The sun setting at the end of each day is no excuse for bringing your exploration of the Cuban capital to an end. In fact, the warm Caribbean weather combined with the city’s record of safety for visitors and the Cubans’ love of getting together means there’s always plenty of things to do in Havana Cuba at night. Here we detail the things you won’t want to miss!
Sip a cocktail on a rooftop bar
Havana’s bartenders make a mean cocktail – no surprise perhaps given both the mojito and daiquiri were created on the island. Several of the capital’s larger hotels have rooftop bars, with incredible views over the oldest parts of the city, and from where you can feel like a movie star from the glory days of Hollywood before the Cuban revolution took hold. Alternatively, head to the likes of La Bodeguita del Medio. Though locals are hard to come by here, this bar remains a popular hangout due to its long list of illustrious previous drinkers. The wooden bar just oozes ambience, while its walls are filled with the autographs of greats including Ernest Hemingway and Errol Flynn.
Join the locals for a seafront promenade
The 8 km-long seafront promenade known to all as the Malecon (though its official name is Avenida de Maceo) is where Habaneros head as the street lights start to flicker on with the setting of the sun each evening. One of the best places in the city to watch the sun set beneath the waves, it stretches from the mouth of Havana Harbour in Havana Vieja, along the north shore of the Centro Habana neighbourhood, to the more modern Vedado district. Joining the locals even on a short stroll along the edge of Havana Bay is a great way to absorb the local ambience and experience Havana at its laid-back best.
Put on your dancing shoes
It’s fair to say Havana isn’t short of clubs. One of the most enjoyable things to do in Havana Cuba at night for anyone who can’t but help tap their feet to a beat, you won’t regret an evening in any of Havana’s dance venues. Cubans are known for dressing up before heading out on the town, so to avoid looking out of place you’ll want to do the same, with many clubs insisting on a dress code that means no shorts, vests, or flip flops. Try Fabrica de Arte Cubano, a converted cooking oil factory, which has a basement nightclub on Thursdays to Sundays in addition to its art galleries, cinema, and performance space. Bear in mind that nightlife in Havana doesn’t really get going until about 2200, with bars and clubs often remaining open until the last customer leaves, at perhaps two or three the following morning.
Take in a show
If you’d rather watch someone else doing the dancing, there are also a number of regular shows in the Cuban capital. Perhaps the most famous is the extravaganza of scantily-clad dancers at the Tropicana. The lush grounds are impressive enough even before the carnival-like dancing starts for one of the few pre-revolutionary cabaret shows still running. Tickets can be purchased at any hotel, but remember that cheaper seats will come with partially obstructed views. For something of a more classical persuasion, the incredible Gran Teatro building is home to the world-famous Ballet Nacional, who perform there regularly, while Vedado’s Teatro Mella offers performances from Cuba’s modern dance company, Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, whose electric performances have to be seen to be believed.
Enjoy some live music
For a touch of the local sound, head to the Casa de la Musica. This venue is the regular haunt of Cuba’s top salsa and reggueton (a sort of Latin American hip-hop) groups. The original club is in the Miramar neighbourhood, but there’s now also an outpost in Centro Habana with the same line up of acts. For jazz, head to the English red telephone box on Calle 23 between Calle N and Calle O, which is the ‘secret’ entrance to Jazz Club La Zorra y el Cuervo, widely considered the best of the capital’s jazz options. Havana’s contemporary music stars can be found at Café Teatro Bertol Brecht, which is also a fine location for a relaxed cocktail or two.
Cross the city in a classic car
Havana takes on a different look come evening, so its well worth considering jumping into the back of one of Cuba’s iconic vintage taxis even if you’ve already explored some of the city with their help. Tour the colourful city streets and take in a stretch of the Malecon before heading up the hill overlooking the bay to the 20 m-high statue of El Cristo de la Habana. The work of Cuban artist Jilma Madera, the Carrara marble sculpture’s location provides romantic views towards the twinkling lights of the city below.
Eat at a paladar
Eating at a paladar (paladares in the plural) is one of the most authentic ways to enjoy Cuban cuisine. These small house-restaurants serving homemade traditional meals are owned by individuals (rather than the state, who own and operate all the large restaurants), meaning they provide a means of seeing, smelling, and tasting the real Cuba. Once illegal, paladares are now welcomed by the communist government as it seeks to improve the country’s economy. There number is growing all the time, as is the quality of the food they serve. As well as offering a menu of Cuban staples, ‘Italian’ paladares are also now relatively common.
Far from being a ‘daylight hours only’ destination, there are a whole range of things to do in Havana Cuba at night, whatever your interests. From strolling along the Malecon among the local fishermen, to overlooking the city from the statue of Christ or a rooftop hotel bar, and from enjoying live shows in one of the city’s many bars, to eating at a local restaurant, you’ll never find yourself short of something to do come nightfall!