Sensual and sultry communist Caribbean capital, home to captivating, crumbling architecture, and enlivened by dance, music, avant-garde art and cocktails. Impossible to describe, there’s nowhere else quite like it.
Travel bucket list idea:
Known as ‘Havana’s sofa’, the Malecon, an 8km stretch of sea wall on Havana’s waterfront, is where lovers, friends, musicians, swimmers and fishermen crowd before dusk to enjoy the cooler hours.
Swing your legs over the wall with a bottle of rum, or just lean against the wall with your back to the sea to chat to locals and enjoy the stunning light on the architectural line-up that curves around the Atlantic-facing sea road.
Getting there & doing it
Local habaneros congregate on the Malecón along the 2km stretch from Paseo del Prado to the Hotel Nacional – and this is the best stretch to visit. Most Cubans can’t afford Havana Club rum or beers. The quickest way to make friends on the Malecon is to share your tragos (shots) of rum with your neighbours.
Most days, locals swim and fish off the Malecon. There’s nothing to stop you joining in; it’s just not the cleanest stretch of Cuba’s coast.
Be warned, though, that the Malecon is a jinetero (hustler) hang out. Be on full alert for lone guys striking up a conversation. Lone dressed-up women are likely to be prostitutes – especially after dark.
When to do it
Close to dusk and beyond is when the locals head to hang out. On weekend nights it heaves with revellers.
During storms, high waves batter the Malecon and the sight is spectacularly tantalising.
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