When we think of Cuba we typically think of cigars, beaches and classic American cars cruising around. Havana, we can assure you, isn't different in that sense, but instead carries with it a unique atmosphere and a buzz of excitement that is hard to find elsewhere. Whilst ongoing construction and upgrades noticibly line the city streets, the sound of live music performances and bustling restaurants typically drown out the machinery within a street or two. Havana is readying itself to be the next big thing.
Be sure to make time for a day or two in Old Havana full of colourful, colonial buildings many of which steeped in history waiting to be discovered. Towards the top of your list should be Capitolo Nacional which was built as the Senate and House of Representatives. Believed to have been built as a replica of Washington, DC's capitol, the building also features the familiar dome and also holds the largest indoor bronze statue in the world - of Pallas Athena (who is notably the goddess of law and justice amongst other things). The grounds of the Capitol incorporate a beautiful garden, the National Theare and the Partagas Cigar Factory making it well worth a day trip.
For one of the best ways to see Havana (without getting behind the wheel of a classic car) board the delightfully traditional Hershey Train. Departing from the east side of Havana Harbour, the train runs all the way to Matanzas (around 100km from Havana) a cultural hub branded as the "Athens of Cuba". You'll see small villages and farms along the way and can jump off (and back on later) at almost any point. Most notably, you'll pass the village of Hershey, where the sugar refinery makes for a daunting sight and a reminder that this train used to serve the chocolate industry, ferrying workers around. Whilst it makes for a thoroughly enjoyable and nostalgic ride, the Hershey Train's reliability (or any other form of public transport) shouldn't be relied on too heavily.
The authentic Cuban experience can also be found with a venture down Havanas Malecón, a picturesque 8km drive riding alongside the sea. The impact of the Malecón is most notable around sunset, when a gorgeous yellow glow envelopes the area, acting as a catalyst for inspiration, reflection and romance. For more of the same feeling, head back into town and join in the Cuban lifestyle at a live music venue (often outdoor), jubilant bar, or by celebrating the works of local artists who you'll find are held in much higher regard than you may be used to!
Find your perfect Havana experience here