Havana is Cuba’s capital city. Spanish colonial architecture in its 16th-century Old Havana core includes the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, a fort and maritime museum. The National Capitol Building is an iconic 1920s landmark. Also in Old Havana is the baroque Catedral de San Cristóbal and Plaza Vieja, whose buildings reflect the city’s vibrant architectural mix.

Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro

Waves crashing against a mildewed sea wall; a young couple cavorting in a dark, dilapidated alley; guitars and voices harmonizing over a syncopated drum rhythm; sunlight slanting across rotten peeling paintwork; a handsome youth in a guayabera shirt leaning against a Lada; the smell of diesel fumes and cheap after-shave; tourists with Hemingway beards; Che Guevara on a billboard, a banknote, a key-ring, a t-shirt…

Catedral de San Cristobal

No one could have invented Havana. It’s too audacious, too contradictory, and – despite 50 years of withering neglect – too damned beautiful. How it does it, is anyone’s guess. Maybe it’s the swashbuckling history, the survivalist spirit, or the indefatigable salsa energy that ricochets off walls and emanates most emphatically from the people. Don’t come here looking for answers. Just arrive with an open mind and prepare yourself for a long, slow seduction.

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Languages: Spanish, English and European

Flight time from New Delhi: 22 hours 35 minutes

Best Time to visit:

The best time to visit Cuba is between January and February. The island’s location in the Caribbean affords warm temperatures year-round, with the average lows in Havana dipping to 65 degrees. Because of its location, there are really only two seasons in Havana: wet and dry. The dry season runs through “winter” in Cuba, (November to April) while the wet season (May to October) overlaps with hurricane season, making the likelihood of precipitation very high. But hurricanes in Cuba aren’t common and if a storm of any kind were to strike, it would likely happen during August or September. Festivals of all kinds occur year-round. If you want to see Havana at its most colorful, visit in August during Carnival. If you want to see the city at its most political, attend the International Workers’ Day at Revolution Square in Havana in May, where a speech is made by the president annually.