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World Travel Guide > Guides > Caribbean > Cuba > Havana

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Havana Nightlife

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

Bar Monserrate

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.

Tropicana

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.
Website: http://www.cabaret-tropicana.com

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.
Website: http://www.balletcuba.cult.cu/gran-teatro-de-la-habana

Teatro Mella

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.
Website: http://www.teatronacional.cu

Music and Dance in Havana

Culture in Havana

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Parque Central Hotel

This well-situated, upscale hotel straddling Central Havana and Old Havana has been setting the standard for luxury lodging in the Cuban capital for years. In 2010, the Parque Central added 149 rooms in its new, chic La Torre building, further cementing its reputation as one of the city's best places to stay. Connected to the original building (with 277 rooms), La Torre is more low-key and the rooms fresher. The rooftop pool with panoramic city views is a real draw here.

Hotel El Terral

One of Havana's newest properties, this boutique hotel is superbly perched overlooking the Malecón – and every room has a private balcony from which to appreciate the killer sea views. One guest says it's like being on a ship, you're that close to the water. So chic and popular is this place, you'll be lucky to land one of the 14 rooms. Doubly lucky are those that book a corner room (with two balconies) or one of the two suites each with long, deep terraces. The staff are friendly and pay meticulous attention to detail, plus you can walk to some excellent restaurants and sites.

Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Built in the 1930s by a New York firm, this historic hotel is a national monument and a destination in its own right. The rich and famous have always favoured its beautiful gardens overlooking the Malecón – notable guests include Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, Steven Spielberg and Uma Thurman. The hotel's cigar bar is tops (especially during December's film festival when the Nacional is packed with luminaries) and the Cabaret Parisien is popular for its scantily-clad, floor show. The rooms here are nothing fancy; upgrade to the sixth (executive) floor if you're coming for more than the history.

Saratoga Hotel

Widely considered one of Havana's top luxury hotels (just ask Beyoncé and Jay-Z who celebrated their wedding anniversary here in 2013), the Saratoga offers understated elegance in a prime location across the street from the majestic Capitolio Building. There are 96 equally-comfortable rooms, though décor varies from charming colonial to modern chic – 'deluxe patio' (or standard rooms) overlook the interior patio and are less desirable. If budget allows, upgrade to a suite – from the wraparound balcony to mahogany interior, they're spectacular.

Hotel Saint John's

Although this hotel in Havana's verdant Vedado section of town has a great location and is walking distance from the Malecón, it has seen better days. The 86 rooms are pretty well worn and not all electrical outlets, faucets or lights may be working. But there's a small rooftop pool, the famous Pico Blanco disco on the top floor, and some rooms have sea views, which allows many guests (especially students and younger travellers, who favour this place) to overlook the shabbiness.

Park View Hotel

A great location combines with a nice price to make the Park View a perennial favourite. Close to both the famous Museo de la Revolución and the exquisite Museo de Bellas Artes, this small Havana hotel provides a warm welcome to the city. Functional rather than fancy, rooms have air conditioning, satellite TV and a safe deposit box. The on-site restaurant has awesome city views and hotel staff are friendly.