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Travel Tip, Havana, Cuba!

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

I´m allready planning to see more and this wonderfull country!

(This article is translatet from Norwegian by Google). The old American cars are the hallmark of Havana! Rejoice! Havana is a wonderfully exciting city, in its own way! The unique culture with the old American cars, the nice and cheerful people in a great country. Havana is still back in the fifties in many areas, there is a lot of poverty, but with little crime. There is plenty to see and experience, the food is good, extra good when you choose the right restaurants. So here it is just to travel! I look forward to coming back!

The unique street scene with all the old American cars

As I said, without these cars, Havana would have been far less attractive as a destination!

Traveling to Cuba and Havana is also far less problematic than I was first told, due to visas, vaccines, currency, crime and poverty. When I summarize in retrospect, it is actually very easy to get into Cuba and in addition it is just nice! If you are planning a trip to Havana, just enjoy.

Welcome to Havana!

Havana a wonderful city! Havana is a city with tons of history, wonderful people, good food and a unique atmosphere. I want to come here again! There is so much to see and experience that it is difficult to get everything at once. Do not postpone the trip for how long the old unique Havana lives is a bit uncertain. If the United States were to open up to extensive cooperation with Cuba, much of the old will unfortunately disappear in a short time. It is precisely these contrasts that make Havana and Cuba so exciting today. After I came home from my first trip, the desire to go back and experience more grows

A clear sign of the everyday contrasts in Havana!

I'm glad I chose to book a private guide the first two days. It made everything much easier when I had to walk alone and enjoy the city for the next few days. My tip, depending on what you want to see and experience, use your legs or a bicycle taxi, it's easy and in addition they need your support.

Many people live off their bike taxis and they depend on some tips!

If you are going further, you will probably use the old American cars, of which there is a large selection. If you travel with several people in a group, it is very popular to drive a procession with American cars. Surfing around and in Havana in this way is an experience, if we are to believe those I spoke to. There was no doubt that the mood was high, because it could be heard several blocks away!

It´s popular to surf around with the great old American cars.

If you are going for a longer trip, it is here as elsewhere, some cars are in top condition and others rattle a little more. Therefore, it is not always smart to jump on the cheapest. What's a little sad is that you never know, because parts are in short supply here in Cuba. It was also my animal-bought experience that you can read more about during excursions.

The vast majority of Cubans are very open, pleasant, easy to talk to and not least they are curious. Norway is surprisingly well known and it was that more people knew a little about our old history. I happened to meet a teacher outside a primary school and completely unsolicited he asked where I came from. Norway I answer and he smiles from ear to ear. "Oh, - you are one of the Vikings!"

He goes on to say that he was a history teacher and that they have just had about old Europe and the Vikings. Otherwise, when I tell that I am from Norway, there are several who said that they had seen the TV series Vikings online and were fascinated by our old history, even though there was a lot of violence at times! Strolling through the narrow streets of

Havana and just looking around is exciting. In particular, I experience that the contrasts between the old dilapidated buildings and those that have now been restored return to the original.

Contrasts between old and new.

We see these contrasts everywhere. In the most dilapidated homes, people live until they need to be renovated. If they had moved, they would not have received the municipal support with a new home in a renovated apartment. There is no doubt that Cubans are proud of their history, which also reinforces their identity. You will also find a large beautiful avenue where people of all ages enjoy themselves socially and the youth play chess. Out of sheer curiosity, I asked who was the best in the world and there was a clear answer, - Carlsen The Norwegian.

This avenue separates what goes by the name "old town" and the otherwise old Havana.

An avenue that is a social center for the locals! Hey you can experience school classes playing, others dancing, playing chess, reading and surfing the net. All around, fairies sit on the benches and have good conversations. Spending some time here we give you a good understanding of who the citizens are.

Two young Carlsen fans!

Among all this, you will quickly notice that food is important and many people eat their lunch outside. The siesta is an important social time of the day and restaurants on every street corner and occasionally small narrow alleys, or just a hole in the wall. Restaurants and food! Havana is a city to bask in. Here you can enjoy delicious dishes from lunch to dinner, but breakfast is quite simple, if you do not stay in a hotel. The food in the restaurants is both good and by Norwegian standards very reasonably priced. There are many top restaurants, but check on TripAdvisor, according to your wishes. Street food is also very popular, both among locals and tourists. So here you just have to throw yourself into the streets and test your taste buds, then you also get a little more understanding of what Cuba tastes like. The national dish is beans, chicken and rice. It may seem a bit boring, but wait until you have tasted it, before you judge!

En nasjonal variant er mørk ris, sjømat, potetstappe, pommes frites og loff.

So good news for anyone who loves lobster. Since seafood and lobster are among my absolute favorites, I enjoyed seafood almost everyday. Yes, here you really get the opportunity to eat well and full for a reasonable price.

