3 days in havana

The Ultimate Havana Itinerary: 3 Days in Havana, Cuba

There is nowhere like Havana, and if you’re planning to travel to Cuba, you’re sure to want to add some time in Havana to your Cuba itinerary.

With 3 days in Havana, you’ll be able to see the very best of the city without feeling rushed. You’ll have time to enjoy the best of Old Havana, try delicious Cuban food and drinks, see some of Havana’s hidden gems, and have some unforgettable experiences you won’t have anywhere else. 

Keep reading for our ultimate Havana itinerary for three days in Havana. We’re sharing our most important Havana travel tips, plus specific recommendations for things to do (and what to skip!) for a perfect 3 days in Havana Cuba.

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Havana Itinerary

When planning to visit Cuba, make sure to set aside a few days to see the best of Havana and enjoy all it has to offer. There is a lot to see and do here, so whether you like to fly by the seat of your pants or plan every moment of travel down to the minute, having a good idea of an easy Havana itinerary can be helpful. 

Here are some common questions about visiting Havana – skip down below for our breakdown of how to create a Havana itinerary for 3 days in Havana. 

Is Havana Cuba Worth Visiting?

Havana Cuba is certainly worth visiting, even if you only make it here for a few hours or just one day. There is just no place on Earth like Havana, even in the rest of Cuba!

It’s a fascinating mix of history and modernity (and has the best, kindest people you’ll ever meet).

Some travelers to Cuba skip over Havana, particularly if they’re looking for an all-inclusive resort getaway. This is a mistake! Havana is always worth adding to your Cuba itinerary, even if just as a day trip. 

How Many Days Do You Need in Havana?

To see the very best of the city, you’ll need at least 3 days in Havana.

Generally, three or four days in Havana will give you enough time to feel like you’ve seen most of the city, without leaving you itching to take a day trip or venture onward to Trinidad, Viñales, or Varadero.

If you love to slow travel – spend time lingering in cafes or restaurants, properly exploring the neighborhoods, finding hidden gems, attending cultural events, etc. – then up to a week in Havana might be a good fit for you.

Is 3 Days in Havana Enough?

3 days in Havana is enough to see the best of the city. You’ll have time to visit all the most impressive landmarks and destinations in the city, explore Old Havana, and have some incredible travel experiences while here.

You may want to build at least four days into your itinerary if you don’t want to feel too rushed, but 3 days is definitely enough to do this bucket list travel destination justice.

Best Hotels and Casas in Havana

3 Days in Havana

Day One in Havana

Breakfast at El Café

Start off your time in Havana at one of the city’s incredible cafes. While most everyday Cuban grab coffee from industrious neighbors selling tiny espresso shots from their kitchens, Havana has seen more and more true cafes sprouting over the years.

Out of all the fantastic cafes in Havana, my favorite is El Café. Housed within a beautifully restored colonial building – a beautiful mix of modern and historic – you’ll find delicious options for coffee and breakfast foods of all types. Their sourdough bread is legendary in Havana.

This is a great place to start the day in Havana. Located in the heart of Old Havana, just a block or two away from El Capitolio, this is a great spot to start a self-guided Old Havana walking tour – or fuel up for a guided walking tour!

Clandestina

Start your Old Havana walking tour just around the block from El Café at Clandestina. This fun design store is much more than just another storefront in Havana – Clandestina is setting trends and inspiring designs, and is at the forefront of Cuba’s new culture.

As Cuba’s first independent clothing brand, launched in 2015, Clandestina has broken records, set trends, and overcome the challenges of simply existing as a small business in Cuba.

At their Old Havana storefront, you’ll find clothing, accessories, home goods, art, and much more, all with unique, tongue-in-cheek designs that are so very Cuba. Anything from Clandestina will be a unique Cuban souvenir. 

Looking for the very local, off-the-beaten-path events, activities, and things to do in Havana? Get talking with the staff at Clandestina. They’ll have the best recommendations for local concerts, parties, and the like.

old havana

Explore Old Havana

Spend a good portion of the first day of your Havana itinerary exploring Old Havana. While Old Havana is a relatively small neighborhood – you can walk from one end to another in 25 minutes – you’ll want to take time to explore, wander, and pop into all the shops, galleries, small museums, and awesome restaurants the neighborhood has to offer.

