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tips for experiencing the life and culture of this unique island nation


El Malecon, Havana, Cuba

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El Malecon (the pier), the restored seafront walkway and automobile road along the north coastline of Cuba’s capital, is one of Havana’s most cherished attractions. Many iconic paintings and photographs depict this coastal thoroughfare, which remains a popular haunt for locals and tourists alike.

El Malecon Havana was laid out in the first decade of the 1900s by American authorities, who gained control of Cuba after the 1898 Spanish-American War. The tree-lined boulevard linked old Havana with the neighborhood of Vedado. In all, the walk from the Castillo de San Salvador to the edge of Vedado is about four miles, a great way to stretch the legs after spending time on Cuban beaches or in the Museum of the Revolution or other Havana attractions. If you do not want to walk, there are horse-drawn carriages or motor taxis available to take you along El Malecon.

In late July and early August, El Malecon de Cuba comes alive with the sights and sounds of one of Cuba’s biggest festivals, the Havana carnival. Many of the islands top bands and performers perform in Havana and parade down El Malecon.

There are numerous architectural delights along El Malecon de Cuba, reminders of Cuba’s first tourist heyday in the years before the revolution. Some, like the impressive Hotel Nacional, feature neoclassical opulence; others recall Mediterranean villas. Several of these buildings have undergone loving facelifts in recent years.

As El Malecon de Cuba has been restored to its former glory after years of neglect, the promenade has become a favored walkway for lovers, local children, and Cubans of all ages. A walk along El Malecon Havana provides an intimate glimpse at Cuban life. Samplings of Cuban food and music abound along the promenade. Near old Havana, there are several quality hotels and Casa particulaires. As the road nears Vedado, you can glimpse local fishermen netting their catch and young kids playing in the waves.

Sunset is a particularly good time for a walk along El Malecon de Cuba. The sight of the sun kissing the Havana Bay and the surrounding buildings is not to be missed: an ideal time and place for photographs on a Cuba vacation.

A great way to view the Malecon, and other sights in Havana, is on a historic-cultural boat tour run by Los Albatros de La Habana. The tour consists of a boat trip through Havana and the Malecon, in a modern passenger catamaran. See the monuments and architecture while learning about the country’s history and culture, in English and Spanish. 

OVERVIEW for your visit to Cuba:

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