Walking Tour in Havana – Top 11 Spots You Need To Know!

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One of the reasons I wanted to take a cruise to Cuba is because I was concerned about safety. One day in a communist country was enough, with the theory of getting in and getting out before a revolution could break out! I found out I was being a little dramatic. After doing some research, I found that Cuba is very safe and the Europeans have been vacationing there for years.

A Havana walking tour will show you everyday life in the old city of Havana. Walking around downtown Havana will show you the historic architecture and beautiful culture of the Old City which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It will give you an idea of life for people in Havana. You will see famous buildings like the Capitol building and the Original Sloppy Joe’s while walking down Cobblestone Streets.

Is Havana Safe?

The Cuban economy was absolutely dependent on cruise ships as well as other tourism for their economy to stay alive. Now that the cruises are no longer going to Havana, it should be far less busy. But this also means that the locals will be looking to get more from the people that do come to Cuba. Locals offering “help” will be your biggest issue in Old Havana.

It is in Cuba’s best interest to make sure that people can come here and enjoy the sites. The government is struggling to support the people and tourism is one of their only means of bringing money into Cuba.

This is why Cuba is very safe. They do not want visitors to be alienated.

The Cuban people are warm, inviting and friendly and with that being said an offer from a Cuban to assist you in some way will usually end with them expecting a tip of a Peso for their unsolicited assistance or a “gift”. A few people we spoke with back on the ship found the requests to be a little annoying.

Some Warnings About Havana

I tried to look at the locals asking for pesos from a different perspective. They are survivors. This is what they know and they are certainly not making a mint from this system of unsolicited “help”. We would not have gotten the picture in front of Christ’s statue if this “help” had not been offered. They struggle to get food on their plate every day. This is how they make it work in a system of rations.

I looked at it as a mission trip. A firm “no” will end the conversation when you do not need “help” or are not interested in their home-made trinkets.

Many tourists will bring toiletries to give as tips because Cubans cannot get toothpaste or toilet paper. Now don’t get me wrong….. there is luxury in Havana as well. In fact, we chose to eat lunch at the Saratoga Hotel and we did not have to pay to use their bathroom! The hotel rivals any five-star US hotel and the food was amazing. But if you are walking the streets just be aware it is not all the same.

The Top 11 Spots To Visit In Havana

All of the best spots in Old Havana are within walking distance in the Old City.

The Capitol Building Havana - Born to be Boomers
The Capitol Building Havana
  1. The Capitol Building – Newly renovated, you can see where the action happens in the Cuban Government.
  2. Taquechel Pharmacy Museum – The pharmacy sells herbs and also is a museum. The woodwork and architecture are amazing here.
  3. Obispo Street – The square is loaded with activity, stores, and restaurants.
  4. Hotel SaratogaGreat views of the Capitol and excellent food at the rooftop bar.
  5. Plaza de San Francisco – This is definitely a local gathering spot. A Franciscan Convent located by the port.
  6. Museo de Armas – This museum houses Castro’s personal gun and knife collection and is located in the heart of the Old City.
  7. Museo de la Ciudad (City Museum) – Here you can see an elegant 1700s palace with a central courtyard, housing colonial historic photos.
  8. Sloppy Joe’s Bar – Reopened in 2013 after being closed for 48 years, you will be able to see the original Sloppy Joe’s and where celebrities like Sinatra visited before Castro’s reign.
  9. Catedral de San Cristobal – Located near the port on the plaza, this is where Christoper Colombus’s remains were housed before being moved to Spain in 1898.
  10. The Malecon – Stroll with locals on one of the main roads that follow the Caribbean Sea for 5 miles.
  11. Drink Cuba Libras and listen to Cuban Music – As you walk the streets in Havana there will be many entertainers in the bars and restaurants.
Havana Walking Tour.  Taquechel Pharmacy Museum - Born to be Boomers
Taquechel Pharmacy Museum

Everyday Life In Havana

Children in school, Old Havana
Children in school

Go with an open mind and an open heart. My goal in my pictures was to exhibit the culture and lifestyle of the Cuban people so we ventured out in some other areas that were not just touristy areas.

Kids running down the street in Old Havana
Getting out of school early!

Merchants like this are moving their food around. I also saw a man with two huge Mahi on a stick he was carrying across his back. Unfortunately, I had put my camera away and missed the shot.

Man transporting onions and garlic to the restaurants.
Garlic Cart

Musicians are playing everywhere! Make sure you practice your Latin dancing before you go! People do dance in the streets and cafe’s.. It is totally awesome to watch.

Cuban music in Old Havana

We stopped in this little cafe and listened to the music and cooled off with some Cuba Libres! After their song was finished they pass a basket around looking for tips and want to sell their CD’s.