Read More: Ultimate Guide to Exploring Old Havana

Start near El Café and Clandestina at Parque El Cristo, then head to El Capitolio a few blocks away. You’ll be surprised to see it’s a mirror image of the United States Capitol Building! 

From there, head up towards the Malecón, passing the Parque Central and along the Paseo del Prado. From here you can loop back down through the twisting streets of Old Havana, and start tracing a path to Havana’s four main plazas.

I always recommend travelers visit these four historic plazas in Old Havana; they’re home to some of the city’s most beautiful architecture, and form a base route from which to tour the rest of the neighborhood:

  • Plaza Vieja
  • Plaza de Armas
  • Plaza de la Catedral
  • Plaza de San Francisco de Asís

These plazas are must-visit sites in Old Havana, but there is much more to see, too. Make sure to visit our guide to exploring Old Havana – we’ve included everything you could want to see and do in this neighborhood, so it will be a good resource as you plan your trip.

Want to get a little deeper into the neighborhood’s history? Join a free walking tour of Old Havana, or, schedule a private tour with a guide for a more personalized experience.

Either way, you’ll learn so much more about the history behind this area of the city. 

Ride in A Vintage American Car

If you’re visiting Cuba, you’ll probably want to ride in a vintage American car!

This is an unforgettable way to travel, plus, a great opportunity to see a lot of the city all at once with a local guide. It’s a great addition to a first day in Havana itinerary.

These tours usually head all along the Malecón sea wall, towards the Plaza de la Revolución, and around the best parts of the city, so it’s quite the highlights tour!

You can find cars willing to take you on tours of the city from a few key places: in front of Parque Central (near Hotel Inglaterra or Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski), or Parque La Maestranza at the entrance to the Havana Harbor. Of course, your hotel or guesthouse host can arrange these tours for you as well.

I recommend booking these vintage car rides ahead of time, online, before you even arrive in Cuba (or from Cuba using a VPN). It’s less cash you need to carry to Cuba, and you’ll avoid the hassle of bargaining with drivers. 

You can book on Civitatis, which has excellent tours in Cuba, including vintage car tours in Havana and other cities in Cuba. 

Sunset Drink at the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski

A great way to end a day in Havana is with a view of the city’s unbeatable sunset. While many bars and restaurants claim to have the best view, the rooftop bar at the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski takes the cake.

The rooftop bar at this luxurious hotel faces west – perfect for the sunset! – and overlooks the Parque Central, El Capitolio, and the ornate Havana Theater (Gran Teatro de la Habana), which is beautifully lit up as night begins to fall. It’s a stunning, unforgettable view.

Despite the hotel being one of the city’s best, prices for food and drinks aren’t exhorbitant, making this a perfect choice for an app and pre-dinner cocktail. 

Dinner at Jibaro’s

For dinner, head back towards Parque Cristo in Old Havana where you started your day, this time to visit Jibaro’s, one of our favorite restaurants in Havana. Jibaro’s is just a small spot, but their mix of traditional Cuban and creative Cuban fusion dishes pack a punch, as do their delicious mixed drinks.

Make sure to try their seasonal seafood dishes, or their “bowls,” and for the vegetarians, there are excellent options, too.

Day Two in Havana

Visit El Vedado

After spending the first day of your Havana itinerary in Old Havana, it’s time to venture out and see some of Havana’s other lovely neighborhoods. The neighborhood of El Vedado is a favorite, and worth a good visit.

Located just a few minutes from Old Havana by taxi or bus, El Vedado was once home to the city’s elite, so you’ll find plenty of lovely old mansions lining the neighborhood’s streets – it’s a very beautiful area, and quite different from Old Havana.

In many ways, El Vedado is still a very desirable neighborhood, and you’ll find plenty of restaurants and cafes here, as well as beautiful boutique hotels located in restored mansions.

