Monday, 6 August 2012 9:14 AM
Havana is a must-visit on any break to Cuba, as it provides a fascinating insight into the country's history and culture. If you're planning a twin centre holiday in Cuba, make sure the city is one of the destinations you stay in during your trip.
Its streets are packed with well preserved colonial architecture, museums and monuments, with plenty to keep you occupied during the day and into the evening. Here are some of the top spots to visit.
Havana is brimming with museums, with establishments dedicated to everything from natural history and fine art to rum and cigars. With so much choice, it's worth narrowing down your options based on your interests and going from there. The Museum of the Revolution and Gramma Memorial is a good place to visit if you want to learn more about the struggle for independence in the country, while the National Museum of Natural History showcases examples of Cuban flora and fauna.
For a taste of quintessential Cuba, head to the Museum of Rum to learn how the alcoholic drink is produced from sugar cane before visiting the Museum of Cigars to find out how to roll and smoke a classic Cuban cigar.
Old Havana is home to some of the best preserved examples of colonial architecture in the Americas and, as a result, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982. Many of the facades here are of Baroque or neoclassical design, and there are numerous important monuments located within the district. Among them is the striking Havana Cathedral, the Castillo de la Real Fuerza with its bronze weathervane La Giraldilla and the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales.
You can easily spend a day or two exploring Old Havana on foot, allowing you to fully appreciate the various architectural styles that characterise its buildings. Many of its large squares, including Plaza de Armas and Plaza de la Catedral, are lined by beautiful landmarks, so it's worth visiting these bustling areas during any tour.
For a contrast between the old and new, explore Miramar, which is the city's central business district and a residential area. This is where many of Havana's most modern buildings are located, including the skyscrapers in the port district. An interesting feature to look out for is a model of the city showing the layout of its streets, as well as its most important monuments.
For sightseeing that lasts well into the evening, book a table at the legendary Club Tropicana. This open-air venue was first established in 1939 and went on to gain notoriety for its beautiful cabaret dancers, vibrant musical shows and its casino. Nat King Cole, Josephine Baker, Carmen Miranda and Xavier Cugat are among the performers who have taken to the Club Tropicana stage over the years.
It's possible to book a dinner package, including a bottle of Cuban rum, which will give you the chance to soak up the atmosphere and vibrancy of the famous nightclub. The shows are a riot of colour and sound - a truly unforgettable experience.
Ernest Hemingway Museum
Literary fans won't be able to resist making the short journey out of Havana to the former home of American author Ernest Hemingway. The property has been restored to how it was when he lived there, while his fishing boat is on display just outside. Visitors can peruse the writer's collection of books, as well as see the rooms where he wrote famous novels including For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea.