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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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Urban farming in Cuba

Many people choose to rent a villa in Cuba so that they can experience how it feels to step back in time. It is not uncommon to see decades-old cars driving down the street and buildings rich in history, dating to the 1950s. Cuban agriculture is another factor that seems to have stood the test of time.

In 1991, the country’s economy seemed to collapse overnight due to the collapse of its trade partner, the Soviet Union. During this period, Cuba lost its source of affordable agricultural tools and machinery. Lacking this modern equipment, Cuba suddenly had to abandon their former industrial agriculture and make the switch to urban farming. No longer were farmers using chemicals and machinery that required fuel; instead they were forced to transition back to traditional methods such as using machetes, composting worms, and oxen-drawn plows. If you have a Cuba holiday rental in the countryside, you will see some of these methods at work.

Along with farmers, individuals have also begun to utilise any land that they own to grow their own produce and raise animals. During the worst years of the financial crisis, residents could even purchase baby chicks from the government, take them home, and raise them in their backyards.

Although much of the country’s economy has bounced back, it seems like the farming sector has changed for the better, and now there are thousands of urban farms across Cuba.

No matter where you rent a house in Cuba, It is likely that you will see many local homes with windowsills lined with crops, and livestock wondering around in front yards. Local markets burst with fresh, organic produce that you can purchase to cook your own delicious Cuban meals in the comfort of your Cuba accommodation.

If you are interested in this aspect of the country’s history and want to learn more about urban agriculture, there are specially arranged tours available wherein visitors can interact with local farmers to gain a unique insight into their individual histories and methods, a side to Cuban that many people miss out on.

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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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Swimming in Havana, Cuba

When you’re on holiday in Cuba and the Caribbean sun is blazing down, there’s one great way to cool off: take a swim! But where are the best places to swim in Havana? Here are a few great options.

Your Villa with a Private Pool in Havana

If you love swimming but hate crowds, why not treat yourself to a luxury villa with a pool in Havana? Wake up and enjoy an invigorating swim before breakfast on the patio, or cool off in the pool at the end of a busy day sightseeing.

Hotels

If you’ve opted for a villa in Havana without a pool or a downtown apartment, don’t worry! Many of the big resort hotels in the city offer day passes for non-hotel guests which provide access to many of the building’s facilities, including swimming pools and gymnasiums. Day passes can be very inexpensive, which makes them a good choice.

Public Swimming Pools

Although these are few and far between, there is one olympic-sized swimming pool in Havana which is open to the public between competition events. Located on Avenida Monumental, Complejo de Piscinas Baraguá is famous for hosting events during the 1991 Pan-American Games.

Beaches

The nearest beach to Havana that offers clean and safe swimming opportunities is Playa Santa Maria, which can be reached from your Havana accommodation in about 25 minutes by local bus or taxi. Playa Guanabo is another beach neighbourhood that can be reached on foot from some of our Havana villas!

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The Havana International Book Fair

If you love to read, then you’ll love the Havana International Book Fair, which takes place every February at the city’s San Carlos de la Cabaña fortress. The event has been a Havana staple since 1982 and is now so big that it has become an unofficial national holiday in Cuba. Festivities are held in many venues throughout the Old Town, including the Cuba Pavilion and the Dulce María Loynaz Center. The event celebrates Cuban literature, encourages literacy, and acknowledges international literary works.

February is a great time to rent a house or apartment in Cuba, even if you’re not much of a bookworm. During the event, there’s an unmistakable party atmosphere and a very lively environment, including street food stalls, carnival rides that are great for the kids, and live bands around every corner. Each year’s festival is different, with a different celebrated literary icon and a focus on literature from a different nation, so you can return year after year and never get bored!

Nearly half a million people travel from all over the world to attend the event in Cuba’s capital, so be sure to book your Havana accommodation early! If you do miss the festivities in Havana, don’t worry. The International Book Fair goes ‘on the road’ and travels all over the country, ending in Santiago de Cuba in April. The event’s finale is often a little less busy, so you may find some great accommodation in Cuba in this area during April.

If you do attend the fair in Santiago de Cuba, there are a few sights and attractions you can’t miss: the San Pedro de la Roca UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Turquino National Park, and the Bacardi Museum.


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.


Must-try foods from the Dominican Republic

If you’re heading to the Dominican Republic for your next vacation, there are a lot of traditional foods that you are sure to love! Vacations are about taking a break from what you normally do at home, so treat yourself to restaurant-quality meals and time with family and friends around a dinner table. What are the foods that are traditional to the Dominican Republic, and what restaurants should you check out to try them?

Goat

Goat is actually a very popular meat in the Caribbean and is usually served stewed. If you want to try it, check out El Meson De La Cava and Restaurant Vizcaya.

Ceviche

Ceviche is a seafood dish typically served cold with fish, lime, lemon, onion, and chili pepper. There are a lot of restaurants in the Dominican Republic that serve a delicious ceviche, including (but not limited to) Pat’e Palo European Brasserie and Muelle 47 Seafood Culture.

Croquetas

Don’t be alarmed, croquetas are simply croquettes in Spanish, which are fried foods dipped in breadcrumbs. This can be anything from cheese to potatoes, to meats and even seafood. If you want to try croquetas for yourself, check out Pura Tasca and Jalao.

 

Paella

You’ve probably heard of paella as it’s mentioned on nearly every Spanish and Mexican menu. It’s a Valencian rice dish that has made its way around the world, including the Dominican Republic. It can be served in many ways with different meats and vegetables, so just choose the one that looks best to you. Two restaurants that serve some of the best paellas on the island are Cafeteria Restaurant Manolo and Don Pepe Restaurante.

Mofongo

Mofongo consists of fried plantains and can be served with a lot of different foods like rice, vegetables, meats, and it can even be served as a dessert. Each restaurant does something different, but you’ll find mofongo in nearly every restaurant in the Dominican Republic, including Adrian Tropical and El Conuco!


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.


Havana Cathedral: Unusually Baroque

Standing tall right in the heart of Old Havana, the Havana Cathedral is a building that can be seen from almost anywhere. Take a glimpse out of the window of your Havana apartment and you may be able to sneak a quick peek at the grand, looming bell towers.

The Havana Cathedral is one of the most visited attractions in the city, especially by visitors enjoying a holiday in Cuba. Why is it such a popular place to visit? Some people come here for the culture, some come here to appreciate the art works, and others come for the unusual, eye-catching architecture.

Baroque Architecture

There’s really no hard and fast rule to determine what is — and what isn’t — considered to be baroque. In fact, in many cases ‘baroque’ can be applied to practically anything that appears to be overly detailed. However, in terms of architecture at least, it is typically agreed that baroque architecture is symmetrical. Take a look at any major baroque building in the world — the Trevi Fountain, Peterhof Palace — and they all have one thing in common: they’re symmetrical. Bizarrely, Havana Cathedral is very different.

When you look at Havana Cathedral, you’ll notice that the right tower is considerably wider than the left; so much so that it really does catch the eye. Is this the only baroque building in the world to feature an asymmetrical façade? It’s unknown but what we can say is that this is probably one of the most striking differences, and it does help to make Havana Cathedral even more of a must-see attraction.

Cuban Architecture

During your holiday in Cuba, why not make time to see some other great pieces of architecture, too? From theatres to museum buildings, and perhaps even your own villa in Havana, there are a lot of little gems nestled within the city. Perhaps one of the most interesting is the baroque Gran Teatro de la Habana which does, of course, appear to be symmetrical, really highlighting the peculiarity of Havana Cathedral.