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La Zorra y el Cuervo Jazz Club is unlike any other in the city. Located underground in an intimate basement venue, top and emerging jazz players from Cuba and beyond perform here on a nightly basis. The run-of-show is — Arrive before doors open at 10pm. Pay 10 CUC entry, which includes two drinks. Sit as close to the stage as you can get.

Home Exchange Story: Havana, Cuba

Drink said drinks and listen to these smooth beats until your heart is content. Artist Jose Fuster transformed his suburban fishing town of Jaimanitas into a complete work of art, taking inspiration from Gaudi and Brancusi to create a whimsical, childlike paradise. This display of Cuban modern art is one of the most visited sites in Cuba, and with good reason.

Get the ceviche and grilled fish. Order here: octopus, fish tacos, ropa vieja signature Cuban dish. Havana is an incredible cityscape, but sometimes you just need a little break from urban life. About 20 minutes from the city lies Playa del Este, a beach with turquoise waters and plenty of local flare. You can negotiate with a taxi driver to take you here main beach is called Santa Maria , wait for you and then drive you back within your agreed upon timeframe. Perched on the top floor of a Vedado mansion, this bohemian chic restaurant has all of the charm of your typical mom-and-pop but with restaurant-quality, home-cooked food.

The menu feels distinctly European and slightly Spanish with dishes like jamon serrano, meatballs, tuna carpaccio, red snapper with clams and shrimp and slow-cooked lamb. A note to not be deterred by a "doorman. Everyday I would walk two blocks to use the internet at El Presidente Hotel 4. If you go, tell the pool boy Luis I said hi, or if you hang there later for live music, tell the bartender Arnoldo I said hi. These things are not just massive, but the architecture is just straight up mind-boggling and will make you wonder who in the heck lived there before the revolucion.

From what I gathered, it was where mafia and mob leaders from the U. Now, multiple families live in these old mansions, and most of them are crumbling and run down. They have this name because they are typically built inside of the big houses or buildings that people live in, and have converted all or a section of it into a restaurant. If you walk around the streets in Vedado you will find a lot of hidden, authentic ones, but they are also well established in Havana Vieja as well. Across the street is a more casual little spot that is literally set up on the front lawn of one of the biggest mansions I saw, and it has authentic Cuban food for affordable prices.

Buy tickets in advance because the show fills up quickly every night! You can also order dinner, and after the show you can even go on stage and dance salsa with other brave, daring souls. If you want real, authentic Cuban nightlife, head over to Casa de la Musica in Miramar — just west of Vedado and close by the Tropicana. This is where all of the young locals go to dance to live salsa or reggae music, but I noticed a lot of tourists there as well.

You can get a cheap bottle of rum and sit at a table, or get up and dance with someone. Warning: you will get hustled out front by all of the taxi drivers so either keep the one you came with, or pick one and bargain with them for a good price. Now this place is just awesome. It has two floors plus an additional back area made from cargo containers. On the first floor is a bar, artwork and a live band playing, and upstairs is more art, and a back area where an indie film is playing on a massive screen.

Before you go to Cuba you should definitely learn a few basic Spanish phrases, because hardly anyone speaks English. A few people, especially younger ones can speak a little, but we talk way too fast for them to be able to understand fully usually. BUT they will help you speak Spanish if you ask, and many of the younger Cubans will actually ask you to speak in English or even teach them because they really do want to learn.

This is the famous dinner cabaret show at the Hotel Nacional that is somewhat like the Tropicana show but on a much smaller scale. I took the bus tour because I have no shame in learning about sites while solo traveling, and it was only 5 CUC to go all around Havana, even though it took about 3 hours.

Havana Nights by Bike

As the name implies, it is located in an old mansion, but it has been nicely restored and will give you a good idea of how the many mansions once looked. The show takes place in the outdoor patio area on an elevated runway. I hope you like Cuban food because otherwise you might starve in Cuba. Your typical Cuban meal will consist of a meat usually chicken, beef, fish, or shrimp with a heaping side of rice and beans, plantains, and a salad of cucumbers and cabbage. Also try food from the local vendors and food stands like empanadas and croquettas.

It was the only food that I ate in Cuba in a two week period that made me sick! Great detailed write up! What sort of general vibe did you get around Havana? Was it upbeat? Did the city feel in decay, is it coming around? Hi Greig!! Which Santiago? My family is from Santiago de las Vegas I have some photos in a previous post and I went to visit them and they were so happy to see me that they cried! The town is very poor but the people are all so friendly and happy.

I am considering going to Havana for a month this summer to gain learn more about the culture and increase my Spanish skills I know some basic conversation. I am not from Cuba so I am trying to decide if it is a good idea. You said the locals seemed hostile towards tourists…can you explain it a little? I am worried if I go for a month that I may not enjoy it if that is the case. Is there any other country you would suggest going for a month that is Spanish speaking? I am 27 and will be alone, however will enroll in a Spanish learning school wherever I go which I have found in many countries.

Thank you for any help you can provide! I totally understood why there was some hostility at first, but that can also happen anywhere! I met a girl who was from the States that was studying Spanish at the University in Havana, and she seemed to enjoy it! Great list! Would love to visit before it becomes run over with tourists and changes the authentic vibe it looks like it still has.

Seems like a fantastic country with a ton of history! My family is also from Santiago de las Vegas, they were forced out in Planning a trip over in December first time. I have never been there. Should be a good time I hope. I speak pretty much perfect spanish so it will be interesting conversing with the locals. From the perspective of a young female traveler! Where would you recommend getting a casa particular? Havana Vieja?

I heard those spots are smaller and noisy but seems to be where the action is. What about closer to the beach? So nice! Hello Alyssa. I am traveling there in about 3 weeks…. What are your recommendations for someone who is vegetarian to eat in Cuba? Hi Jennifer! Thank you so much for this! Did you go to Vinales while you were there? If so, was it difficult to get to? Did your trip fall under one of the twelve reasons for going not tourism?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!! Going in 2 weekds. Hi Ana — Yes I went from Miami and was able to get a visa at the airline ticketing counter. Have a great time in Cuba! My boyfriend and I just booked our trip to Cuba for two weeks! While we will most likely stay in Havana for a few nights we are looking to bop around surround cities to get fully immersed in Cuba.

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  4. What cities would you recommend checking out aside from Havana? Do you know of any area where we could camp for a few nights is it safe? Thanks so much! Hi Neelo! Looks like we may cross paths….

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    Happy Holidays! Tara www. What an amazing way to spend Christmas!!!! Have an amazing time!

    Where to stay

    Love this going to Cuba this weekend for 5 days. So glad I came across your Blog. Great tips! We rented a house and i know the bus is near by. Hi Alyssa I am travelling to Cuba by ship and only have three days I am from Australia and doubt I will ever return as it is so far away. Hi Shane! Have a great time!