The district of Centro Habana is situated between the Habana Vieja and Vedado neighborhoods and is a must-visit for any traveler passing through Havana. Despite being less renovated than Habana Vieja, Centro Habana is home to some of the capital’s most iconic and luxurious hotels, not to mention the Capitolio, which was the former seat of the Cuban Congress.
In addition to the Capitolio, Centro Habana is also home to two of Havana’s most famous museums: the Museum of the Revolution and the National Museum of Fine Arts.
💡 Planning Your Trip to Cuba 💡
🇨🇺 Visa: Before you depart, be sure to apply for your tourist card (which is your visa for Cuba). You can easily order your tourist card online through CubaVisa.
🛏️ Accommodations: To book your accommodations in Cuba, the Captain recommends Expedia. In Havana, he especially recommends 3 casas particulares/B&Bs (Casa Colonial Pedro y Mary, Casa Miriam Hostal Colonial, and Hostal Habana Tu & Yo) and 3 hotels (El Candil Boutique Hotel, Vapor 156 Boutique Hotel and Paseo 206 Boutique Hotel).
📸 Free Guided Tour: Why not explore Havana with a local guide? The Captain highly recommends this free tour of the city. You can choose how much to tip your guide at the end of the tour.
Things to see and do in Centro Habana
To ensure you don’t miss anything during your visit to Havana, consider taking a free guided tour of the city, where you can choose the amount of the tip.
El Capitolio, the Cuban version of the Capitol, was built during the economic “boom” that Cuba experienced after World War I and served as the seat of the Cuban Congress until the Revolution of 1959.
Modeled after the Capitol Building in Washington D.C., El Capitolio is slightly larger than its counterpart. Today, it houses the Academy of Sciences, but was closed for renovations last summer.
El Parque Central
El Parque Central, which marks the boundary between Habana Vieja and Centro Habana, is appropriately named and is home to the main iconic hotels in the capital, such as Hotel Inglaterra and Iberostar Parque Central.
The square also features a statue of the famous Cuban independence fighter, José Martí, which was the first to be erected in Cuba, and certainly not the last.
The Paseo José Marti
The Paseo José Martí, also known as Paseo del Prado, is a historic avenue that’s over 200 years old and runs from La Fuente de la India to Malecon. Modeled after Barcelona’s Ramblas, the avenue stretches about 2 kilometers and is lined with beautiful historic buildings, such as the Palacio de los Matrimonios, Teatro Fausto, and the National Ballet School. At both ends of the avenue, eight bronze statues of lions have been standing since 1928.
The Paseo José Martí is a vibrant spot where locals enjoy meeting up to take a leisurely stroll or play soccer or baseball. On weekends, an open-air art market sets up shop on the Paseo.
The Gran Teatro de La Habana
The Gran Teatro de La Habana, situated on the Paseo José Martí, is a stunning neobaroque building built between 1907 and 1914 and recently renovated. According to Cubans, it’s the oldest theater still in operation in the New World. The facade features four sculptures made of white marble representing charity, education, music, and theater. The theater can seat up to 2000 spectators.
A guided tour of the theater costs 2 CUC, while tickets for a concert cost 20 CUC.
The Museum of the Revolution
The Museum of the Revolution is one of the most famous museums in Cuba and located in the former Presidential Palace. The museum provides a (subjective) overview of the island’s history, particularly the Revolution led by Fidel Castro in 1959. In the garden, visitors can see relics of the Revolution and the Cold War, including the Granma, the boat on which Castro and his troops landed in Cuba.
The National Museum of Fine Arts of Cuba
The National Museum of Fine Arts of Cuba, also known as Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Cuba, is the largest art museum in Cuba, featuring a rich collection of international and Cuban works, some of which date back over 2500 years. Visitors can enjoy works by renowned artists such as El Greco, Guillermo Collazo, Rafael Blanco, Raúl Martínez, and Wilfredo Lam.
The entrance fee is 5 CUC per person (free for children under 14), and the museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Real Fábrica de Tabacos Partagás
The Real Fábrica de Tabacos Partagás, founded by Jaime Partagás in 1845, is the most famous cigar factory in the capital, located in a beautiful neoclassical building. Between 400 and 500 workers carefully craft cigars for iconic brands like Montecristo or Cohiba.
For a fee of 10 CUC, visitors can take a guided tour and learn about the art of cigar making. Though it’s a popular tourist destination, the factory is still a must-see. On-site, visitors can purchase many cigar brands, including Montecristo, Cohiba, Romeo y Julieta, and of course, Partagás.
👉 To learn more, you can also book your Cuban cigar workshop in Havana.
The San Salvador de la Punta Castle
The San Salvador de la Punta Castle, built between 1589 and 1600, is one of four fortresses constructed by the Spanish to protect Havana. During colonial times, a 250-meter chain was strung across the harbor every night between the castle and Fort El Morro to prevent unauthorized access.
Today, the castle houses a museum dedicated to the Spanish navy and the slave trade, which costs 6 CUC to visit.
The Captain’s recommendations in Centro Habana
If you’re looking for a place to stay in the Centro Habana neighborhood, here are some of our recommendations:
- For budget travelers: Casa Colonial Pedro y Mary
- For an authentic colonial experience: Casa Miriam Hostal Colonial
- For a more modern option: Hostal Habana Tu & Yo
👉 For more tips and recommendations, be sure to check out the Captain’s full Guide to Havana, Cuba.