- 50 Best Things to do in Havana
- What to Pack for Cuba
- Best Time to Visit Cuba
- Havana to Vinales
- Cancun to Havana
The Best Area to Stay in Havana
Havana Vieja (Old Town) is the ideal location to stay in Havana. Staying here you’ll be in the heart of the action where many of Havana’s most famous restaurants, bars and hotels are. In the Old Town you’ll find lots of beautiful cathedrals and large squares. In some places you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to San Marco square in Italy. However, if you walk just a few streets away and you’ll remember you are in a country which has been closed to tourism and trade for many years as the streets are in glorious disrepair. The downside of the Old Town is you’ll be affronted by all sorts of smells as you walk around – many nice smells of garlic butter being cooked but equally some pretty horrible smells of sewerage, rubbish and open air butchers. Even if you stay in a super Airbnb or Casa particular in the Old Town, chances are that whilst the interior may be renovated, the exterior of the building is likely to be in a poor state and you’ll need to walk down some super fascinating and photogenic yet decrepit streets to get to your accommodation.
Havana Old Town is the place to be, but whether you want to actually stay there will depend on how much you want to immerse yourself in Cuban life.
super location. In the heart of everything. Plenty of restaurant options. 80% of the things to see in Havana you’ll find in and around the Old Town
Lots of hotels in close walking distance where you can sit in to use the wifi.
You can easily walk to Parque Central where you’ll find all the vintage cars you need to take you for a city tour or day trip to Vinales
the streets are pot-hole filled, there’s lots of rubbish and some pretty funky smells.
One of our tips for visiting Havana we learned from a local was to walk in the middle of the street to avoid getting washing water thrown on you!
Hotels nearby in Havana Old Town with wifi
There are 5 good neighborhoods in Havana where 99% of visitors stay: Havana Vieja, Havana Centro, New Havana, Vedado and Miramar. Havana is not a huge capital, so even the furthest suburb of Miramar is within 20 minutes drive of the main tourist area of Havana Vieja.
The Best Places to Stay in Havana
Best Luxury Hotels in Havana
Best Romantic Hotels in Havana
Best Boutique Hotels in Havana
Best Mid-Range Hotels in Havana
Best Cheap Hotels in Havana
Best Neighborhood in Havana for Sightseeing: Habana Vieja
Havana Old Town is the beating heart of Cuba where you’ll find classic American convertibles shuttling tourists to fancy rooftop bars next to impoverished-yet-happy children playing barefoot football. Take a photo on pretty much any street and you’ll capture a perfect snapshot of the best and worst of communist-Cuba. For better and for worse, this is a intoxicatingly fascinating place to stay. In the center of the Old Town you’ll find grand plazas and al fresco dining which would befit any touristy town in Europe. Havana’s Plaza de La Catedral is eerily similar to Venice’s San Marco Square minus the endless restaurant-touts and the expensive price tag. One of Hemingway’s favourite restaurant Bodeguita del Medio sits just off this square on a teenie-tiny street brimming with other restaurants to capture your attention. The best coffee shops, most famous bars and many incredible family-run restaurants known as Paladares can be found in this diverse neighborhood.
Best Neighborhood in Havana for food and restaurants: Havana Centro
Across Parque Central from Havana Vieja past the Capitol and you’ll find yourself in Centro Habana. Here accommodation is a little cheaper but you’re still in a super location within walking distance to all the best attractions in town. In the area is China Town so if you’re looking to mix up traditional Cuban meals with something different, you’ll find an authentic Chinese restaurant here. Due to the communist ties between China and Cuba there’s a strong Chinese presence in the country beginning with restaurants but now extending to imported goods.
You won’t find Singapore-clean streets anywhere in Cuba. However, the streets in Centro are wider than in the Old Town and you’re much less likely to be affronted by garbage and strong smells here. The buildings are slightly newer and more spacious. You’ll find more two bedroom apartments here.
