Tag Archives: Havana Villa


Where to view Havana’s world-famous street art

The city of Havana has been known to give off a slightly old-fashioned vibe with its classic cars, colonial architecture, and remnants of history wherever you look. But these features don’t stop Havana from having many modern elements dotted throughout the city, especially when it comes to the art scene.The street art in Havana is exploding with ingenuity, and you can find some spectacular pieces so long as you know where to look. Let’s take a look at three great examples, all of which are easily accessible from your Cuba accommodation.

Muraleando

This particular piece of street art is located just 10 minutes outside of the city in a community called Lawton. The project started as a workshop for local children who were interested in the art scene, but in 2001 when there was no room for them in the only community hall, they had no choice but to move to the streets. The drab concrete walls seemed like the perfect blank canvas, and it wasn’t long before they were covered in colourful murals that captured many elements of Cuban life.

Fusterlandia

This is likely to be the most well-known project of street art in the city. Funderlandia was created by Jose Fuster in the early 90s. The artist started with his own home in Jaimanitas neighbourhood, decorating the entrance to his house with colourful mosaics. It wasn’t long before others started requesting the same for their own homes. From there the idea spread, and Fuster and numerous other artist friends transformed the once rather drab neighbourhood into a mosaic-covered wonderland. Even if your vacation rental in Havana is the other side of the city, this is something you don’t want to miss.

Callejon de Hamel

Located in the very heart of the city, this example of Cuban street art will be the easiest of the three to visit if your Havana holiday rental is more centrally located. The project was started in the 90s by artist Salvador Gonzalez and features not only brightly coloured murals, but also a number of sculptures made from a range of items such as bathtubs, hand pumps, and pinwheels. The artist described his style as a mix of cubism, surrealism, and abstract art.

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Havana’s ‘Golden Mile’

While there are many wonderful locations to rent a house in Havana, many long to stay as close as possible to the Golden Mile, right in the heart of the city’s historic centre. The Golden Mile is located at the Paseo del Prado end of the Obispo, a busy pedestrianised street that’s a true hub of activity. 

The Golden Mile is where you’ll find some of Havana’s best restaurants, most lively bars, and even the Tourist Information Office, which can be useful if you can’t remember how to get back to your Havana accommodation. It’s arguably one of the best preserved parts of the Old Town.

When you picture Havana in your head, you picture the Golden Mile. This is a place of old, cobbled streets that feel uneven underfoot, it’s a place of colonial architecture of days gone by, and it’s a place where the  Havana holiday home waits to welcome visitors to Cuba.

Street musicians fill the Golden Mile with soft music, and flower sellers add a touch of colour and vibrancy. Cuba is very much a country where old meets new, and that’s exactly what you get when you stroll along the Golden Mile.

But the Old Town isn’t just about the Golden Mile. In fact, there are many reasons to rent a villa in Cuba in this part of Havana. Not only are you near the city’s cultural district by the Paseo del Prado, which features a number of museums, but you’re also just a stone’s throw from the grand El Capitolio building.

Although there are some travellers who enjoy staying close to The Malecón, others prefer being close to the Obispo, and the Golden Mile. However, whatever location in Havana you choose, it’s hard to go wrong. The city is such a fascinating place, with something new to see around every corner!

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Cuba’s long history of baseball

Baseball is the national sport of Cuba (even though many young Cubans would now say it’s football!), and if you’re on holiday in Cuba during the high baseball season between November and May, then it’s well worth catching a game and cheering on the local team.

A Long History

There is a very long history of baseball in Cuba, and interestingly it’s one of the only major aspects of Americana that survived the revolution. There was, however, a very noticeable and dramatic shift from a professional to an amateur system to remove monetary incentive, with revolutionists firmly believing that money was corrupting the sporting world. Baseball remains an amateur system in Cuba to this day.

The Industriales

If you’re relaxing at your Havana villa on a game day, you’ll undoubtedly hear the cheers for the local team: the Havana-based Industriales, or the ‘Blue Lions’ (so named for their blue uniforms). The Industriales are said to be the city’s most successful baseball team, having won the Cuban National Series 12 times between 1963 and 2010. The team’s home turf is the Latinoamericano Stadium, which holds 55,000 people. It’s located in Central Havana, close to many Havana holiday rentals for quick and easy access.

