Havana Inside & Out PLUS

Be a local for a day!

Capital of all Cubans, Havana is simply a lively and colorful city plenty of bustle and entertainment, with some splendid architectural gems from the Colonial period and beyond. Founded on 1519 as San Cristobal of Havana, it is still today the main economic, political, cultural and social hub of the country. Everything, from the beauty of buildings architecture to the treasure of museums, invites you to get deeper within the street maze. Its old section along with the defense system were declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site in 1982, the historic heart of Havana is the largest Colonial center in Latin America where time seems to stand still there!

PROGRAM


Departing from Havana: 09:00-16:00
Departing from Varadero: 07:30-18:00 (2 hrs drive to Havana).

  • Visit to the surroundings of the Morro-Cabaña fortresses complex.
  • Walking tour in Old Havana. Visit to Saint Francis of Assisi Square, Arms Square, Old Square and Cathedral Square, La Bodeguita del Medio bar, Hotel Ambos Mundos (Ernest Hemingway´s regular bars and hotel in Old Havana) and others.
  • Panoramic tour along the seafront avenue, "Malecón", the Revolution Square, National Hotel, FOCSA Building, Christopher Columbus Cemetery. Stop at some of these places for pictures.
  • Lunch at a local private restaurant: “Paladar” (price varies depending on your choice).
  • Breathtaking ride on a vintage convertible car for 30 minutes. Travel back in time to the 50’s and do it your way like Frankie!!! Sightseeing around Central Park, Opera House, Capitol building, Prado promenade, City Walls, Train Station, former Bacardi Building, Sloppy Joe’s Bar, Floridita Bar and Museum of the Revolution, former Presidential Palace. Stop at some of these places for pictures.
  • Optional visit to a cigar factory (admission fee: 10.00 CUC per person) and Christopher Columbus Cemetery (admission fee: 5.00 CUC per person).
  • Optional visit to a flea market.
  • Drive back to your accommodation.

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Important notes:

  • Quality: Experienced, Reliable, English speaking local guides.
  • Convenient: Pick-up with private air-conditioned and insured transportation
  • Personalized: Fully customizable tour itineraries.
  • Service: 24/7 Customer Support.
  • Payment in CUC or USD cash is required at the end of the tour. Check our rate for USD.
  • In case of American citizens, this cultural exchange includes a full-time schedule of activities intended to enhance contact and support for Cubans. All our tours fall under the Support for the Cuban People Category.



