We will be adding to this list periodically. You can see where we’ve been lately by using #almaexplores on Instagram.
EAT + DRINK
Otramanera – This modern and serene Spanish inspired restaurant stands out for its innovative preparations and excellent service. The pork belly, salads and ceviches are delicious. Calle 35 e/ 20 y 41, Playa. +53 7 203 8315.
Lamparilla Tapas & Cerveza - A great new addition to the Old Havana dining scene, Lamparilla serves excellent tacos, octopus and ribs. The daiquiris are also some of the best in town. Calle Lamparilla 361 e/Aguacate y Villegas. Tel.+52895324
Santys - This dockside restaurant is a favorite among diplomats and journalists. The Colombian government and FARC rebels reached their peace deal over dinner here. Santy's is located the town of Jaimanitas, near where Fidel Castro lived, and is very hard to find so make sure your driver knows where he is going. They only serve seafood and the sushi, sashimi, Stone Crabs, prawns ("pintas") and big caldereta seafood soup are great. You may want to bring your own wine as the selection here is very limited. 240A E/ 3raC y Rio, Havana. +53 5 2660803
La Guarida – One of Havana’s longest running paladars; La Guarida is a must on most visitors lists and for good reason. La Guarida’s innovative Cuban dishes paired with classics like yucca con mojo, rice and beans, and plantains are spectacular. Arrive early for your reservation and have a mojito or gin tonic on their rooftop bar, which has some of the most striking views in town. #418 Concordia, e/ Gervasio y Escobar, Centro Habana. +53 7 866 9047
El Cocinero – A rooftop terrace in an old cooking oil factory, El Cocinero is part of a new breed of trendy paladares in Havana. There is a restaurant halfway that serves more traditional fare, but we recommend you head up to the terrace for smaller dishes and the open-air atmosphere. Calle 26, e/11 and 13, Vedado (next to the Puente de Hierro). +53 7 832 2355 www.elcocinerohabana.com Note: Not to be missed is the Fabrica de Arte Cubano next door, an art-music-performance space popular with young Cubans. Cover is 2 CUC. Open Thurs- Fri, 8pm-3am.
El Corte del Principe – Serving Havana’s best Italian food, this paladar also has exceptional service. They keep it simple here but with fresh ingredients and classic Italian preparations. Their homemade hot sauce is fantastic. 9na e/ 70 y 72, Playa (in front of the Montebarreto park).
Tel. +53 5 255 9091
O’Reilly 304 – This small but busy paladar puts out the best tacos in Old Havana and the freshest seared tuna in a hipster atmosphere. They also have inventive gin cocktails and lemonades. They recently opened a new restaurant in front, aptly named Del Frente, which serves a similar menu in a larger space with an open terrace up top. The octopus, ceviche and salads are also excellent. O'Reilly #304 e/ Habana y Aguiar, Havana Vieja. +53 7 8630206.
Riomar – Located in a privileged spot on the water where the Almendares river meets the ocean, this paladar is the perfect place to sit and sip a pineapple mojito. They also have a decent wine selection (for Cuba) as well. 3ra #11, Miramar, Playa. +53 7 209 4838.
Dona Eutimia - Serving traditional Cuban food, Dona Eutimia is located just off Havana's cathedral square, which is also a nice area to walk around at night. The house specialty is "ropa vieja" a Cuban classic made of shredded lamb. There are several "imitators" that have sprung up around Doña Eutimia so make sure you walk into the right restaurant! It is the last one on the right on the street. Callejon del Chorro # 60-C, Plaza de la Catedral, Habana Vieja. +53 7 8013332
El Cafe - Serving all day brunch, El Cafe is a welcome addition to Havana's restaurant scene. They also offer yummy sandwiches, fresh juices and some of the best coffee in town. Amargura #358 e/ Villegas y Aguacate Old Havana Tel. 78613817
SEE + DO
Centro Cultural El Palenque – The Conjunto Folclórico Nacional de Cuba performs on Saturday staring at 4pm in an open courtyard. You will see traditional Cuban Rumba music and dancing with lots of drums beating. Young and old take turns on the dance floor trying to outdo each other’s Rumba moves. Calle 4, e/ 5ta y Calzada (7ma), Vedado.
Walking tour of Old Havana – La Habana Vieja is full of collapsing but still beautiful architecture and Cuba's vibrant street life. There you will see the people who sell items on the black market calling out their wares as they go door to door. You will see kids playing baseball in the street next to their fathers and grandfathers playing dominoes. It is a truly different pace of life than most anywhere else in the world.
