Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
The Hotel Nacional (entrance on 21 and O, Vedado) is a prime example. Just
walk through the hotel's main lobby to the rear doors which open up to an im-
mense outdoor seating area overlooking the Malecon. There is a stage as well as
a bar which serves relatively inexpensive drinks. It is always free to visit this area,
and you can relax for hours, even if you don't order any drinks at all. There's even
a little museum with antique cannons.
The Habana Libre Hotel (Corner 23 and L) is another great example of a place
you can explore for free. While the main lobby is usually crowded with tourists,
the mezzanine level is almost always deserted. Just walk up the majestic wooden
staircase. The atrium is filled with natural light and surrounded by lounge chairs
that you can use any time of the day. Furthermore, it is completely air conditioned
and there is WIFI coverage (pay per use). There are also hundreds of photos on
the walls, chronicling the time when Fidel Castro occupied the hotel after the
Cuban Revolution.
For a bit more excitement, you can take the elevator up to the 25th floor and enter
the El Turquino disco. Although the disco only officially opens at night, the en-
trance doors are usually unlocked during the day and you are free to enter. Some-
times there are a few workers in the disco, cleaning or setting up decorations;
they will not mind your presence at all. The disco has wrap-around windows offer-
ing a panoramic view of the whole city. Just take a seat and marvel at the sights.
Check Out a Park
There are dozens of great parks scattered around Havana. Most of them offer
comfortable benches and a good deal of shade. Many have large public monu-
ments or statues dedicated to war heroes and revolutionary leaders. There are
also some nature reserves which offer a chance to see lush, virgin vegetation in a
calm surrounding.
Parque John Lennon (corner 17 and 6) is a famous park, popular with locals and
tourists alike. The park gets its name from the large, bronze statue of John Len-
non, seated on one of the park benches. Right beside the park is the Centro Cul-
tural Submarino Amarillo, a Beatles themed lounge bar where Beatles cover
bands play live music almost nightly.
Parque Almendares (also called Gran Parque Metropolitano or Isla Josefina ) is
Havana's largest nature park. It's located just past the Calle 23 bridge ( Puente Al-
mendares ), that leads into the Playa neighborhood. In total, the park covers over
300 hectares of land. The park borders the Almendares river and has a forest with
lush vegetation. There are footpaths crossing through the park and a small road
runs along the perimeter. A large children's playground is located at the entrance
to the park, almost directly under the Puente Almendares.
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