9 Terrific Things to Do in Cuba | A Gringo’s Guide

If you’re curious about some interesting things to do in Cuba, then you’ve come to the right place.

Below I detail my favorite activities in and around Havana.

But don’t get it twisted.

There’s a whole hell of a lot to do in Cuba. Far more than a measly blog post could ever highlight.

However…

I’m only listing these things to do in Cuba because I don’t recommend staying in Cuba long enough to do anything else.

See, I’m a fan of Cuba. Don’t get me wrong.

But only for 3-4 days, maybe a week. Nothing more. Nothing less.

You’ll quickly get annoyed by the “fourth world” infrastructure, the constant hustle, and the subpar food options.

Cuban money.

Even dealing with money becomes a pain in the arse while in the country.

Oh, and don’t forget about all the weird laws, the culture shock, and that Caribbean Spanish that’s so hard to understand.

Still…

Cuba is well worth a visit.

Hell, it’s one of the most unique travel experiences around these days.

9 Things to Do in Cuba on a Quick Trip

Enough with my fluff, jefe.

It’s time to dive into the best things to do in Cuba on a quick trip.

If you’ve got less than a week in Cuba, you’ll find the activities below give you the most bang for your buck and time.

Ya tu sabes:

  • Party at Fabrica de Arte

The absolute coolest nightclub I’ve ever been to in my whole life.

And as a functional acholic traveling around Latin America, that’s a whole hell of a lot of nightclubs.

This place is half disco and half art gallery.

In one room, you’ll find hundreds of people dancing to reggaeton music. In the next one, a world-class art gallery unique to Havana. Plus, it’s massive. This goes on room after room.

I can’t recommend going here enough on a Friday or Saturday night.

Even if you’re not much of a partier, you’ll enjoy checking out the art scene and seeing a different side of Havana.

I’d never have expected it, but this was probably my favorite experience in all of Havana.

Don’t go to Cuba and not enjoy a little rumba in Fabrica de Arte.

Learn more here.

  • Check Out the Art Scene

Speaking of the art scene…

Many Cubans are talented artists. Hell, some of the stuff I saw on the streets of Havana looked better than museums back home.

Truly beautiful paintings. Plus, there cheap.

If you’re looking to buy world-class artwork, there’s nowhere in the world that you’ll find better prices for stunningly beautiful art than the streets of Havana.

Specifically…

If you walk along that center street at the corner of Parque Central during a weekend afternoon, you will find great pieces of art.

Highly recommended whether you’re buying or not.

  • Smoke Some Puros

Ayyyeee…

You can’t visit Cuba and not smoke a Cuban, marika.

That’s just not how we do things around these parts.

Just don’t buy them from some random street hustler on the streets. Hell, don’t even buy them from that cigar tour you do in Vinales.

No!

You’ve got to get the good stuff while in Cuba. Go to a nice hotel and visit their gift shop area or lounge. They should have high-end Cuban cigars on sale.

I tried three or four different brands during my time in Cuba. When in Rome and shit. Cohiba is the most popular and seems to be world famous.

But my favorite?

Guantanamera.

Smoking a fresh Guantanamera Cuban puro is a thing of beauty and quite enjoyable before a night out in Havana.

Smoking a Cuban cigar in Cuba.

  • Cruise Around in Classic Cars

I shit you not…

At least a dozen travelers I met while in Cuba told me the classic cars were their main motivation for visiting the country.

Not the unique culture. Not salsa dancing. Hell, not even Cuba cigars. Certainly not Caribbean beaches.

They wanted to ride in the classic cars that make their way around Havana all day and night.

It’s good fun. Don’t get me wrong.

But I wouldn’t travel halfway across the globe to take a ride in a beaten up classic car.

That’s just me, though.

Still, if you do end up in Cuba, then cruising around in one of these classic cars is an absolute must.

Just stand on the side of the road and wait until one cruise by. If you put your hand up, they’re likely to stop if they don’t already have tourists in tow.

Just make sure to negotiate the price before you go or you’ll get the “gringo” price heavy.

Many of these classic taxis also congregate around Parque Central every day.

