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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.