Cuban Pets

A Dalmatian guarding a business doorway.

Pets in Old Havana

Pets are lounging around all over the streets. They have tags on them so they are legal to be out. They mostly seemed to be strays but I think that is how they get food. Food can be scarce for locals and it is not like they have a Petco down the street.

Cuban Merchants

A man was running his store from here. He was selling hats and T-Shirts but really did not have much of a selection. It was mostly this way in Cuba, The locals mostly sell handmade items to get extra pesos.

A guy selling T Shirts and hats in Old Havana

Everywhere we looked laundry was being hung outside. In the morning when we were driving around Havana, I noticed when you looked at the homes, women were sweeping and cleaning their homes for the day. All of the windows and doors would be open. They have no air conditioning and no hot water in their homes.

How Cubans do laundry.

Plan on heading back your hotel or ship around mid-afternoon as it gets pretty warm and you will want a couple of hours to relax before heading out to the nightlife!

See the rest of the day here!

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135 responses to “Walking Tour in Havana – Top 11 Spots You Need To Know!”

  1. Jennifer Avatar

    I like all the colored buildings in Havana. I’d like to do photography with them.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      It is such a great place for photos.

  2. Michelle Felux Avatar
    Michelle Felux

    Wow what a unique trip! I love visiting other countries and experiencing their culture.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Yes, we like to go places off the beaten path. I have spent my whole life going where everyone else goes. Give me out of the way!

  3. kmf Avatar

    Love that you ventured outside the touristy areas as well as your advice to go with an open mind and an open heart.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Yes, it is shocking for some, so I felt I should let others know.

  4. Annette Avatar

    Such a great cultural experience. I’ve never been there, but would certainly need to retire first to enjoy.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      That is a great way to describe it, a cultural experience. You are on vacation but there is so much else to experience.

  5. Shirley Avatar

    This article makes me want to pack my bags and make plans to visit Havana!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I can’t wait to see what you think Shirey!

  6. melissa Avatar

    What an amazing experience. I had no idea there were so many dogs and that they were tagged! We have Cuba on our list of places to visit, so I appreciate your tips. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thanks Melissa, there were lots of pets in the streets. Some were stray cats. They hung out where the food was of course. But these guys just stayed put. Havana is interesting for sure

  7. Cindy Avatar

    Havana looks like a fascinating city to explore. I’d love to visit.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I hope you get to Old Havana one day! Thanks Cindy!

  8. Missy Avatar

    What time of year do you recommend visiting to avoid crowds?

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Well, the summer would be best to avoid crowds but it will be so hot. We were there in May and by the afternoon we were ready to go back to the ship to cool off.

  9. Cindy Avatar

    This is very much on my list of places to see.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I hope you get to Havana soon Cindy!

  10. Chantelle Avatar

    Oh! This looks
    so awesome! I love all the information you provide, going to pin this for sure because I am dying to get to Cuba!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Awesome Chantelle! I can’t wait to hear about your adventures in Havana!

  11. Stephanie Avatar

    This looks like a great place to go to experience authenticity.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      It is very authentic in Old Havana. You get to see real-life even in the tourist areas.

  12. Pam Avatar

    Wow. Super interesting. I’d love to visit Cuba someday. I love that you checked out the “real” life too, not just the tourist attractions.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      That was important to me. I went before I started blogging so there were so many more photos I would have gotten but I will never regret getting the ones of real life that I did.

  13. Carey Avatar

    Cuba has been on my bucket list of places to visit. Although this might not happen, I absolutely love your pictures and the information about Havana.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      US Citizens can still go to Cuba and it is so reasonable. I hope you get there soon.

  14. Alison Avatar

    Your trip to Havana looks incredible and I love how you highlight the local culture in your photos. Some of the best stories are off the beaten path, thanks for sharing!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I was happy that I was able to get real-life shots. There certainly was plenty of opportunities.

  15. Suzan Avatar

    This is definitely one island on my bucket list!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I hope you get there soon!

  16. Lisa Avatar

    This walking tour looks amazing! We are always looking for new places to venture to.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thanks Lisa! Cuba has a lot of walk-up sites.

  17. Marianne Avatar

    I have yet to go to Cuba! I have heard mixed reviews, but your photos are wonderful!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Cuba is definitely not for everyone. I am pretty sure most of the places we went into did not have AC … But for us, it was worth it.

  18. Tiffany Avatar

    Oh – I cannot wait to travel again!

  19. Debbie Avatar

    This is so informative and sounds like a destination to add to my bucket list!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Awesome! I can’t wait to hear about a trip to Havana!