Seeing a Game

If you’re keen to see the Industriales in action, then aim to rent a villa in Havana during the peak season. Bear in mind that schedules can — and do — change regularly.Tickets can be purchased in Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) from the stadium.

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Five lunch stops in Puerto Plata

When you’re lounging at your Dominican Republic vacation rental, soaking up the sun and enjoying a relaxing holiday, it’s easy to rely on your kitchen’s contents for a sustainable meal. But if you’re craving some authentic Dominican food or simply want the dishes you would find in your own home town, it’s best to hop in your rental car and drive to the town of Puerto Plata for the widest culinary variety. Here are five great places for you to grab some lunch in Puerto Plata!

Views from Big Lee’s Beach Bar.

Big Lee’s Beach Bar

If you’re seeking traditional American fare, try Big Lee’s Beach Bar! It is run by an American from Chicago who retired in Puerto Plata seven years ago. You can enjoy a beach view while you eat, not to mention the relaxed and playful atmosphere that always surrounds the beach area. Try their specialty of beer-battered fish and chips, featuring their freshly-made French fries.

Kaffe

Looking for indoor/outdoor seating in a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere? Look no further than Kaffe. They have a beautiful outdoor area, half uncovered and open to the warm Caribbean sun, the other half covered by a patio. From the lush, tropical vegetation to the quaint, antiquated furnishings, this restaurant offers a unique dining experience. They serve Caribbean-style cuisine, with some International influences as well.

Green Jack Restaurant

Sleek, modern and beautiful are the best words to describe the Green Jack Restaurant. With fantastically decorated indoor and outdoor seating, you can enjoy a cool lunch inside, or check out the ocean breezes outside, surrounded by lush greenery. The food is mainly Caribbean-style but the menu also has vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. It is part of the Playa Dorada complex with friendly waitstaff, unique food, and delicious drinks.

Playa Dorada.

Sebastian

Craving Italian on your island adventure? Check out Sebastian! Their covered patio seating area is brightly colored, clean, and fresh. You’ll get cool breezes with a beach vibe, though not on the beach. There is a full bar, amazing Italian cuisine, and delicious desserts.

Los Charros y Los Pinches Chaparros

Mexican and Latin food are all the rage at the Los Charros y Los Pinches Chaparros restaurant. Their beautiful, clean interior offers a full bar and delicious dishes for everyone to enjoy!

With your palate satiated, head back to your vacation villa in the Dominican Republic for a long, satisfying siesta.

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Whale-watching in the Dominican Republic

People from all over the globe rent a vacation villa in the Dominican Republic in the hopes of spotting the beautiful humpback whales during their mating season, which falls between mid-December and the end of March. A boat trip out to witness these magnificent animals is one of the most popular excursions that the country offers.

For the best chance to see a whale, arrange to rent a villa in the Dominican Republic in Samana Bay and the Silver Bank, in the northwest region of the country. Each year more than 2,000 humpbacks come to these waters to mate due to the warmer temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean. A recent study has shown that all populations in the Atlantic come from Iceland, Greenland, Canada and North America, to these waters, so it is likely that you will be able to spot a few whales during your visit.

It is no wonder that some many people rent a house in the Dominican Republic at this time of year as the show is an impressive one. A fairly common sighting is a 40-ton male who jumps out of the water to win the female’s attraction, or sings a long and monotonous song that the other whales can hear up to 30 kilometres away.

Samana

Samana became a sanctuary for the protection of the whales in 1986, and is considered one of the best places in the world for humpback whale-watching. As mammals, the whales have to come up to the surface fairly regularly to breathe, and can be on the surface for up to 20 minutes. During their long trip to the Samana Bay area, the whales do not feed, and even while spending the winter on the shores of the Dominican Republic, they still go without eating. In this time, many will lose up to one-fifth of their original weight.

Samana

The whales need warmer waters because when they are born, they only have a very thin layer of fat, which makes it hard to withstand the cold waters. To form this protective layer, the young will consume approximately 200 litres of breast milk a day.

Safety

Due to the increased popularity of whale-watching in the area, The Dominican government enforces strict whale protection laws and guidelines to ensure the protection of these incredible creatures. It can be an amazing experience for anyone renting a villa in the Dominican Republic, but their protection comes first, and tour companies will not do anything that could potentially harm these creatures.

