Intro to Havana

What’s there to do in Havana, Cuba? Well, a lot. Enough to keep you occupied for months, if not years. The city boasts musicians shaking maracas and belting out classic Cuban tunes all day long, beautifully laid-out plazas providing places for relaxation and people-watching in almost every corner of the city, as well as an architect’s heaven (or hell) with the stark contrast of well-maintained colonial-era buildings and crumbling, war-zone like homes in Centro Habana. Regardless of where you go, there’s no doubt that you will be experiencing a world you’ve never experienced before. Whether it’s your cup of tea depends on your own personal taste.

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A vintage taxi in Havana, Cuba known as a "colectivo"
A vintage taxi in Havana, Cuba known as a “colectivo”

Where to stay in Havana

Hotels – If you have some money to spend and want to stay at one of the more luxurious types of accommodation in Cuba, hotels are the  way to go. Fortunately, Havana isn’t in short supply of them.

Below are a few of the nicer hotels I saw:

The first casa particular I stayed in in Havana, Cuba
The first casa particular I stayed in in Havana, Cuba

Casa particulares Casa particulares are basically homestays. They range in price depending on where you go, but paying $35 / night in Havana isn’t unheard of. For comparison, I paid $35 / night in Havana, $25 in Viñales, and $15 in Cienfuegos and Trinidad. The owner of the home will most likely offer you breakfast for $5 and maybe even dinner for another $5. The quality of the food, and the food you receive, will depend on the casa.

I booked mine via a friend of a friend, but below are a few links to directories:

Hostels – I met two women who told me they stayed in a hostel in Havana for $5 via Hostelworld. After checking Hostelworld, I can confirm that there are, in fact, many hostels. However, the cheapest I saw is for $8.81.

A crumbling home in Havana, Cuba adorned with flowers
A crumbling home in Havana, Cuba adorned with flowers

Summary of Havana

There’s an endless amount to do in Havana. No, an exhausting amount. From museums to restaurants to salsa clubs, there’s no shortage of activities to do regardless of what you’re into. It’s a city with rich history, but what’s even more exciting is that history is still happening right now. With the death of the country’s six decade leader, Fidel Castro, Cuba is changing. People are becoming more informed and the air is electric. And, truth be told, the time to go was yesterday. But, now is as good of a time as any. ¡Viva Cuba!

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Mateo is a writer who quit his flashy job in NYC to live life on his own terms. He’s done everything from working at an orphanage in Nairobi to building a new university in Abu Dhabi to sleeping on volcanos in Guatemala. And right now, he’s working to get an agent for his book. His writing has been featured internationally in publications including Matador Network, Víkurfréttir, Caribbean News Now and Black & Abroad. Regardless of where he is, he’s always working. To keep up with him, follow him on Instagram & Twitter at @AskMateo and read one of his elaborate stories at SwagPapi.com

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