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The Globe and Mail

Heading to Havana? Take our insider’s advice

Local writer Conner Gorry shares her Top 5 things to do (that don't involve cigars)

1 of 5

Museo de Bellas Artes (Calle Trocadero & Calle Agramonte): “Each floor is dedicated to a period in the nation’s rich art history. It really is a spectacular example of Cuban talent and creativity under one roof. There’s a café and good museum store on the ground floor in case museum fatigue sets in. Also, check the concert listings at the door. The intimate, 200-seat theatre here has hosted some incredibly memorable music events over the years.”

2 of 5

Parque Ecológico Monte Barreto (Calle 70 to Calle 82): “This giant park in the middle of the Playa neighbourhood is one of Havana’s green spaces par excellence. Until recently, this was an abandoned sprawl of weeds and garbage. A few years ago, it was cleaned up, a botanical garden established, trees planted, and paths laid out in a wonderful example of urban renewal. Today, visitors – almost all local – head here to have picnics and birthday parties, stroll through the park, laze in the shade, play ball, practise the trumpet or go for a pony ride. There are several simple eateries serving traditional comida criolla, home-cooked Cuban food, for $1 to $2.”

Connor Gorry

3 of 5

La Catedral (Calle 8 between Calzada & 5ta, Vedado): “This is a wonderful new paladar, a privately owned restaurant, in the leafy Vedado district. This is one of the most solid, friendly and fun places to eat in Havana. Here, you’ll sip a killer $1 mojito surrounded by gregarious Cubans out for a bite, celebrating an anniversary or catching up with friends.”


4 of 5

El Chanchullero (Teniente Rey (Brasil) #457A): It’s a small, casual place that serves great plates of $4 food – garlic shrimp, grilled pork – on rough-hewn tables packed with young Cubans and travellers. It’s a great place for a cocktail or three, conversing with locals to a world-music soundtrack. Customers are encouraged to tag the chalkboard ceiling or plaster walls.”

Conner Gorry

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5 of 5

Coppelia (Calle 23, corner Calle L): “There is no better place to measure the pulse of Havana than standing – and standing and standing! – in line to eat 5-cent scoops of ice cream at Coppelia. I’ve stood in line more than an hour to snag a spot at communal tables under the magnificent architecture and dig into an ensalada (a mixed salad) of five scoops of ice cream. Flavours vary daily and sometimes there’s only one, but the entire experience is worth it. If you’re not up for the wait, head to the ‘hard currency’ section where five scoops of somewhat higher quality cost $3 instead of 25 cents. However, there, you’ll be surrounded by other tourists; if you wait in line, you’ll be sharing tables with Cubans.”

Conner Gorry

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