A Havana Walking Tour is the best way to discover Cuba’s fascinating capital city – find out what to do in Havana as we go plaza hopping on our 1 day self-guided itinerary on foot. Food & ice-cream stops included!
Havana Walking Tour: What to do in Havana
This Havana Walking Tour covers Old Havana only and is designed with budget travellers in mind, as we are here at DIY Travel HQ.
We take you plaza hopping with breakfast, lunch & street food snack stops along the way.
For more information each section of Old Havana can be found in the corresponding post, by clicking on the link at the end of each segment.
Let’s start our Havana walking tour at Plaza del Cristo, since it is on the way from the city’s cheapest accommodation in Centro Havana.
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#1. Plaza del Cristo and Around
Plaza del Cristo is Old Havana’s least visited plaza, thereby making it an appealing start to our Havana walking tour.
You won’t find large tour groups congregating around their guide, or tourists photo-bombing your picture. Instead, you will be able to take a few shots of the picturesque Parroquial del Santo Cristo del Buen Viaje in peace.
Heading down Calle Brasil, you will come across the Museo de la Farmacia Habanera (free) if you’re looking for what to do in Havana.
Check out our post Plaza del Cristo and Around in Old Havana for more information.
Just before arriving at Plaza Vieja is a trendy peso shop.
You can grab a ham sandwich for 10 pesos ($0.40), and a juice for 5 pesos ($0.20).
#2. Plaza Vieja and Around
Continuing down Calle Brasil on our Havana walking tour will lead you to the northwest corner of Plaza Vieja.
In terms of what to do in Havana and raw beauty, Plaza Vieja is the best in Old Havana.
A major renovation project has been completed for the majority of the buildings, with a few more still underway.
Each building currently showcases a before and after shot on their exterior façade.
The center of Plaza Vieja is filled with a fountain, oddly surrounded by a fence.
At the time of our visit, an army of inanimate dogs also guarded the fountain.
The other art installations in the square were a flower, and a naked girl riding an oversized chicken while holding a giant fork.
Scattered around Plaza Vieja are a number of small attractions along with restaurants, a microbrewery, and accommodation.
We recommend Lonely Planet’s Cuba Travel Guide to help you plan your trip
What to do in Havana? The attractions include:
- La Casona Centro de Art (Free)
- Museo de Naipes (Free)
- Palacio Cueto, Camara Oscura (2 CUC, $2)
- Planetario (10 CUC, $10)
- La Factoris Plaza Vieja (Drinks 2 CUC, $2)
- Centro Cultural Pablo de la Torriente Baur (Free)
Check out our post Plaza Vieja: The Best Plaza in Old Havana for more information.
#3. Plaza de San Francisco de Asis and Around
Plaza de San Francisco de Asis is our second favorite square in Old Havana.
The appealing aspect is that everything seems so open compared to the other plazas on our Havana walking tour.
Instead of being boxed in by buildings, the street running alongside the east side of Plaza de San Francisco de Asis actually makes the square feel larger, and adds some much needed vegetation.
There are a lot of attractions in and around Plaza de San Francisco de Asis.
What to do in Havana? Check out:
- Fuente de los Leones, Iglesia y Monasterio de San Francisco de Asis
- Museo de Arte Religiouso (3 CUC, $3)
- El Caballero de Paris, Terminal Sierra Maestra
- Lonja del Comercio in Plaza de San Francisco de Asis.
Around the plaza can be found:
- Museo del Ron (7 CUC, $7)
- Catedral Ortodoxa Nuestra
- ferry to Casablanca and Regla
- Camara de Representantes (Free)
- Coche Mambi (Free)
- Museo de Leonardo da Vinci (2 CUC, $2)
Check out our post San Francisco de Asis and Around in Old Havana for more information.
#4. Calle Mercaderes
Merchant’s Street is a great place to wander on a Havana walking tour as you head from Plaza de San Francisco de Asis to Plaza de Armas.
Although none of the small museums are top-notch, together they provide a bit of variety. Most, if not all, are free so take a look inside and linger if any catch your attention.
