Havana City Guide
OVERVIEW: Havana is absolutely mesmerizing. The people, architecture, landscape and culture all come together in a magnetic way that make it different from any place on earth. After only an hour in Havana you will feel notably different but you won't know why.
WEATHER: Tropical climate (22-28 °C). Rainy season June-October.
SAFETY: For the most part, entirely safe. Robberies can occur in parts of Old Havana, Central Havana and at night on the malecon, but these incidents are typically opportunistic so if you use common sense you'll be fine.
MUST DO: Walk. There are so many attractions in this city it is impossible to list only one must see. But you can easily spend a full week here and be completely content just walking the streets of the sprawling city.
RENT AN APARTMENT IN HAVANA: $500.00-$600.00 for a month in a casa particular. You may be able to find cheaper but the accommodation may not be legal.
HOSTEL DORM BED/NIGHT $10.00 - $25.00 (I recommend Paradise Hostel Backpackers in Centro Habana for an economically-friendly choice, or somewhere in Vedado for better nightlife and prettier girls.
NIGHTLIFE IN HAVANA: 7.75/10
Nightlife in Havana is almost as fascinating as it is frustrating. Fascinating because of the endless choice, frustrating because as a tourist you won't have access to the best spots without some serious intel from trustworthy Cuban friends. As a tourist, you'll have several options for dazzling spots with cheap drinks and excellent music. Unfortunately, you'll be surrounded by fellow tourists with not a Cuban in sight who's not part of the waitstaff. The best shot you have at an authentic Cuban experience is on the malecon on Friday night. Take a bottle of rum and a lighter or two and you'll make fast friends.
I recommend: El Chanchullero. Great value, delicious food and the perfect place to meet Mexican, Brazilian and European tourists.
CAN OF BEER: $1.00
CHANCE OF HOOKING-UP IN HAVANA: 6/10
Hooking-up in Havana as a tourist is a complex issue. You will have to wade through slews of prostitutes and sort-of prostitutes before you find someone who likes you for you. And even if you manage to find a nice girl who's not looking to capitalize on your foreign status, you likely won't have anywhere to take her (many casas do not allow visitors, and tourists visiting locals isn't permitted...not to mention the fact that she'll probably share a bedroom with her two sisters and grandmother). The best area for getting with someone who isn't a hooker would be Vedado. Ensure that you get a casa or hotel in this area that allows visitors if getting a Cuban flag is high on your priority list. Then, hit the malecon or the local bars and put forth your best effort. But it is not easy to hook up in Havana.
ARE GIRLS HOT IN HAVANA?: 8.5/10.
"To live in Havana was to live in a factory that turned out human beauty on a conveyor belt."
-Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana
Havana has some of the most beautiful, sexy and enchanting women in the world. I'm sure of it. They radiate sexuality in such a visceral way. The lingering stares, smiles and curves will have you wanting to become a permanent resident of the island. That is, until you remember the terrible food, non-existent salaries and your unshakable label as an outsider and walking ATM machine. But yes, girls are hot, hot, hot in Havana.
If you want to meet women in Cuba, you will need to speak some Spanish. The Pickup Spanish Program is the only course of its kind, designed specifically to teach you Spanish for meeting Latinas in Latin America.
GROCERIES: Milk (1L)= $1.25 Loaf of Bread= $0.35 Eggs= $0.70 Water (1.5L)= $1.00 Cigarettes= $1.00
JOB OPPORTUNITIES: Nothing for money. You could make a killing illegally importing things and selling them, but it is not worth risking Cuban prison.
TAXI: Whatever they can take you for. Don't pay more than $3.00 or $4.00 for short trips. For really short trips, take bicycle taxis.
NOTES: A sensory overload. Irritating and magnificent, depressing and uplifting, terrible and perfect. Havana is too many things that are impossible to sum up in a couple cute sentences. Just when you think you've figure it out, something will subvert everything you thought you knew and you will understand even less. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you need to visit Havana.
OVERALL RATING: 9/10
*More city guides from Cuba here!