A Frugal Shopaholics Travel Guide to Cuba Part 2

Ok. Here's part 2. Moving on to things to do and where to eat and drink. We usually make an itinerary so that we get everything we want to do done. This time that didn't quite happen, we just planned the days as they came.

Things To Do
Take a tour in a classic car – Saturday when we met up with our friends at the Parque Hotel where we had lunch on the rooftop by the pool. After we left lunch, we walked across the street towards Hotel Telegrafo, where the vintage cars are. We took an hour long tour with Mike (I think that's his name). He lived in Texas so he speaks English well and he's really cool. If you can find him and take his tour. These classic cars can be found right outside many of the major hotels. They stop by all the major spots in Havana. Make sure you negotiate your price and pay no more than 45 CUC.




Plaza de la Revolución – During our car tour, we stopped by Revolution Square. The square is notable for being where many political rallies take place and Fidel Castro and other political figures address Cubans. The square is dominated by the José Martí Memorial.




Walk the Malecón – We rode along the Malecón during our classic car tour. The Malecón is a broad esplanade, roadway, and seawall which stretches for 5 miles along the coast of Havana from Old Havana to Vedado. We also walked along the seawall Sunday as we headed to the Afro-Cuban festival.

Callejón de Hamel – Sunday we walked to Callejón de Hamel, an alley shrine to Afro-Cuban religions through the art created by Salvador González. The buildings are lined with brightly-colored paintings, murals, sculptures, and objects. Every Sunday starting at noon, there is a festival with rumba bands, dancing, and art. There is rum drink that they had at the bar with honey, I can't remember the name but it was good! Check this out if you in Havana on a Sunday.




Go to Santa María del Mar – After the festival, we headed to Santa María del Mar, the biggest and best beach near Havana. It’s about 25 minutes from Old Havana by taxi (again, negotiate your price, pay no more than 25 CUC). We made the mistake of going on a Sunday and the beach was packed out. So either go early or on a weekday when the locals are at school and work. Another alternative is to go to Varadero, 2 hours from Havana, which is more of resort beach town. We know a few people who have gone and said they enjoyed it. 



Explore the City – Monday we explored the town, shopped at a few markets, and visited the Havana Club Museum. Set out time to explore the streets of Havana to see how the people live and engulf yourself in the culture. Make sure you pack your comfortable shoes, there is a lot of walking. 







Go to Viñales – Tuesday was our last full day in Cuba, so we wanted to make it worthwhile. We visited Viñales, a town in western Cuba. It is best known for its tobacco farms, languid lifestyle and the distinctive limestone hills of Valle de Viñales. We booked our tour through Hotel Seville, a couple blocks from our Casa, for $67. It included transportation, guided tour in English and Spanish as well as lunch. On the tour, we visited a rum factory, a tobacco farm, and also road a boat through the caves. At the farm we were able to buy hand-rolled cigars, the price was 20 CUC for 10. Can't beat that. This day trip was well worth it! We definitely recommend anyone visiting Cuba to go to Viñales. 








Where To Eat
We ate at a number of restaurants. A few were just places we stumbled upon and some were recommendations from friends and other bloggers. 

El Chanchullero – The best food we had our entire trip and it was super cheap. I had the special, which was lobster, plus a drink for 12 CUC. Make a reservation or you will have to wait. We learned the hard way. 

El del Frente – Great food and good, big drinks. Get a table on the rooftop or balcony and enjoy your meal. Try the watermelon mojito. 





O’Reilly 304 - The food and drinks are good here too. The menu is almost identical as El del Frente because they are owned by the same people. 

La Gaurdia – We made a reservation here but didn't make it. The food is said to be good with a nice view. If you to eat here make sure make a reservation before you leave. 

As far as nightlife, follow the music. Wherever you find a live band stop in and have a drink, maybe even dance. Walk down Calle Obispo and you will stumble on many bars, the famous El Floridita, where Ernest Hemingway is also located at the beginning of this street. We wanted to go to Fábrica de Arte Cubano (FAC) but it was closed during the month of May. This is supposed to be the got to spot in Cuba, art gallery by day club by night.

I hope this post helps you plan your upcoming trip or persuade you to visit Cuba. Please comment with any questions you may have about Cuba.

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