Nightlife in Cuba
What Cuba does best is live music, so you should definitely experience Havana's thriving and plentiful live music scene. Salsa, son, jazz, meringue, house, disco, afro-cuban, rock, and classical -- it's all available to be seen and heard when night falls on Havana.
As clubs tend to come and go (and come in and out of vogue), it's best that you pick up at copy of Cartelera, a free weekly newspaper available around town and at the larger hotels. Besides listing some of Havana's mainstays, they also list some of the more interesting venues frequented by Habaneros.
Before or after a night of clubbing, indulge in one of the many restaurants listed below. Some are in hotels, some atop buildings overlooking the Caribbean, and others are paladars (paladars are licensed, privately-run restaurants in homes -- the food can be outstanding, and prices extremely modest). With a little guidance, you'll experience some of the most interesting and delicious restaurants in the Caribbean.
A good source of up to date information regarding nightlife in Havana is http://www.lapapeleta.cult.cu/
Havana Nightclubs, Restaurants, and Music
1830 Club, Malecon & 20th, in the Vedado (near the tunnel to Miramar). Check for times and performances.
Ambos Mundos, Obispo 153, esquina Monserrate, La Habana Vieja, La Habana, 10100, +53 7 66 9530, +53 7 33 9532. Refurbished in line with the 30s and 40s style, Ambos Mundos is one of the most elegant cafés in Havana. The music from the piano, the marble walls and floor and the façade make this place quiet, intimate and relaxed. As well as a wide range of cocktails, either at the bar or at a table, Ambos Mundos offers spirits, beers, light meals and traditional Cuban cooking. The candlelight makes this café ideal for a bit of romance, especially at night. It being one of the places Hemingway visited in the 30s, during his first visit to Cuba, it became a meeting place for writers and artists. (see picture to left)
Bar Nautilius, San Rafael e/ Consulado y Paseo del Prado, Centro Habana. Although this local hangout is rather dark and suspicious looking, it's nicely un-touristy and right next to the chic Inglaterra Hotel.
Cabaret Atlántico, at the Hotel Atlántico, in Playa Santa María del Mar.
Cabaret El Nacional, Calle San Rafael esq Paseo del Prado. Habana Vieja.
Cabaret Parisién, at the Hotel Nacional, in the Vedado.
Cabaret Turquino, at the Hotel Habana Libre Tryp.
Cafe Cantante Mi Habana, Teatro Nacional de Cuba Paseo y 39 Plaza de la Revolución (tel 33 57 13). One of the most popular places at the moment, this tiny basement venue gets very crowded very early, so come early on weekends. Top artists generally headline, so check the Cartelera for performances and times. Popular among both Cubans and tourists.
Cafe Concert Gato Tuerto, Calle O entre 17 y 19, Vedado
Casa de Amistad, Paseo no. 406 esq. 17 Vedado (tel 30 31 14). Live salsa, son and boleros in the gardens of a beautiful Rococo house. Closed Mon.
Cafe de Paris, San Ignacio esq Obispo, La Habana Vieja, La Habana. Crowded with a nice mix of both tourists and locals, the drunken atmosphere is further enhanced by live bands. In a small space there are tables for two and for four, tucked close together, and a Cuban music band in the background, forcing you to speak fairly loudly if you want to be heard. It is one of the liveliest night places in Havana, offering a wide range of light meals to go with the cocktails, spirits and beers.
Casa de la Cultura, Aguiar no.509 e/ Amargura y Brasil, Habana Vieja (tel 63 48 60). What used to be a converted convent, the renovated Casa de la Culture features a full range of evening performances, from folk to hip hop.
Casa de la Musica EGREM (Empresa de Brabaciones y Ediciones Musicales), Calle 20 esquina 35, Playa
Cafe del Oriente, Oficios 112 esquina Amargura, Plaza de San Francisco de Asís La Habana, 10100. Café del Oriente is possibly the most elegant one in Havana. Situated on one side of Plaza de San Francisco, it inspires a feeling of peace, as well as it surroundings. In this vast space which still keeps the architectural features of an Old Havana house, you may try a wide range of strong beverages, cocktails, coffees, Havana cigars and light meals. Disabled access is available.
