Top Ten Havana, Cuba (Top Ten Things to Do and See in Havana, Cuba)

Top Ten Havana, Cuba

Photo Credit: Cuban.Habana.Malecon. Antonio Milena for Agencia Brasil. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cuba.Habana.Malecon.01.jpg

Top Ten Havana, Cuba:

1. Take a Ride in a Classic Car. Since the Cuban Revolution in 1959 the level of trade in Cuba has greatly diminished.  As a result of very few new imports, there are tons of classic build American cars still in use today and a ride in one is a must.  You can pick up a car on the street, just like a standard taxi for a fun experience.

2. Have a daiquiri at the Floridita. Famous for being a  favorite hang out spot for Ernest Hemingway, the restaurant and bar is well known for its daiquiris.

3. Hang out at the Malecon Sea Wall. When in Cuba, do as the Cubans do.  In the evenings, you can find tons of locals hanging out on the sea wall.  Grab a bottle of rum and head down to relax and people watch at the Malecon.

4. Experience Cuban Cigars.  Cuba is world famous for its cigars. Whether you want to smoke one yourself or watch them being hand rolled, cigars are a huge part of Cuban culture and something worth experiencing.

5. Go to the Cannon Firing Ceremony. Every evening at 9 P.M. there is an elaborate ceremony at La Cabana to reenact firing a cannon over the harbor.  The ceremony is quite touristy, but its a free way to pass some time and the fort offers some pretty night views of the city.

6. Drink an authentic Mojito.  Havana is the birthplace of the Mojito and you can find one just about anywhere you turn in the city.

7. Explore the Hotel Nacional.  The Hotel Nacional is a luxury hotel that boasts famous guests from Frank Sinatra, Winston Churchill, Backstreet Boys, and all kinds of performers and diplomats in between.  The hotel has a room dedicated to documenting all the celebrities and notable guests that have stayed there.  Castro took over the hotel during the Cuban Revolution and used it as headquarters for the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Now, the hotel is back to its original purpose with the lobby and grounds in all their glory.

8. Dance at the Buena Vista Social Club.  The Buena Vista Social Club was a members club which became a very popular place for musicians to come perform in Havana.  The Club was shut down during the Cuban Revolution and the original has never been reopened.  However, Cafe Tebarna offers a dinner show replicating the Buena Vista Social Club.  The shows involve a dozen or so performers playing instruments and singing,  along with some latin dancers.

9. Dine at Paladar los Mercaderes.  Delicious Cuban cuisine in a great setting.  The owner takes great pride in the restaurant and is focused on service details, like sprinkling rose petals along the stairway to the restaurant each day.

10. Spend the day at the beach. Havana is not your typical Caribbean destination in that there really isn’t beach access within the city.  It is much more like a European city than a Caribbean hot spot.  However, you should still consider setting aside some time to hit a Cuban beach.  The most popular option, Playa de Este, is 20 minutes East of Havana by cab.  You can also arrange day trip excursions to more scenic or secluded spots on the island if you’d prefer to snorkel.

7 Tips to Make the Most of Your Carry-on

With stringent luggage rules, you aren’t left with much room to pack clothing and other goods in your carry-on.  Here are some suggestions to help you make the most of that space.

  1. Wear layers of clothing on the flight.  A great way to get some extra outfits in for your trip is to wear layers of clothing.  Throw an extra plastic bag or reusable shopping bag in your suitcase to put the extra clothes in later.  Always wear your bulkiest shoes and fluffiest sweater or jacket since they won’t condense well.
  2. Pack small objects such as socks and underwear in your shoes. If it is small enough to fit in something, put it there.
  3. Pack your biggest and least moldable objects first, then squeeze softer objects around those items. Pack shoes, bags of toiletries, and anything else that cannot be forced into an odd shape first, then bend your t-shirts and pajamas around them.
  4. If you don’t need it, leave it.  Europeans are known for wearing the same outfit for days in a row, no one is going to notice if you are wearing the same pair of jeans.  Trust me.
  5. Pack dark clothes and plain clothing. If you pack dark jeans and plain clothing, your friends are much less likely to notice you wearing the same shirt in all 300 photos you upload.
  6. Pack accessories. A great way to trick people in to thinking you are wearing a different outfit is by changing something simple like a scarf.  Especially in winter months, focus on packing more of what people will actually see than shirts that will end up hidden under your coat.
  7. Spacebags are a lie, and irritate fellow travelers. One girl I have traveled with a few times carries the travel version of spacebags with her for short trips.  I guarantee I fit 3x more clothing in my backpack than she did, the hard plastic bags do not optimize space in any way.  Plus they are loud and take way longer to pack in than just rolling your clothing. The only thing spacebags are truly useful for is pillows or other incredibly fluffy items with tons of excess air in them.