Vinales Valley & Havana, Cuba

Kelsey

Created By:
Kelsey

 
In March 2017, I traveled to Cuba with 2 of my closest girlfriends for a week of exploration & relaxation! We spent our first night in Havana, then took a taxi to the Vinales Valley for 2 days/night, and finally returned to Havana for the last 4 days of our trip... we all agreed that our time was perfectly well spent, and we really enjoyed having 4 full days in Havana.

Welcome Drinks at Hotel Presidente

Hotel Presidente, Havana, Cuba

After settling into our Airbnb/Casa Paticulare, we stopped at this iconic hotel for our first iconic Cuban cocktail... the mojito, of course! The hotel is just off the Malecon, which is the pedestrian path that runs along the ocean, so it makes for a perfect pit stop along an afternoon stroll!

Dinner at El Idilio

Paladar El Idilio, Calle 15, Havana, Cuba

We ate our first meal of the trip here after finding it in our Lonely Planet travel guide, and were not disappointed! We waited to get seated for about 30 minutes (but were able to enjoy a mojito in the meantime) and it was worth the wait to be able to sit outside in the warm Havana air!

They serve everything from seafood to traditional Cuban fare, and the portions are large! The staff was friendly and the atmosphere was laid back. Definitely would recommend trying the paella and ceviche!

Night Out at Fabrica de Arte

Cuban Art Factory, Calle 26, Havana, Cuba

We went out here after dinner on our first night in Havana after hearing about it from a friend who had traveled to Cuba a few months before, as well as a few locals. It's a really cool industrial factory that has been turned into an art gallery, and at night, it becomes a bar/club.

The line was pretty long (we arrived around 10pm), so plan to get there early... we were able to pay to "skip" the line, so be on the lookout for people who work there offering that. The space has lots of different levels with different music, bars and food options, with locals and tourists all mingling together!

Tour of a Tobacco Farm

Viñales Valley, Vinales, Cuba

I'm unsure on the name and can't find it online (although many bloggers have posted pictures of the same farm we visited) but if you ask your taxi driver (or your host) in Vinales about a place where you can go to see how cigars are made, they will know exactly where to send you!

This is the first place we went in Vinales and it was really cool to learn everything from how the tobacco is grown and processed to how the cigars are made. We got to see the rolling process, the barns where the leaves are hung to dry, and of course, smoke a cigar with the men giving us the tour.

After, we rode horses through the fields to a small coffee farm where we were served drinks made with the guava rum they produce there as well.

Cueva del Indio

CUEVA DEL INDIO, Vinales, Cuba

This is located just outside of the town center in Vinales, on the outskirts of the forest. We walked from town to the site, which was a pretty long walk, but mostly flat so it wasn't super strenuous, even in the heat. When you arrive at the cave, you can pay to take a short boat ride through the caverns, which was really cool. The trees, plants, flowers and rocks were all beautiful!

Hotel Rancho San Vincente

Hotel Rancho San Vicente, Vinales, Pinar del Rio, Cuba

We didn't stay here, but they did allow us to sit by their pool and order food and drinks one afternoon - it was very relaxing and the pool was just right!

Sunset Bike Tour of Havana

Ruta Bikes, Havana, Cuba

This was one of the most fun things we did while in Havana! The tour was about 4 hours long, covered a lot of ground, and our guide, Javi, was super knowledgeable about the layout of the city, and the history that goes along with all of the places we visited.

We saw many of Havana's most famous sights, including the Plaza de la Revolucion, Havana Forest, and the Colon Cemetary, biked along the ocean, and ended at a restaurant where we enjoyed a few mojitos!

Callejon de Hamel

Callejon de Hamel, Havana, Cuba

This is an amazing alleyway in Havana that we visited on our bike tour with Ruta Bikes, that has been decorated by Hamel, a Cuban artist. The street is full of Afro-Cuban art, small cafes, art galleries, and a school where the artist teaches. A lot of the art is inspired by Santeria, and made from every day items (like the bath tubs you can see here).

Plaza de la Revolucion/Jose Marti Memorial

Plaza de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba

We stopped here on our bike tour, but this is a must see for anyone visiting Havana. It's the largest city square in the world, and full of history.

Havana Forest

Parque Almendares, Havana, Cuba

An "urban jungle" in Havana, this park doesn't feel like it's right within the city. There are beautiful trees that almost create a canopy over the park, and a river runs through it.

We biked through here, and there are lots of paths for walking, as well.

