With a population of more than 2 million inhabitants, Havana is the largest city both in Cuba and in the Caribbean.
It was founded in November 1519 as Villa de San Cristóbal de la Habana by the Spanish Pánfilo de Narváez, and was the sixth town founded in Cuba. Due to its geographical position and the excellent characteristics of its bay, for centuries it was an obliged port of call for Spanish fleets, conquerors, and adventurers.
Havana is the administrative, political, cultural and scientific center of Cuba as well as its main tourist destination. Havana’s greater charm is the city itself.
Old Havana was declared by UNESCO as World Heritage Site in 1982 and in May 2015 Havana was officially recognized as one of the seven Wonder City of the World by the Swiss based New7Wonders Foundation.
Havana has 15 municipalities. In many of them you can enjoy visiting nice attractions and find a great place to stay. The municipalities that stand out to visit and stay are: Old Havana; Centro Habana; Plaza with the neighborhoods of Vedado, Nuevo Vedado, Kohly...; and Playa with the neighborhoods of Miramar, Santa Fé, Cubanacán and others.
Cuba’s capital attracts over a million tourists annually. Have Havana in mind as your first on your vacation list in Cuba: its culture, architecture and historical nature should make it a fantastic place to visit for people of all interests and background.
Old Havana has the typical appearance of a Spanish colonial city and a charm only captured while enjoying its coexisting ample contrasts, sounds, and colors.
Old Havana contains the core of the original city of Havana, the port which in the 17th century was one of the main shipbuilding centers and the many squares and churches built in baroque and neoclassic style. Much of the defensive systems created in the colonial epoch to protect the city from corsairs and pirates attacks are still there.
Numerous museums enrich the old city with their distinguishing attributes and historical values. Old Havana, with its fortresses, is the richest colonial set of Latin America and in 1982 was declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site.
Centro Habana municipality is located between Old Havana and Vedado. Paseo del Prado Ave. is the borderline between Old Havana and Centro Habana municipality.
Therefore, it is right where you want to be in the heart of it all, within easy access and at walking distance to everywhere in Old Havana, including other interesting sites in Centro Habana as Chinatown, Callejon de Hammel among others.
Along with Old Havana, Centro Habana is the most populated and overcrowded part of the city. It is a residential and commercial area. San Rafael St., a main shopping street in the city, traverses Centro Habana from the Parque Central westwards. The large Partagas tobacco factory, directly behind the Capitolio, is the biggest export tobacco factory in the country.
Walking around this area you understand why Havana is sometimes referred to as a City of Columns; almost every building displays either one or a mixture of the Corinthian, Doric or Ionic types of column.
Between Centro Habana and the right bank of the city’s major river, El Almendares, is El Vedado neighborhood, considered by many as downtown Havana.
The enclave, which formerly served as a security perimeter against possible attacks to the city started in 1859 with the section named El Carmelo, next to the mouth of the river.
El Vedado has lush green looks, boulevards with a central pedestrian promenade covered by trees, spacious parks, wide regular streets lined by trees and an eclectic architecture. This populous area actually is socially heterogeneous. There you can find great hotels, nightclubs and cabarets, movie theatres, art galleries, restaurants, museums and shopping malls. In addition, it’s the seat of the bicentennial University of Havana, the famous Malecón (sea front boulevard), considered the most characteristic image of the city, La Rampa (Vedado's heart at 23rd Street), the Square of the Revolution, the José Martí Monument, the impressive Hotel Nacional de Cuba and Colón Cemetery among other interesting sights.
Nowadays, El Vedado is one of the main entertainment areas of Havana.
Nuevo Vedado & Kohly
Kohly & Nuevo Vedado neighbourhoods are located in a quiet sector of the city, in spots blessed by privacy and natural beauty in the centre of Havana.
Kohly & Nuevo Vedado are close to the residential neighbourhoods of Miramar and El Vedado, so you have an easy access to the major cultural and recreational sites of the city, as well as to Old Havana. These neighbourhoods are the perfect places to stay if you want a central accommodation in a peaceful environment.
Nearby Havana Forest (El Bosque de La Habana), both areas are advantageous as a unique alternative for people who seek rest and tranquillity, by staying away from the city’s noise and atmosphere, and at the same time, it’s just minutes away from any spot of the city.
Havana Forest, by the banks of El Almendares river, is characterized by exuberant vegetation, huge trees full of lianas curtains and a ground covered by grass. It’s considered the green lung of Havana.
The neighborhood, stretched along the west coast, is infused with the healthy and salty air of the sea front, just 16 km away from the old city and aesthetically speaking it’s a different world.
The Fifth Avenue leads to the residential area of the neighborhood, which is the orbit of the entrepreneurial and business Cuban world. Settled in the west side of El Almendares River, Miramar is easily reached via two road tunnels and bridges. Enjoyable to the eyes, it’s a relaxing strolling background of broad avenues lined with art nouveau mansions of the beginnings of the 20th Century, graceful fountains, romantic parks, embassies, expensive hotels, restaurants, big churches and boutiques.
The Fifth Avenue, built in the 20th Century, is the most beautiful avenue of the country.
At Miramar you will find also few interesting museums, small beaches, many shopping centers, grocery stores, National Circus and National Aquarium.
Havana's eastern beaches
Crossing the nearly 800 m long tunnel under the Havana Bay you will star the journey to Havana’s eastern beaches, located at just 20’ drive from city center.
Havana beaches take more than 10 km strip of white sand and crystal clear waters for those who love the sea and sun. Havana beaches include Bacuranao, Tarará, El Mégano, Santa María del Mar, Boca Ciega and Guanabo.
Bacuranao Beach is the closest to Havana and very popular within Cubans. Santa María del Mar, Tarará, El Mégano and Boca Ciega beaches are pleasant beaches. In summer they are crowed by locals, who spend the whole day on the beach and return home in the evening. Underwater shows beautiful coral reef landscapes.
Guanabo is a charming small seaside town with a good beach and a nightlife provided by many discos, bars and restaurants.
You can head to any of these beaches on Habana Bus Tour.