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Travel

Travel Guide: Havana, Cuba

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Steamy nights dancing to rumba. Sipping cold mojitos on a patio while soaking up views. Cruising down the vibrant streets in vintage wheels. Havana is pure magic.

Politics aside, Cuba is one of the most breathtaking places I’ve ever experienced. There’s a reason why American novelist Ernest Hemingway sailed away from his home in the Keys to embark on a 30-year love affair with the island. From the amazing architecture to the music to the incredibly kind (and ridiculously stunning locals), this tiny stretch of land in the Caribbean Sea is definitely worth diving into.

STAY

Hotel Nacional

Located on the sea front, commanding views of the Malecón, this iconic hotel was opened in 1930 by the managers of the Plaza Hotel. Some of the most famed guests include Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, and Marlon Brando. The grounds are dripping in retro glamour and the breezy garden terrace is a prime place to unwind.

EAT

El Dandy

Part café and part art gallery, this hip haunt is tucked slightly away from the bustling main streets. Adorned in retro posters, photographs from local artists, and a plethora of vintage antiques, it’s the perfect place to nosh on tapas while taking in the uber-bohemian vibes.

O’Reilly 304

One of the city’s most popular hangouts, O’Reilly boasts the meanest ceviche I’ve ever had. The cuisine here is pure Latin punctuated by Mexican accents, and the cocktails are delectable and totally innovative. It’s a great place to grab a seat on the mezzanine and take to people watching.

DRINK

El Floridita

You simply cannot visit Havana without making a pit stop at Hemingway’s most-famed watering hole. It may be a bit touristy, but it also claims to be the “birthplace of the daquiri” so it would be a crime to not at least check it out.

La Esencia

Located in neighboring Vedado, this restaurant-slash-bar is housed in an 1880s mansion. Bumping Cuban all-time favorites and international hits, it’s easily one of the trendiest spots in Havana.

DO

Fabrica de Arte Cubano

One place that literally everyone recommended to me, and I failed to ever make it to, is the Cuban Art Factory. Located inside of a former cooking oil factory, it’s the premiere place to catch live music, theatre, or multimedia performances. Havana’s most buzzed about cultural center is only open Thursday to Sunday, so be sure to add it to your itinerary before heading out.

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