  20. Barbara Avatar

    This looks very beautiful!

  21. Alice Avatar

    Thank you for the information and pictures of Havana. It was helpful.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Awesome Alice! I am glad you enjoyed the photos of Old Havana!

  22. Kay Avatar

    This seems like a really neat place to visit! I love that you included if it was safe or not to travel there!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      It was my main concern. Living only 80 miles away, we always had a weird sense of danger about the place. But it is very safe.

  23. Stacey Billingsley Avatar
    Stacey Billingsley

    I’d love to go to Cuba! I’ve really been interested in going since I read the book Next Year in Havana. I would definitely love to experience the music and taste all the food. Great post!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I would love to read that! The music was one of the best parts.

  24. Leeandra Avatar

    I would love to visit Havana some day!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I hope you get there Leeandra!

  25. Sara Avatar

    I love walking around and exploring the residential parts of a city. It’s such an eye opening experience to see how other people live.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Exactly! I found their lifestyle fascinating.

  26. Holly Avatar

    I have always wanted to go to Cuba.. your pictures are amazing and really makes me want to go!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I hope you get to Old Havana soon Holly!

  27. Charlene Avatar

    I love that you went out of your way to photograph more of the “normal” parts of the city – not just the touristy areas. That really gives me a better feel for everyday life.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thank you Charlene! I was glad I found some real life in Old Havana.

  28. Kate Avatar

    Beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing.

  29. Kendra Avatar

    What a fascinating place to visit! I’m glad that it is a safe destination for travel now!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Thanks Kendra! Old Havana is very safe.

  30. Bonnie Avatar

    I would love to visit Havana with a walking tour 🙂 Thanks for sharing the spots to visit.

  31. Suz Avatar

    I’m so sad that I didn’t get to visit Cuba before the cruise ships got there!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Suz, you can still go! You can fly right into Havana from the US.

  32. Eva Keller Avatar
    Eva Keller

    This looks like such a great trip! I hope we get to visit some day!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Old Havana does not disappoint! Thanks Eva!

  33. Laura Lee Avatar
    Laura Lee

    What a great trip and adventures!

  34. Angie Gezelman Avatar
    Angie Gezelman

    Your pictures are great! I dream of the day I can travel…


    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      I hope you get to Old Havana soon!

  35. Lisa Manderino Avatar
    Lisa Manderino

    If I do get to Cuba I will be bringing lots of tooth paste to hand out!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      They love it! Dental products are at a premium in Cuba!

  36. Danielle Ardizzone Avatar
    Danielle Ardizzone

    I think it’s really fantastic that you share this information. When we traveled to St. Lucia, we had locals coming up to us on the beach constantly to peddle something and offer “help.” Being young (at the time), I was petrified. But considering it from the perspective you mentioned (they’re just trying to survive) makes it much less anxiety-provoking.

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Yes! A firm no seems to work. My husband struggles with keeping the conversation going. Give when you want but be firm when you want to be left alone.

  37. heather Avatar

    Great post. Cuba is a fascinating country. I have enjoyed reading about your posts about it. A former boss of mine went a couple of years ago and loved it.

  38. Julie Avatar

    Looks like a great day – I didn’t realize cruise ships went to Cuba!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Yes, there are several!

  39. Vessy Avatar

    Fantastic photos, and boy…I would LOVE to visit Cuba someday soon! It looks like such a neat place and a great cultural experience! 😊👍🏻

  40. Annette Avatar

    WOW!! This sounds like a great trip!!! I’m glad you overcame your fear and made some great memories, had some wonderful experiences, and enjoyed life!!!

  41. Kathryn at QuestFor47.com Avatar

    Looks like an amazing trip! Cuba is such an interesting country, with how it has this interesting mixture of not modern and traditional with slowly moving to catch up. It’s so cool!

  42. Dee Avatar

    Havana is on my list of places to visit!

  43. Christa

    I can’t wait to travel to Cuba. I would love to hear the incredible live music. Your photos are wonderful and make me want to leave for a trip tomorrow.

  44. Arianny Rodriguez Avatar

    Love these photos! I hope to visit Havana one day.

    1. Tricia Avatar

      Let me know when you make it happen!

  45. T.M. Brown Avatar
    T.M. Brown

    I love hearing about your adventures in Cuba. I’ve been curious about it, but am not at the point of wanting to visit yet. However, your posts do help bring insight to the culture and opportunities to explore. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Tricia Avatar

      Don’t wait too long! They are changing things over there.

  46. Brigette Avatar

    That sounded like an amazing trip. Cuba is high on our bucket list of places to go. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Tricia Avatar

      Let me know how it goes Brigette!