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All about Cuban art

With African, North American, and Spanish influences, as well as some South American and other European aspects thrown into the mix, Cuban art is something completely unique. You won’t find a style like this anywhere else in the world, so make sure to take some time to appreciate the art during your holiday in Cuba. You’ll notice that there are few competing but well-blended concepts, with a heavy focus on modernism.

Work by Jose Salazar Vazquez.

Post-Revolution Artwork 

Following the Cuban Revolution, the government began to sponsor artwork, which is why art has remained an important cultural aspect of Cuba and why Cuban art is so famous today. However, the arts scene, particularly in Havana, has changed in recent years. Today, there is a big street art scene, which makes Havana one of the most photographed places on the island. In fact, many people book a Havana holiday rental solely to photograph the local graffiti, which helps makes the city so colourful.

Famous Cuban Artists 

There are many renowned artists who were born in Cuba or worked in Cuba. Amelia Peláez and Federico Beltran Masses were known for their paintings, while Wifredo Lam was famous for his unusual Afro-Cuban designs. There is perhaps no one more well-known that photographer Alberto Korda, who took that iconic black and white picture of Che Guevara back in the 1960s.

The Best Places for Cuban Art

Simply take a short stroll from your Havana villa and you’re sure to see some amazing street art or bump into local sellers exhibiting their latest pieces. If you want to visit some studios, there are two amazing places in Cuba that are well worth seeing. The first is Yudit Vidal Faife in Trinidad. It’s quite a journey from Havana, but worth the trip. You can even take a tour, conducted by artist Yudit herself!

A little closer to most Havana accommodations, and perhaps easier for most visitors to get to, is Lolo Galleria-Taller, which is located a short distance away in Matanzas. This studio displays world class art, with a heavy focus on sculptures and ceramics.

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Five vegan-friendly restaurants in Havana

If you’re a vegan renting a vacation villa in Havana, you may be concerned about the food options in a culture with a fish- and meat-heavy diet. But thankfully Havana has something for everyone! Here are five vegan-friendly restaurants to try out in Havana.

San Juan Bar & Grill

For Caribbean, Latin, and Spanish cuisine, check out the San Juan Bar and Grill, a cozy, rustic, yet traditional-style restaurant with delicious food and amazing cocktails. Their vegan menu consists of soups, delectable salads, vegetarian tamales, fried peppers, and sweet desserts.

San Juan Bar and Grill

El Del Frente

This restaurant has a lively atmosphere that features live music, a terrace for Habanos smokers, delicious cocktails, and amazing tapas. The interior is simple, elegant, and vintage while the exterior has outdoor seating, a full bar, and views of the city. For vegans, they offer amazing soups, salads, pasta, vegetables, tacos, and delectable desserts. Round out the meal with an eye-opening Cuban coffee.

Nero Di Seppia

This traditional-looking Italian restaurant offers both classic and unique dishes alike. The family-family atmosphere helps diners feel right at home, and live musical acts occasionally take the stage. Their food is fresh and made with love. For vegans, they have dozens of pastas, soups, and salads.

Mediterraneo Havana

A choice between Mediterranean and Italian, you are sure to find something you love at Mediterraneo Havana. Located in a gorgeous blue-and-white building that looks like a local’s personal home, the space offers shaded patio seating with beautiful views of the city and tropical vegetation. Their vegan menu has many offerings like risotto, pasta, roasted potatoes, and more.

D’Next Bar Cafeteria

This American bar and cafeteria is known for its amazing pizza! The restaurant is bright and colorful, with modern décor and delicious meals. Vegans will love the sandwiches, salads, desserts, and bread.


Our picks: Top 5 museums in Cuba

The tiny island nation of Cuba is chocked full of history, and many who visit the island don’t know much about it. The best way to learn more about the history and culture of Cuba during your holiday in Havana, check out these five incredible museums.

Museo Napoleonico

This gorgeous museum will teach you all about Napoleon Bonaparte: his life, history, and the time period he lived in. You can view memorabilia throughout the house, as well as beautiful artwork, classic architecture, and amazing stained-glass windows. Take a guided tour, check out a death mask of the would-be emperor’s face, and get a great view of the city of Havana.

Museum of the Revolution

Museum of the Revolution (Museo de la Revolucion)

If you’ve ever wanted to learn about the 1959 revolution in Cuba, this museum is certainly one to check out. You’ll see artifacts from the revolution, learn more about Cuban history and old Havana, and brush up on former leader Fidel Castro. Housed in the gorgeous presidential palace, not only will you learn a lot, but you can admire the artwork and architecture of one of the most beautiful buildings in Havana.

Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assisi

Once one of the best cathedrals in Cuba, this church and convent is now a renovated concert hall and museum. Along with intricate architecture, you also can enjoy artwork, tombs, art exhibits, and archeological finds that are sure to keep you busy. You might even be able to check out a concern during your stay!

Martha Jimenez’s Studio Workshop

Martha Jimenez is most well-known for her work in terracotta ceramic sculptures. When you visit this workshop, you’ll be able to view plenty of her artwork, from sculptures to paintings. There also is beautiful garden where you can relax away from the sun. Learn about Jimenez’s life, inspiration, and works, as well as what she is up to today.

Work by Jose Salazar Vazquez.

National Museum of Fine Arts

If you love art, you’ll want to check out this amazing art museum where you’ll learn about many Cuban artists, their history, and inspirations. Opt to hire a tour guide so you can learn about the time periods of the pieces and the history of the artists.


National Parks in the Dominican Republic

While you’re staying in a beautiful vacation rental in the Dominican Republic, you’ll want to view some of the lush foliage that is part of the Dominican Republic experience. See bellow for a list of four national parks that you can visit during your stay!

The 3 Eyes National Park

Check out interconnected caves at the 3 Eyes National Park, or take a boat on the lakes and admire the crystal-clear water. View the amazing rock formations, take a walking tour, peek at the turtles swimming around, and breathe in the clean scents as you enjoy the serene surroundings.

National Park of the East

Take a walking tour around the National Park of the East to enjoy the beach and search for elusive starfish. Head into the freshwater cave and relish in a nice warm swim, or opt for snorkeling or diving. Take a catamaran to Isle Saona for even more fun!

Isla Catalina

This Caribbean island is perfect if you want some fun in the sun. Take a day trip from your Dominican Republic property to catch the clear waters where you can swim, dive, and snorkel. The amazing coral reefs ensure that you’ll never be without beautiful fish and other sea creatures. The warm white sands are great for a relaxing siesta, reading a book, or people-watching. You can find all kinds of sea life, especially starfish. There are even a few places for you to catch a quick lunch before returning to your relaxing day.

Haitises National Park

If you want to see unique of wildlife, check out Haitises National Park! You can spend all day touring this beautiful area. There is a cave with paintings to explore, small islands, rock formations, and a public beach. Be sure to keep an eye out for all the flora and fauna in this amazing park, including seabirds and dolphins.

When you’re done with your tour of the gorgeous greenery that can be found in the Dominican Republic, head back to your vacation rental and relax, satisfied with a day spent in stunning tropical nature.


La Arboleda: A natural retreat near Havana

There are lots of ways to take a holiday in Cuba, from enjoying the hustle and bustle of Cuba’s most famous city, Havana, or experiencing a true Caribbean island vacation by visiting Cayo Coco. Alternatively, you could also take some time to explore the country’s lush green parklands, one of which is Matanzas’ La Arboleda.

Matanzas is well known for being a place of natural beauty. Often referred to as the ‘Venice of Cuba’, Matanzas is a top choice for travellers who want to spend a day or two in a Cuban city that runs at a slightly slower pace than Havana, and has a more open, spacious, and back-to-basics feel.

What is La Arboleda?

Located in the bayside city of Matanzas, La Arboleda is a natural paradise; a sort of national park complete with river walks, local attractions, and arguably one of the best restaurants in all of Cuba. Although this isn’t a popular location for filming in Cuba, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Jurassic Park was filmed here, as La Arboleda appears to be from a forgotten time; very raw, rustic, and wild.

What to Do in La Arboleda

Although it’s a decent trek from your Havana villa, it’s easy to fill a day — or even more — at this place. You can rent a boat to take a trip down the river, visit the miniature zoo where you can hold an osprey, or even take a jeep safari, which takes you into the most rural depths of Matanzas.

Visiting Matanzas

Matanzas is located about 1.5 hours by car from most Havana accommodations, so the trip can easily be made by hire car, or even by local taxi. In addition to La Arboleda, there’s plenty to do here, including the mysterious Bellamar caves, the historic Sauto Theatre, and the utterly stunning La Vigia plaza.