Museo de Bellas Artes – Houses an impressive collection of Cuban art. On Sundays at 11am in the courtyard they have functions for kids. Trocadero e/ Zulueta y Monserrate, Habana Vieja
El Cementerio Colon - One of the largest cemeteries in the world. It is the place to go to really learn about Cuba. There are several centuries of scandals, intrigue and history literally buried here. Don’t miss the tomb of La Milagrosa.
El Paseo del Prado - El Prado is a wonderful place to go for a walk from El Capitolo to the Malecon. Couples meet there to dance on weekend afternoons.
Alma - A curated selection of goods handmade by Cuban artists along with vintage finds. Calle 18, #314, e/ 3ra y 5ta, Miramar, Playa.
Agromercado at 19 y B in Vedado – Visit one of the nicer agros in Havana where foreigners and locals do their vegetable shopping. Depending on the season, you will see piles of mangos and avocados sold along a variety of pork products. Next to the agro (on the Calle 19 side) is the Bodega where Cubans can fill their ration cards. Corner of Calle 19 y Vedado.
Casa de Belkys – All but the most dedicated antique hunters may be intimidated by the mountains of vintage knickknacks and glassware on display in this Vedado home. But with a little patience and with your hands full of dust you may leave there with a small treasure. Calle 2 #607 e/ 25 y 27 Vedado.
Clandestina – T-Shirts design by Cuban graphic artists. Calle Villegas 403, e/ Muralla y Teniente Rey, Old Havana.
Piscolabis – A café and boutique for Cuban made goods. San Ignacio #75, Callejón del Chorro y O’ Reilly, Old Havana.
Conga – A small government run design store for Cuban artists to sell their goods. 3rd Ave. e/ 16 y 18, Miramar, Playa.
Hotel Saratoga – A small hotel next to the Capitolio. It is very centrally located and has a beautiful rooftop pool. www.hotel-saratoga.com . Paseo del Prado 603, esquina a Dragones, Old Habana. Tel. +53 7 8681000
Casa Vitrales – A wonderful casa particular in Old Havana, Casa Vitrales is part of the new breed of casas that are more like boutique hotels. The owner Osmani is wonderful and so are his parents who run the day-to-day operations. www.Cvitrales.com . Calle Habana Nº 106 e/ Cuarteles y Chacón, Old Havana. Tel: +53 7866 2607 / +53 5264 7673
Sueño Cubano - This casa particular is a great option for anyone wanting to stay in and explore Old Havana. The hotel is located just a few blocks from the Plaza de San Francisco and has a very helpful staff. www.suenocubano.com Tel. +53 7 8660109
Casablanca – A beautiful house by the Cabaña fortress. It has two bedrooms and a large shaded patio with a pool. Both relaxing and very close to all the action. www.havanacasablanca.com . Tel. +53 5 294 5397
VINALES - This scenic town with it's limestone mogote hills and verdant tobacco farms is a must visit. A little over two hours drive from Havana, Viñales is experiencing a boom in places to stay and eat.
Mogote Arte - A beautiful two room casa near the Mural de la Prehistoria. Tel +53 54734118.
Casa Particular Villa Renga y Julia - A clean and well-located casa near the center of town. www.CasaVinales.jimdo.com Tel. +41 78 663 43 13
Finca Agro Ecologica - A lovely hill top restaurant with great food and even better views. Address: Wilfredo Garcia Correa Carretera Al Cementerio Km 1 1/2
TRINIDAD - One of Cuba's oldest and most charming colonial towns is well worth a visit even if some days it feels like there are more tourists than locals here.
La Casona - This casa is one of the best in Cuba with a great staff overseen by Kenia, the owner of La Casona. Their restaurant also serves delicious food with fresh vegetables from their garden. Address: 759 Frank País, Trinidad 62600, Cuba
Tel. +53 41 998692
Hostal Maria - Centrally located with a helpful staff and comfortable rooms, Hostal Maria is another great option for lodgings in Trinidad. Address: Jose Marti #407 / Fidel Claro y Stgo. Escobar, Trinidad
PLAYA GIRON - The site of the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, Playa Girón is only a two-hour drive from Havana and has some of the best fishing and diving in Cuba.
Hostal Luis - A basic but clean casa, this is one of the best options in Playa Girón and they serve outstandingly fresh seafood. www.hostalluisgiron.com. Tel +52381264