HAVANA TRAVELGUIDE

HAVANA TRAVELGUIDE

For the first time in a rather long time I pushed myself into directly writing a travel diary after experiencing a new place. As the next weeks will be full of adventures, I just loved the idea to share everything as long as my memories are all fresh. 🙂

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Whereas most of my recent trips were part of a project or a shooting, I traveled to Cuba to explore a totally new place with KLM. I loved this project as I’m quite picky when it comes to service and KLM has always been one of these airlines which always make me feel fully comfortable (Maybe because they are Dutch –  Dutch people are probably the nicest people in the world :)). Even though I’m traveling a lot, I often feel like I’m staying in my comfort zone. When I selected one of the KLM dream deals, I decided to go to a place I have always been curious about. Cuba was clearly different to every place I’ve ever been to and compared to most of my recent destinations, I really felt the explorer spirit. 😉 You can find your own KLM dream deal: here. The sales period is until 14th of September.

As Cuba felt so different, I decided to share some general information and my favorite places and activities with you. Plus: I also have lots of pictures to show you! 🙂

 

HOW TO PREPARE YOUR TRIP:
TOURIST CARD: The most important thing is to plan early as you need a tourist card! I had a little help from KLM which was super helpful! Cuba is a special place and when planning a trip, it makes sense to plan a bit ahead.

CURRENCY: Cuba has a two currencies system. There is one currency for the locals and one for tourists which is called CUC. There are not many cash points in Cuba and sometimes they are empty. Therefore, we decided to queue up for quite some time at the airport to have some cash from minute one. While you normally won’t carry too much cash and rely on your credit card, in Cuba it’s the other way around. We got enough cash to be covered for the most important things, which ended up to be a good idea.

INTERNET: Well, you’ve probably realized that I had internet access during my stay in Cuba. Still, I have to admit that it has never been that tricky to find an internet connection. There is one provider which is available at some hotels and the airport and you can buy access tickets. We paid 2 CUC for 1 hour and as I wanted to share my experiences with you, I ended up buying loooooads of access cards. 😉 Still, I wasn’t able to use snapchat during my trip to Cuba. Even though I bought internet access cards every day, snapchat is simply not working in Cuba.

FOOD: There are no typical supermarkets in Cuba, You can enter a shop and they will sell alcohol and lemonade, but getting water is not that easy. Also I was craving some healthy food and ended up buying avocados and bananas at a little street trolley. Still, most food was not as fresh as my spoiled tummy is used to and I ended up eating mostly bread and cheese, not risking too much. 😉

LANGUAGE: Shame on me: I can only say a few words in Spanish. You will have way more fun if you speak Spanish or at least carry a translator. Sometimes it was quite frustrating because you will meet only few people who will speak English.

BE PATIENT & FLEXIBLE: Cuba was clearly one of the unorganized places I’ve ever been to. We waited hours for our luggage and in front of the cashier machine. Also because no one was paying attention to waiting properly in line etc. and people were pushing in and out, it was tricky to adjust to that without feeling rude. When going to Cuba, make sure to stay patient and just go with the flow (even if it’s a slow one ;)).

 

5 THINGS TO DO IN HAVANA:

I) HAVANA OLD TOWN (HABANA VIEJA)

I was staying in Havana central, closely to my favorite part of Havana: Havana old town. I can not really recommend our hotel. I had only limited time to plan the trip and, therefore, I fully relied on hotel ratings without reading traveler websites. During our time in Havana I heard so many good things about privately owned accommodations and when planning your trip, I’d rather check for a cool, friendly private place instead of an governmental owned hotel. I guess you will feel more of the Cuban sprit. Despite that, living near Havana old town was the best idea. Ever since I’ve started the blog, photography became my major fascination. I love wandering through a new place with eyes wide open, sensing every detail. Havana old town was truly a photographers’ paradise. Every house was different, colorful and you could spend days just walking along the side streets of famous Plaza Vieja.

II) VINTAGE CARS

Arriving in Cuba felt like going back in time. When the first old timer passed by our taxi I couldn’t stop smiling. Even though I rather played Playmobile than Barbie doll, it was so much fun taking a (pink) vintage car for a trip around the city. You pay 30 CUC (a little less than 30€) for an hour of driving around the city. As I don’t speak Spanish (shame on me!) we asked at our hotel for a little assistance. I loved exploring in a vintage car and we ended up even taking little trips in an old pink car. One day we did a little road trip to Playa de Este which is a Caribbean beach only 25 minutes away from Havana. When the driver was playing old Cuban music, it was perfection.

III) PLAYA DEL ESTE

My favorite activity was driving to Playa del Este for a half day trip. I read that it’s a white sandy Caribbean beach which somehow is true – But also it was the most packed and local beach I’ve ever been to. 😀 We ended up finding no umbrella or sun chair and as we brought no towels, we went for a little swim and afterwards we were sitting in the sand, watching the ocean. Even though the beach was not at all what I experienced, it was such a fun and unique trip. Afterwards we got some fried thin chips and a local lemonade and we truly felt the Cuban vibes. 😉

IV) LA GUARIDA

This is not an official must, but for me La Guarida was my happy place. The restaurant was close to Neptuno street (one of my favorite spots), based in an old building. The walls had Fidel Castro drawings and writings and everything looked vintage. There were some different floors you can reach while taking cute old spiral staircases. Going to the top you will find a rooftop with a stunning view on imperfectly perfect Havana. Underneath you will find a cool bar with nice views and on the lower floors you will find La Guarida. You have to make a reservation and insist on sitting outside. 😉 For me as a picky vegetarian, La Guarida was heaven on earth. They had the yummiest salad, avocado cream and the best three chocolate desert. We came here several time, to enjoy the views, take pictures of the sunset and enjoy a super tasty dinner.

V) FOOD, FOOD, FOOD:

Food is always one of the most important things for me. There were not too many options, but I found some places I can truly recommend. Still, I have to admit that there might be some really good meat places, but as a vegetarian, I only checked places which offered at least one good vegetarian option. 😉

1) La Guarida: Obviously, I loved La Guarida (see above). Nothing more to add to that one! 🙂
2) Museo del Chocolat: For true chocolate lovers, Museo del Chocolat is a must. It’s a cute place where you can drink a chocolate, eat pralines and buy figures made of chocolate. I bought two chocolate cigars (my kind of cigars 😉 and four pralines and had to pay 2,70 CUC which seemed to be fair. 😉 Also there is a Churros shop in front and you get amazing Churros for only 0,50 CUC.
3) Cafe Bohemia: Right at the famous Plaza Vieja we found Cafe Bohemia in a little backyard and directly felt for it. The place reminded us of Mykonos and the food was fresh and modern. I had veggie sandwiches and a fruit plate and we ended up coming back for this fresh fruit and the lovely location.
4) 304 O’Reilly: Even though I’m normally in charge of food hunting (picky vegetarian here ;)), Alex found 304 O’Reilly when checking for good food near our hotel. The bar and restaurant was described as a hipster place which was kind of true. The place had a cool, friendly and surprisingly modern vibe and I had amazing vegetarian tacos, bruschetta and a fresh salad with yummy dressing! The place was small and lively and we loved sitting here, playing cards and enjoying the atmosphere.
5) Arcangel: After some days of hotel breakfast, I was keen on trying some options. As breakfast is not a common meal in Cuba, I was happy to find Arcangel. The place was trendy, had cute interior and a coffee machine they imported from Italy. 😉

In case you have some extra time, I would definitely recommend seeing more places. I was keen on visiting Trinidad and Vinales Valley but we only had time to explore Havana and the areas around. What surprised me the most was the fact how much you can feel the effects of communism. Growing up, I’m used to having choices and feeling safe. Seeing the living standards in Havana and the lack of choices when it comes to food was something that touched me. There were places for alcohol and bread and you would always find bread with meat on the street corners, but as a vegetarian I sometimes had serious trouble finding anything. Especially because I’ve been a veggie for ages and even though I’m tolerant to different kind of lifestyles and nutrition, seeing bones on the floor which were thrown away after preparing a meat bread was sometimes hard for my stomach. As I love photography and I love beautiful aesthetics I definitely wanted to point out that Cuba is not only this colorful, vibrant place you can see on the pictures but it’s also a place which makes you grateful for growing up in a fully developed country, which offers choices regarding healthy living, housing and education. I’m quite an emotional person and somethings seeing poor people and children growing up with so little leaves a whole in my heart. Therefore, I’m extremely grateful to got the opportunity to travel this unique place with KLM who took care of us so well. Entering the airplane on our way back and feeling the hospitality of the flight attendance on board directly gave me the feeling of almost being home. Thank you KLM for this unforgettable trip! xx Leonie

