Must see attractions in Havana

  • Top ChoiceSights in Vedado

    Necrópolis Cristóbal Colón

    Havana's main cemetery (a national monument), one of the largest in the Americas, is renowned for its striking religious iconography and elaborate marble statues. Far from being eerie, a walk through these 57 hallowed hectares can be an educational and emotional stroll through the annals of Cuban history. A map (CUC$1) showing the graves of assorted artists, sportspeople, politicians, writers, scientists and revolutionaries is for sale at the entrance.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Centro Habana

    Malecón

    The Malecón, Havana's evocative 7km-long sea drive, is one of the city's most soulful and quintessentially Cuban thoroughfares, and long a favored meeting place for assorted lovers, philosophers, poets, traveling minstrels, fishers and wistful Florida-gazers. The Malecón's atmosphere is most potent at sunset, when the weak yellow light from creamy Vedado filters like a dim torch onto the buildings of Centro Habana, lending their dilapidated facades a distinctly romantic quality.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Centro Habana

    Capitolio Nacional

    The incomparable Capitolio Nacional is Havana's most ambitious and grandiose building, constructed after the post-WWI boom ('Dance of the Millions') gifted the Cuban government a seemingly bottomless vault of sugar money. Similar to the Capitol in Washington, DC, but actually modeled on the Panthéon in Paris, the building was initiated by Cuba's US-backed dictator Gerardo Machado in 1926 and took 5000 workers three years, two months and 20 days to construct, at a cost of US$17 million.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Habana Vieja

    Plaza de la Catedral

    Habana Vieja's most uniform square is a museum to Cuban baroque, with all the surrounding buildings, including the city's beguiling asymmetrical cathedral, dating from the 1700s. Despite this homogeneity, it is actually the newest of the four squares in the Old Town, with its present layout dating from the 18th century.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Regla, Guanabacoa & the Forts

    Castillo de los Tres Santos Reyes Magnos del Morro

    This wave-lashed fort with its emblematic lighthouse was erected between 1589 and 1630 to protect the entrance to Havana harbor from pirates and foreign invaders (French corsair Jacques de Sores had sacked the city in 1555). Perched high on a rocky bluff above the Atlantic, the fort has an irregular polygonal shape, 3m-thick walls and a deep protective moat, and is a classic example of Renaissance military architecture.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Playa & Marianao

    Fusterlandia

    Where does art go after Antoni Gaudí? For a hint, head west from central Havana to the seemingly low-key district of Jaimanitas, where artist José Fuster has turned his home neighborhood into a masterpiece of intricate tile work and kaleidoscopic colors – a street-art wonderland that makes Barcelona’s Park Güell look positively sedate. Imagine maximal-impact Gaudí relocated to a tropical setting.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Habana Vieja

    Plaza Vieja

    Laid out in 1559, Plaza Vieja is Havana's most architecturally eclectic square, where Cuban baroque nestles seamlessly next to Gaudí-inspired art nouveau. Originally called Plaza Nueva (New Square), it was initially used for military exercises and later served as an open-air marketplace.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Centro Habana

    Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

    Spread over two campuses, the Bellas Artes is arguably the finest art gallery in the Caribbean. The Arte Cubano building contains the most comprehensive collection of Cuban art in the world, while the Arte Universal section is laid out in a grand eclectic palace overlooking Parque Central, with exterior flourishes that are just as impressive as the international-art collections within.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Centro Habana

    Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes – Arte Cubano

    The Bellas Artes' 'Colección de Arte Cubano' houses purely Cuban art. Works are displayed in chronological order, starting on the 3rd floor, and are surprisingly varied. Artists to look out for include Guillermo Collazo, considered to be the first truly great Cuban artist; Rafael Blanco, with his cartoon-like paintings and sketches; Raúl Martínez, a master of 1960s Cuban pop art; and the Picasso-like Wifredo Lam.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Regla, Guanabacoa & the Forts

    Parque Histórico Militar Morro-Cabaña

    This unmissable military park, included in the Habana Vieja Unesco World Heritage site, is arguably the most formidable defensive complex in Spain's erstwhile colonial empire. It's comprised of two strapping forts: El Morro (Castillo de los Tres Santos Reyes Magnos del Morro), with its emblematic lighthouse, and La Cabaña (Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña), a sprawling mini-city of a military bastion famed for its sunset-over-the-Malecón views and legendary cañonazo ceremony.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Centro Habana

