Havana is a city brimming with life lived large. From old-fashioned taxis to a national obsession with ice cream, the capital of Cuba is a great place to explore as a family...
Kids sitting in front of a casas particulares in Havana (Dreamstime)
Casas particulares have been springing up all over Cuba since the government allowed people to open their homes to the tourist market in 1997. Similar to a British B&B, these private homes give families an insight into how people in Cuba live, something you definitely won’t get from the glossy international hotels.
There are lots of families who now offer their homes to tourists, providing a unique opportunity for your children to meet and play with local children their own age.
Many hosts also provide meals, a great way for your kids to learn a few words of Spanish and for the family to save a bit of money too.
Horse and cart in Havana (Dreamstime)
The streets of Habana Vieja (Old Havana) are a UNESCO World Heritage site and a fascinating glimpses of everyday Cuban life. You will find salsa and jazz music tumbling out of open windows, children playing football in the streets, and old Cuban ladies hawking cigars. It’s a delight for each one of your children’s senses.
Travelling by horse and cart allows you to take it all in at a sedate pace. The pastel blues and yellows of the crumbling colonial style buildings create an atmospheric backdrop and you get to grips with the geographical layout of the old city in a relaxed manner.
Horses and carts are easy to pick up around Park Central. Just make sure you negotiate the price before you leave.
Taking a horse and cart ride was one of our children’s favourite things to do in Havana.
Ice cold chocolate milk (GlobalmouseTravels)
In the heart of Old Havana, the Museo del Chocolate is the ideal retreat from the heat and the crowds of the city. With an extensive menu of chocolate to drink and eat, it is also every child’s dream.
There is a collection of historic chocolate paraphernalia, but it is the café out the back that your children will love. They can watch chocolate being made as they wait for their drinks.
Try the cold chocolate milk. It is a refreshing pick-me-up after a hot and sticky tour of the city.
Kids playing baseball on Havana street (Dreamstime)
Baseball is a big deal across Cuba and it’s not uncommon to come across an impromptu game being played in Havana’s parks. For a real treat, however, why not attend game and see one of the capital’s two teams in action?
The baseball season in Cuba lasts for several months and the standard is regarded as amongst the best in the world. Tickets are only a few pounds, so it’s an affordable trip for the whole family.
Head to the Estadio Latino-Americano for the best atmosphere and witness the love that Cubans have for their national sport.
Coppelia Ice Cream parlour (Dreamstime)
The 1950s-styled Coppelia ice cream bar is in the heart of central Havana and is a great example of how seriously Cubans take their ice cream. It has become an important place to meet friends and socialise. Locals queue for hours to take their place at the bar and the phrase “Me di tremendo tanganazo” (“That’s gossip I didn’t know”) is common here.
Packed with atmosphere, it’s a great place to visit to cool off in the heat of the summer. A special kiosk for tourists will help you beat the queues and try out the flavours on offer, but the prices are significantly higher.
Globalmouse is run by Nichola West who loves exploring the world with her husband and three kids. They’re always on the look out for the unusual, and travel everywhere from Russia to the Cook Islands, with lots of European city breaks and UK weekend breaks thrown in too. You can follow their adventures on the Globalmouse website and on Instagram.
Main image Chasing pigeons in Havana (Dreamstime)