Read More: Where to Stay in Havana + Havana Neighborhood Guide

A great place to start a tour of El Vedado is at the corner of Calle 23 and L – this busy intersection is home to the famous Yara theater and the large park where you’ll find the world-famous Coppelia ice cream parlor. You can do a self-guided walking tour of the neighborhood, or join a free walking tour from Civitatis.

Cuba Libro

While visiting El Vedado, make sure to stop at Cuba Libro – this fantastic spot is a lovely cafe and Havana’s only English bookstore. You’ll enjoy the shady patio and can peruse the shelves as you sip coffee or, a personal favorite here, hibiscus tea – té de jamaica. 

Cuba Libro is also a great spot to inquire about any local events, ask for recommendations from locals, and more. 

Ice Cream at Coppelia

You can’t visit El Vedado without getting ice cream at Coppelia! This world-famous ice cream parlor was built after the Revolution and had dozens of daily flavors in its heyday. Still just as popular (with lines snaking around the park to prove it), you’ll find just a few flavors on the menu these days.

At the entrance to the park, as a tourist, you’ll likely be ushered over to smaller ice cream stands around the sides of the park, rather than directed to the main Coppelia building at the center of the park.

You’ll avoid waiting in the long lines this way, and the ice cream is the same, though sometimes tourists get more flavor options. 

After eating, feel free to wander through the rest of the park and visit the main building. The greeters seating guests might redirect you to the ice cream stands, but you can just say you’re interested in looking around or taking pictures.

havana cuba

What to Pack for Cuba

Check out our Ultimate Cuba Packing List to help you pack for your trip – we’re sharing exactly what to bring to Cuba and what we never travel without.

El Morro

After visiting El Vedado, head to the other side of Havana’s harbor for a visit to El Morro. This lighthouse and fortress on the tip of the entrance to the harbor is an iconic part of Havana’s skyline, and one of the oldest buildings, built by the Spanish in 1589.

While there isn’t too much to see here other than some impressive interior spaces, cannons, and some simple museum displays, the real treat is the beautiful view of Havana. You’ll have an unmatched view of the entire city and the ocean – it’s truly stunning. 

To reach El Morro you’ll need to cross through the tunnel that passes under the harbor, either by taking a taxi or by bus – catch this bus (the P11 bus) from in front of the Capitolio (across the street), and get off just after crossing through the bridge.

Visit El Cristo de La Habana 

From El Morro, continue down along the edge of the harbor until you reach El Cristo de La Habana. This statue of Christ overlooking the harbor has even more enviable views and is a lovely place to watch the sunset over the city. 

Follow the path down the hillside from the statue towards the water and take La Lanchita de Regla to return to Old Havana. This little ferry across the harbor costs just a few pesos and runs from early in the morning until late at night. It’s a fun and inexpensive way for another great view of the city.

Dinner at La Guarida

Finish off the second day of your Havana itinerary with dinner at one of the city’s most beloved restaurants, La Guarida. This restaurant with a view has welcomed everyone from the Kardashians and Madonna to President Obama on his historic trip to Cuba.

Everything is delicious, and every meal is unforgettable. Despite this being one of Havana’s most charming fine dining restaurants, prices are relatively affordable in comparison to similar meals for many travelers back home.

Make sure to book a table ahead of time, especially during the high travel season, as it fills its books far in advance. 

Travel Essential

Don’t think about traveling without a good VPN (Virtual Private Network). Using a VPN while connecting to the internet is an easy way to keep your personal information safe from hackers and trackers. We’ve used NordVPN for years and couldn’t recommend it more – it’s a must for safety online, at home or abroad. 

Day Three in Havana

HAV Coffee & Art

Start the morning at HAV Coffee & Art – this favorite brunch spot in Havana is one of the city’s coolest cafes, and has great food and coffee. This is a beautiful spot in a lovingly-restored building in Havana, and has rotating art exhibits from local artists. It’s a great way to start the day. 

Visit the Museo de Bellas Artes or Museo de la Revolución

Havana has many incredible museums, far too many to see in just 3 days in Havana, but the Museo de Bellas Artes and Museo de la Revolución are two of the very best. Located across a plaza from each other close to the Malecón in Old Havana, choose at least one to visit to start your third day in Havana.