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*In cooperation with KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines) <3


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68 Comments

  1. 30. August 2016 / 20:36

    Wow, tolle Fotos! Mein Lieblingsbild ist das in dem lila Off-Shoulder-Kleid.
    Traumhafte Farben in dieser aufregenden Stadt <3

    Liebe Grüße,
    Alyssa von http://anotherlovely.de

  2. 30. August 2016 / 20:48

    Thank you so much for sharing, this comes in SO handy and valuable since I’ve been wishing to go to Cuba for almost my whole life and I’m finally going there next year! 🙂

    https://lartoffashion.com/different-kind/

  3. 30. August 2016 / 20:54

    Love your honesty in this post. I imagine traveling here would be a pretty dramatic change of pace compared to Europe or the US. Beautiful photos though! I love all the colors, I want to go just for all the gorgeous photo opportunities!

    http://www.kristenskouture.com | Luxury. Fashion. Lifestyle.

  4. Leonie
    Author
    30. August 2016 / 22:37

    Danke Liebes <3

  5. Leonie
    Author
    30. August 2016 / 22:37

    Thank you sooo much <3

  6. Leonie
    Author
    30. August 2016 / 22:38

    Thank you for your feedback <3

  7. Leonie
    Author
    30. August 2016 / 22:38

    <3<3<3

  8. Leonie
    Author
    30. August 2016 / 22:40

    Awww sooo happy to hear! You will definitely have a great time and it’s always amazing to schedule such a trip early so that you have time to already dream about the place! <3

  9. 31. August 2016 / 6:55

    All this photos are simply AMAZING !! I downloded them immediatly!!!

  10. 31. August 2016 / 8:11

    Wunderschöne Bilder, einfach der Wahnsinn!! Ganz großes Kompliment, es gibt im Moment keinen Blog den ich so gerne lese und den ich so inspirierend finde wie deinen!!

    Ganz liebe Grüße! 🙂

  11. 31. August 2016 / 8:30

    Tolle Bilder und ein super ausführlicher Travelguide, vielen Dank dafür liebe Leonie!

  12. Nana
    31. August 2016 / 9:03

    Hey thx for your Post.

  13. Nana
    31. August 2016 / 9:04

    What is about the weather? In September is normally rainy days.

  14. 31. August 2016 / 10:48

    Die Bilder sind einfach wunderschön <3 Ich bin total verliebt in die Farben und Gebäude. Aber du hast vollkommen Recht, dass es natürlich alles sehr fotogen wirkt und ist, jedoch die Menschen dort einen völlig anderen Lebensstil leben als wir es gewohnt sind.
    Schön, dass ihr diese Erfahrung machen konntet!
    Liebst Kathi
    http://www.meetthehappygirl.com

  15. Leonie
    Author
    31. August 2016 / 11:44

    It was not a problem at all! It said in the weather forecast that it would be raining, but there was only one raindrop. 😉 <3

  16. Leonie
    Author
    31. August 2016 / 11:44

    <3<3<3

  17. Leonie
    Author
    31. August 2016 / 11:45

    Thank youuuu <3

  18. Leonie
    Author
    31. August 2016 / 11:45

    <3<3<3

  19. 31. August 2016 / 12:33

    Such a nice post dear and beautiful photos as always 🙂

  20. 31. August 2016 / 13:38

    So wunderschöne Eindrücke und die ganzen bunten Häuser sehen so toll aus. Und auch ein paar sehr hilfreiche Tipps für die Reise die du da hast, werde ich mir auf jeden Fall noch mal alles genauer durchlesen, wenn es für uns vielleicht irgendwann mal dort hin geht. 🙂
    LG
    Brini
    BrinisFashionBook

  21. 31. August 2016 / 15:39

    Ich liebe deinen Reisebericht!! Der Text, die Bilder… da bekommt man als “Travel-addict” richtig Fernweh und auch Lust nach Kuba zu reisen. Stehen nach den Fashion Weeks weitere Fernreisen an?
    Freue mich auf deine kommenden Posts aus London, New York, Mailand und was da noch so kommt.
    Lieben Gruß, Philipp
    http://www.fashion-worship.com

