Ernest Hemingway lived in Havana for around 20 years.
He wrote some of his best novels right here in front of the Caribbean Sea and was known for his admiration of the local people.
This famous artist never got tired of walking around this amazing city or admiring its old architecture and it’s unlikely that if you visit this incredible city, you will either!
And so I decided to compile a list of the 5 dream spots that you should never miss when you come to Havana.
Utilising the wonderful local advice from tour guide Javier Rodriguez, who is also a writer and just published his first novel, I’ve assembled this fantastic catalogue.
And so here they are, the must see 5 places in the sensational Cuba’s capital: Havana…
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This article was sponsored by Strawberry Tours
#1 La Fortaleza de Punta
This fortress is at the very end of the Malecon of Havana.
“From here you can see the best and most romantic sunsets of Cuba”, says Javier.
#2 La Plaza Vieja or the Old Square
Javier explains that this square was destroyed by Fulgencio Batista, but in 1970 it was lovely restored and today maintains its stunning colonial architecture style.
#3 The Castillo de la Real Fuerza or the Royal Fortress Castle
This was the second strongest fortress built by the Spanish conquerors in Latin America.
The legend says, according to Javier, that a woman died next to its walls waiting for her husband and now there is a statue in her name, known as La Giraldilla.
#4 The San Francisco de Asis Square
For almost 200 years, Cuba was known as The Key to the “New World”.
The San Francisco de Asis Square, which faces the harbour at the entrance to Old Havana, was the centre of this “new America”.
Here the merchants and conquerors would bring commodities, fabrics or slaves to trade.
Today the city has carefully restored the buildings and cobbled passages of this historic location.
#5 Fortaleza San Carlos de la Cabaña
This was the largest fort that the Spanish ever built and it sits on top of La Cabaña hill.
Here you can find the famous Jesus Christ of Havana and the old little house where Ernesto Che Guevara lived.
Seeing Havana’s Top Spots for Free
And the great news for budget travellers is that seeing these 5 dream spots in Havana needn’t cost you the earth.
In fact all of them can easily (and cheaply!) be admired by taking of one of the fantastic Strawberry Tours.
Created in London in 2013, Strawberry Tours is a super start-up company that has operated in Havana since December 2017.
They specialise in free walking tours and run operations in 7 cities around the world, offering visitors authentic experiences with local guides.
In fact, Javier – the great man who gave us these top 5 spots – is the City Manager of Strawberry Tours in Havana.
He recommends starting your time in Havana with the Keys of The New World tour, which covers most of the historical centre of this incredible important capital.
After the first tour, Javier then recommends you learn more about the interesting transitions in Cuba’s government over the years by joining the free Revolutionary Tour, which also takes place in Havana.
Evening in Havana
And then what better way to get into the real spirit of this Latin capital than by dancing salsa in a rooftop restaurant?
The Havana NightLife Tour, also free, starts at Bar Floridita, which just happened to be Hemingway’s favorite too.
There’s even a drink here with his name on!
Local legend also states that Hemingway brought a number of notable writers to the bar like Tennessee Williams and Jean-Paul Sartre, so when you come here you’ll be mingling with some great company!
The Havana NightLife Tour is also very special because it ends at La Terraza de Manolo – a restaurant with an amazing 360-degree view of Old Havana where you can salsa with professional dancers.
“Dancing salsa in Havana is a living experience every tourist enjoys very much,” says Javier.
“It’s great because most get involved; they don’t just stand and watch the show, they make their moves in the city too!”
So how do you reserve a free walking tour in Havana with Javier?
The answer is simple!
As a visitor to Cuba all you have to do to experience this magical slice of Havana is book your spot via the Strawberry Tours website, then show up at the designated meeting point and just get on with enjoying the experience!
At the end you’ll have the choice to tip the guide… but only if you really love the tour.
Yes all Strawberry Tours are run on a “pay for what you think it’s worth basis”, allowing everyone to have fun without spending a fortune!
Perfect for budget travellers!
And the one detail that Javier loves to let tourists know too, is that 10% of their tips go directly to a local charity project.
In Havana, Strawberry Tours supports PAC (Animal Protection of Cuba), an organisation that rescues street dogs and cats giving them shelter and food.
So not only are Strawberry Tours great for your wallet, they’re great for Havana too!