Havana is such a vibrant city full of so many different colours and sounds. But whenever we visit anywhere we like to find the more quirky attractions and statues. As well as the must sees there are so many unusual things to do in Havana.
Colina Lenin statue
Colina Lenin statue is one of the most unusual things to do in Havana and is the definition of being off the beaten track. It is definitely somewhere that most tourists do not venture. We were the only people there, apart from a group of school children waving at us and giggling, saying a few words in English.
As we were running short on time we asked our classic car driver to take us to the statue, it was a 20 minute drive each way. We stopped in a car park, walked around the corner and there it was built into the side of rock face. Made by Cuban artist Thelma Martin Colina Lenin was installed in 1984 on this hilltop overlooking the town of Regla.
The statue is even more impressive in person and is my second favourite so far (after the Brown Noser statue in Prague). The bronze sculpture of Lenin’s face fits perfectly with the rock face, seemingly unaware of the bright white figures reaching up at him. These twelve human figures are meant to represent solidarity with the October revolution in Russia. It is free to visit and in my opinion well worth the drive.
Classic car ride
A classic car ride is probably the most famous thing to do in Havana and is top of most peoples list. Most of the cars offer an hour drive around the city centre. The classic cars are dotted around most of Havana but there is a large selection at Parque Central. They all lined up in the square so you can pick whichever car you like best.
This interesting statue in the old square (plaza Vieja) is called Viaje fantastico and was created by Cuban artist Roberto Fabelo. It is a giant rooster with a naked woman sat on it holding a giant fork… I will leave you to come to your own conclusion about what it represents.
There is a lot of amazing street art in Havana, but my favourite is the graffiti near Obispo Street. It includes a lot of small but quirky pieces.
The Plaza de la Revolución is located close to the bus terminal. It is a popular stop for city tours, so expect to see lots of classic cars driving past. The square has become a symbol of Cuba because of the history it represents and the speeches that were made here. Two of the government buildings surrounding it adorn giant murals of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, which was added in 2009.
Callejón de Hamel
Callejon de Hamel is a narrow alley with colourful murals covering the walls. The street is filled with amazing art, statues and mosaics. Every Sunday afternoon a street party takes place along this narrow alley with Afro-Cuban music and some local dancers . Unfortunately we went on our last day and didn’t have much time to explore.
The huge Primavera statue is a tribute to Cuban women by the artist Rafael San Juan. It is located near Hotel Terral, at the junction between desamparados and Lealtad on the seafront.
This hairdressers monument in Barber alley has a nice meaning behind it. The art work was created by John Allen who was inspired by the famous barber Gilberto Valladares (Papito). Papito has set up a school to teach underprivileged children in Cuba hairdressing skills.
John Allen donated new equipment to Cuba but he also wanted a monument to show unity amongst hairdressers from around the world. He organised for old, rusty scissors to be sent from different countries. These were then attached to a 9 foot tall scissor statue.
Monument of the street person
The monument of the street person is located in San Fransisco de Asis square. It is dedicated to a man named Jose María López Lledín who was known as ‘the Gentleman from Paris’. Jose was a famous homeless man in the 1920’s, he was very educated and enjoyed having discussions about philosophy and religion. It is thought that he got his nickname because he was very polite and enjoyed talking about French history.
The local legend is that if you can stand on his foot, hold his finger and rub his beard simultaneously then it will bring you good luck.
There are so many colourful buildings in Havana, the best way to see them is to wander around old town and the streets near Parque de Central.
Club Tropicana show
Going to a show is one of the classic things to do in Cuba, there are lots of different types of these shows. Club tropicana is the biggest, with singing, dancing and elaborate costumes. The whole thing is a spectacle!
The show tickets can be purchased through https://www.cabaret-tropicana.com/, at major hotels or through ticket agencies. We were staying in an apartment and as with a lot of Cuba wifi isn’t readily available so for us booking tickets was tricky.
Luckily our host at Casa Ana (Villa Ana) offered to call and book the tickets for us which we collected on the night. This was just one of the many things they did for us that made them our favourite hosts ever.
There are different classes of seats ranging from 80-100 CUC and also the option to include dinner with the show. We decided to book the middle class seats without dinner and the price included a free cigar and bottle of rum. These are included with most of the tickets.
Our seats were slightly cramped but we had a good view of the stage. Also there were often dancers in the aisles, so we were happy with our seats. The show started at 22:00 and lasted about 2 hours.
They charge you 5 CUC if you wish to take a proper camera in, however phones were fine. Also expect to spend slightly more on the taxi back to your hotel if you get one from outside the main entrance.
Paladar Vistamar Restaurant
Paladar Vistamar is a restaurant slightly further down the coast from the old town. We went here for lunch and this was our favourite restaurant in Havana. There were many options on the menu, the seafood was fresh and there was this beautiful pool with steps overlooking the sea.
Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana
For our very last night in Havana we decided to treat ourselves to a stay at the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski. Located very close to Havana cathedral, Obispo street and overlooking Parque Central this hotel is close to many popular must see’s.
Even though we opted for the cheapest room, it was still very lovely with a large chandelier, high ceiling and a huge comfortable bed. The bathroom was also very spacious with a walk in rain shower.
The highlight of this hotel has to be its rooftop pool that overlooks Havana and is stunning both in the sunshine and at night. The pool is only available for hotel guests which means that it is usually quiet.
From Havana it is easy to get a bus out to other parts of Cuba: Vinales
Visited: Beginning of May 2018