No visit to Havana would be complete without a ride in a 1952 Chevrolet Bel-Air. Kick start your holiday with a ride around town and familiarise yourself with the town’s historic landmarks. Once you’ve got your bearings, the Habana Libre Hotel is a fantastic first place to visit; its shopping mall on the ground floor offers everything from airline tickets to Cuban cigars. For arts, crafts and souvenirs, the street market north of the hotel along Calle 23 is the ideal place to go. Hungry? Why not head to the Meson de la Flota - a hotel-restaurant in a former Old Havana Mariner’s hostel at Calle Mercaderes 257 - where lunch comes with a side of Andalucian dancing. Habana Vieja (Old Havana), the original core of the city, is the perfect place to tour in the afternoon. A trail of the three squares starts in Plaza Vieja and ends at the Plaza de la Catedral where you can pop into Bodeguita de Medio for a refreshing beverage. Filled with music, mojitos and the graffiti of poets and politicians past, it’s the most celebrated bar in Havana and must-see during your stay. For something a little sweeter, a Hemingway daiquiri in El Floridita is the perfect way to toast in the evening and a meal at a private paladares (restaurant) will ease you into a night of Cuban cocktails.
For somewhere to stay in Old Havana, Ambos Mundos on the corner of Calles Obispo and Mercaderes, is the most central - but a visit to The Maqueta de La Habana Vieja, a scale model of the layout of the area at Mercaderes 114 (9am-6.30pm, CUC1.50/90) will help you find your way around easily.
If visiting over a weekend, Sunday is the perfect time to visit the capital’s churches. Espiritu Santo, the church of the Holy Spirit, built in 1636, is Havana’s oldest church. Though little of the original remains, it’s austerity is in sharp contrast to the stunning Baroque beauty of the Inglesisa de la Merced, just one block away. For lunch, check out La Imprenta at Meraderes 208. The restaurant offers a delicious three-course meal in gorgeous surroundings, but for dessert, there’s nowhere better than the ice-cream parlour Coppelia in the heart of Vedado. The Museum of the Revolution is perfect for an afternoon visit, followed by a visit to La Punta Park, which provides an excellent view of the Atlantic, the Malecon and Old Havana. To see the city from the water, a ferry shuttles across the harbour via a jetty every 15-minutes, but there are plenty of opportunities to take in the views of this magnificent city during your stay.