A city of scintillating flavours and captivating rhythms overlooking the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico: it’s hard not to fall in love with Havana. Grab your sunglasses and a mojito – the holiday you’ve been dreaming of is waiting for you in beautiful Havana.
Everything just seems that much more vibrant in Havana: the rum is smoother, the sun is brighter, and the music that echoes through the streets is downright irresistible. In fact, to visit Havana without experiencing some of the city’s unparalleled live music would hardly be a visit to Havana at all.
Hundreds of years of history have given Havana an unmistakable charm and feel: majestic colonial structures bump up against trendy bars and cosy cafes. From the narrow streets of historic Old Havana to the iconic vistas of the Malecón, the city’s upbeat energy permeates every last cobblestone.
And if you decide that you’d like to get a taste of Cuba’s beautiful natural scenery, Havana also provides the perfect starting point for day trips into the county’s less-explored regions. For stunning views and unmatched hospitality, venture to the Viñales Valley; for youthful energy and fun that lasts into the early morning, make your way to the pristine sands of Varadero.
Regardless of what you’re looking for, you’ll find it in Cuba. Take a step into the sun and book your flight with Edelweiss from Zurich to Havana today.
When is a good time of the year to visit Havana?
Havana has the benefit of a warm tropical climate, which means that visitors can expect to spend lots of time in the sun all year round. With that in mind, travellers should consider what they most want to do: those looking to avoid the crowds should try to visit in autumn, when things are slightly quieter on the island. Those who wish to get the full experience of Cuban culture may want to look into different special events taking place in the country and start planning early to take advantage of them, such as Havana’s Jazz Festival (December) or Cuba’s colourful Carnival (August).
What currency do they use in Havana?
Cuba employs a dual currency system. Both currencies, convertible pesos (CUC$) and moneda nacional (MN$), are used, though tourists will find themselves using convertible pesos for the large part of their purchases. There may be times where smaller vendors will request payment in MN$ - if this happens, CUC$ is often acceptable, though travellers should be prepared to receive change in MN$. Other currencies that are commonly accepted in Havana include Euros and Canadian dollars - travellers looking to exchange money are recommended to use the change bureaus known as Cadecas, as they are common (often hotels will have their own Cadecas on premises) and offer the same exchange rate at all locations, meaning that travellers won’t have to shop around.
Are credit cards common in Cuba?
travellers should not expect that credit cards will be accepted anywhere outside of major hotels. Carrying cash is strongly recommended.
Attractions of Havana
There’s no shortage of culture in Havana – and the Habaneros, or people of Havana, are only too happy to share it with you. Start your journey through the city in La Habana Vieja, the heart of historic Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and home of some of the most breath-taking architecture in all of Cuba, including the Capitolio Nacional, the Catedral de la Habana, and the Museum of Fine Arts.
If you’re in the mood to experience more of Havana’s long and varied history, the city features plenty of standing reminders of eras past. The Fort of Saint Charles, known locally as La Cabaña, is an imposing fortress that overlooks the harbour and imparts sobering insight into the complex Spanish colonial history of the city. The Plaza de la Revolución is another great place to get a sense of Cuba’s evolution over the decades: ringed by government offices and multiple small museums. The Plaza is home to the Museo de la Revolución, a former presidential palace that now serves as a place to get a curated look at the history of Cuba and the people who have shaped it.
- Museo de la Revolución (Museum of the Revolution)
- Fort of Saint Charles (La Cabaña)
- Castillo de los Tres Santos Reyes Magnos del Morro (El Morro)
- Catedral de San Cristobal (Havana Cathedral)
Festivals of Havana
To get a sense of the vibrant culture that Havana has fostered, make your way to the bustling music halls of Centro Habana or Playa, or visit during one of the city’s several annual festivals. August’s Carnival and December’s Havana Jazz Festival are particularly recommended. Book your flight from Zurich as soon as possible to guarantee accommodation.
Havana tastes as good as it sounds
Cuba is known for its unpretentious and flavourful cuisine – many Cuban recipes have made their way overseas, but they never seem to taste as good as they do in Havana. Havana has two types of restaurants – state-run and privately owned – so to eat and drink as the Habaneros do, seek out the smaller, privately owned establishments. Common Cuban dishes such as Ropa Vieja (shredded beef in a tomato base and served with yellow rice and beans) or Cuban-style tamales are perennial crowd-pleasers. Travellers should note that traditional Cuban meals are not served in courses - rather, all dishes are presented at once.
Cocktails and sunshine: a perfect pair
A surprising number of the world’s favourite cocktails were born in Cuba. It might be the beautiful weather, it might be the laid-back atmosphere, or it might be the creativity and passion of Havana’s bartenders – but, whatever the case, visitors will want to make sure to sample Havana’s scintillating cocktail menus. Daiquiris, one of Ernest Hemingway’s favourite drinks, are the perfect way to kick off a night on the town - Cuba Libres, a local variation on a rum and coke, will make sunshine that much brighter, and if there’s anything better than a poolside mojito, it has yet to be discovered.
Shopping in Havana
If you’re looking for a souvenir that is uniquely Cuban, the first things that will likely come to mind are cigars and rum. Both items are produced with passion in Havana, and both are easy to find throughout the city. And for something a little more accessible, Cuban coffee makes a great (and delicious) gift.
Zurich - La HabanaFlight duration: 11:20 hrs total, Frequency: Mon,Mon
Departure ZurichTerminal: 1 / 3Counter opening time: 24 h prior to departure
Airbus A330-300Height: 16.80 mLength: 63.70 mSeats: 236
Crew:Pilots: 2Cabin crew: 11
Arrival HavanaDistance to city centre: 16 km