In some places the restaurants are close together, but only a few are at the top. Check out!

My first choice for lobster was Esto no es un Cafe. This is a small restaurant with nice staff and good food, at a very good price. There was also another advantage and that was that they had special offers every day and with a price of around 15cuc for a lovely lobster dish.

I guarantee, this lobster stew you will love!

If I have to recommend, their lobster casserole was absolutely fantastic, but remember to ask for a spoon so that you get the delicious sauce that is at the bottom of the casserole, so you can enjoy it while you eat. Otherwise, breakfast is a meal you need to plan well. I did not quite figure out this meal!

Almost empty shelves are often a common sight in Havana. If you are planning to shop for breakfast in your apartment, it's not just that. In Cuba there is a very small selection of everything and there is not a 7/11 on every corner. If you find a bakery and they have something on the shelves, just shop. Orders are not easy to find, and once they have received goods, there are often long queues in front of the shops. That is why it is often easier for us tourists to eat out.

If you see cows, it's because the reputation is good! Now they've got yogurt!

Experience the artists on your evening trip! Walking along the streets in Havna's old town in the evening, on the way to or from dinner, is in many ways an even more exciting trip than during the day. During the day there are lots of tourists, yes more of everything, apart from artists at work. If you stick your head in one or more studios and say hello, you are guaranteed to get a smile back. If you also express that you like what you see and ask some simple questions, well then the conversation is underway.

Deep inside their own world!

Post cards were his main livelihood.

Jeg får låne dette studio 2 timer hver kveld, - det er mitt liv, forteller Alexander!

Everyone I visited spoke English and was interested in where I came from and again, Norway is actually a country many know. Some have heard of Munch and others of the Vikings, yes there it was again! One thing that is common for artists in Havana is that they have very low rents on the premises, if anything at all.

It's not just about buying or starting your own business. So someone just has to dream!

The municipality and the state have a proven policy so that they can take care of and develop the art here in Cuba. In an old printing house, Taller Expremental ED Grafica, next to my favorite restaurant, Esto no es un Cafe, there was a whole collective, Galeria del Grabado. Around 15-20 fantastically talented and very creative artists worked here.

Here you will meet artists in beautiful, wonderful, social work rooms.

Completely without paying rent, only a few "kroner" in sales tax. One of the artists I fell for in these premises, had specialized in drawing and painting skeletons in different situations.

Here you see one of my favorites «The Working Clas Hero»

Remember, if you buy a picture, a postcard, or any other small item they sell, they will appreciate it immensely. It's just to say good evening trip, it's just to enjoy. Another art form that is accepted under approved forms is the street artists. Here they get their own wall or two, so they can frolic, almost as they wish. Street art is a recognized art form in Havana. Wherever you go, they show up. This is not negative tagging, but positive decoration of the cityscape. You also do not want to see anyone "tagging" the pictures that have been painted. Everyone has respect for the decoration that this represents.

When you are out and about, both in the middle of the day and in the evening, you hear the many local bands playing traditional Cuban rhythms. It's absolutely magical. People dance inside the premises and out on the streets.

Tourists are good tippérs and therefore they can continue their entertainment, day after day!

So here you can just couple throw yourself into the dance, - if you want. I promise you when you do and have a little rhythm, you will get applause and lots of smiles. Both the locals appreciate that you show that you like what you hear and the tourists appreciate the entertainment. Do not be shy! The joy they show means that "poverty" is transformed into prosperity and joy of life. I'm fascinated by Cubans and it's not an exaggeration on my part. Almost everywhere you go, troubadours and artists show up.

Otherwise, it is important to tip both bands and others, it is often only the tip they live by. I made sure to have a number of coins in my pocket so I had easy access and no excuses. It is a completely natural part of everyday life, they are all welcomed with joy. The vast majority are happy with 25 or 50cent, others 1cuc, all depending on why you give.

For my part, I tipped someone to be allowed to take photos. Then I also learned that some of those who stand up are professionals and have a special permit from the state. They carry a sign as documentation and then it costs more, around 3cuc for three photos and if you take more it costs more. The title is a storyteller.

Nicely dressed and one of the richest "beggars"!

It was a bit funny, was that I did not have enough coins, but only a 5cuc note. When he was going to give me back money, I became a little speechless. He picked up a purse and there were probably many hundreds of CUCs, if not thousands. So not everyone who "begs" is poor. Whatever you give with your heart and then you can put all the "fly comb" behind you.

Vinales a great day trip, but with unforeseen surprises! If you are going to Havana, you must take the trip to Vinales, an area that gives you the real feeling of the countryside in Cuba. Here they grow and produce, among other things, coffee and cigars, something you can experience up close. Most tours offer a combination of cave hiking, cigar plantations, horseback riding, lunch and cultural heritage.

