Suggestions, Advices, Tips, and a guide to Cuba

. It is better to rent houses in open neighborhoods, with parks, trees, and open spaces. ¿My tip? Vedado area. Just a few minutes from the Old Town and with excellent chices for rent.

Don't expect to find much in the way of Cuban culture at the beach resorts - One exception to this rule is Playas del Este, a nice beach area about 10 mi/16 km east of Havana. Cuban vacationers can be found there in abundance, and activities range from diving to boat trips. Though the hotels in that area are far more humble than at the newer tourist resorts, a visit there does give you a better sense that you're truly in Cuba.


In Havana there are several zones where is best to rent a private home. Any choice depend entirely on your taste or vacation goals. If you are looking for the beach, the best places are Guanabo and Santa Maria del Mar. Guanabo is a little town with a lot of people, disco clubs, many shops, restaurants, beach, pizzerias, resto-bars, bars-cafes, car rental and moto rental. There is also a gas distributor and in general, Guanabo is quite eventful.

For its parts, Santa Maria del Mar is a touristic zone. There are six hotels on this zone, the Megano Hotel, the Tropicoco Hotel, the Las Terrazas Residence / Hotel, the Atlantico Hotel, the Itabo Hotel and the Brisas del Mar Hotel (at the top of the Santa Maria hill, with an excellent view and swimming pool, but very poor cooking). This zone is special for all kinds of sports (including water sports), beaches (obviously), goods restaurants (close to the hotels), especially grills, massage, health services, car rental, disco clubs and shops.
In Santa Maria del Mar, there are also some private houses for rent, distributed from the beach to the hill. Some of these are very nice and some other are rented by the government.

The Habana del Este (East Havana) is a conjunction between the beaches of Guanabo and Santa Maria and the true Havana City. Being in the middle, this zone is near to both places and have as well some other important sites, like the Via Panamericana (very special for its sportive ambiance, its services and big shopping centers). Habana del Este includes also the Alamar Residential Zone, very ugly pile of popular buildings, but having two interesting beaches. Also, near to the same zone, there is the huge Guanabacoa municipality, a real town in its own, even if a little isolated. This "town" is very characteristic and very interesting, also because of its santeria reputation (a sort of afro-cuban religion). Here there is also some houses and their specialty it that they are often less expensive than the others, but you might perhaps to rent a car.

The Old Havana zone it's the very beginning of the true Havana City and it's perhaps the more visited by the tourists. Recently, some zones of Old Havana were renewed and there is some absolutely beautiful and unforgettable sites. To complete the ambiance, in Old Havana there is absolutely lots of restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, museums, churches, expositions, theaters, hotels, monuments and other nice buildings. The more important avenue of Old Havana is the Prado Avenue. Also there is the famous castle of Morro in the middle of the sea and the legendary Malecon coastline (it extends until the Miramar residential and commercial zone and beyond). The Morro castle zone has also a lots of restaurants, museums, shops, shows and even houses. But the more important event is without a doubts the cañonazo : each night at 9PM the big canon in the Morro shout... the event is visited by hundred of tourist each day.
Logically, in the Old Havana, private homes are very plentiful. We have some in our web site.

The Vedado area, reachable after crossing the Old Havana and the Central Havana to the west, is the modern center of the Havana and its the true downtown. It's especially recommended for those who like eventful vacations. Some of the more important hotels of Havana are there : the Melia Cohiba Hotel, the Tryp Habana Libre Hotel, the National Hotel of Cuba and others. There is also lots of disco-clubs, cabarets, cinemas and theater. Bref, the fun is everywhere in the Vedado zone. Among the important places, there is the Coppelia dairy (in front of Habana Libre Hotel but unfortunately degrated in these years), the Rampa, the Parisien Cabaret (close to National Hotel of Cuba), and the 23th street.
In this zone there is plenty of private homes waiting for rent, where you'll find all comforts.

And finally, among the important zone we have to mention the Miramar area, situated next to Vedado and also close to the Malecon coastline. As mentioned, this is a residential and commercial zone and it's the more prestigious area of Cuba even if less centric than Vedado and more peaceful. Most embassies, offices, shops, hotels and miscellanea business are there.
In Miramar there is, without a doubt, the largest number of private houses available and the best. This zone is more expensive than others but it worth it.

Havana Overview

The Cuban province Havana is especially interesting for its capital, that is the capital of Cuba country, the Havana City. Much like Varadero, Havana is the most visited city in Cuba.