    Museo de la Revolución

    This emblematic museum is set in the former Presidential Palace, constructed between 1913 and 1920 and used by a string of Cuban presidents, culminating in Fulgencio Batista. The world-famous Tiffany's of New York decorated the interior, and the shimmering Salón de los Espejos (Hall of Mirrors) was designed to resemble the eponymous room at the Palace of Versailles.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Habana Vieja

    Calle Mercaderes

    Cobbled, car-free Calle Mercaderes (Merchant's Street) has been extensively restored by the Office of the City Historian and is an almost complete replica of itself at its splendid 18th-century high-water mark. Interspersed with the museums, shops and restaurants are some working social projects, such as a maternity home and a paper-making cooperative.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Regla, Guanabacoa & the Forts

    Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Regla

    As important as it is diminutive, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Regla, which sits close to the dock in Regla, has a long and colorful history. Inside on the main altar you'll find La Santísima Virgen de Regla.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Regla, Guanabacoa & the Forts

    Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña

    This 18th-century colossus was built between 1763 and 1774 on a long, exposed ridge on the east side of Havana harbor to fill a weakness in the city's defenses. In 1762 the British had taken Havana by gaining control of this strategically important ridge, and it was from here that they shelled the city mercilessly into submission. In order to prevent a repeat performance, Spanish king Carlos III ordered the construction of a massive fort that would repel future invaders.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Centro Habana

    Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso

    The neobaroque Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso, erected as a Galician social club between 1907 and 1914, features highly ornate and even exuberant architectural details. It's the official stage for the Cuban National Ballet Company and the headquarters of the biennial International Ballet Festival. Dance presentations, ranging from ballet to contemporary dance to Spanish-influenced choreography by companies from all over the country and abroad, are the highlights every weekend. There are daily guided tours.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Habana Vieja

    Catedral de la Habana

    Described by novelist Alejo Carpentier as 'music set in stone,' Havana's incredible cathedral, dominated by two unequal towers and framed by a theatrical baroque facade, was designed by Italian architect Francesco Borromini. Construction of the church was begun by Jesuits in 1748 and work continued despite their expulsion in 1767. When the building was finished in 1787, the diocese of Havana was created and the church became a cathedral – it's one of the oldest in the Americas.

  • Sights in Habana Vieja

    Castillo de la Real Fuerza

    On the seaward side of Plaza de Armas is one of the oldest existing forts in the Americas, built between 1558 and 1577 on the site of an earlier fort destroyed by French privateers in 1555. The imposing castle is ringed by an impressive moat and shelters the Museo de Navegación, which covers the history of the fort and Old Town, and its connections with the Spanish empire. Look out for the huge scale model of the Santíssima Trinidad galleon.

  • Sights in Habana Vieja

    El Ojo del Ciclón

    Just when you think you've seen Havana's strangest, weirdest, most surreal and avant-garde art, along comes the 'eye of the cyclone' to re-stretch your imagination. The abstract gallery displays the work of Cuban visual artist Leo D'Lázaro and it's pretty mind-bending stuff – giant eyes, crashed cars, painted suitcases and junk reborn as art. Imagine Jackson Pollock sitting down for tea with JRR Tolkien and John Lennon.

  • Sights in Habana Vieja

    Edificio Bacardí

    Finished in 1930, the magnificent Edificio Bacardí, once the HQ of Cuba's erstwhile rum dynasty, is a triumph of art deco architecture, with a host of lavish finishes utilizing red granite, green marble, terra-cotta reliefs and glazed tiles. Though 12 stories high, it's hemmed in by other buildings these days, so it's hard to get a panoramic view of the structure from street level. Notwithstanding, the opulent bell tower can be glimpsed from all over Havana.

  • Sights in Habana Vieja

    Museo del Ron

    You don't have to be an Añejo Reserva quaffer to enjoy the Museo del Ron in the Fundación Havana Club, but it probably helps. The museum, with its quintilingual guided tour, shows rum-making antiquities and the complex distilling process in a scale model. A tasting of a seven-year-old añejo (aged rum) is included at the end of the tour. Reservations can be made online.