As mentioned earlier, planning is important when going on a trip. There are many who go on excursions and it is often fully booked. I myself was a little late when I wanted to join a small group, but the alternative was to use a taxi with an American car. We made an appointment, he had good knowledge of the areas, we were going to eat locally and visit both the coffee and cigar plantation.

In addition, a cave and the large rock painting, where we also had to have one last drink. The price of 150CUC is of course more expensive than traveling in a group, where you get away with about 80-100CUC. Before we left, I asked about the condition of the car and he said that he would not embark on a 5h trip without the car being in good condition. (round trip to Havana) That's a good point, we made an appointment and he picked me up at 0700. Great clean and nice car and since he spoke good English we had a great trip.

We had a short stop to refuel, luckily there was no queue when we arrived!

Cubans are nice and open, so I learned a lot about his family and upbringing. He loved to tell. When we were almost there, it slammed! He gets confused and understands nothing. We get the car in on the side of the road and he throws himself down and crawls under the car. He calls after, after! The intermediate shaft has smoked. He was terribly upset, almost in tears, because we were standing there without moving on.

When the need is greatest, it is good to have good friends. (2 photos) Also note that there are a few kg of steel plastic on the ducts to hold the car together!

Several tourist groups passed by in buses and taxis, but luckily one of the cars stopped, where the driver was a friend of my driver. They talk a little and then I get to join his group. In his car, I meet a couple from New York and two friends from Houston, Texas. Luck for me because then I ended up in one of the guided tours which was fully booked and it was very nice in total we were 8 plus me divided into two cars. The first stop was The Indian Cave, a beautiful cave that shows the wonders of nature. This whole trip takes no more than about 20 minutes, but it was a great experience. Here it is important to follow and be good at taking pictures. In order not to ruin the colors of nature with a flash, I used the iPhone 11 Pro to take the picture from the cave.

This area was just beautiful! Before we start on the plantations we will have lunch. We arrive at a small cafe with a large selection of local delicacies. delicious dishes in a cozy environment! Put the same pictures Here it is important to try out the different dishes. My tip is to taste everything, you will be surprised, it was actually a simple Cuban men's meal. Then the trip continued to a large cigar plantation. What is a little sad is that January is not the season for harvesting because then the activity is of course far more active on the farm. But we got a great introduction to cigar growing and production.

Jouan tells the story of cigar production in Cuba.

Those who wished could also roll their own cigar and enjoy it, which many did with great pleasure.

A good cup of local coffee was also on the menu, but coffee cultivation was unfortunately not included in our program. We got some pictures taken by the workers

Nothing smells as good as freshly roasted coffee! The last stop on the program this day was the giant painting Mural de la Prehistoria. This painting is 120 meters long, over 100 high and shows the evolution of the earth. It is huge and when you look closely you see that it is painted according to a special template.

Some of the tourists were particularly interested in the painting technique. Yes, it is a nice end to the trip, when you take the obligatory trip to the small bar that you will find in the area to enjoy the island's "best" Pina Colada!

The giant rock painting Mural de la Prehistoria.

Thanks for the ride.

Hotel and or private accommodation in Havana! Since neither Airbnb, nor and the like work in Cuba, you should plan your trip in advance. There is a large selection of simple rooms, apartments and houses on Airbnb. The vast majority of Airbnb landlords have a very good service attitude, as this is an important source of income for them. Try to decide where you want to stay and of course the price range. If you choose a single room, it works well according to everyone I spoke to. If you choose an apartment, it certainly has its advantages

View from 2 bedroom apartment in O'Reilly

I even stayed a few days in the old part of Havana, at the top of O'Reilly Street right in the center. Since the bedroom was towards the backyard it was very quiet and calm. Lucky also when the traffic was light in the wee hours of the moraine, you could sleep a little longer. You have to remember that the mattresses in Cuba are not like Norwegian «Jensen», but perfectly ok. When choosing to stay on Airbnb, especially where you only rent a room, appreciate small gifts in addition to the rent. It could be a little Norwegian thing or something you buy from a local artist, or at the airport when you arrive. If you want to stay in several places and or combine with hotels, book in advance. Walking in from the street and booking a hotel room is at least 2-3 times more expensive. I stayed the last few days at the Hotel Plaza right in the center. This is a venerable old 4 star hotel with a nice foyer and bar on the ground floor. The hotel is very centrally located with a short distance to all major activities. If you need a taxi, they are right outside.

Outside the hotel there are long queues of old American taxis.

This is a perfectly ok hotel for only 750, - per night incl. A good breakfast at the top of the hotel. . The terrace had a great view and the chef made very good omelettes, but it was important to arrive early to get fresh tomatoes and parmesan for the omelette.

