Havana Cuba feature image

Where

Havana, Cuba.

Why now

After nearly five decades without direct flights from the United States (though a few crafty Americans would fly up to Toronto, just to get back down to Havana,) some 110 flights are scheduled daily from America next month. Not to mention renewed interest from European tourists too.

Make the trip before the hotspot effect takes hold. It’s hard to know how long Havana’s remarkable Spanish Colonial buildings, Art Deco blocks and Belle Epoque manses will remain. New investment is set to pour in with the recent reopening, and the pitfalls of urban renewal seem inevitable. Many of Havana’s buildings are crumbling, bedraggled, some partially collapsing. But with their randomly painted exteriors and mismatched shudders and styles, each street is a decadent architectural cavalcade to behold.

When to go

Asap. Though they say avoid June through October if possible. High summer is too hot for foreigners to handle, then comes hurricane season.

Who to take with you

Your Instagram husband. The entire place is a fashion editorial waiting to happen.

Most likely to bump into

Karl & co. preparing for the upcoming Chanel cruise show in Old Havana.

Don’t Miss

Rumba dancing. It’s is an integral part of Cuba’s cultural tradition, tied into the mysticism of local religion, Santeria.

Old Havana, the city’s historic center, which is a UNESCO protected World Heritage Site. Wander aimlessly here, or make for the beautiful Cathedral plaza.  

If you want to mix with the locals bring a beer to the Malecon shoreline at dusk. Don’t bother with wine – it’s hard to come by and overpriced when you do.

Do miss

Food that isn’t Cuban. Decades of trade embargo has made foreign cuisine into a near-impossibility, so Cubans cook best using the ingredients they’re familiar with. Private (non state-owned) restaurants called paladeres are best.

An essential to bring with you

Havana is hot, bright and sensual. Dress accordingly. On a budget H&M’s latest collection of shoulder-baring summer floaties will do the trick. Or, for a summer investment, see Maryam Nassir Zadeh’s delicate peach Carnelia bustier dress. Wear the dress with worked-in VANS or last summer’s Eyties to keep you exploring and dodging rickshaws in the streets, and as music drifts from every corner of the city come nightfall, moving to the beats too.

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