Seven Free Things To Do In Havana For Backpackers On A Budget

In today’s post, Claudia Tavani of My Adventures Across the World is sharing her top 7 free things that every backpacker can do in order to save some money when in Havana. Claudia is from Cagliari (Sardinia) and is obsessed with traveling. A former human rights lawyer and academic, after devoting her life to the protection of cultural identity, in November 2013 Claudia decided to give in to her biggest passion and started traveling around Latin America, and she has hardly stopped since. Blogging came as a natural consequence, for Claudia wanted to let her family and friends be updated with her adventures.

vintage car courtesy of Alessandro Abis
Vintage car courtesy of Alessandro Abis 

About Cuba

Cuba is an amazing country that we should all visit. So incredible it is, that I think it deserves more than one trip. In fact, most people I know that have been to Cuba, keep going back. I may soon join the club, because there are lots of places to see in Cuba that I would like to explore, and some I would not mind visiting again. I even know people who have gone through the trouble of taking a long haul flight not once, but three times, and never left Havana, because they liked it so much there.

vedado courtesy of Terry Feuerborn from flickr
Vedado courtesy of Terry Feuerborn

However, Cuba is actually quite expensive to visit, especially in the most touristic destinations such as Havana. However, there are a number of things in Havana that are (almost) completely free and fun to do, and they may help a budget backpacker save some pennies. Here are the seven I highly recommend.

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Walking in Havana Vieja

A stroll in Havana Vieja is a great way to see the beautiful Plaza de la Catedral (and, not far from it, to La Bodeguita del Medio, just for the occasional splurge), to Plaza de Armas and its lovely book market, to Plaza Vieja and beyond.

Staring at the magnificent Capitol Building

plaza de la catedral courtesy of Alessandro Abis 3
Plaza de la catedral courtesy of Alessandro Abis 3

The Capitolio used to be the seat of the government until the Cuban revolution and is now home of the Cuban Academy of Sciences. Imposing and beautiful, it is the perfect subject of many pictures.

Visiting the Museo de la Revolución

If there is one museum that should be visited in Havana, that is the Museo de la Revolución – located in the former presidential palace. For a small fee, it is possible to browse through a huge collection of documents and pictures that can give a much better idea of the history of the country and of the revolution. It is well worth the money paid.

Admiring Plaza de la Revolución

This is where many political rallies and gatherings take place and where political figures address Cubans. The memorial in this square is dedicated to José Martí, one of the heroes of the Cuban revolution. On the opposite side, there is the huge image of Ernesto Che Guevara, which his famous motto “Hasta la Victoria Siempre” and since 2009 that of another Cuban revolution hero, Camilo Cienfuegos.

Snapping the beautiful vintage cars

One of the best sights in Havana are the incredible vintage cars. They are everywhere! Some of them are actually just plain old, rotten cars but some are simply gorgeous, shiny and perfectly restored 1950s cars. They can be spotted anywhere. Parked on the curb, running about, and at any traffic light. And one of the most fun things to do in Havana is taking pictures of them!

Havana cars
Havana cars

Taking a sunset walk on the Malecon

El Malecon de la Havana is where the locals go in the late afternoon. This is the perfect place to see them enjoying the ocean breeze, flirting, or just having a gossip. El Malecon is a 8 km paved road waterfront that takes from the city centre all the way to Vedado, one of the prettiest residential areas of Havana. A possible splurge may be a stop at Hotel Nacional for a sunset cocktail in the beautiful neoclassic/art decò building, which has a gorgeous garden with a wonderful view of the ocean. But it is possible to also visit the hotel without having to get the drink! Another good stop along the way is that of the Callejón de Hamel, to admire some interesting street art and especially enjoy the Afro-Cuban culture.

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Peeping at the beautiful colonial houses of the Vedado

Not many people who visit Havana visit the Vedado, but they should because it is gorgeous! There are beautiful gardens, colonial homes that look like mansions, and the area is simply relaxing as there isn’t much traffic and there are almost no tourists.

Havana 3

Have you been to Havana? Do you have any further tips on places to see on a low budget?


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Agness Walewinder
Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"
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38 thoughts on “Seven Free Things To Do In Havana For Backpackers On A Budget”

  1. Avatar of Shikha (whywasteannualleave)

    I went to Havana last year and I agree with these tips! The sunset on the Malecon was one of the best I have ever seen and the place was full of bright colours everywhere you look from the vintage cars. I also agree that the Revolution Museum is definitely worth a visit – fascinating to learn more about the history there.

    1. Avatar of Claudia

      Thank you for your comment. Havana is a fascinating place. I loved the Revolution Museum. I actually walked along the Malecon both early in the morning and at sunset :)

  2. Avatar of The Guy Who Flies

    Thanks for the great tips Claudia. I’d love to get to Cuba at some point, there seems to be a great vibe and character about the place. Also with the place now opening up to US visitors I’d like to get there before it becomes too crowded!

    1. Avatar of Agness Walewinder
      Agness Walewinder

      I’m so happy she shared her tips on exploring Cuba for free. Havana is on my buket list :-).

    1. Avatar of Claudia

      Haaaaa! Yes, that is a fabulous movie, so I can’t blame you. There are a number of movies that inspire me to travel and Fresa y Chocolate is one of them!

  3. Avatar of Stef

    When I read the headline I was “scared” I might have missed something in Havana, but luckily I did all those things and highly recommend them all. Havana is a great place to stroll around without the need of spending much money.

    1. Avatar of Claudia

      I know!! That is why I put the list together. So many budget travellers don’t go to Cuba because they find it expensive but with a few tricks it can be really cheap!

  4. Avatar of Katarina

    I’ve been waiting for advice like this! Ever since Cuba became open for Americans I’ve been wanting to go there. There still isn’t set-up flights to go from America(I would have to go through Canadian websites to do that. I wish they would have waited a little longer to do that so I could get there faster. Thanks for the tips! I’ll keep them in mind.

  5. Avatar of Franca

    Cuba has been on mind for a while, it looks a very interesting and different place to travel to. I want to get there before things change too much and it’ll look a different country altogether. Thanks for these tips ;)

  6. Avatar of roger

    Havana is a good place to visit and I think it,s capital of Cuba, pictures are really eye catching and vintage cars are centre of attraction. I have also heard that Cuba is leading country in health services.

    1. Avatar of Claudia

      It is. There are no children born in Cuba from parents with HIV, and health care is superb there. Cuba sends its doctors all over the world as they are really good.

  7. Avatar of Escape Hunter

    Cuba is quite a tricky place. It has the reputation of being cheap, but if you’re not careful, you’ll get ripped off and end up spending a lot more than you expect.
    Restaurants aren’t always cheap and now as more and more people travel there, I’m afraid prices will eventually soar.

    1. Avatar of Claudia

      Cuba requires a bit of care but not much more than other places. The best thing with restaurants is eating in paladares (privately owned ones) as they are much cheaper, not to mention much better.

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