It’s hard to narrow down the seemingly endless options of where to go dance, drink and while away the evening hours. From huge government-sponsored art mecca warehouses to tiny and cosy local watering holes, Havana knows how to party.
While we’re not talking craft brew houses or extensive drink menus, you can always find a mojito, daiquiri or cold beer just about anywhere. More importantly is where you’re doing all this boozing.
The focus tends to either be eating and talking or dancing. With music literally in the air wherever you turn, you can simply follow the beats or you use this condensed list as a guide. We handpicked these 10 best bars of Havana for you to enjoy your cocktail & cigar!
1. La Bodeguita del Medio
The throngs of tourists confirm that this bar is required to pay homage to the big names that used to frequent this spot. You’ll also pay big bucks, as the prices for a mojito are far higher here than elsewhere.
Despite the bar losing touch with its bohemian roots, seeing the walls covered in memorabilia and signatures from its famous visitors, including Pablo Neruda, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nat King Cole, Fidel Castro, Harry Belafonte and Ernest Hemingway, make it worthwhile.
2. El Floridita
Just as famous is El Floridita, another Hemingway destination with a bronze bust of Hemingway (you’ll soon learn this man liked to drink his way around town). For the obligatory daiquiri, you’ll need to join everyone in town at this historic watering hole turned tourist destination.
3. Tropicana Nightclub
A visit to this world-renowned cabaret nightclub is a prerequisite for any visitor to Havana, as it’s one of the last remnants of Havana’s Las Vegas style 1950’s hey day. As if that’s not motivation enough, scantily clad women shimmy and shake in this open-air venue, flaunting stunning bodies and gorgeous costumes.
4. Up & Down
This club is on the fancier side, giving you a good excuse to get dressed up, with live music and good food. Modern and trendy with pop music pumping, there’s a VIP section that’s worth plonking some cash down for, so you can sit on the balcony with a view over all the fun.
With a large leafy garden and backyard setting, this is a great chic little hide away to lounge with a cocktail and enjoy some conversation and food. Don’t discount the inside, with multiple rooms and great quirky décor.
Fabrica de Arte Cubano is an enormous government-sponsored space dedicated to art and culture in the form of dancing, theatre and music. With giant outdoor areas, multiple bars and a wide ranging concert schedule, this multi-floored space is bound to entertain.
7. Submarino Amarillo
For a slice of some seriously cheesy history, you can’t miss out on this Beatles themed bar. Thanks to the Cuban Missile Crisis, there was 20-year ban of Beatles. Now the pendulum swings in the other direction with this campy bar that fun, loud and inexpensive.
8. Casa de la Musica
For some of the best live music in town, head here. While there are two locations, the original one in Miramar is better. Starting around 11pm, you can dance the night away, but call in advance to ensure it’s live music and not a night for sex workers (not kidding).
9. Centro Habana Café
Havana is open minded and fun loving, as evidenced by this cafe, the very first openly gay bar. While small, it packs in the fun, with karaoke, drag shows and fabulous cocktails.
10. La Factoria Plaza Vieja
At the other end of the spectrum, you can simply sit on some wood benches and sip on some cold beer made on the premises at Havana’s original microbrewery. There’s an indoor beer hall, but people watching on the square is where it’s at.
When it’s time to stumble home (or you can take a taxi) and you’ve exhausted the last of your energy on the dance floor and your voice is hoarse from talking to newfound friends, make sure your bed is clean and cosy by booking your stay with Casa Particular in Havana.