  47. Michele Vadnais Avatar

    There you go teasing us with that car again! What a great experience! Thank you for sharing all sides of Cuba with us!

    1. Tricia Avatar

      LOL! That car is priceless! Thank you Michele!

  48. Monica Avatar

    My friend just did a cruise to Cuba and loved it. We love to cruise so Cuba is on our list for the future.

    1. Tricia Avatar

      Have fun and let me know how it goes!

  49. Heidi Hourani Avatar

    Hi Tricia,

    This is such a candid post about your trip to Havana. I love your view point about how the people there are survivors and really only trying to make a living. Your post really emphasizes the human side of things and I found you to be such a compassionate person which I love. Sometimes, we forget how privaleged we really are and it takes seeing how other people live that really give us more of an appreciation for our own lives. Great pictures!

    – Heidi

    1. Tricia Avatar

      Awww ….. Thank you Heidi! I appreciate your comment! I bought a new camera for the trip. I knew there would be amazing opportunities!

  50. Brooke Avatar

    Wow. I didn’t know much about life in Cuba. Thanks for sharing. I’m glad you shared more than just tourist attractions.

  51. Tonya @ the Writer Mom Avatar

    It looks like an interesting place to visit, and good to know it’s safe!

    1. Tricia Avatar

      Yes. I felt totally comfortable there!

  52. Mary Avatar

    Wow, these are great photos. I grew up in an area with many exiled Cubans, so I have an emotional connection to the place. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    1. Tricia Snow Avatar

      Me too Mary, but from living in South Florida. I have always been fascinated by Cuba.

  53. Cassie Avatar

    I love all the colors in the city, so pretty!!!

  54. Janine Avatar

    I love that you didn’t just stick to the “luxury” parts of Havana but that you tried to see all sides of the city.

    1. Tricia Avatar

      Love to see how the people live life!

  55. Jessica Corris Avatar

    This looks great! I really look forward to visiting Cuba.

  56. Jessica Corris Avatar

    So great! Cuba looks amazing, I hope I have an opportunity to go as well.

    1. Tricia Avatar

      It was amazing! And different!

  57. Shirley Avatar

    Can US citizens get to Cuba by cruise ship? I would love to visit one day.

    1. Tricia Avatar

      Yes, US travelers can now go to Cuba with some restrictions. Once you get there though no one is enforcing them. Cruising was the simplest way for me.

  58. Jennifer Avatar

    So many of my Canadian friends have visited Cuba so many times and speak so highly of it. I have got make a plan to go there! Love the tips.

    1. Tricia Avatar

      Let me know how it goes!

  59. Melissa Parcel Avatar

    This looks like such an amazing trip, I would love to go to Havana

    1. Tricia Avatar

      Can’t wait to hear about it!

  60. Kirsten Avatar

    What a beautiful country! In the schools look so fascinating.

    1. Tricia Avatar

      I was so excited when I found it!

  61. Kristi @ Way Beyond The Norm Avatar

    Love it! You got some amazing photos! What a fun trip.

    1. Tricia Avatar

      Thank you Kristi!.

  62. Rosanna Avatar

    It looks like a nice place to visit.

  63. Nicki Avatar

    Beautiful photos!! I love seeing the colors and people just doing what they do.

  64. Andrew Shakespeare Avatar

    A remarkable part of the world. Definitely on my bucket list.

  65. Missy Avatar

    We have not been there yet. I liked the different perspective.

    1. Tricia Avatar

      I thought it was interesting to report on a culture that has been so isolated for so long.

  66. Pam Avatar

    Sounds super interesting – I was just listening to a webinar that included cruise ships to Cuba – I think that would be a fun and easy way to visit.

    1. Tricia Avatar

      It was easy and they handle everything for you!

  67. Liz Siemers Avatar

    Thank you for sharing your perspective, this was very helpful and eye-opening. We are traveling to Mexico in a few weeks, and I suspect some of the locals may behave similarly. I will definitely keep an open mind!

    1. Tricia Avatar

      Let me know how your trip goes!

  68. Crystal Statskey Avatar

    It’s my dream to go to Havana someday. Great photos! I never knew dogs had to wear those tags in order to remain on the street. Interesting how some cities live!

    1. Tricia Avatar

      I thought it was weird but then since I did not see a leash all day I guess it makes it easy to keep track.

  69. Jocelyn Avatar

    What an eye-opening and enriching experience! I like that you shared the “real” side of your visit, not just the fun or exciting parts. Great post!

    1. Tricia Avatar

      Whenever I travel I want to see how the locals live!

  70. Cathy Avatar

    I loved your mindset of treating your trip as a mission. Very compassionate! Also looks like an amazing trip 😁

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