La Cecilia, 5ta Avenida y 110. Tel: 24-1562. In the Miramar district, La Cecilia is a large outdoor venue featuring prominent salsa stars, big bands and dance performances. Excellent sound system, and a well-mixed crowd.
Club Almendares, Reparto Kohly.Río Almendares
Club Imagenes, Calzada 602, esquina C, Vedado, La Habana. This café bar is located in the El Vedado neighborhood of Havana. The décor is pleasant and inviting and the ambience is relaxed and intimate. It is and ideal place for couples or groups of friends who would like to spend the night listening to traditional songs interpreted by Pedro Luis Guerra, one of the most popular Cuban singer/songwriters who can be seen and heard here every weekend.
Delirio Habanero Piano Bar, Teatro Nacional de Cuba Paseo y 39 de la Revolución (tel 33 57 13). This sultry, vibey late-night jazz hangout is popular with Cuban sophisticates and visitors alike, with low-key piano music and live jazz bands nightly. Reservations are a must on weekends. Bands play from 10.30pm and 3am though they stay open till 6am when the crowd doesn't want the night to end. Their à la carte menu offers light meals, soft drinks, rums and cocktails, both national and international. The panoramic view of the city, particularly of the Plaza de la Revolution, is truly breathtaking.
Disco Bar, at the Villa Panámericana.
Disco Cónuco, at the Villa Trópico, in Playa Jibacoa.
Disco Galicia, Agramonte no.658 e/ Apodaca y Gloria. Disco-bar at the top of a well-worn neo-colonial building. A largely local and friendly crowd.
Disco Guanabo Club, Calle 468 e/ 13 y 15, in Guanabo.
Disco Ipanema, at the Hotel Copacabana.
Disco Papa's, at the Residencial Marina Hemingway.
Disco El Salado, Villa El Salado, in Playa Baracoa.
Disco La Sirenita, at the Residencial Tarara, in Playa del Este.
Don Pedro, at the Restaurante D'Giovanni - Tacón 4, esquina Empedrado, La Habana Vieja, La Habana, 10100, +53 7 33 5979. In the patio of a Colonial house, Don Pedro is a spacious and comfortable bar. Plants, trees and ivy make up most of its decoration. From the ceiling, hang several bird-cages with Cuban bird species inside. The tables are always decorated with fresh flowers. It doesn't tend to be too crowded and the atmosphere is always peaceful and relaxed.
Dos Gardenias, Avenida 7 esquina Calle 26, Miramar, La Habana. This is the ideal place for bolero lovers. This musical style was very popular in Latin América in the 1940s and is now experiencing a revival. This revival has made Bolero very fashionable in Europe, and it has a lot to do with the success of the film Buena Vista Social Club. Here you will have the chance to enjoy this rhythmical and romantic music played by traditional bands. At midnight they have the Salón del Bolero, where you will be able to join the musicians and spend the rest of the night singing boleros.
El Cortijo, Hotel Horizontes Vedado, Calle O No. 244, entre 25 y Humboldt, Vedado
El Patio, 17 esquina M, Fosca, Vedado, La Habana. +53 7 32 9571 ext. 37. This piano-bar is an open air venue decorated in rustic style, with parasols, unfinished wood bar and (parabanes) made of guano. In the evenings they run a show featuring the house band "Los Zafiros", which is a group of young singers who sing in the same style of a famous Cuban band of the 60s with the same name. The cafeteria has a bar and stools, it has air conditioning and backgroung music (not live). There are some tables behing the bar. In the evenings the cafeteria is as busy as the piano bar, but during the day they have plenty of space.
El Patio de María, Calle 37 e/ Paseo y 2, Nuevo Vedado, La Habana, 10600, +53 7 81 0722. El Patio de María is specialised in carrying out social and cultural projects. Just 100 metres away from the Teatro Nacional de Cuba, this place hosts all sorts of social and community events such as club meetings, different sorts of debates, concerts and workshops. There is something for everyone, whatever your tastes and interests, from theatre to video. Among their activities, there is a rock music project as part of an AIDS prevention programme. Their most important events are the rock festivals, performance festivals and the events which take place on International AIDS day. The most popular club is "El Fandango del Candil" which meets up every last Friday of each month, where Jorge García brings poetry and story-telling together.
