Deciding where to party when you’re on holiday can be a loaded decision. Through random wanderings, you might find yourself in a dive bar with criminally cheap drinks (good luck finding your way back after all that, by the way). You might also try to get into a so-called well known venue only to find that it’s the sort of place the locals wouldn’t be seen dead in. Or you might do some online research, and find what you think is the coolest party in town, and then end up standing in line on a cold, windswept street for 2 hours before the bouncer dismisses you for not being cool enough (be warned: this actually happens in cities like Berlin). In some places, it can be hard to begin to think about where to spend your evenings. If you’re lucky enough to go to Havana, you will be spoiled for choice. We’ve got a few handy hints for narrowing down that choice so you can have a magical evening (that will probably extend well into the following morning) in Cuba’s captivating capital.
Avoid the Usual Suspects
It could be called a trap, but it’s a pleasant one. When you go to Havana, chances are that you’re going to spend a lot of time in Havana’s Old Town (La Habana Vieja). This part of town is accurately referred to as the heart of Havana, and it’s the village from which the bustling city grew. You can even see what’s left of the original city walls. The trap is that you might be tempted to spend all your time here, both exploring in the daytime and partying when the sun goes down. This can be limiting, and of course many other visitors will have the exact same idea. Some bars in the area are tourist attractions in their own right, such as El Floridita (located at Obispo 557) which was the favoured watering hole of Ernest Hemingway. It even features a life-sized statue of the writer standing at the bar. Sure, you should check it out (and obviously take a selfie next to the statue), but there is so much more to partying in Havana than these usual suspects. Don’t be afraid to get out of the heart of Havana and wander where the locals are more likely to hang out. You should make your way to Vedado (you can easily walk there from the Old Town) which is arguably more authentic in some ways. You will find a fair number of great bars and restaurants on and around 15th and 17th streets, and also on Calle G (although this is more filled with people enjoying an outdoor drink). It’s really a case of wandering around until you find somewhere you like.
Keep it Casual
That whole idea of just grabbing a beer and sitting outside is something that you should experience in Havana. You don’t actually need to set foot inside a bar or club in order to have a great night of casual partying in Havana. Go to the previously mentioned Calle G, and also to the Malecón (an esplanade that runs along the harbour). Grab some beers, sit down, and watch the world go by. This is also an opportunity to ask the locals gathered around (also drinking their beers) if they know of any decent parties in the general area.
Stay Up to Date
If you want to do some research about where to party in Havana, please ensure that you do so before you arrive in Cuba. Internet access is limited, and so it will be hard to do after you arrive. Likewise, you can’t simply look things up on your smartphone, so a bit of forward planning is essential. When checking blogs or websites with party suggestions, you need to ensure that any information is current. Many businesses in Cuba do not have a web presence, so you need to be sure that the information provided on various blogs and websites are up to date (to ensure that a particular place has not closed or moved). The same goes for guidebooks. If the guidebook was published years ago, its recommendations might not be entirely accurate anymore. Perhaps the party you thought would be held at a particular place and time has been moved out of Havana and you would have to check out a day tour to Varadero to experience it! (Although this is not actually a bad thing, and should be experienced along with all the other cool party spots within striking distance of Havana). However you decide to spend your evenings in the Cuban capital, you will soon know that you’ll have a heavenly time in Havana.