Welcome to Havana

Welcome to Havana… It was love at first sight. The city was everything I wanted it to be and more.


The balcony of our hostel overlooked an almost deserted street, save for the occasional vintage car swerving to avoid potholes. Ladies sat on their doorsteps, fanning themselves to keep cool in the heat, and men stood nearby smoking fat cigars. Laundry hung in strings in front of coloured walls, simultaneously dingy and ornate. It was as if every scene had been lifted straight from a “Welcome to Havana” postcard.

Havana street with coloured buildings and classic cars

Welcome to Havana!


I couldn’t wait to get into the city- to drink a mojito, salsa with a stranger, and watch the sunset over the Malecón.

Rumba in Havana

Our first foray into Havana did not disappoint. No sooner had we left our hostel than we were stopped by a large lady who called to us from her doorway. She introduced herself as Sonia, a rumba teacher with her own dance school in the city. I soon found myself learning rumba steps in the streets of Havana under the instruction of my new companion, in one of those bizarre travel moments that would forever be ingrained in my memories of Cuba.

With Sonia, our new friend/ dance instructor

Our new friend showed us to Cayo Huesa, a colourfully graffitied collection of streets, where regular rumba performances take place. Promising Sonia we would meet her there the following day, we continued our exploration of what was fast becoming one of my favourite cities.

Children playing in the streets of Havana


Welcome to Havana

We walked as far as our feet would take us, stopping to reenergise with a quick coffee (or a mojito once the sun started to go down). Our tour of Havana took us through the iconic streets of Old Havana to the upmarket Vedado and onwards into Centro. Here, we strolled along the Malecón just as the sun was starting to set.

Sunset at the Malecón

Each street was more fascinating and more unique than the last. From the immaculately manicured plazas to the grottiest of back alleys, I can honestly say that Havana was one of the most spectacular cities I have had the fortune to visit. (And from the crowded Hemingway-frequented La Floridita to the swanky Hotel Nacional, I enjoyed each and every mojito).

Planning a trip to Cuba? Here’s everything you need to know about getting your Tourist Card.

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