What to do in Havana? The museums that we visited along Calle Mercaderes include:
- Museo del Chocolate
- Museo de Bomberos
- Armeria 9 de Abril
- Casa de Asia
- Casa de Mexico Benito Juarez
There are a handful of other museums that we chose not to visit, such as:
- Museo del Tabaco
- Museo de Simon Bolivar
- Casa de Africa
- Museo de Pintura Mural
Calle Mercaderes also has two small shaded parks to relax in, or wait for friends while they finish exploring.
Check out our post Calle Mercaderes: Museum Incubator in Old Havana for more information.
There aren’t many peso restaurants scattered around the plazas on our Havana walking tour.
That is why we were excited to find Mundo Aborigen Cafeteria on the south side of Plaza de Armas.
Spaghetti with cheese is 12 pesos ($0.48), and juice is 3 pesos ($0.12).
There are additional options on the menu as well. If you do not want to tip, then you have to remain at the bar for your meal.
#5. Plaza de Armas and Around
Plaza de Armas is one of the greenest plazas in Old Havana so don’t miss it on any Havana walking tour.
The problem is that the green areas are all fenced off.
The central square is comprised of four restricted quadrants divided by intersecting pathways.
At the heart of Plaza de Armas is a statue of Carlos Manuel de Cespedes.
Despite being restricting, people still frequent the square’s perimeter to take advantage of the shade.
Like the other plazas in Old Havana, the highlights are around the square itself.
What to do in Havana? These include:
- Museo de la Ciudad (3 CUC, $3) inside Palacio de los Capitanes Generales
- Palacio del Segundo Cabo
- Castillo de la Real Fuerza
- Museo de Navegacion (3 CUC, $3)
- Museo el Templete
Check out our post Plaza de Armas and Around in Old Havana for more information.
Ice Cream Time
If you head one block past the University building on Calle Obispo where everyone is glued to their electronic devices, then you will come across a small piece of heaven.
What to do in Havana?
On a hot day you can’t beat a rich ice cream cone for 3 pesos ($0.12) on a Havana walking tour.
It is a small stall so make sure you are paying attention.
You also have to eat it fast as it literally will disappear before your eyes.
#6. Plaza de la Catedral and Around
Believe it or not, Plaza de la Catedral is the newest main plaza on our Havana walking tour.
The crown jewel of course is…you guessed it, the Catedral de San Cristobal de la Habana.
The buildings all have a baroque style, and are pleasant for a quick snap.
However, besides one quiet restaurant the square doesn’t have any personality.
What to do in Havana?
The surrounding buildings include:
- Casa de Lombillo and Palacio del Marques de Arcos on the east side
- Palacio de los Condes de Casa Bayona with the skippable Museo de Arte Colonial (2 CUC, $2) on the south side
- restaurant in Palacio de los Marqueses de Aguas Claras on the west side
Our personal favorite attraction nearby was Taller Experimental de Grafica.
Check out our post Plaza de la Catedral and Around in Old Havana for more information.
#7. Old Havana Perimeter Loop
If you aren’t exhausted after tackling Old Havana’s five or six plazas, then there are still a few more attractions to visit.
From Plaza de la Catedral, head down Calle Obispo to start the second leg of your self-guided walking tour.
What to do in Havana?
The perimeter loop takes you to:
- Edificio Bacardi
- Museo Casa Natal de Jose Marti
- Old Havana City Wall
- Centro Cultural Antiguos Almacenes de Deposito San Jose
- Iglesia de San Francisco de Paula
- Gimnasio de Boxeo Rafael Trejo.
Make sure to grab several 6 peso ($0.24) beers just south of the church before catching a sparring match.
Check out our post Old Havana Perimeter Loop Attractions for more information.
This concludes your Havana walking tour!
You can also check out our other self-guided walking tours at:
- Casablanca Forts: Watching Over Havana
- Centro Havana Self-Guided Walking Tour
- Vedado Self-Guided Walking Tour in Havana.
As you plan the rest of your Cuban trip, don’t forget to check out these tips on how to prepare for Cuba in our post Cuba Budget Travel Guide & Information.
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*** The Final Word – Old Havana is unlike anywhere else in the world. However, don’t put too much pressure on visiting every attraction. Just enjoy the architecture and local culture on a Havana walking tour! ***
What attractions did you find were worth the entrance fee in Old Havana?
Super easy DIY travel around city centres
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Visited in May 2016