Welcome to Cuba, where you feel like you’re transported back to the 1960s; it’s seriously like stepping into a time machine. They say you turn into your parents as you get older…well you’ll really be living in their world down here. It’s goodbye to McDonald's on every corner and hello to intricate murals, vibrant music, and colored vintage cars.
Cuba was off-limits to American tourists for decades up until 2016; thanks, Castro. Why is it that being told we can’t go somewhere and then reopens makes it all the more alluring? You know we were first in line to check it out. SYB ventured down in March 2017, and half of our heart is also still there, we feel you Camila. If you’re like us and you want to be able to say you started doing something before it was cool, here are a few must-visit spots that we recommend you hit during your Cuba adventure.
WHERE TO GO: EAT
Paladar La Guarida*
This historic building started as a family home featured in Strawberries and Chocolate, the first and only Cuban film nominated for an Oscar. When tourists ventured down in the late 90s to see the real-life places, the family decided to convert the home into what is now one of the top-rated restaurants in Cuba. They serve elevated Cuban cuisine and have both a rooftop bar (vibes) and a smoking lounge for all you Cuban cigar lovers.
El del Frente*
A sister location of the well-known O'Reilly 304 (conveniently right across the street), you can expect the same top-notch cocktails and culinary delights with a bit more of an indoor/outdoor vibe. Who could say no to lobster tacos on a sunny terrace and a bomb drink under the star? You will absolutely find us here.
WHERE TO GO: EXPLORE
Hemingway House Cuba
A bit of culture to sprinkle into your itinerary. Mr. E.H. lived in Cuba for about 20 years, and many of his famous works were written while he was chillin’ there sippin’ on a mojito. Like his Miami house, his Cuba digs have been turned into a museum for your viewing pleasure. The grounds include his home, a writing tower (as all good writers have), a pool, and his boat (because big boat energy). Finish it all up with a drink at the bar, and it’s a fully well-rounded excursion.
Baños de San Juan (Las Terrazas)
If you’re in the mood to take a little road trip out of the main Havana area for a dip in some idyllic natural pools, this is the place to check out. Crystal waters flowing over rock terraces is peak zen. Just try to avoid super busy times such as the weekends. The Baths of San Juan are located in the environmentally sustainable area Las Terrazas, a less touristy-traveled town filled with artisan shops, cafes, and restaurants for some bomb local food. Basic hair flip pics allowed.
WHERE TO GO: PARTY
La Bodeguita del Medio
This very well may be Cuba’s most popular bar and the storied birthplace of mojitos, or so they claim. Either way, this place has seen some things. The walls are covered with photographs and autographs of celebrities who have paid a visit, as well as us common folk who have decided to follow along. It was one of our boy Ernest’s fav spots to knock one back while he lived there, which has no doubt helped its popularity. You can find mojitos for cheaper at other bars, but this spot is all about the experience.
Fábrica de Arte Cubano*
After a day full of exploring, the only way to end the night is by busting DOWN in one of Havana’s top going-out spots. F.A.C. is a converted warehouse with an art gallery, performance spaces, and a club all in one. Talk about a cultural experience. The vibes are so on point that it even made TIMES’ 2019 list of the World’s 100 Greatest Places. If it’s good enough for the TIMES, it’s definitely good enough for us. We’ll be moving and shaking off those drinks all night long.
Who else is on board for an SYB Cuba return?! Reach out and let us know if you’d be down to check out this historic country with us. These mojitos aren’t going to drink themselves.
Posted on Thu 11 Aug 2022 · by Katie Bauer