  22. Leonie
    Author
    31. August 2016 / 17:06

    Huhu lieber Philipp,
    auf jeeeeden Fall! Ich muss gestehen, dass ich langsam Asien sehr vermisse und auch nach Australien und Hawaii zieht es mich so, so sehr zurück! Wir waren grade bei einigen Projekten auf Zeitpläne und dann können wir endlich final planen! 🙂
    Liebste Grüße aus London

  23. Leonie
    Author
    31. August 2016 / 17:07

    <3

  24. Leonie
    Author
    31. August 2016 / 19:38

    Awww viiielen lieben Dank – Hab mich so sehr über deine lieben Worte gefreut! Tausend Küsse aus London <3

  25. 31. August 2016 / 20:05

    Wow, super schöne und vor allem mega viele Bilder. Kuba sieht aus wie aus einer früheren Welt. Total beeindruckend.

    LG Caterina
    http://caterinasblog.com/

  26. 31. August 2016 / 22:28

    I’d love to visit Cuba! It looks simply beautiful. I just came back from an awesome trip to Miami and Bahamas. I never dared because I felt it was too complicated to plan a trip to Cuba but your tips really helped. Thanks!

  27. Leonie
    Author
    31. August 2016 / 22:54

    <3

  28. Leonie
    Author
    31. August 2016 / 22:56

    Hi babe, I totally know what you mean! Thant’s why I decided to go therewith KLM. It’s not the easy destination where you just bye a plane ticket and than spontaneously go there. So happy I had this trip – Any I would definitely be up for Miami and Bahamas too! 🙂 <3

  29. Leonie
    Author
    31. August 2016 / 22:56

    <3

  30. Sofia
    1. September 2016 / 1:44

    Great post and beautiful photos ! So where did you stay in Central Havana?

  31. 1. September 2016 / 9:25

    so schöne Fotos. Ich hoffe wir kommen auch nochmal nach Kuba. Wir waren zwei mal in Havanna und beide Male hat es so richtig wild geregnet. 🙁

    Liebe Grüsse
    Sylvia
    http://www.mirrorarts.at/

  32. 1. September 2016 / 13:54

    Tolle und beeindruckende Bilder, deine Outfits sind wie immer der Hammer! Ich wünsche dir ein paar schöne Tage in London und ganz liebe Grüße
    Alnis
    http://alnisfescherblog.com

  33. 1. September 2016 / 16:18

    Hi Leonie! I am just curious as to where you stayed while in Cuba? I am planning a trip and would love some tips! Google isn’t helping much! xx Hannah

  34. 2. September 2016 / 14:47

    Ach, was würde ich jetzt auch gerne Urlaub haben 🙂
    Vielen Dank für den Travel Guide und deine immer schönen Fotos, die einen zum Träumen einladen und einem einen kurzen Moment Urlaub schenken 🙂

    Liebe Grüße aus Münster,
    Genevieve // http://www.facilityinfashion.de

  35. 2. September 2016 / 21:38

    Der Travelguide ist dir wirklich richtig gut gelungen! Ganz besonders gefällt mir, dass du nicht nur die positiven Dinge erwähnst, sondern auch die negativen Aspekte aufzeigst.
    Ich glaube mein Highlight wäre es auch gewesen mit dem pinken Oldtimer durch Havanna zu fahren. Ein Traum!
    Ganz liebe Grüße!
    xxMaj-Britt

    https://majstatement.wordpress.com/

  36. 2. September 2016 / 22:04

    So ein toller Travel Guide mit faszinierenden Bildern. Hach Leonie, ich bin einfach so ein Fan von dir und deinem Blog! Nach Havanna möchte ich auch unbedingt mal. Wer weiß, vielleicht wird das ja noch 😀

    Love, Kerstin
    http://www.missgetaway.com/

  37. 4. September 2016 / 21:05

    OMG , I am totally in love with your photos!!! So colourful and in combination with the half broken bulidings and your great outfits!!! Just perfect and incredible!

