Thursday, May 3
- Arielle: CHS-ATL. Delta #1836 7:30am- 8:55am
- Lauren: CHS-ATL Delta#1312 8:45am-9:58am
- ATL Crew: ATL-HAV: Delta #639: 11:35am-1:35pm (all 4)
The Havana airport was not what I expected. Customs and Immigration were a breeze. You do need to walk fast when getting off the plane to get ahead of all the other flights arriving at the same time. This will help you save time standing in line. I was not asked a single question or asked to show the itinerary to support my visa reason of “support of the cuban people”. They are generally disinterested in you. Once you go through customs, you get your stamp, then have to put your carry on luggage through a scanner again for immigration. They are not paying attention to the scanners so it’s really a non issue besides the lines.
We were astonished at what those government uniforms were for the women.
Once you’re through the lines and out in the pickup area there are a ton of people with signs. The bathrooms and where to exchange money is not obvious so it’s not easy to spot them. The bathrooms are upstairs in the check in area and there’s a boot up there with a person to exchange money. That line was very long so we went back downstairs to the ATL machines where you can exchange your cash or card there. It’s much easier and there’s someone there to help guide you. You can only do $500 at a time.
Make sure you exchange your money at the airport bc we did not see a single other ATM or way to exchange cash once we were in there.
(We exchanged our USD to Euros at our local Wells Fargo (not all banks do this) as well as in the ATL airport – Once you do this you can bring what you have left over within 30 days without paying a fee)
Note: the machines in Cuba did say that they accepted USD, however everything we read said said don’t bring USD, so we didn’t want to take that risk. Also, make sure you take extra since this cash is all you will have access to.
We then grabbed our ride that our Aribnb arranged and rode in to Havana. About a 20~25 min ride.
Our Airbnb. Click here to see
Host Name: Ne
Cienfuegos entre corrales y apodaca nº 61, La Habana, Cuba
Our host met us at the Airbnb and gave us a tour and all the keys. He introduced us to our housekeeper that came everyday at 11am. He left us his phone number and the wifi and off he went.
There also aren’t gas stations or little stores to stop in and grab a snack during the day if you get hungry. So we bought a lot of snacks to carry around with us during the day….we might have done overboard.
Walk Old Havana
We walked from our Airbnb which was one block off National Capitol Building square in old Havana. We walked along and checked out the Hotel Inglaterra, which is the oldest hotel in Havana and a fun spot for pictures if you enjoy retro signage!
416 Paseo de Martí, La Habana, Cuba
We continued weaving our way through the rubble streets to the Malecon to walk along the water to the Hotel Nacional. It was a few miles, but it was a great way to get acclimated with the city and get the lay of the land.
The water is beautiful crashing up on the streets, showing the people walking below. You’ll find brave fishermen standing in full rain gear braving the crashing of the waives trying to catch something.
We knew we wanted to see the Hotel Nacional as it’s one of the oldest hotels in Havana and has great history. It’s not near most of the other hot spots, so we wanted to knock it out and visit while watching the sunset enjoying a drink after our travels.
Enjoyed drinks at Sunset
Hotel Nacional – Central and historical hotel with a great, massive outdoor patio. View over the water and Malecon. We were told the restaurant has reliably good Cuban food though it’s perhaps on the higher end. However we did not end up eating there.
(We thought we wanted to go here, but were told it was a tourist trap) Havana Libre Hotel – Go up to the rooftop bar in the afternoon for sunset or evening, it’s an amazing view of the city and the pina coladas were top notch here too. It feels like you are in a club from the 60s.
Calle M, La Habana, Cuba
We did ask the valet guys a good place to eat in the area, but he honestly couldn’t come up with a place. So we headed back to Old Havana and picked a restaurant off of our Havana Page.
Oreilly 304 –This small but busy paladar puts out the best tacos in Old Havana and the freshest seared tuna in a hipster atmosphere. We read about this place ahead of time but it exceeded our expectations.
The pina colada was my favorite in Cuba. It was tapas so we just got a bunch of small plates and all shared. I highly suggest the ceviche and octopus.
After we finished up dinner we went right across the street to 303 O’reilly – bar/tapas, owned by the same people. Easier to walk into for drinks and snacks without a reservation. It’s on the second floor, and there is a large rooftop area definitely worth going up to. (We ended up coming back here two other times, great local spot)
O’Reilly #304 | Habana & Aguiar, Havana, Cuba
They had fantastic cocktails. We loved how they put the drinks all together with the tongs.
Friday, May 4
El Dandy– Nice small bistro, great atmosphere, interesting drinks. Try their El Dandy beer. A random off the beaten path square in front of an old catherdral. It’s away from the busy parts of the city while still in it, very pleasant spot to grab lunch or breakfast. (We loved it so much we went back two other times). We loved their iced coffee with milk (ask for a double) It’s very strong coffee but good! We also got some breakfast tapas here too. We shared the mexican eggs.
Aguacate 9, Esquina Chacon. Havana Vieja
OBISPO STREET – Head straight to Obispo Street in Old Havana to experience the most exciting part of town — and also the area you’ve likely seen in all of the photos.
Take in the colors, architecture, live music inevitably being played in the streets, and enjoy some churros or fruit from a cart to keep your energy levels high. We stumbled across a great (but expensive) juice stand. I loved it!
After walking for a few hours we found ourselves ready for a drink and walked down the alley way to NAO – (Move towards the Malecon to NOA Bar Paladar for some mid-day mojitos) — This spot is set in a cute little alleyway close to a wifi source with an ocean breeze.
