From 9 June 2020 Virgin Atlantic will be flying to Havana. Direct services on the Airbus A330-300 series will operate every Tuesday and Saturday and will be the only direct UK service to the magical Cuban capital.
The port-city of Havana has its very own identity with its pastel-coloured buildings and vibrant streets which come alive to a vintage car show. You will spot plenty of vehicles from the 1940s and 1950s, including some beautiful Chevrolets, classic Fords and the unique Studebaker. It is like stepping back into another era and now that the ban on imports has been lifted, it is only a matter of time before these distinct motors will be replaced by modern-day cars that don’t quite have the same spirit about them.
Havana is Cuba’s largest city with a population of just over 2 million but you can easily escape the crowds, either in Lenin Park, a nod to its Communist roots or Lennon Park, a tribute to Cuba’s love of music. Here the focus is on the Mersey beats of The Beatles – the life-size statue of John Lennon has removable glasses which have been pilfered so many times, a guard has to keep them secure but will happily hand them over for that selfie moment
On the water’s edge, you can visit the Castillo de la Real Fuerza– a fortress constructed to defend the city from real pirates of the Caribbean Seas. Trouble is, it is set too far in the bay to have been effective, but if records are correct, it is the oldest stone fort in the whole of the Americas and is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1982.
Back in the city, that musical heritage comes alive with vibrant sounds pumping out from every bar and café. So why not head off to one of the many salsa joints around Obispo and get into the spirit of things with a Cuba Libre cocktail which will help you dance the night away. If jazz is your thing call into the quirky La Zorra y el Cuervo. Enter via a red English phone box and descend into a basement filled with cigar smoke and ringing with incredible music. And for traditional Cuban tunes, check out the Havana Club Bar and enjoy a rum.
You can’t write about Havana without featuring the writer Ernest Hemmingway. He spent the best part of 30 years in Cuba where he penned seven novels including Close but no Cigar and Our Woman in Havana. Apparently, Hemmingway helped create the popular Daiquiri Cocktail which was first sipped in La Floridita in Old Havana.
So now you have your holiday reading all sorted, why not venture further field and relax in some of Cuba’s beach resorts. Varadero is just two hours’ drive from Havana and in 2019 it was voted by TripAdvisor as the second-best beach on the planet.
Now your thirst has been quenched for Cuba, why not discover this Caribbean island for yourself and like Hemmingway create your own travel story.