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6 Things You Must Do When You Visit Cuba

A beautiful day in Old Havana, Cuba

Old Havana has much to offer visitors, including great food, bars, culture, and history.

 

On an island more than just a tropical getaway, Cuba has so much to offer its visitors. From its pristine beaches, to its bright, vivid music, and all of the tasty, local cuisine to sample, you won’t be bored.

Almost 3 million people visited the island in 2014, an increase from previous years. The next time you visit beautiful Cuba, there are 6 things you must do while you’re there.

Eat Like a Cuban

The best food you’ll eat in Cuba won’t come from fancy restaurants in the touristy areas of town. To get the good grub, head to the streets.

Pay attention to where the locals go. If there are no foreigners around, chances are the place is a favorite around town. Cuban food often focuses on meat, usually pork or chicken. Yuca con mojo, congrí rice, roasted pork, fried chicken, sweet potatoes, and viandas (root vegetables) are all common foods you’ll find.

If eating on the streets isn’t your thing, head towards a paladar. Paladares are small, private restaurants, sometimes run out of a person’s home. These allow for fantastic, authentic meals and dishes cooked by a chef or cook, in an atmosphere must different than the hot spots of touristy cities. Some popular paladares include Café Laurnet, San Cristóbal, Atelier, and Le Chansonnier.

Try a local favorite such as the famous ice cream parlor, Coppelia Ice Cream Parlor in Havana.

Move and Groove in Centro Habana

Live must blasting in the street is a normal occurrence at the Callejón de Hamel, where dancing, singing, moving and grooving is encouraged.

Sundays around noon, the music starts playing and the Afro-Cuban culture of the music can be heard through beating drums and rhythmic chants. These small street bands make for a fun, exciting atmosphere.

Interested in art? This is your place. Come and explore the artwork of various artists in many mediums along the crowded, cultured streets.

Drink the Night Away

Famous for their rum, Cuba has some great drinks to offer its visitors. Cheap cocktails await you at local bars, and it isn’t expensive to buy your own alcohol from stores to drink at your hotel or apartment.

Make sure to have a taste of all of Cuba’s famous cocktails: Cuba Libre, Mojito, Cubanito, Havana Loco, and so many more. Head to one of these top-rated bars:

Café Teatro Bertolt Brecht – Vedado

Café Fortuna Joe – Miramar

El Floridita – La Habana Vieja

Espacios – Miramar

El Cocinero – Centro Habana

El Sauce – Playa

Hit the Beach

Unknown to most Americans because of their inability to travel to Cuba in the past, the island has some of the best, most pristine beaches in the Caribbean.

Throw on your swimsuit, apply some sunscreen, grab a towel, and head to any one of these gorgeous beaches:

Varadero Beach

Playa Paraiso (Cayo Largo)

Sirena Beach (Cayo Largo)

Playa Pilar (Cayo Guillermo)

Santa Maria Beach (Cayo Santa Maria)

Guardalavaca Beach (Holguin)

Cayo Blanco (Matanzas)

Wade in the Waterfalls

Situated between the cities of Cienfuegos and Trinidad sits the El Nicho waterfalls. While it takes a good day to travel there, explore, relax at the falls, and make your return, the trip is well worth it.

If you’re ready for a hike, you’ll see wildlife, such as Cuba’s brightly colored birds, and beautiful flowers, plants, and fauna. To get to the falls, you must rent a jeep.

Learn About (and Smoke) Cuban Cigars

One of Cuba’s most iconic exports, watching the experts roll a traditional, authentic Cuban cigar is something you must do before you leave the island.

Visit a Cuban cigar factory and take a tour to watch the masters at work. You can also buy cigars at most of these places. Take a trip to one of these factories:

Partagas Cigar Factory – Havana City

Moya Cigar Factory – Granma

La Corona Cigar Factory – Havana City

Constantino Perez Carrodegua Cigar Factory – Villa Clara

Romeo u Julieta Cigar Factory – Havana City

Unlike its neighboring Caribbean islands, Cuba is chock-full of all types of culture; from dancing, singing, eating, drinking, swimming, and relaxing, you’ll be hard pressed to find yourself bored the next time you’re in Cuba.

Image: Flickr