Havana for First Timers

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Mar 06, 2018

by SAMANTHA O'BRIEN, Editorial Coordinator

Holland America Line’s MS Veendam docks in Cuba’s capital this month. The ship’s concierge, Francisco Larumbe, reveals the best of the port city to Samantha O’Brien.

Where should we go to stretch our legs?

The Malecón offers more than eight kilometres of coastal walk. Evening is best, when the sun sets and locals head there to fish, play or chill out. From there, you can get an almendrón, a classic American car, to drive you across the bay to Morro Castle – another great area for strolling or watching the sun set while sipping a Mojito.

Where can we get a decent coffee?

Siá Kará Café (Calle Industria 502, Esquina Calle Barcelona; +53 7 867 4084). Located right behind the National Capitol Building, this exotic bar-café is perfect for morning snacks, coffee and light meals. In the evening, it has live music and high-quality cocktails.

What’s a great place for lunch?

El Chanchullero is delightful and a favourite restaurant of mine. Climb the wooden stairs to the top balcony and embrace the mysterious yet inviting vibe of the place. The tapas are delicious.

And where should we go for drinks?

Fábrica de Arte Cubano, which means “Cuban art factory”, is the most unique nightclub I’ve ever seen. It’s a multidisciplinary centre where artists aim to bring you the freshest Cuban ideas in painting, sculpture, theatre, fashion, food and, of course, music. Get lost in the venues and gardens in this immersive experience but make sure you arrive before 10pm, as it gets packed.

Where will we find good shopping?

Calle Obispo is the main – yet narrow – artery of Old Havana. It goes all the way from Plaza de Armas, which is full of bookstands and has the public library, to Parque Central, where all the fancy hotels and cars are. Submerge yourself in this river of colour, music and overall delirium in your quest to discover the best boutiques in town.

SEE ALSO: 11 Hotspots to Hit in Havana