Havana nightlife is thriving and the choice of venues - especially for live music - will keep you moving and grooving all vacation long. The social scene starts to liven up by about 2200 and clubs and bars tend to close when the last customer leaves, normally between 0200 and 0300. Generally, Cubans like to look sharp, especially when out on the town, so expect to dress up when going out. Indeed, many clubs observe a dress code: no shorts, singlets, or flip flops.
Cuba's rich cultural mix combined with the government's enthusiastic dedication to the arts makes for a truly amazing variety of artistic genres, particularly in the field of popular music. Standards are extraordinarily high and Cuban artists have achieved international fame. Two websites with updated cultural listings are www.cubaabsolutely.com and www.suenacubano.com/cartelera. You can buy tickets for all events directly at the venue.
Bars in Havana
Some love it, others hate it, but for its central location and live, talented septet, this bar within spitting distance of the Capitolio can't be beat. The overhead fans turn languidly, the barman mixes a mean mojito, and the musicians pump out son and other traditional music late into the night. True, it attracts loads of tourists and Cubans on the make, but somehow retains a neighbourhood feel. Check your bill closely.Address: corner Calle Obrapía, Monserrate No. 401, Havana,
Telephone: +53 7 860 9751.
Café Bar Madrigal
For a glimpse into Havana's new economy, this hip, happening bar in the heart of leafy Vedado is the ticket. The big, expressive pop art canvasses, the cosy couches, and the cool clientele: this type of hangout is what the city has been missing. There's a tapas menu and full bar – grab a table on the balcony for a more intimate encounter; this is a very gay-friendly establishment.Address: between Calles 6 and 8, Calle 17 #809, Havana,
Telephone: +53 7 831 2433.
La Bodeguita del Medio
The mojitos are weak and more expensive than elsewhere, and the clientele is 100% tourists, but La Bodeguita del Medio in Old Havana remains a popular stop on every bus and walking tour. The walls are plastered with autographs of famous 1950s stars such as Ernest Hemingway and Errol Flynn who frequented the old wooden bar in the 1950s. This place oozes atmosphere and makes for a great photo.Address: , Calle Empedrado 207, Havana,
Telephone: +53 7 867 1374.
Clubs in Havana
Fábrica de Arte Cubano
Brainchild of popular Cuban musician and artist X Alfonso, this former cooking oil factory has been transformed into a thriving hub for the arts and also one of Havana's liveliest late night venues. The basement of this venue-cum-nightclub sees DJs spinning records four nights a week (Thurs-Sun) until 3am. Not to feel limited, patrons can breakout to other spaces in the huge factory complex, including art and photographic galleries, a cinema, a live performance space and well-stocked bar.Address: Corner 11, Calle 26, Havana,
Telephone: +53 7 838 2260.
Salon Rosado de La Tropical
This outdoor salsa palace hosts big, crowded concerts where the audience comes to dance and grind to the hottest timba, regguetón, and salsa ensembles. Elito Revé, Paulo FG, and El Micha are regular headliners. Pop/fusion stars like Kelvis Ochoa, X Alfonso, and Interactivo also perform here, and Spanish singer Enrique Iglesias used the club as a filming location for the music video to 'Súbeme la Radio'. Salon Rosado de La Tropical is also HQ to ProElectronica, Cuba's annual electronic music festival. Bring ID and nothing of value for a night out at La Tropical.Address: corner Calle 46, Avenida 41, Havana,
Telephone: +53 7 206 1282.
Cubans love a spectacle – especially a sultry, dance-packed, scantily-clad extravaganza like the kind put on at the Tropicana; it's no wonder this is one of the few pre-1959 cabarets still in operation. Today, the lush grounds of the Tropicana host tourists, not locals, who flock to the world-famous cabaret for pure, unadulterated entertainment. Book tickets at any hotel; beware of the cheaper tables with obstructed view.Address: between Calles 41 & 45, Calle 72 #4504, Havana,
Telephone: +53 7 267 1717.
Live music in Havana
Café Teatro Bertol Brecht
This small theatre is making a big splash with the young-ish set, which comes to hear Cuba's contemporary music stars perform top flight music at the nice price (entrance is just CUC2). Equally suited for taking cocktails at a table as dancing in the aisles, the energy here is palpable, especially when favourites like William Vivanco, David Blanco, and Descemer Bueno are in the house.Address: corner Calle I, Vedado, Calle 13 #259, Havana,
Telephone: +53 7 832 9359.
Casa de la Música de Miramar
Cuba's top salsa and regguetón bands regularly perform at this big music and dance venue. If dancing salsa with hot Cubans to world-renowned live music is on the itinerary, this is the place to do it. There is another outpost of the Casa de la Música in Centro Habana at Galeano between Concordia and Neptuno with the same menu of acts.Address: corner Calle 35, Miramar, Calle 20, Havana,
Telephone: +53 7 202 6147.
Jazz Club La Zorra y el Cuervo
Cuban jazz is legendary and this intimate basement club gives visitors a chance to hear top performers including Roberto Fonseca, Alexis Bosch, and Yasek Manzano. The club is dark and low-ceilinged, but the sound is good and of the three jazz clubs in town, this place best approximates a classic urban jazz joint. Club is accessed through the red English phone booth.Address: between Calle N and Calle O, Vedado, Calle 23, Havana,
Telephone: +53 7 662 402.
Classical music in Havana
Dance in Havana
Gran Teatro de La Habana
An architectural marvel and home to the world famous Ballet Nacional de Cuba, this theatre is awe-inspiring inside and out. A badly-needed restoration project was completed in 2016, improving this legendary venue into a state where it's as spectacular as the nightly performances it plays host to. Head to the box office where upcoming performances are listed.Address: Centro Habana, Corner of Paseo del Prado and Calle San Rafael, Havana,
Telephone: +53 7 861 3096.
Numerous and varied are the reasons to pencil in an evening at this Vedado theatre: it's where Cuba's modern dance company, Danza Contemporánea de Cuba, puts on electric performances; it's one of the official theatres of both the Ballet and Jazz Festivals; and there are notable concerts by greats, including Chucho Valdés and Pablo Milanés, here occasionally. Upcoming performances are listed at the box office.Address: between Calle A & B, Línea, Havana,
Telephone: +53 7 833 5651.
Theatres in Havana
Teatro Nacional de Cuba
Located on the edge of the sprawling Plaza de la Revolución, this theatre – one of Havana's biggest, with several rooms and a couple of clubs on-site – hosts plays and concerts to large, enthusiastic crowds. Dance companies as disparate as Ecos (flamenco) and Danza Voluminosa (all dancers weigh close to 200 pounds or more) perform here.Address: , Plaza de la Revolución, Havana,
Telephone: +53 7 785 590.