If you want to stay a little better than at the Plaza, there are several to choose from, but Hotel Nacional is a good option with lots of history in the walls, sea views and local entertainment. Prices from about NOK 1750, - NB! Always check several websites as prices may vary from company to company. Fly to Havana and combine with a few days in Miami: To get a little extra out of the trip to Cuba, my recommendation is to combine with a few days in the Fort Lauderdale area.

The beaches throughout Miami and Fort Lauderdale are beautiful. With good planning in advance, you can get a flight with Norwegian direct to / from Fort Lauderdale from NOK 2756. This is both fastest, cheapest, easy, direct and comfortable. Travel time is 10h10min. (Price example is from 2022 look at FLY NORSE .) From Fort Lauderdale to Havana, Jet recommends Blue or Delta. With good planning, you will return from approx. NOK 1800 with JetBlue and approx. 1900 with Delta. If you want to travel directly to Havana, you must choose Delta. If you choose a few days in the Miami area before you travel to Cuba, Jet Blue is a good alternative. That said check in good time, it gives the best prices.

NB! News ist starting route from Oslo in June and July 2022. Same good prices as Norwegian.

Fact box: Visa / Passport: This is simple, but do not search via the embassy, ​​but contact If you live in Oslo, you can pick up the Visa yourself from NOK 590 or have it sent to you. When you come to Cuba you get a stamp on your visa. NB! You must keep the visa with a stamp until you return home, then you deliver it from you. Remember that your passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 to six months after the time of departure. Fact box: Money: It is not possible to use cards in Cuba, except in the ATM to change, - something you have to! 1 CUC is approx. kr. 10, -. Dollars are approx. 1-1. You can change at the airport. Since there is always a queue to change, one of you can go out to change, while you wait for your luggage. There are several changing machines in the center of Havana.

You will find one in the pedestrian zone of the old town, Banco Metropoltiano, close to the teleshop where you will buy your internet cards. The store is called Etecsa and is located in Obispo (pedestrian street). There is also an ATM at the back of the Museo Nacionale de Bellas Artes. This is also very important. It is easy to switch between using Visa and MasterCard. Fact box: Internet: 1 hour of surfing costs 1 CUC and normally you only get hourly cards, although there are also cards of 3 and 5 hours. Buy more at once, there is always a queue there as well. The card has two codes and one must be scratched out.

Purchased in the teleshop Although the hotel and others offer internet, in most cases there is only access by card. There are also separate public wifi areas in parks and squares, cafes and museums, but far from all have internet. NB! If you use the phone regularly, it costs a fortune! Call wifi and otherwise turn the phone into «flight mode»! Fact box: Excursions: If you have a week, I recommend two to three days in Havana, one to two days in scenic Vinales or on the beach in Varadero. It is 2.5 hours drive to both of these areas. If you have two weeks, you will have a great round trip to Cuba. Whatever you choose, I again recommend planning ahead. There is plenty to do and many offers excursions with guides, but it gets filled up quickly. Choose groups of around 8-12 people, then you get the most back from the guide. I recommend one no matter a nice day trip is to Vinales.

you experience local agriculture, cigar and coffee plantations, horseback riding, cave walks and local food. Prices are around 80-100CUC which includes guided tour and lunch. Fact box: Local guide in Havana. If you can afford a personal guide in Havana itself, you will get the very best tour. I chose a day where we walked around large parts of the old town and a day by car where we drove around the whole city. Prices for knowledgeable local guides you get from 140 cuc for up to 4 people.

Here I can recommend a very knowledgeable young lady, Rocio Lavastida mail: . Feel free to use TripAdvisor in addition to Google for more options. If you are looking for sun and swimming, Varader is the closest winner. If you want to travel on a tour, it is a small town with the famous name Trinidad or Baracoa other popular places to travel to. Unfortunately, I did not manage everything on this trip, but learned that two weeks is the least you need for a tour of Cuba. Fact box: Local transport: Taxi is the only solution and there are four types of taxi in Havana. The yellow traditional taxis that are cheaper, than the ones that most tourists use, namely the old American cars. Taxi fares from the airport to the city center by amcar cost from 25-35 CUC (NOK 250, - to 350, -) A day trip of approx. 5h costs from 100-150 CUC incl waiting if you are going out and experience a farm or similar. (it is possible to bargain gently with respect)

Local flights are a story in themselves, but you can get from Havana to Baracoa for between NOK. 2500, - and kr. 3000, -. There are flights about 3 times a week. Everyone I met, who had been on excursions around Cuba, had either taken a taxi or bus to where they were going.

Most often in organized form.

Travel tips Cuba, Havana, explore Cuba

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