  38. 4. September 2016 / 21:34

    Das ist definitiv einer der besten Guides, die ich je gelesen habe! Ich hoffe, ich komme irgendwann mal nach Havanna und kann all deine tollen Spots ausprobieren 🙂 Die Fotos sind ein Traum wie immer 🙂
    Liebst, Carmen – http://www.carmitive.com

  39. Leonie
    Author
    5. September 2016 / 14:40

    Viiiielen lieben Dank <3

  40. Leonie
    Author
    5. September 2016 / 15:28

    Awwwww viiiielen lieben Dank <3

  41. Leonie
    Author
    5. September 2016 / 15:30

    Danke Liebes <3

  42. Leonie
    Author
    5. September 2016 / 15:30

    <3

  43. Leonie
    Author
    5. September 2016 / 15:31

    Awww vielen lieben Dank für deine lieben Worte <3

  44. Leonie
    Author
    5. September 2016 / 15:31

    Danke liebe Maj-Britt <3

  45. Leonie
    Author
    5. September 2016 / 15:44

    Hi dear, it was called Iberostar Parque Central, but we were not very happy with the service. They concierge was super nice but the staff sometimes was quite rude and we didn’t felt very welcomed. That’s why I didn’t say the name in the guide as I not really recommend it. <3

  46. Leonie
    Author
    5. September 2016 / 15:45

    Oh nein! Und bei uns war immer Regen angesagt und es hat niiiiiie geregnet! Wie schade… :/ <3

  47. 5. September 2016 / 19:35

    Was für ein toller Beitrag liebe Leonie ♥♥ Die Bilder sind atemberaubend schön!

    Ich war auch schon auf Kuba und war restlos begeisterst. Du hast vollkommen recht, dass Kuba mit keinem anderen Land vergleichbar ist. Aber genau das macht Kuba auch aus. Das wird vermutlich auch nicht mehr so lange bleiben, bis dann wirklich alles aus den USA rübergeschappt ist. Schade, aber dan haben wir wenigstens noch das “echte” Kuba gesehen.

    Einen wunderschönen Abend wünsche ich dir,

    liebe Grüße
    Monique

    MOD – by Monique

  48. 5. September 2016 / 21:00

    Es ist so merkwürdig dieses Reisetagebuch zu lesen, weil deine Erfahrung in Kuba einfach so anders war. Ich war dort im Februar, als es kaum Touristen gab. Das hätte zur Folge gehabt, dass ich niemals in Off-Shoulder Kleidern hätte rumrennen können, weil die Kubaner eben schon sehr aufdringlich werden können. Mit dem Essen hatte ich als ebenfalls Vegetarierin aber auch so meine Probleme. Kein Wunder, wenn das Nationalgericht Pollo con arroz ist. Hast du mal Peso-Pizzen probiert? Und warst du in Habana-Vieja in den zahlreichen Ateliers von Street-Art Künstlern?

  49. 6. September 2016 / 12:04

    Liebe Leonie <3

    Deine Bilder und der Artikel sind wie immer wunderschön! Und sehr ausführlich! Danke dafür 🙂

    xo, Jo von http://viejola.de/

  50. 6. September 2016 / 20:53

    It’s a real pleasure to see such wonderful pictures! And those colours ! Now I really want to visit Hawana one day.

  51. 6. September 2016 / 22:04

    Hammer Bilder!!!

    thedaydreamings.blogspot.com

  52. 8. September 2016 / 21:54

    Lovely colorful pictures! Thank you for your tips for Cuba, a place I’d like to visit!

  53. Leonie
    Author
    13. September 2016 / 19:24

    Huhu Liebes, ich weiß aber auch was du meinst – Ich bin so mit den schulterfreien Teilchen auch eher in den Touri Straßen rum gelaufen. Und ich hab mich auch nicht immer komplett wohl in meiner Haut gefühlt! <3

  54. Nora
    21. September 2016 / 14:55

    Die Fotos sind traumhaft!!!

  55. Leonie
    Author
    25. September 2016 / 11:40

    Aww, danke Nori, wie schön von dir zu lesen! <3

  56. 26. April 2017 / 22:36

    Hi, very personal and cool guide. I am going to write mine and looking for inspiration. Thank you so much 🙂

  57. Leonie
    Author
    27. April 2017 / 13:27

    <3<3<3

  58. Leonie
    Author
    21. May 2017 / 20:06

    Thanks for the feature! Glad you liked it!! <3

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