Havana tours and excursions
Walking and bus tours
A guided tour is a great introduction to Old Havana and (comparatively) bucolic Vedado. Most walking tours begin at the Plaza de la Revolución, the centre of political life in Cuba. Many stroll through the narrow streets of Habana Vieja, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and explore the restored squares surrounded by splendid old colonial houses.
Havana city tours operate daily, most are subject to a minimum number of people. Clients are collected from their hotels. Two recommended operators are Havana Tour Company and Havana Urban Adventures. Private tours can also be arranged locally with English-speaking guides.
Tel: +53 5 307 0220; +53 5 338 7373.
Tours in classic cars
History comes alive touring the city in a classic car. Take your pick from 1950s Cadillacs, Fords or Chevrolets – convertibles too – and cruise Havana in the coolest possible way. You can contract a car and driver from any number of vintage car operators, or strike a deal with a freelance taxi surrounding Parque Central.Tel: +53 5 242 8987; +53 5 289 9155.
Finca Vigía (Hemingway's home)
In 1939, Ernest Hemingway bought this farmhouse 15km (9 miles) east of Havana in San Francisco de Paula. The house and grounds have been preserved as Hemingway left them. Visitors are only allowed to look through the windows (though a small tip to museum guards may help gain entrance). Bring a picnic to fully enjoy the verdant grounds. Nearby is the seaside village of Cojimar, where Hemingway kept his boat, the Pilar, (now dry-docked at Finca Vigía) and went fishing with Gregorio Fuentes, who inspired the title character in The Old Man and the Sea.
Tel: +53 7 860 1524.
For pure natural beauty, Viñales Valley, with mogotes (limestone hills) rising up from the lush green valley floor, is unparalleled. Fertile Pinar del Río province is where Cuba's world-famous tobacco is cultivated and there are many local tobacco farms in the area to visit. Stop by the hotel Los Jazmines for a breathtaking view of Viñales Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site, before rambling around the quirky, extraordinary Jardín de Caridad. Tours can be arranged at most hotel tourist desks. Viñales is three hours from Havana by car.Website: http://pnvinales.webcindario.com