Robaina's plantation

Tuesday 6 June 2017

My Next Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Havana

                  Last year I posted something similar, it was my top ten (link below).
The places I'm posting about today are my next top 10, maybe not as popular as the touristy ones I posted earlier.

1. Napoleonic Museum.....located near the University, the museum is housed in a mansion that was once owned by Orestes Ferrara. There are more than 7000 pieces of artifacts under this roof, a combination of the collections of Julio Lobo (Sugar Baron) and Orestes Ferrara. The house is a copy of the Palace of Médicis and was named the Villa Fiorentina. The place is so photogenic, between the pieces of artwork and the house itself, you can easily spend over an hour in this place exploring the 3 floors. This museum is second best only to the original one located in France.
San Miguel Street #1159 e/ Ronda and Mazón, Vedado Entrance: 3cuc (Mon - Sat)

2. Walk Along Prado....Prado is a boulevard that runs from the Malecon (ocean) right on up to and past the Capitolio over to the Parque de La Fraternidad. The main part or the one that everyone knows is the piece from the Malecon up to where it opens up to Parque Central, or the other way around. There's a wide elevated walkway lined with trees and benches that runs down the middle of the street. The street is lined by some beautiful and some not so beautiful buildings, renovations are a constant. There's an interesting mixture of decay and beauty. You'll find a little of everything along this street; hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes, museums, wedding chapel, dance school..... The walkway is a great place to people watch and a great way spend some time, give yourself a couple of hours.

3. Callejon de Hamel Rumba Party.......Tucked away in Centro Habana is a barrio known as Cayo Hueso. A small street, Callejon de Hamel runs through it off of Calle Hospital, betwwen San Lazaro & Concordia. Here, an Afro-Cuban Art & Community have evolved. On Sundays the street bands of the barrio come to play in the early afternoon. That's the time to come. There is a large percentage of black (the religions being African) people but there's still a varied mix because of the Asian and Spanish influence in the country. If you want a seat come early, you won't be the only tourists here. It's perfectly safe and a must see if you're in Havana on a Sunday. The show ends around 3pm.

4. Jazz Music is everywhere in Cuba but Jazz, as well as there own Buena Vista Social Club style music, is played by many at a high calibre in several places in Havana. If you're a fan of jazz, you owe it to yourself to check out the venues I've listed below. It's shame none of them allow smoking any longer but they they still highlight some of the best jazz on the island.
Jazz Cafe; Top Floor, Galerías de Paseo, Corner of Calle 1 & Paseo, Vedado.
La Zorra y El Cuervo, Calle 23 y O, Vedado, tel. 833-2402
Cafe Miramar, 5ta Avenida No. 9401 esq. Calle 94, Miramar. tel. 203 7676

5. Havana Club Rum Museum.....I know this a little touristy but it is an institution after all. This once colonial residence owned by Count Mortera is the building used as the home of the Havana Club Rum Museum. The building on Avenida del Puerto was constructed between 1772-1780 and has been declared a Cultural Patrimony of Havana by UNESCO in 1982. The bar is always open to the public, no cover charge, just pay for your drinks. Otherwise, for a fee (7cuc), tours are given in several languages at different times of the day. The place has been set up like a Rum Factory showing all the steps involved in the manufacturing the alcohol. At one time, they said that a small amount of Havana Club was actually produced in this facility. After the tour you're taken to the bar for a sample of Havana Club's finest.
Museo del Ron, Avenida del Puerto 262, esq. Sol, Habana Vieja

6. Fabrica de Arte.....the idea of this place was to incorporate all artistic representations under one roof....Performance Arts, Cinema, Paintings, Video-Art, Photography, Live Concerts, Installations, Contemporary Dance, D.J.s, Exhibitions & Intranet (not internet) and in that they've succeeded. The brainchild of Musician X Alfonso, this spot is a must see. It attracts an interesting group of people, a side of Cuba that's rarely seen elsewhere or in such a high concentration. Although it's inexpensive for the tourist and privileged Cuban, the average citizen can't afford it. I'm sure that now that the place is better known internationally, it's visited by a considerable amount of foreigners.
Fabrica de Arte Cubano, 26 esq. Calle 11, Vedado. Thurs.-Sun. 8pm-4am Entrance: 2cuc

7. Local might think that Cuban food is boring or tasteless. That probably stems from where you've been eating it while on the island. I can agree with you, to a point, if you're only experience with Cuban food was at a resort. However, Cuba does have a cuisine, it's delicious and I say embrace it. If you have an opportunity to eat in someone's home, do it. Tamal, Garbanzo Fritto, Roast Pork, Yukka, Black Beans & Rice, Fried Banana, Flan, Rice Pudding, Lobster Stew....the list goes on. The best home cooked meals I've had have been outside the city, in Pinar del Rio and the Bay of Pigs area. I had Crab Stew & Crocodile for one meal on one of my trips. Just go for it, it may surprise you.

8. Baseball.....To say that Cubans love their baseball would be an understatement. Baseball came to Cuba in the late 1860's with the first official game was played in December 1874 at Pueblo Nuevo, Matanzas. The Cuban League was founded in 1878, Club Havana won the first championship that year. It grew rapidly in popularity and would mimic almost exactly the way the American Baseball League was created. During this period, Cuba introduced the sport to other Latin American countries: Mexico & Puerto Rico in 1890, Domenican Republic in 1891 and Venezuela in 1895. The new league of 1961 started with only 4 teams and today the league has 16 teams split into 2 divisions. The season is about 90 games that start in November and finish in April followed by playoffs. If you're a baseball fan this is great way to kill a couple of hours and check out some good baseball as well. Admission is only a couple of dollars for tourists and unless it's the playoffs your bound to get a good seat. By the way, you can move around to wherever you want inside (general seating) and cigar smoking is allowed. Bring your own snacks and booze.
Estadio Latino Americano, Calle Zequiera no.312, Cerro, Havana

9. Playa Santa Maria or The Eastern Beaches........just in case you want to take some time to relax on a beach, a 20 minute drive from Havana is all it takes. Most people don't associate Havana with beaches but not far from the city is a strip of beach that I would put on par with Varadero. You can get there by taxi for about 20-25cuc total one way or take the double decker tourist bus from 10am-8pm for 5cuc per person all day. Lots of places where you can grab a bite to eat and a beer or you can pay a daily fee and stay at the Hotel Club Atlantico Resort for the day.
Hotel Atlantico

10. The have to visit a local market, even if you're not buying anything. One in particular is really good but there are several large ones scattered around the city. The colours, the people, the noise and the smells, it's the real Cuba, you don't see too many foreigners here.
Corners of Corrales y Avenida de Belgica (Egido) Mon-Sat 8am-6pm  Sun 8am-2pm

That's it for my next group of attractions.....pictured below.

Napoleonic Museum


Callejon de Hamel

Jazz Cafe

La Zorra y El Cuervo

Cafe Miramar

Havana Club Rum Museum

Fabrica de Arte Cubano F.A.C.

Platano Maduro (Fried Bananas)

Roast Pork and Lobster Stew with Yukka and Black Beans & Rice

Tamal and Black Beans

Garbanzo Fritto

Estadio LatinoAmericano

Playa Santa Maria the Eastern Beaches of Havana

The Market

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