El Portal, at the Restaurante El Patio, San Ignacio 54 esquina Empedrado, Plaza de la Catedral, La Habana Vieja, La Habana, 10100, +53 7 57 1035, +53 7 33 8697. Occupying a large space of the Cathedral Square, with its tables and sunshades, this bar has become one of the most popular open-air spaces where the clients dance to the sound of live Cuban music. The party atmosphere does not only extend to the dancing area, but also to the tables and the surrounding area, where many passers-by stop to sing and clap to the sound of the music. Besides a wide range of cocktails, beers and spirits, this bar offers light meals and wonderful views of the Cathedral Square, one of the oldest in Havana.
Feria de Fornos, Monserrate, esquina Obrapía, La Habana Vieja, La Habana, 10100, +53 7 57 1030, +53 7 33 8694. On a corner which brings tourist Havana and everyday Havana together, with people going back and forth, this bar has almost made a virtue out of its limited space. Opening out onto the street, it offers seats inside and outside. The bar with its stools, the bare stone walls and the sunshade make up the atmosphere of this bar which offers spirits, cocktails and beers. You simply must try the sandwiches in this place -probably what has made it famous all over the Havana. (see picture)
Gato Tuerto (One-Eyed Cat), Calle O e/ 17 y 15, Vedado (tel 55 26 96). Just a few metres away from the splendid Hotel Nacional, Gato Tuerto is a recently renovated, pre-revolution bohemian jazz bar that has managed to keep its cool edge despite a complete renovation. Good food, rum and cocktails. Excellent jazz fusion is played nightly from 12pm to 4am. (see picture to left)
Gran Teatro, Paseo del Prado esq. San Rafael, Centro Habana (tel 62 94 73). This gorgeously restored building on the Parque Central is home to Cuban ballet but also hosts operas and works of contemporary dance. Check the Cartelera for a listing of performances. US$10.
Habana Cafe, Hotel Meliá Cohiba, Paseo y Malecón (tel 33 36 36). If you're really into places like the Hardrock Cafe and Planet Hollywood, you'll love the Habana Cafe. Rather cheesy, it's decorated with classic Chevrolets and retro Cuban photographs. The evening begins with popular Cuban music played by the best orchestra of the moment, and it ends with the audience joining in the fun, singing and dancing the night away to the rhythm of Caribbean tunes.
Havana Club, Calle 86 y 1ra Miramar Playa (tel 24 29 02). One of the most upscale discos in Havana where salsa tunes are played along side trendy house music. Open from 11pm to 5am.
Ipanema, Avenida 1 esquina Calle 44, Miramar, La Habana. Located in the Copacabana Hotel, this venue is very popular with both Cubans and tourists. It is quite a spacious place, ideal for dancing evenings where hundreds of fun-seekers congregate to drink, dance and enjoy the excellent views of the sea. $10 cover charge.
Isamán, Ave del Puerto e/ Oficios y Empedrado, La Habana Vieja, La Habana, 10100. Outdoors with a view of the Cabaña, the Cristo de la Bahía and
Casablanca, is where you come across this place located on the sidewalk of the Malecon in front of the Castillo de la Real Fuerza. Drinks are served immediately, but you have to wait a bit for the chicken to be fried. The awnings each span three tables but at some times in the day you aren't completely covered from the sun and the wind is usually strong, but if you want to be very close to the bay, this is the ideal place.
Jazz Cafe, Malecon & Paseo, on 3rd floor. Great late-night jazz haunt.
Karachi, Calle 17 esq. K Vedado La Habana. This is a place to have a truly enjoyable experience, while you savor a nice long drink and enjoy musical performances and comedy shows. Here you can see some of the best Cuban
singers, from the evening until the early hours of the morning. On Sundays it opens earlier (at two o'clock in the afternoon), and stays open until around eight in the evening, with DJ Viti and guests offering disco and techno music for all you party animals out there.