Dinner at La Rosa Negra

La Rosa Negra, Havana, Cuba

This is a casual restaurant tucked into a residential area in Nuevo Vedado. The food was amazing... big portions and great prices! You have to try their paella and the friend plantains!

Be sure to get there early - there was a 45-60 minute wait both nights that we ate here.

Drinks at Hotel Nacionale

Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Plaza de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba

Gorgeous hotel, great drinks, and an amazing garden area where you can sit and look at the ocean. Drinks were definitely more expensive here than anywhere else we visited while in Cuba, but it was worth it for the ambiance!

Mojitos at La Bodeguita del Medio

La Bodeguita Del Medio, Empedrado, Havana, Cuba

Home of the Mojito (yes, they live up to the hype), and a favorite of Earnest Hemingway... you can't leave Havana without stopping in for at least one drink!

Daiquiris at La Floridita

El Floridita Bar, Obispo, Havana, Cuba

Home of the Daiquiri, and another favorite of Earnest Hemingway! This place is a little more touristy than La Bodeguita, but still worth stopping in for a cocktail... or 2... or 3...

Walk Along the Malecon at Sunset

Malecon of Havana., Avenue Carlos Manuel Céspedes (Avenue del Puerto), Havana, Cuba

Take an evening stroll along the Malecon, the seawall that runs along the water in Havana. You can sit on the wall and take it all in, and you'll see lots of locals doing the same, as well as musicians playing music, and artists selling their work. If you're active and want to take a long walk, you can get from one side of the city to the other without any interruption.

Playa Santa Maria

Playa Santa María del mar havana

A beautiful beach just outside of Havana... accessible via taxi or the local bus (if you're feeling adventurous). Very peaceful, not super busy, and there are lots of guys walking around selling fresh coconuts... than can be served with or without rum!

Drinks & Dancing at La Escencia

La Esencia Bar, Linea, Havana, Cuba

A really cool bar/lounge that was right in the center of Vedado with a really cool atmosphere, great music, and dancing!

Salsa, Live Music & Mojitos at 1830

Restaurant "1830", Havana, Cuba

We spent hours here on our last night in Cuba and it was honestly the highlight of the trip... the best way to wrap up an amazing week. They have an indoor area, but we were in their garden the entire time. There was a live salsa band (they were fantastic), lots of dancing (don't be shy, even if your salsa skills aren't on point, the locals don't care!), and the mojitos were FLOWING.

 

Welcome Drinks at Hotel Presidente

Drink
Hotel Presidente, Havana
After settling into our Airbnb/Casa Paticulare, we stopped at this iconic hotel for our first iconic Cuban cocktail... the mojito, of course! The hotel is just off the Malecon, which is the pedestrian path that runs along the ocean, so it makes for a perfect pit stop along an afternoon stroll!
 

View on Map

 

Dinner at El Idilio

Eat
Paladar El Idilio, Calle 15
We ate our first meal of the trip here after finding it in our Lonely Planet travel guide, and were not disappointed! We waited to get seated for about 30 minutes (but were able to enjoy a mojito in the meantime) and it was worth the wait to be able to sit outside in the warm Havana air!

They serve everything from seafood to traditional Cuban fare, and the portions are large! The staff was friendly and the atmosphere was laid back. Definitely would recommend trying the paella and ceviche!
 

View on Map

 

Night Out at Fabrica de Arte

Drink
Cuban Art Factory, Calle 26
We went out here after dinner on our first night in Havana after hearing about it from a friend who had traveled to Cuba a few months before, as well as a few locals. It's a really cool industrial factory that has been turned into an art gallery, and at night, it becomes a bar/club.

The line was pretty long (we arrived around 10pm), so plan to get there early... we were able to pay to "skip" the line, so be on the lookout for people who work there offering that. The space has lots of different levels with different music, bars and food options, with locals and tourists all mingling together!
 

View on Map

 

Tour of a Tobacco Farm

Explore
Viñales Valley, Vinales
I'm unsure on the name and can't find it online (although many bloggers have posted pictures of the same farm we visited) but if you ask your taxi driver (or your host) in Vinales about a place where you can go to see how cigars are made, they will know exactly where to send you!

This is the first place we went in Vinales and it was really cool to learn everything from how the tobacco is grown and processed to how the cigars are made. We got to see the rolling process, the barns where the leaves are hung to dry, and of course, smoke a cigar with the men giving us the tour.

After, we rode horses through the fields to a small coffee farm where we were served drinks made with the guava rum they produce there as well.
 

