Havana, Cuba is an ambush of the senses with its bold colors, crumbling architecture, vintage cars, and intense heat. With new nonstop flights launching soon from the U.S., there's no better time to plan a visit. Just a hop, skip and a jump from Miami, it's easy to see the city in 48 hours. The question is, will you want to leave?
9:30 AM - BREAKFAST AT HOTEL INGLATERRA
PASEO DEL PRADO, NO.416 ESQ. SAN RAFAEL, LA HABANA
A hearty breakfast buffet for about 6 USD, you don't need to be a hotel guest to indulge. Simply take in the Spanish inspired space with high ceilings, arches and Mozarab tiling. The buffet offers plenty of fresh tropical fruit as well as hot items like scrambled eggs and pancakes to get you energized for the day.
10:30 AM - STROLL THE CITY CENTER
The city center, or Habana Vieja as the locals call is, warrants a nice, leisurely stroll. Start by checking out the Capital building, followed by a walk down main street, Calle Obispo. Snap some photos of Havana's colorful squares, like the Plaza Vieja. Once a hangout for the city's elite and the site of executions, processions, bullfights and parties, the area is now filled with quaint cafes and outdoor seating.
12:30 PM - LUNCH AT SAN CRISTOBAL
469 SAN RAFAEL, LA HABANA
One of the best paladars, or privately-owned restaurants in the city, San Cristobal has received a lot of attention recently thanks to Obama's visit (he ordered the sirloin steak). The various dining rooms are decorated with old photos and antiques, and the whole place has a regal vibe despite being reasonably priced and authentic Cuban cuisine.
2 PM - ROOFTOP OF THE SARATOGA HOTEL
PASEO DE LA MARTÍ, ESQ. DRAGONES, LA HABANA
After a long morning of touring, an ice-cold mojito and a refreshing dip in the Saratoga rooftop pool is very much appreciated. With gorgeous views and friendly staff, this is a great spot to chill out and soak in the Cuban sun. There are plenty of snacks on hand if you need an afternoon bite.
6 PM - CATCH THE SUNSET
261 AVENIDA BÉLGICA, LA HABANA
This art deco building dates back to 1930 and was once the home of rum maker, Bacardi. After the revolution, Bacardi moved their production facilities to Puerto Rico, but the iconic structure still stands. For just 1 CUC ($1), you can head up to the rooftop for panoramic views of the city, the perfect spot to catch the sunset.
8 PM - DINNER AT LA GUARIDA
418 CONCORDIA, LA HABANA
At first, you may wonder if you're in the right spot as you enter what appears to be a derelict old building, but once you climb the worn marble staircase, you'll realize you're somewhere magical. Perfect for a light splurge, La Guarida offers modern takes on traditional Cuban fare, and no matter what you order, you won't be disappointed.
10 PM - DRINKS AT LA GUARDIA ROOFTOP BAR
418 CONCORDIA, LA HABANA
Although their website doesn't mention in, there's a secret rooftop lounge at La Guardia. In fact, it feels almost more Miami than Cuba, and it's the best spot in the city to sip surrounded by beautiful people. You don't need to dine there to enjoy the bar, just head up and start imbibing.
11:30 PM - STROLL ALONG THE MALECON
The malecon is the sea walk that borders the entire city of Havana. Where you'd be crazy to brave the sunshine-drenched coastal sidewalks during the midday heat, at night the Malecon comes alive with people drinking, strolling, and playing music. It's a very special vibe that should not be missed.
9:30 AM - BREAKFAST AT TOPOLY
669 CALLE 23 ESQ. D, VEDADO, LA HABANA
If you are getting a bit tired of Cuban food, Topoly is a nice way to mix things up. Quite possibly the only restaurant in Havana serving Persian cuisine, this place is perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner. However, a freshly squeezed guava juice with scrambled eggs and traditional Iranian naan is solid fuel for the day.
11 AM - CLASSIC CAR RIDE
You can't come to Havana without taking at least one taxi ride in a classic vehicle. They lined up in front of Central Park, just waiting to show you the sights. Typically, a one hour ride will set you back about 30-35 CUC ($30-35), but don't forget your bargaining skills. Make sure to ask if you can snap some photos from the driver's seat, too.
12:30 PM - LUNCH AT LA MONEDA
EMPEDRADO NO. 152, LA HABANA
La Moneda's rooftop restaurant serves classic Cuban cuisine along with lovely views of the water. We recommend one of their daily lunch specials, which typically features dishes like lobster, shrimp or fresh fish, plus soup, salad and rice.
2:30 PM - DESSERT AT MUSEO DEL CHOCOLATE
CALLE AMARGURA ESQ. MERCADERES, LA HABANA
More a shop than a museum, once the smell of chocolatey goodness hits your nose you'll never want to leave. Indulge in a chocolate cigar (or five) before reluctantly leaving the sugary whiffs behind.
4 PM - HAPPY HOUR AT HEMINGWAY'S HAUNTS
OBISPO 557, ESQ. A MONSERRATE, LA HABANA
Turns out, Hemingway was a big drinker, and you can follow in his footsteps by visiting all his old stomping grounds (which just so happen to be bars). Start by getting a world-famous daiquiri at La Floridita, then enjoy a cerveza to salsa tunes at divey Bodeguita del Medio, before making your way to the Hotel Ambo's rooftop for a mojito.
8 PM - DINNER AT CASA MIGLIS
LEALTAD 120, LA HABANA
At first glance, Swedish-Cuban fusion may seem a bit odd, but Casa Miglis will win you over with their zesty Swedish meatballs drenched in Cuban sauce. Their house drink is the delicious the strawberry daiquiri made with real strawberries.
10 PM - DRINKS AT SARAOS
CALLE 17 BETWEEN E & F, LA HABANA
Saraos is a modern restaurant, lounge and nightclub in the more local area of Vedado. If you want to get away from the stereotypical tourist bars, this trendy spot is often frequented by the upscale set who enjoys their live music and dresses to impress.
WHERE TO STAY: SARATOGA HOTEL
PASEO DE LA MARTÍ, ESQ. DRAGONES
The Saratoga is a stunning boutique hotel connecting Central and Old Havana. The rooms are comfortable and spacious and it’s one of the few properties in Cuba that offers free Wi-Fi for guests. You can’t beat the incredible rooftop pool and bar. Spend a few nights here to ensure you fall in love with Havana – if you haven’t already!