Havana is, among many other things, known for its vibrant nightlife. In all parts of town you can check out a top-notch musical act. What’s more, most places won’t charge you a dime for the entertainment or include a few cocktails in the cover charge! more...
Havana is, among many other things, known for its vibrant nightlife. In all parts of town you can check out a top-notch musical act. What’s more, most places won’t charge you a dime for the entertainment or include a few cocktails in the cover charge!
El Gato Tuerto (the One Eyed Cat) is a smoke filled club that features different styles of traditional Cuban music including steamy Boleros and Trova. The place has definitely a Jazz club feeling to it. The clientele of this classy venue is made up of a great mix of Cubans and foreigners who equally appreciate the fantastic laid back performances. If you are looking for Jazz music, Vedado is also the place to be with venues like La Zorra y el Cuervo (The Fox and the Crow) featuring an intimate setting and the larger, more contemporary Jazz Café.
El Gato Tuerto, La Zorra y el Cuervo and Jazz Cafe all charge a cover. In case you are more in bar hopping mode, Havana Vieja is the place to go to. Here you find plenty of places where life music comes with the price of your drink.
Cafe Monserrate, a former hotel lobby bar remains one of Havana’s finest hangouts. Its ambience changes as the day progresses. The classic bar, vintage refrigerator, old style ceiling fans and mirrored liquor display all reflect style and history which one would not expect in a bar that has been completely renovated some 15 years ago. At night a fascinating mix of locals and tourists gradually pack the place to drink, listen and dance to the music.
Havana’s central “boulevard” Obispo is where you find various entertaining bars like Café Paris. This venue which first opened in 1924 and seats around 50 people, has enjoyed great popularity among vacationers and locals thanks to its neat appearance, decent food and solid house-band, which mixes up the salsa with the occasional Carlos Santana interpretation.
Also on Obispo you will find Lluvia de Oro, a fine example of how the night can turn the ordinary into something special. After sunset the largest drinking venue on Obispo Street takes on the vibe of a grand café thanks to a fantastic wooden bar, mellow illumination by the wonderful fifties-style lighting fixtures which lights bounce of the slightly worn greenish paint job and the vintage ceiling fans that efficiently cool the place down to optimum comfort. Subtropical Cuba at its best! The jazz infused house band blends perfectly with the background while people noise is accentuating the genuine laid-back character of my favorite Obispo hangout.
Without a doubt the bars that used to be frequented by Hemmingway during his stay in Cuba, are among the most popular in old Havana though they do not always live up to the hype nor offer life music.
La Bodeguita del Medio demonstrates the fact that everything related to Hemingway could easily be turned into a tourist trap. Filter out the Hemingway attraction and all that is left of La Bodeguita del Medio is an overpriced and un-inspiring hole in wall which I imagine has nothing to do with the place the great writer used to frequent in order to ferment his inspiration. Paying 4 CUC for a Mojito is something that I have manage to avoid until now. To put my own opinion in perspective, I heard from various people that the food served at La Bodeguita del Medio is not bad at all.
The “other” Hemingway favorite La Floridita is a place packed with style and elegance. I felt thrown back in time along with many older tourists who relived their fondest memories. The ambience perfectly matched the ’58 Oldsmobile in which I caught my ride downtown. I could have gotten a rich and smooth daiquiri elsewhere for half the price but than I still would have to come by this Havana highlight at least once.
In addition to the many bars, Havana also can pride itself with its large number of cozy terraces.
My personal favorite is the terrace of Taberna de la Muralla on Plaza Vieja. Home brewed beer (unique in all of Cuba) a bite to eat and live music are all to be enjoyed in one spot on one of Havana’s most beautiful squares.
La Mina is hard to miss for anyone visiting Old Havana due to its size and prominent location on the city’s oldest Square, Plaza de Armas, which was constructed during the 17th century. Everyday hundreds of people pass by this corner making the terraces a great destination for people who like to watch people.
The Terrace of the Hotel Inglaterra is a great place to see Havana’s daily life pass you by, including American classic cars, horse carriages, street cleaners, busses, police, the occasional beggar or drunk who seek your attention and fellow tourist trying to find their way around or making up their mind where to go next!
Where to find these great places:
El Gato Tuerto (“One-eyed Cat”)
Calle O between 19 and 21, Vedado, Havana
La Zorra y el Cuervo (“The Fox and the Crow”)
Calle 23 / La Rampa, e/Calle N y Calle O, Vedado, Havana
Gallerias del Paseo, Avenida Primera (First) and Paseo, second floor, Vedado, Havana
San Ignacio #22, on the corner of Calle Obispo, Old Havana.
(La) Lluvia de Oro
Calle Obispo #316, corner of Aguiar, Old Havana.
Bodeguita del Medio
Calle Empedrado #207 between Cuba and San Ignacio, Old Havana.
Calle Obispo #557, corner of Monserrate, Old Havana.
Taberna de la Muralla
Calle San Ignacio on the corner of Calle Muralla, Old Havana.
Terraces de la Mina
Obispo # 109 on the corner with Oficios, Plaza de Armas, Old Havana.
Terrace of the Hotel Inglaterra
416 Prado on the corner with San Rafael, Old Havana.