Obispo No 1 e/San Pedro y Baratillo | Old Havana, Havana, Cuba
We spent about an hour here and then walked towards the water and grabbed an iconic pink car to do our riding tour.
Old Car tour: Tour in an old time car (convertibles are more expensive) $50 for a one hour tour. Pick them up and negotiate they may try to get you to stop for a cigar factory tour, say no; waste of time. Pretty much turn down all the other offers they tell you.
We grabbed ours next to NAO bar, which was right next to where the cruise ships come in. But another great place to grab them is Parque Central: 267 Agramonte, La Habana,
We had our taxi cab tour end at the Capitol square so we could easily walk home. We did swing by a wine store and got a bottle of rose for the house. We then headed back to our Airbnb to chill and get ready for dinner.
We didn’t have a plan for dinner so we figured we’d walk around and find a place off of our list.
We wanted to stop by ERNEST HEMINGWAY’S WATERING HOLE – End the night at El Floridita, a must-do for Ernest Hemingway fans as the writer frequented this now 100-year-old bar.
Obispo, La Habana, Cuba
Lamparilla Tapas y Cervezas – this is very near El Dandy. It was a great place we stumbled upon.
Lamparilla, La Habana, Cuba
All of these places have the tiniest upstairs sitting areas. They truly take advantage of every space.
This was also tapas, it was a great place with a fun atmosphere, great staff, and good food! We ended up making friends with the staff and even the locals sitting next to us.
The give you a little bell to ring when you’re ready to order…needless to say we had too much fun with this.
While we were on our way to the restaurant a young guy came up and gave us an invite to a “secret club” that’s invite only. We were super skeptical and wrote it off until we asked our waiter about it and they all had one too and were planning on going!
We decided to think about it while we went back to 303 O’reilly to the roof top for a drink. We had some wine and decided to go check it out. I would say if you go you’re likely to hear about it but I wouldn’t say it’s worth it.
Saturday, May 5th
>>>>Go Back to the AirBnB and get ready for dinner
El Cocinero – located in parts of an old industrial factory. All in all probably one of the best restaurant experiences you can find in Havana THIS IS RIGHT NEXT TO: FAC art bar
They have an awesome greenery wall out front that is prime for pictures. They sat us inside and it was okay, but ask to see if you can have a garden patio seat.
WatchAnthony Bourdain’s video on it
Art bar/gallery. Read Washington Post article on it. Click here
A meeting place where the best of the island’s avant-garde arts can be enjoyed with all the artistic manifestations under the same roof and with prices making it accessible to the majority of Cubans, this is a place where everyone is an artist.
Sunday, May 6
DAY TRIP –Vinales Valley Trip (3 hours away)
180 USD: 4 people
*** Payment in USD just for the tour. Payment in cash at the end of the tour.
*** You will need CUC (Cuban Convertible Dollars) for meals and other expenses in Cuba.
Schedule: The tour lasts 8 hours.
Normally we start at 7:30am until 3:30pm. Arrival in Havana around 7pm. *** Ride in each direction is around 3 hours.
Collection at hotel/ Airbnb or meeting point. At the end of the tour we take you back to your accommodation.
Program: The program comprises a visit to the city of Viñales, a ride around the valley of the same name and a stop at an authentic tobacco farm.
- Stop on the way to Viñales for those of you who wish to use the toilets or eat something.
- Stop at the Jazmines lookout point. Panoramic view of the Valley of Viñales.
- (Optional) Horse-riding (10 cuc per hour, not included in the tour price)
- Ride around the town of Viñales, as many stops as requested for taking pictures.
- (Optional) Visit to a natural cave (Cueva del Indio) (5 cuc per person, not included in the tour price)
- Lunch at a local restaurant (lunch not included in the tour price)
- Visit to a tobacco farm and purchase cigars directly from the farmers if you wish to. * Please note that at the farm you will have the chance to buy cigars directly from the farm, they will not be made in the factory but locally produced. The cigars will be fresh and of good quality but if you prefer quality certified cigars then we recommend the factories in Havana.
**This blogger did this exact tour, read about her experience here: http://www.gypsysols.com/cuba-vinales-days-havana-nights/
sia kara– A small-ish, casual in the best sense of the word, funky, artsy place with great drinks and good an excellent small-bites menu
Calle Industria no 502 | Esquina Calle Barcelona, Havana 0000, Cuba
Monday, May 7
Midmorning travel outside the city
Callejon de Hamel – **photographers dream. random street with art, graffiti, etc. – really, really neat to experience
Callejon de Hamel, La Habana, Cuba
Taxi from downtown Havana (about CUC$20). There is no charge (28 min taxi ride.)
Santy– sushi restaurant located in Jaimanitas on the Western outskirts of Havana just shy of Marina Hemingway.
Calle 240A #3023 esq. 3raC, Jaimanitas
**Reservation: La Guarida Monday, May 7th , 2018, for 4 people, at 7:00 PM.
La Guarida – (Lauren J. Friend) fanciest restaurant in Havana, but so so worth it. The setting is on the roof of a building you would never expect, views and atmosphere are amazing. There is also a rooftop bar.
Rooftop Bar La Guarida
Havana´s Legendary Paladar got better with the opening of a new cocktail terrace that offers fabulous views, funky vibe and Havana´s best bartenders.
We couldn’t end out trip without one last visit to our favorite bar, Oriely 304
Tuesday, May 8
- HAV- ATL Delta #648 2:35pm- 4:38pm Mary Sue & Kristian
- ATL-CHS Delta #1607 7:35pm- 8:50pm Arielle