In Havana Centro of an evening you can walk down the brightly lit shopping street of 5th avenue which will take you all the way to Parque Central.
Best Neighborhood in Havana for shopping: New Havana
A 10 minute cab ride from the Old Town and you’ll find yourself in New Havana. In the area you’ll find one of the few shopping malls in all of Cuba. Buildings here are more modern and you can find larger apartments here. You’ll need a taxi or to walk about 20 minutes to reach the Old Town as there’s not a lot of tourist attractions in the area. That said, it’s still a fascinating location to stay as you can sit at a cafe and people watch real Cuban life before your eyes. As everything in Cuba is from a bygone era, there’s always something fascinating to watch on almost every square metre. Here you’ll also find plenty of “Paladars” which are family-run restaurants which operate from the family home (often this is the courtyard to a larger apartment building so they are quite nice. I had images of walking into someone’s kitchen for lunch but it’s not like this at all).
Pros: cheaper, larger apartments. More value for money
Cons: 20 – 30 minute walk to Havana old town. Not many tourist attractions in the direct vicinity
Best Neighborhood in Havana for nightlife: Vedado
This neighborhood is an eclectic mix of famous hotels, dilapidated mansions, residential apartment buildings, government buildings. Sometimes both of these at the same time – we stayed in the Ministry de Salud Publica) which had residential apartments on the upper floors. The most famous hotel in Cuba – Hotel Nacional – can be found here. Previous guests include Walt Disney, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra and more – and you can stay in the same rooms. The hotel overlooks the sea and is the perfect place to spend an afternoon in the luxurious gardens overlooking the sea. Two large cannons facing the ocean flank the courtyard and provide a pretty large hint to the attraction nearby – the Cuban missile crisis tunnels about 100m away which you can take a tour of.
In the area you’ll also find a famous Jazz club Jazz Club La Zorra Y El Cuervo. Cover is 10 cuc including 2 alcoholic beverages.
Nearby hotels with reliable wifi:-
Tryp Hotel Habana Libre
Best Neighborhood in Havana for Romantic Getaways: Miramar
Suburb for the rich and famous. We just arrived from spending several weeks in the Riviera Maya, Mexico so after enjoying the spectacular beaches in Cancun and only having 5 nights in Cuba, we didn’t take the opportunity to hit the beaches. Fortunately, we met with some tanned Canadians who primarily came to Cuba to enjoy the warm weather in a unique setting. They were not disappointed by staying in some of the beach side resorts in Miramar. While they said the beaches couldn’t compete with Cancun (not many can to be fair) they were perfect for them to wallow the day away by the beach, enjoying $2.5 mojitos from the comfort of their hotel. In the night they ventured into Havana to dine in the famous restaurants, dance salsa and enjoy the famous live jazz performances. So if you’re looking for a warm-weather getaway give Cuba some food for thought.
Unsafe Areas of Havana
We didn’t arrive in Cuba thinking Havana would be dangerous. Our thoughts were more preoccupied with how to get a taxi (without getting ripped off) without Uber and whether the wifi in our apartment would work (spoiler – it didn’t).
Yet after a few days we noticed something interesting about Havana. Everywhere we went we felt completely safe. This was confirmed later by a middle-aged Canadian woman we met who fell in love with Cuba. She reported walking all over Havana without any safety concerns whatsoever.
Provided you stick to one of the 5 touristy areas recommend in this guide, you’ll be pretty safe wherever you stay in Havana.
Havana Hotels with good wifi
If you can’t live without wifi at your fingertips, don’t waste your time on an Airbnb or Casa Particular. No matter what the listing says, the wifi will more than likely not work. We know this because we researched Airbnbs with good wifi for hours only to find that every one of the several we stayed in failed to have working wifi.
When we needed to use wifi we came to one of these hotels. If you want to keep in contact with the outside world then I recommend staying in one of these hotels:
Do you have any questions about where to stay in Havana? Do you have any tips of great hotels, neighborhoods or Airbnbs not mentioned here? Let us know in the comments below!