If you travel to Havana you’ll be on your toes all day long. You can move through Old Havana, the Malecón, the Vedado quarter and Downtown Havana… But we recommend saving up some energy for the evening. Well-known places such as El Floridita and La Bodeguita del Medio, closely linked to the figure of Ernest Hemingway, are bound to be packed with tourists, but they’re interesting nonetheless and you’ll be able to enjoy the best mojitos and daiquiris.
Havana offers you salsa, boleros, jazz, and son. Live performances are great to watch and there is usually something going on in the Plaza de la Catedral district. If you want to blend in with the locals we recommend these places:
· Café Habano: coffee and aperitifs served out in the open air.
· Bar Monserrate: a popular traditional bar, famous for its ‘Monserrate cocktail’, combining rum, grapefruit juice, mint, sugar and grenadine. There is usually live music.
· Café París: a small bar filled with nostalgia, always busy with tourists and locals drawn in by the festive atmosphere issuing from the live music.
· Salón de Ensayo Benny Moré: musicians and dancers from Los Izquierdos, El Prisma or El Casino gather at this venue to rehearse bolero, danzón and guaracha, and anyone is free to watch them.
Listening to music ensembles such as Buena Vista Club Social is also a good option but they may be hard to find. Information is available in Cartelera, a free publication, which also includes popular and traditional music performances. For live music, here are some of the major places in Havana (outside Old Havana):
· Piano Bar Delirio Habanero: Troubadours and old salseros.
· Habana Café: Salsa, with chairs and tables surrounding the stage and dance floor.
· Casa de la Música: Salsa for Cubans and tourists alike.
· La Zorra y el Cuervo: with a jazz band dedicated to improvising. On Thursday the focus is on blues.
· Jazz Café: facing the Malecón, they play jazz, timba and salsa.
Havana has the best theaters on the island, especially in September, when the Theater Festival is held. You can attend excellent performances of both traditional and avant-garde theater.
And you can’t leave Havana without visiting at least one of its cabarets. These are the most famous ones:
· Cabaret Tropicana
· Cabaret Nacional
· Cabaret Parisien
· Cabaret Turquino
Tip: Cubans are not at all shameful when it comes to dancing. The best thing you can do is cast away your inhibitions and let loose. Don’t say we didn’t tell you!
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