Fit a whole vacation into just three days in Havana, Cuba complete with all of the foodie fixings, cultural favorites and must-see sites. With just 72 hours to experience this historic city, stick to this itinerary to make the most of your vacation.
Your first day should also be the most relaxing. You just finished traveling to Havana and want to unwind before the real adventure begins. Your room is booked, hopefully somewhere especially luxurious and centrally located like the Hotel Nacional de Cuba or the Saratoga Havana (you’re only staying for two nights after all).
Spend the afternoon by the hotel pool or bar. The nicest historic hotels in Havana are worth spending some time in. Once you’ve reached your relaxation quota, head out for dinner and entertainment at the Fabrica de Arte Cubano—a massive factory complex that’s home to the hip eatery El Cocinero, along with many rotating art exhibits and a full calendar of film screenings and musical performances.
Your second day in Havana is when you’ll see the most of the city. Put on comfortable walking shoes and grab a cafe cubano—it’s time to explore. You can spend hours walking from museum to museum on the colorful streets of historic Old Havana. The National Museum of Fine Arts is the place to see the work of Cuban artists, both past and present, and is a must for anyone looking to get a taste of the city’s visual culture. Take a casual stroll through Old Havana and you’ll quickly learn to admire the colorful buildings, architecture and, not to mention, the vintage cars used as daily drivers around the city.
Two other relics of ancient Havana, the Morro Castle and La Cabana fortress, sit right across the canal. Take a short ferry ride over and you can explore these massive structures, where inside you’ll find museums dedicated to historical weapons, Che Guevara and Cuba’s lighthouses. Of course, when you’re in the historic part of Havana, you should wrap things up with a meal at a historic restaurant, like La Floridita, home to one of the world’s most well known bars (and a signature Daiquiri).
For the most part, you’ve seen the cultural hot spots of Havana. Now it’s time to hop in a car and drive down the coast. Get an early wake-up call and make the more than two-hour drive to the charming beach town of Varadero, Cuba. Get there early enough and you can split the day into two parts, before and after lunch.
Plant your towel down on your own private slice of this massive stretch of sand and splash around until you get hungry; when you do, make your way over to one of the many popular cafés on the waterfront, like Pequeno Suarez, for freshly prepared, authentic Cuban food and cocktails. After lunch the day is entirely up to you, but Varadero has lots of options for outdoor activities. Heading back to the beach is always a good idea, but so is getting in a round of golf or enjoying the lively street performances.
Before the sun sets, head back to Havana to prepare for your flight back. Grab one last meal, and a few more drinks (especially an obligatory muddled mojito) and start planning your next Cuban getaway.