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World Travel Guide > Guides > Caribbean > Cuba > Havana

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Things to do in Havana

Brave a game of bike polo

A little bit dangerous and a whole lot fast, this international sport is taking Havana by storm since it was introduced in 2012. The city's bike polo club (tel: +53 7 833 4011; www.leagueofbikepolo.com/club/havana-bike-polo) meets every Sunday on the court at the corner of Calles 23 and 2 in Vedado from 1700 until dark. Visitors are always welcome, and there are loaner bikes on hand for those who want in on the action.

Catch a game of Cuba’s national sport.

While football may be on the ascendency, baseball remains the passion that ignites, unites and divides Cubans. The season runs from November to June and tickets can be purchased at the box office at game time. Havana's team is the Industriale, who people love – and love to hate. They play at the country's biggest stadium, the Estadio Latinoamericano (tel: +53 7 870 6526; www.baseballdecuba.com), which has a capacity of 55,000 people.

Put on those dancing boots

Cuba is fairly synonymous with salsa dancing, and it's the rare Cuban who doesn't know at least the basics. World famous salsa bands regularly play Havana's two Casas de la Música, while the bolder among you will favour the crowded, rough-and-tumble atmosphere of the Salon Rosado at La Tropical. Check out La Habana for the skinny on Habana's nightlife (www.lahabana.com).

Stroll through one of the world’s most beautiful cemeteries

Cemeteries might strike most people as morbid places, but a tour round the Christopher Columbus Cemetery (or the Cemetario de Colon as it's locally known) would make anyone reevaluate this conjecture. With its rows of flowers, perfectly preserved marble statues and a gorgeous pastel-yellow church at its heart, it's more a celebration of life than a mourning of death.

Tour a cigar factory

Whether you're a smoker or not, a tour of a cigar factory offers insight into one of Cuba's most internationally recognised industries. The Partagas tour is the most famous, and you'll get a peek behind the wizard's sleeve and see 400 workers rolling boxfuls of Montecristos and Cohibas.

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Featured Hotels

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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.