View on Map

 

Cueva del Indio

Explore
CUEVA DEL INDIO, Vinales
This is located just outside of the town center in Vinales, on the outskirts of the forest. We walked from town to the site, which was a pretty long walk, but mostly flat so it wasn't super strenuous, even in the heat. When you arrive at the cave, you can pay to take a short boat ride through the caverns, which was really cool. The trees, plants, flowers and rocks were all beautiful!
 

View on Map

 

Hotel Rancho San Vincente

Eat
Hotel Rancho San Vicente, Vinales
We didn't stay here, but they did allow us to sit by their pool and order food and drinks one afternoon - it was very relaxing and the pool was just right!
 

View on Map

 

Sunset Bike Tour of Havana

Get Around
Ruta Bikes, Havana
This was one of the most fun things we did while in Havana! The tour was about 4 hours long, covered a lot of ground, and our guide, Javi, was super knowledgeable about the layout of the city, and the history that goes along with all of the places we visited.

We saw many of Havana's most famous sights, including the Plaza de la Revolucion, Havana Forest, and the Colon Cemetary, biked along the ocean, and ended at a restaurant where we enjoyed a few mojitos!
 

View on Map

 

Callejon de Hamel

Explore
Callejon de Hamel, Havana
This is an amazing alleyway in Havana that we visited on our bike tour with Ruta Bikes, that has been decorated by Hamel, a Cuban artist. The street is full of Afro-Cuban art, small cafes, art galleries, and a school where the artist teaches. A lot of the art is inspired by Santeria, and made from every day items (like the bath tubs you can see here).
 

View on Map

 

Plaza de la Revolucion/Jose Marti Memorial

Explore
Plaza de la Revolucion, Havana
We stopped here on our bike tour, but this is a must see for anyone visiting Havana. It's the largest city square in the world, and full of history.
 

View on Map

 

Havana Forest

Explore
Parque Almendares, Havana
An "urban jungle" in Havana, this park doesn't feel like it's right within the city. There are beautiful trees that almost create a canopy over the park, and a river runs through it.

We biked through here, and there are lots of paths for walking, as well.
 

View on Map

 

Dinner at La Rosa Negra

Eat
La Rosa Negra, Havana
This is a casual restaurant tucked into a residential area in Nuevo Vedado. The food was amazing... big portions and great prices! You have to try their paella and the friend plantains!

Be sure to get there early - there was a 45-60 minute wait both nights that we ate here.
 

View on Map

 

Drinks at Hotel Nacionale

Eat
Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Plaza de la Revolucion
Gorgeous hotel, great drinks, and an amazing garden area where you can sit and look at the ocean. Drinks were definitely more expensive here than anywhere else we visited while in Cuba, but it was worth it for the ambiance!
 

View on Map

 

Mojitos at La Bodeguita del Medio

Drink
La Bodeguita Del Medio, Empedrado
Home of the Mojito (yes, they live up to the hype), and a favorite of Earnest Hemingway... you can't leave Havana without stopping in for at least one drink!
 

View on Map

 

Daiquiris at La Floridita

Drink
El Floridita Bar, Obispo
Home of the Daiquiri, and another favorite of Earnest Hemingway! This place is a little more touristy than La Bodeguita, but still worth stopping in for a cocktail... or 2... or 3...
 

View on Map

 

Walk Along the Malecon at Sunset

Get Around
Malecon of Havana., Avenue Carlos Manuel Céspedes (Avenue del Puerto)
Take an evening stroll along the Malecon, the seawall that runs along the water in Havana. You can sit on the wall and take it all in, and you'll see lots of locals doing the same, as well as musicians playing music, and artists selling their work. If you're active and want to take a long walk, you can get from one side of the city to the other without any interruption.
 

View on Map

 

Playa Santa Maria

Explore
Playa Santa María del mar havana,
A beautiful beach just outside of Havana... accessible via taxi or the local bus (if you're feeling adventurous). Very peaceful, not super busy, and there are lots of guys walking around selling fresh coconuts... than can be served with or without rum!
 

View on Map

 

Drinks & Dancing at La Escencia

Drink
La Esencia Bar, Linea
A really cool bar/lounge that was right in the center of Vedado with a really cool atmosphere, great music, and dancing!
 

View on Map

 

Salsa, Live Music & Mojitos at 1830

Drink
Restaurant "1830", Havana
We spent hours here on our last night in Cuba and it was honestly the highlight of the trip... the best way to wrap up an amazing week. They have an indoor area, but we were in their garden the entire time. There was a live salsa band (they were fantastic), lots of dancing (don't be shy, even if your salsa skills aren't on point, the locals don't care!), and the mojitos were FLOWING.
 

View on Map