"If I get lost, look for me in Cuba" wrote the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca. If you visit Havana, you'll soon find out why. Havana is really one of a few cities in the word that still conserves a very characteristic and unique charm. The Havana city is one of fascinating contrasts and the ironies wrought by history and circumstance. In Havana, you'll discover poor neighborhoods filled with houses that are all but crumbling behind their ornate Corinthian columns. You'll see 1950s Chevrolets and Oldsmobile traveling beside Soviet-made Volgas and Ladas, tiny motor scooter-powered coco-taxis, and ciclo-taxis (bicycle rickshaws) for two. Modern hotel and apartment blocks tower garishly over streets choked with roaring trucks that spew black smoke. Slogans printed in block letters on government buildings loom alongside bars and cafés where red-hot salsa combos play. The air is almost asphyxiating, the heat is relentless, and most things are in disrepair. Yet all this only strengthens Havana's allure. Graham Greene and Ernest Hemingway drank deeply of it and were inspired; Ava Gardner and Winston Churchill -- to name a few -- also imbibed and were enchanted. Without counting the over famous cigars named Havana Puros, that fascinating every cigar smoker since centuries.

Havana is the capital of one of the few Communist states remaining in the world today, but it does not have the moribund feel normally associated with Communism. Havana, has a sense of fun and the city sizzles by night.

Situated on the north coast of Cuba, Havana City is built around a deep harbor and has exquisite Spanish colonial architecture with baking plazas whose only shade is towering palm trees. Hidden doorways lead to cool courtyards and the facades of buildings are graced with wrought iron balconies where whole families sit to observe passers by.

Many of the Havana's buildings are crumbling and it is decades since they have seen a coat of paint. However, in 1982, the city's importance was recognized and Havana was designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site and work is now under way to preserve its heritage.

One of the oldest cities in the Americas, Havana these days is a sprawling metropolis, with such an abundance of Spanish colonial architecture at its core, including outstanding examples of the exuberant, early baroque style known as churrigueresque (named for Spanish architect José Benito Churriguera), that in 1982 UNESCO declared Old Havana a World Heritage Site. With the help of UNESCO and private capital from Spain, the Cuban government-sponsored company Habaguanex and Havana's Office of the City Historian are currently in the midst of a restoration project expected to transform Old Havana into a virtual architectural museum over the next decade. Given the openheartedness of the Cuban people, the rum, the rhythms, and all the rest, it's not likely to be a stuffy one.

On arrival in the Havana, the vibrancy of the people and its availability, is one of the first noticeable things. Also striking is the fact that, day or night, music can always be heard and most evenings, somewhere in the city, people can be found dancing on the streets.

The rich history of Cuba and specialty Havana is apparent in the faces of the people. They are the descendants of the Spanish conquistadors, who colonized the island in the sixteenth century and the African slaves brought over to work on the tobacco and sugar plantations.

Havana is a dynamic place for nightlife and the choice of venues is endless. It is also a great place for live music and you do not even to go to a club to hear it, as there is plenty on the streets. The social scene does not get going until about 11 PM and, as there are no official licensing hours, clubs and bars tend to close when the last customer leaves.

On first sight, Havana appears faded, with peeling paint and shabby buildings, but a walk through Old Havana (La Habana Vieja) reveals glorious Spanish colonial architecture, much of it was restored. Visitors can spend hours strolling the streets peeping through half open doorways, is like walking through a living museum. The Plaza de la Catedral is one of the most beautiful and best-preserved squares in Havana with the surrounding buildings almost all restored to their original splendor. The Catedral de San Cristobal of Havana is an attractive eighteenth century baroque building that dominates the north side of the square.

Housed in the oldest building in the square, dating from 1720, is the Museo de Arte Colonial, an architectural masterpiece, built around a central courtyard containing tropical plants, and complemented by the collection of colonial furniture from the grand mansions. Other sophisticated houses line the square house cafés, restaurants and the post office.
The Museo de la Ciudad (City Museum of Havana) now occupies the magnificent old Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, once home of the highest colonial authority in Cuba and a former Presidential Palace. This popular museum gives an overview of the history of Havana from its founding until the present day. The oldest building in the square is the impressive Castillo de le Real Fuerza, a sixteenth century colonial fortress surrounded by a moat, today home to the Museo de la Ceramica Artistica Cubana.

In Havana, there are also lots of other important monuments. Among the more important places to visit there are the Capitolio (a palace identical to White House) and the Revolution's Museum. Take the time to visit all of them and much other.

Alternatively, a stroll along the Malecon, the sea front walk, gives a wonderful view of Havana 's cityscape. Havana is a truly stunning city, the people friendly, beautiful climate, great beaches, incredible Spanish colonial architecture, a fascinating history and culture, the ravishing girls... the perfect place to learn Spanish and do much more.

Begin now and live the True Cuba !