Museo de Bellas Artes

Havana is actually home to two Museo de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts) locations – one facing El Capitolio with art from around the world, and another, facing the Museo de la Revolución.

While both are excellent, you’ll want to visit the latter if you only have a short time in Havana – this is the institution that houses Cuban art.

This fantastic museum includes Cuban art from colonial times all the way through modern art. Make sure to visit the sections of post-Revolutionary art – you’ll find plenty of fascinating portraits of famous faces, like Che Guevara and other revolutionaries. 

Museo de la Revolución

My personal favorite museum in Havana, the Museo de la Revolución (Museum of the Revolution) is housed in the former presidential palace. This palatial, luxurious building was converted into a museum following the Cuban Revolution.

You’ll still see the bullet holes on the outside of the building from when the building was taken during the Revolution as former dictator Fulgencio Batista fled the country. 

Within the museum, you’ll see both the historic rooms of the palace and plenty of memorabilia from the Cuban Revolution, of course.

Most exhibits are only in Spanish, so if you’re planning a visit, make sure to download the Google Translate app beforehand to translate as you go. 

Your entry also includes entry to the plaza behind the museum, where you’ll find a replica of the ship Fidel Castro used to arrive in Cuba – El Granma – as well as American military gear captured in the Bay of Pigs invasion, and the jeep Fidel rode into Havana when the Cuban Revolution toppled Batista. 

cuba packing lists

Visit Memorias 

Make a stop at Memorias on the way; this tiny shop stuffed with antique trinkets, old posters, postcards, and so much more is easily one of my favorite shops in Havana.

Visiting Memorias feels like making a stop at a museum of Havana’s history – but where you’re able to take some history home with you.

You’ll find trinkets like antique cigar boxes, beautiful posters and postcards, banners, pins, and more. Make sure to hunt for traces of Havana’s history as a playground for the mafia before the Cuban Revolution, as well as more recent communist symbols like pins with Lenin and Stalin.  

The owners have so many fascinating stories to tell of their finds, and are helpful in tracking down something specific if you’re looking for it!

Take a Salsa Class

If you’re looking for a great activity while in Havana, consider taking a salsa class! Salsa classes in Havana are great fun – even if you’re like me and have two left feet – and an unforgettable way to experience this important part of Cuban culture.

Civitatis has excellent salsa classes I recommend for travelers on a quick Havana itinerary.

If you’ll end up spending a bit more time in Havana and want to get a little better at salsa (or bachata, rumba, or countless other dance styles!), look into options for a series of classes at the much-loved Salsabor dance school in the Centro Habana neighborhood 

Party the Night Away at La Fábrica de Arte Cubano

A trip to Havana just isn’t complete without a visit to La Fábrica de Arte Cubano – in just a few years it has quickly become a Havana institution and was even rated one of Time Magazine’s 100 Greatest Places on Earth – wow! – in 2019. 

La Fábrica de Arte Cubano is a mixed-used arts space has something to offer to ALL visitors – no matter your interest, language, or age. This former cooking oil factory turned hotspot has spaces for permanent fine arts displays, stages that host a variety of musical acts, dance performances, fashion shows, movie screenings, and more.

Spread around the massive space you’ll also find multiple bars and a small restaurant serving great small plates (Anthony Bourdain approved).

While the doors open at 7:00 PM, performances don’t get started until around 9:30 PM or later. However, on days featuring popular musical acts, you’ll want to arrive early, as the line can stretch around the block by 10:00 PM.

Consider eating dinner at El Cocinero – the lovely restaurant directly next to La Fábrica de Arte Cubano. The rooftop terrace has bars and places to eat, and every dish I’ve tried here has been spectacular.

El Cocinero and La Fábrica de Arte Cubano is a great, convenient combination for an unforgettable night out. 

This is a nightlife hotspot – the rotating performances extend into the early morning – but this is a must-visit even if you want to head home early. As the name La Fábrica de Arte Cubano (Cuban Art Factory) implies, this is where culture is being made in Cuba. Don’t skip it!