Havana, the capital of Cuba, is the largest city in the Caribbean, and one of the most culturally rich urban centres in the world. The city’s appreciation of its glorious colonial past is on display at a dizzying array of castles, cathedrals, mansions and museums. The historic neighborhood of Vieja Habana (Old Havana) is a fascinating UNESCO World Heritage site, with over 900 landmarks, including the Presidential Palace and Cathedral Square.
But while history is treasured in Havana, culture is celebrated, shared and exuberantly enjoyed here. Cuba’s love of music and dance spills out in clubs, cabarets and impromptu street-side salsas. The city boasts some of the world’s best ballet schools and dance companies, and its theatre community is unrivaled in the Caribbean. There are lively film and comedy clubs, art galleries that range from the eclectic (along the pedestrian-friendly Calle Obispo) to the expansive (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes) and bookstores everywhere. Havana is a city that both inspires and reveres its writers, poets and philosophers. No wonder luminaries such as Ernest Hemingway and Federico Garcia Lorca put down roots here.
Havana’s long, shimmering coastline offers nearly 15 km of excellent beaches and unspoiled coral reefs that can be admired both above and below the sea. For those seeking an urban oasis, Lenin Park’s 670 hectares of green space give you plenty of room to commune with nature.
Even if you’re not a morning person, you won’t want to miss sunrise in Havana. Sip a rich brew of Cuban coffee and watch as the iconic city glistens in the golden rays of daybreak.
The Parque Histórica Militar Morro-Cabaña still marks the end of day (and closing of the old city gates) the old-fashioned way: with a single canon shot. Known as the cañonazo ceremony, this nightly ritual is a sure-fire hit with the kids.