There’s an air of mystery that surrounds Havana for outsiders, and this is largely down to the number of years it has been shut off from the world. As more tourists start to flood through its streets, they’re discovering a number of fascinating features that still remain largely untouched
However, if you’re planning a trip to Cuba, there are a number of places you’ll want to visit while you’re in Havana, especially before the faint traces of days gone by disappear into the crowds:
1. Centro Habana
When you visit Havana you’ll probably spend a lot of time winding your way around its curved streets, but Centro Habana is one neighbourhood you’ll want to visit. Even though there are UNESCO designated sites dotted around Havana Vieja (which you won’t want to miss), Centro Habana is a vibrant district that’ll make you feel like one of the locals. As you walk the streets you’ll be greeted with wafts of heavenly food smells, sounds of salsa music and a warm welcome from the locals. It’s also a very safe area, so you can wander around with ease.
2. Colon Cemetery
El Cementario de Cristóbal Colón is named after Christopher Columbus, but this isn’t your average cemetery. Situated in the neighbourhood of Vedado, it’s jam-packed full of more than 800,000 graves, many of which have been put there by wealthy families who have ensured their tombstones are ornate and elaborate.
Set up a little bit like a city, the cemetery has different quarters, which have been established for various different groups of people. These groups vary from baseball players to bishops, with each having their own quarters within the 140-acre site.
There aren’t many places to have a rest and when the sun shines the white stones of the graves can be quite blinding, so always bear this in mind before you go.
3. Museo de la Revolución
Located in the former Presidential Palace, this iconic building was erected between 1913 and 1920 and was used by a number of Cuban presidents, ending with Fulgencio Batista. The interior was decorated by Tiffany’s of New York, and the Hall of Mirrors (Salón de los Espejos) was designed to look like the Palace of Versailles’ eponymous room.
The museum is arranged chronologically from the top to the bottom floor and focuses predominantly on the events before, during and straight after the Cuban revolution. The story told is incredibly compelling and is, of course, filled with plenty of propaganda.