El Bosque de la Habana

in Playa & Marianao

Running along the banks of the Río Almendares, below the bridge on Calle 23, is this welcome oasis of greenery and fresh air in the heart of the chaotic city. The ‘Bosque’ might not be the Bois de Boulogne (witness the stray dogs and unsightly litter), but it is a work in progress and far healthier than it was in the 1990s.

The lower park (closer to the bridge) is usually called Parque Almendares and is more developed, with a stash of so-so facilities, including an antiquated miniature golf course, the Anfiteatro Parque Almendares (a small outdoor performance space) and a kids’ playground. South of the bridge, the so-called Parque Metropolitano is wilder and more bewitching, with giant trees shrouded by hanging curtains of vines. Several paths wind their way through the greenery between the road and the river, and Santería ceremonies are sometimes performed here. It’s a beguiling spot, and potentially even more so if the city can sort out the litter problem.