmerizing to watch them be prepared. We ate octopus, different bruschetta, soup, lobster, and fish. Day one was a success!
Takeaway from this post!
- Make reservations for restaurants if you can! Email or call when you are still in the US