72 Hours in Havana, Cuba

What can you do on a quick weekend getaway to Havana?

I would have never known the answer had it not been for my fellow travel and photography loving friend who has the same spontaneous travel spirit as myself. Heather and I had went back and forth trying to decide where we would take a quick weekend trip to this fall. We knew we wanted warm weather and it had to be easily accessible in a quick 72-hour time frame but that was about it.

That’s when Cuba hit our radar. A few years ago, this destination wouldn’t have been an option for all of us U.S. travelers. Because of this, there still seems to be quite a lot of mystery surrounding vacationing in Cuba. I hope to answer some of your questions below based on our experience visiting the city of Havana.


Step one as you all know is figuring out the logistics of actually making a trip happen. Lucky for us, Delta Airlines has some great flight options direct from Atlanta to Havana (especially during the “off-season” or summer months). With round-trip direct flights getting us from our hometown to Havana in less than 2.5 hours and below $250, it was hard to say no.

When you purchase your plane ticket you will be asked to provide your “reason for travel” for your visa. There are multiple options and the rules have changed several times over the past few years but the one that best applied to our trip was “Supporting the Cuban People”. In our case, this meant that we’d be staying at local home stays or AirBnB accommodations, eating at local restaurants, and documenting our time in Cuba to promote and help their people’s businesses grow.

Once we arrived at our Delta check-in counter, we were given two slips of paper to fill out our passport information. One slip goes to the Customs counter in Havana and the other slip remains on you until your return in the U.S. Delta allowed us to pay the $50 for our Visa online during check-in 24 hours prior to departure.

Once you land at the Havana airport, you are welcomed by a long line of Customs. My biggest recommendation is don’t mosey around once you get off the plane and if you can avoid checking a bag, an easy carry-on will save you time on the backend. Get in the shortest line and be patient! Once you get through a few separate lines, you’ve finally made it outside of the airport to feel that nice humid air and see vintage cars galore! Get in line (once again) for the money exchange as you’ll need CUC (the tourist currency) to tip your driver. We got the minimal amount out since our Airbnb host agreed to exchange USD to CUC at the best rate.

Finally! The initial logistics are done. Although it can be exhausting, especially in an unfamiliar country, it’s worth the slight airport chaos when you jump into your vintage car and take a step back into history.

Side note: There are a ton of taxis at the airport if you don’t have prearranged transportation, I’m sure these are fine options. I’d suggest talking to your Airbnb host to see if they can set up a ride for you. This eliminates worrying about getting ripped off, not being able to find a ride, or other complications. Our driver was waiting for us when we stepped outside of the airport with a “Welcome Jackie T” sign in hand!


Step two is figuring out where you’re going to stay. This ties in with the visa as mentioned above. There are a ton of wonderful looking Airbnb’s online but we ended up going with a friends prior good experience and Airbnb host recommendation. Our Airbnb host Densil was amazing. He made our trip as easy as possible; from exchanging our currency, planning our airport transfers, setting up our vintage car tour, giving us plenty of local lunch and dinner recommendations and providing us with a nice rooftop terrace breakfast each morning. Our stay cost us an approximate ~$50/night! That is a hard cost to beat. You can check out where we stayed here! {if you book with my code and you’ve never stayed at an Airbnb before, we both get money off our next booking!}

Our location was located approximately 10-15 minutes from the Prado and Old Havana area. We were only a few streets away from the water which led to a beautiful morning sunrise along the Malecon! Our stay definitely had a very local feel but we were never too far away from our next destination. If you want to be right in the middle of the action, I’d suggest finding a spot right near the Prado as this is where most of the restaurants, bars and nightlife took place.


  • La Guarida
    • Restaurant: Make reservations ahead of time. It is one of the top rated restaurants in Havana.
    • Rooftop: Sunset drinks here are a must. The rooftop has great music, delicious cocktails, and perfect sunset views.
  • Parque Central rooftop: Go here to cool off in the rooftop pool on a hot day. Treat yourself to a refreshing mojito or daiquiri!
  • La Floridita: Touristy but worth a stop for one of the famous daiquiris and a fun atmosphere with live music!
  • Castropol Cafeteria: Great lunch spot. Located right near the water along the Malecon. Delicious shrimp pasta and caprese!

What to do: 

  • Wander the colorful streets of Old Havana
  • Wake up for sunrise along the Malecon
  • Take a vintage car tour around the city and outskirts
  • Learn how to salsa dance from the locals
  • Enjoy rooftop drinks at La Guarida
  • Sunbathe with a pina colada in hand by the rooftop pool of Iberostar
  • Go to La Floridita for their famous daiquiris
  • Explore the artwork and vendors along the Prado


As always, it is important to use your common sense. The same goes for when you are exploring your own local city, whether that is in the United States, Europe or somewhere else in the world. This is especially true for women traveling solo or in a smaller group.

Heather and I did our fair share of research before making our trip to Cuba. I can honestly say after three days wandering around the streets and taking taxi cabs around town, we never felt unsafe. Yes, there are times where we felt uncomfortable but it was more due to cultural differences and the language barrier. There is a lot of “cat-calling”. We learned to ignore and it never became a real issue.

Unfortunately my five years of Spanish class only helped so much and you will not find the locals speaking English very often. Unlike other places I’ve traveled, I couldn’t pull up my “google translate” or any other sort of translation apps. The WiFi is extremely limited, internet is spotty (even if you do purchase data), and trying to use your phone is just all around difficult.

All that being said, my biggest recommendation is to explore during the sunlight hours. We walked home at night one evening and we were completely fine; However, without good directions, a phone, or familiarity with your local area, you are better off sticking to the daylight. Locals are happy to help point you in the right direction if you are able to communicate properly. Our AirBnB host was also awesome with coordinating our planned taxi rides. I would not suggest wearing flashy jewelry or expensive accessories around and I would keep your eye on your belongings at all times (as I would while traveling abroad in any country).

If you have specific concerns on safety, please don’t hesitate to reach out! I would be happy to answer any questions not answered in the above post.

For a full gallery with all of our Cuba photos, you can check out my Facebook page here!

1 Comment

  1. Becky
    November 2, 2018 / 1:05 pm

    The pictures are amazing! The information you give your readers is thoughtful and valuable to travelers –