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Havana was once the pearl of the Caribbean. Treasure fleets assembled here for the passage to Spain. The wealth poured in to castles, cathedrals and palaces. Habana Vieja (Old Havana) — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — is chock-full of fascinating museums, including the Museum of the Revolution and the Fine Arts Museum, boasting a world-class collection of art. Nearby, the Gran Teatro and the Capitolio (the old Congress building) are spectacular, and a visit to the Partagas cigar factory is also a must. You could spend a week exploring the castles. The best is Fortaleza de la Cabaña — the largest castle in the Americas — where ...

Havana was once the pearl of the Caribbean. Treasure fleets assembled here for the passage to Spain. The wealth poured in to castles, cathedrals and palaces. Habana Vieja (Old Havana) — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — is chock-full of fascinating museums, including the Museum of the Revolution and the Fine Arts Museum, boasting a world-class collection of art. Nearby, the Gran Teatro and the Capitolio (the old Congress building) are spectacular, and a visit to the Partagas cigar factory is also a must. You could spend a week exploring the castles. The best is Fortaleza de la Cabaña — the largest castle in the Americas — where soldiers in period costume light a cannon nightly.

The Malecón — the seafront boulevard abuzz day and night — leads to Vedado, setting for the mobster hotels and clubs of Havana's 1950s heyday, the neoclassical university, the Plaza de la Revolución (seat of government), and shaded streets full of fabulous mansions. On weekends locals pack their old jalopies to the gills and head to Playas del Este, a string of gorgeous beaches a 30-minute ride from the city. Don't leave without checking out a cabaret: the Tropicana is pricey, so try the Cabaret Parisienne.

Christopher Baker
About the Expert

Christopher P. Baker has authored guidebooks to Costa Rica, California, and various Caribbean islands for Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic, among others.

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Christopher Baker for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Havana is the capital city, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city is located on the northern coast of the country.
  • Language: Spanish
  • Currency: Cuban peso
  • Research: Wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    February-April for the springlike climate, December for jazz and film festivals