Ridin’ dirty in Cuba.

  • Stay in a Casa Particular

If you’ve got the money and want a luxurious experience in Cuba, then hotels are the way to go.

But casa particulares give you a unique cultural experience.

So, what’s a casa particular?

It’s a room or apartment rented out by local Cubans to tourist. They rent these rooms out to supplement their income from the government.

Mine was fairly nice. I had a private bedroom, air conditioning, a private bathroom, hot water, and a stunning balcony overlooking Havana.

The host also made fresh breakfast for me and a buddy every morning for just a few bucks.

Probably the best meal I ate in Cuba.

Overall, casa particulares offer a unique experience for 3-4 days. Then you miss some of the comforts and convenience that only a hotel can provide while in Cuba.

  • Private Tour to Viñales

Do NOT take the government-sponsored tour to Viñales

Just don’t.

Pony up and pay a little extra to get a private driver. Your casa particular host should be able to help you find one.

The problem with the group tour?

It’s straight propaganda directly from the Cuban government. Plus, you get like 20 minutes at each of the stopping places.

Not enough time to truly explore.

By booking a private driver, you’ll get to truly explore the region a little bit more. You’ll get to take your time.

Plus, you can request to go to a tobacco farm that isn’t overrun with tourists and get a private tour – which is always better.

But don’t get it twisted…

Viñales is stunning and well worth the visit.

Views in Viñales.

  • Drink Rum Like Water

Rum is just a little more expensive than bottled water in Cuba.

Why?

Because only tourists drink bottled water and everything a tourists needs must cost an arm and a leg.

So…

Feel free to indulge. Drink cheap, delicious Caribbean rum like it’s water.

At less than $4 USD a bottle, it’s never been cheap to get drunk than in Cuba.

The only hard part?

Finding ice cubes for your mixed drinks.

High-quality Cuban rum.

  • Take a Cheap City Tour

The absolute best thing to do in Cuba on your first day in the country?

Take a cheap city bus tour.

You’ll be in awe at the crumbling infrastructure and unique views Havana provides. The sex appeal of the old architecture won’t have worn you down just yet.

Plus, it’s cheap and easy.

Just head to Parque Central during a weekday and hop on the big bus that all the other pasty tourists will be getting on.

It arrives frequently throughout the day and goes all over Havana. I believe it costs $10 USD for an all-day pass.

More information here.

  • Go to the Beach on a Weekday

I made the grave mistake of going to Playas del Este on a weekend.

The beach is just 20 minutes from Havana and packed to the brim on weekends.

Like hard to find a place to sit down and relax.

Would. Not. Recommend.

But a waiter told me the beach is empty during the week.

So if a little rest and relaxation are what you want while in Havana, then take the bus to Playas del Este during the week.

The beach is truly stunning, filled with white sand, and crystal blue waters.

I believe the bus cost $5 USD and again, leaves from Parque Central.

Walking to the beach…

Getting Off the Beaten Path in Cuba?

With all the things to do in Cuba, I wasn’t able to get off the beaten path too much while in the country.

I’d like to, but I’m not sure Cuba is calling me back anytime soon.

However, if I do go back…

There’s two cities I’d love to check out:

  • Cienfuegos
  • Santiago

Both cities looking exceptionally unique and would seemingly offer great insights into Cuban life outside Havana.

Things to Do in Cuba | A Gringo’s Guide

Ya.

That’s about it, y’all.

The definite list of anything and everything you’d want to do in and around Havana on a short trip.

A true gringo’s guide on things to do in Cuba.

If I missed anything, which I surely did, sound off in the comments and tell me about it.

This stunning Caribbean country is quite a mindf*ck and well worth a visit for any of my vagabonds out there.

Te lo juro.

P.S: Don’t forget to learn a little Spanish before you go. Click here for the best way I’ve found to do just that.

More Cuba Information:

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Jake D

Travel junkie turned blogger. Location independent. From the Midwest, but often based in Latin America. Big on beaches, rumba, and rum. Addicted to the gym. Committed to showing a different style of travel - one that involves actually interacting with locals and exploring different cultures.

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