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Tour Highlights

  • Hotel Nacional This gem of Eclecticism opened in 1930 and became famous for excellent service and a long list of illustrious guests such as Nat King Cole, Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, Walt Disney, Marlon Brando, and several American Mafiosi as Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano. It stands where in the 18th Century the Santa Clara Battery was emplaced, part of the old city´s defense system, of which two cannons remain in the hotel´s garden. It was declared in 1998 as National Monument.
  • Revolution Square “José Martí”This construction was conceived in 1953 as Civic Square, on the 100th anniversary of the Cuban national hero´s birth and finished in 1959 when it was renamed as Revolution Square. It consists of a 142 meters tower representing a five pointed star and a huge statue of José Martí whose Memorial is in the interior of the base. Since 1959 it has been Cuba´s political and administrative center and the main venue for political rallies and official celebrations. Pope John Paul II in 1998 and Pope Benedicto XVI in 2012 celebrated masses together with thousands of worshipers.
  • Morro Castle Construction of this fortress was designed by Bautista Antonelli and built between 1589 and 1630. The original lighthouse was rebuilt many times, the one that still stands today is from 1845 and has its original lamp. Havana was a highly prized target for enemies and pirates for its extremely favorable strategic position in the Caribbean and became the most fortified city in any Spanish colony. It was declared a UNESCO site as part of the city´s defense system along with other  fortresses as La Cabaña, La Real Fuerza, La Punta, etc.
  • Grand Theater of Havana It was designed by Belgian architect Paul Belau to host the social activities of Havana´s large and affluent Spanish community. The magnificent façade is decorated with four sculpture groups depicting Charity, Education, Music and Theater. It was built over the foundations of the Tacón Theater which opened on November 1837. The present building was inaugurated on 1915 and has witnessed world famous artist as Fanny Essler, Verdi, Sarah Bernhardt, Arthur Rubinstein, Anna Pavlova and Alicia Alonso, etc. Today, it houses the National Ballet of Cuba.
  • The Capitol The Cuban Capitol, Inaugurated on May 20th, 1929 was the seat of the House of Representatives and the Senate until 1959. It marks the 0 kilometer of Cuba’s highways system. Its almost 92 meters high dome, the Chamber of Deputies, the Hall of Lost Steps and the statue “the Republic”, made by the Italian artist Angelo Zanelli, the third largest indoor statue in the world are among its many attractions. Today, it houses the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment.
  • Old SquareThe hustle and bustle at San Francisco Square bothered religious services at the Basilica. The Franciscan fathers requested the creation of a square for exclusive commercial use, named New Square. After the creation of other urban areas in the 19th century it lost its initial name becoming Old Square. Cristina Market was built in the center in honor of the Queen, being demolished in 1908. Administrative and business offices sprang up with the 20th Century and a small amphitheater with a parking lot beneath were built in 1952 which are no longer part of this square after its restoration.
  • Cathedral SquareIt was originally known as Swamp Square because of the marshy land and subterranean springs. A church built by the Jesuit order (1748-1776) was promoted to the status of cathedral 1789, thus the original plaza became Cathedral Square. Some aristocratic buildings appeared later as Lombillo, Marquis of Aguas Claras and Marquis of Arcos palaces. The cathedral´s Baroque façade is grandiose with two large asymmetrical towers and its neoclassical interior treasures frescoes by Italian Giovani Perovani and Jean Baptiste Vermay. Pope John Paul II visited it in 1998.
  • Square of Saint Francis de AssisiIts location made it the center of imports, export, sailors and troops disembarking. The construction of a humble Franciscan convent, later one of the most beautiful buildings in the area, gave its name to the open space. The Fountain of the Lions, donated by Villanueva Count in 1836 and sculpted in Carrara marble, supplied for many years the ships docked here with drinking water. The Stock Exchange (1909) and the Customs House (1914) were added to the physiognomy of the square.
  • El TempleteNeoclassic monument inaugurated in 1828 as a remembrance to the foundation of Saint Christopher of Havana. It stands where there was a silk-cotton tree, under whose shadow the first Mass and city council were held on November 16th, 1519. Inside, there are three canvases by Jean Baptiste Vermay depicting these scenes. Every year on November 16th, locals would circle the tree three times, knock on its trunk three times and ask for their wishes as part of a town tradition.
  • MalecónThis seafront promenade runs for 7 km alongside the city´s historic quarters, from the colonial center to the skyscrapers of El Vedado. This busy boulevard is lined with many attractive buildings whose pastel hues have faded in the sun and salty air. It is magical at sunset, popular among fishermen, and the perfect place for people to hang out, meet friends and socialize.
  • Real Fuerza CastleThis fortress was built in 1558-1577 to protect the city from pirate attacks and is the oldest military construction in Havana. Despite its perfect Renaissance architecture, it couldn´t be efficient as it was built too far inside the bay, in a low area. It was used as warehouse, Governor´s residence, barracks, National Archive, Army Headquarters, National Library, and Arms Museum, etc. The Giraldilla, a sculpture cast in bronze by Havana artist Jerónimo Martínez Pinzón was placed as a weather vane on top of the Northwest tower in the 1630s and became a city´s symbol.
  • Central ParkThe Central Plaza was built in 1877 after the old city walls were demolished. Since February 1905, its large esplanade is presided by a statue of José Martí, which replaced a marble statue of Isabel II of Spain. The Central Plaza is surrounded by significant buildings, such as the Grand Theater of Havana, the Inglaterra, Telégrafo, Plaza and Parque Central Hotels, the old Gómez Mena mall, the Universal Art building of the Fine Arts National Museum and the Payret Movie Theater.
  • Payret Movie TheaterCuba´s first motion picture theater, opened in 1897, a year after the Lumiere brothers presented their invention in Paris.
  • La Reunión PharmacyIt houses today the Museum of Havana´s Pharmacies. The institution presents the history of this science in Cuba through permanent exhibits distributed in three large rooms. It still preserves the old drugstore´s furniture, medicine bottles and other items related to the art of curing and prescribing.
  • Revolution MuseumThe residence of 22 Cuban presidents since 1920 until 1959 was designed by Carlos Maruri and Paul Belau and decorated by Teffany of New York. The museum features documents, photographs of the different historical processes in Cuba. The Granma Memorial treasures the boat which brought Fidel Castro and his comrades from Mexico to begin the armed struggle against Batista. There also objects and vehicles relating to the invasion of the Bay of Pigs and missile crisis, etc.
  • Christopher Columbus CemeteryHavana’s monumental Cemetery, built in (1871-1886), is one of the largest in the world, occupying an area of 57 hectares. Because of its many sculptures and monuments from eclectic to contemporary art, the Necropolis was proclaimed a National Monument in 1987. It was designed by Calixto de Loira as a Roman military camp. The statue in Carrara marble of the three theological virtues Faith, Hope and Charity which crowns the front gate was sculpted in 1904 by the Cuban artist José Villalta de Saavedra. The most visited grave, “The Miraculous one”, is the tomb of Amelia Goyri de la Hoz who became a protector of pregnant women and newborn children.
  • Arms squareFew steps away from the village´s foundation site, it was built between the Parochial Church and the Real Fuerza Castle, spot that grouped the political, military, religious and civilian functions of an emerging population. Used for military exercises in the 1700s, it is surrounded by important public buildings of the time as the Royal Post Office (1772-1790), subsequently the Lieutenant Governor’s Palace; the Governor´s Palace, the City´s Museum since 1968; the Count of Santovenia’s Palace, today Santa Isabel Hotel, and El Templete.
  • Hotel Ambos MundosThis charming hotel from 1923, eclectically decorated, is rich in literary memories. The American writer Ernest Hemingway stayed here for long periods during the 1930´s writing fishing chronicles and began to write his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls. Room 511, where he mostly stayed is now a museum that features personal belongings and pictures of the author.

Highlights