After Cienfuegos and Trinidad, we arrived in Havana. We were able to pack a lot of sight seeing into just a few days. We explored Old Havana, visited a cigar factory, ate at paladares, and toured the National Museum of Fine Arts. We also visited Cuban artist Kadir López’s gallery (read a bit about him and Cuba’s flourishing art scene here and here) and Finca Vigía, Ernest Hemingway’s home.
Where to Eat: The paladares in Havana exceeded my expectations. The hosts were incredibly welcoming and the kitchens served delicious food. The paladares tended to be in beautiful and unique buildings, which made the meals all the more enjoyable. If you are in Havana, I would highly recommend visiting Starbien, Vistamar, La Guarida, Atelier, El Divino, and La Cocina de Lilliam.
Where to Stay: The Hotel Nacional is often at the top of people’s lists when it comes to staying in Havana. However, the once grand hotel is operated by the government and the rooms have become rather shabby. I would recommend stopping by the Hotel Nacional for a cocktail, enjoying the view and its role in Cuba’s history, and staying somewhere else. We stayed in the Vedado neighborhood at the Meliá Cohiba and enjoyed the hotel’s modern rooms, semi-reliable access to internet, and attentive service.
I look forward to visiting Havana again and seeing how the changing relationship between the US and Cuba transforms the city. For now, here is a snapshot of Havana in early 2015.