La Lluvia de Oro, Obispo esq. Habana. When live bands play at the Lluvia, this can be one of the most lively bars in Habana Vieja. This Café-Bar is one of the most spacious in the Bulevar de Obispo. The table arrangements (tables for six or more) seem to suggest it's a good idea to go in a group. However, if one happens to be alone, there is always the bar and entry, where it is also possible to have spirits, cocktails, beers and light meals. A Cuban Band plays traditional music (son, guaracha, bolero) in the evenings. Although it is a large space, at night it is usually full of people socializing, dancing and partying.
La Maisón, on Calle 7ma esqm 16, in Miramar.
La Pampa, Parque Maceo, Centro Habana. La Pampa is unique in that they predominantly feature both swing and hip hop acts. This club is frequented by a hip crowd.
La Red, Calle 19 e/ K y L Vedado, La Habana. Once you walk in the door, you are unlikely to leave this place for a long, long time... The best Cuban musicians and comedians can be seen live here, in a busy and fun atmosphere. There is a bar and a billiards table. On Saturday from 2 to 8, and for the price of just 1 US$, you can enjoy the excellent techno rhythms played by DJ Joy.
La Zorra y El Cuervo (The Fox and the Crow), Calle 23 No. 155 e/ N y O Vedado (tel 55 26 96). A hip, taste maker venue that puts on quality live Latin jazz nightly. Doors open at 9pm nightly, but really gets going at 11pm. Enjoy the best Latin jazz, played by incredible musicians.
Las Bulerías Bar, L entre 23 y 25, Vedado, La Habana, 10400, +53 7 32 3283. This is an open air café with a somewhat limited menu, but the service is very efficient and it's very close to L and 23, one of the main corners of El Vedado. It only has four or five tables, some at ground level and some others at pavement level. The latter ones offer a view of the street and the Habana Libre Hotel. (see picture to the left)
Le Select, Calle 28, entre 5ta Ave. y 7ma Ave., Miramar, Playa.
Monserrate, esquina Obrapía, La Habana Vieja, La Habana, 10100, +53 7 66 9751, +53 7 33 8694. The definite 40s atmosphere is the main attraction of this bar: swaying doors, lots of wood and a bar all along the back of the lounge. It offers beers, pizzas, Cuban and imported cocktails, and the Monserrate drink, made with Cuban rum and grapefruit juice. Also known as the Casa del Saladito, this bar tends to have live Cuban music, which gives it a nostalgic feel and party
atmosphere at the same time (see picture).
Palacio de la Salsa, at the Hotel Riviera, in the Vedado. Check Cartelera for performance schedules.
Paraitos de Prado, de Martí (Prado) e/ Dragones y Brasil (Teniente Rey), La Habana Vieja, La Habana, 10100. This place offers the services of an cafeteria, an ice cream shop and a small restaurant. It opened recently and is located in a well-conserved colonial building noted for its architectural value and its wooden roof. The patio outside has a really nice atmosphere although it is on a busy street with quite a bit of traffic. In contrast with other places which sell dollars, the plants in its jardinères aren't very beautiful. It is a popular place due to the fact that it's located in front of the Capitolio Nacional.
Parisien, at the Hotel Nacional, Wednesday - Friday, 9p to 2:30am.
Rincón del Bolero, Calle 7ma esq 26, in Miramar.
Salón Rojo, at the Hotel Capri.
Scherezada, Calle M e/ 19 y 17 Edificio Focsa, Vedado La Habana. Down one side of the quiet Hotel Victoria, you will find Scherezada, a place for those who enjoy the good things in life. The latest and most popular Cuban music can be heard here, while you enjoy the excellent food and drink on offer. Cabaret and comedy performances. Cocktail service.
Teatro America, Ave. de Italia no.253 e/ Concordia y Neptuno, Centro Habana (tel 62 54 16). This small but respected theater features comedy, live jazz and traditional music performances.
Teatro Karl Marx, Calle 1ra e/ 8 y 10 Miramar. (tel 30 07 20). An impressively diverse offering of music and dramatic arts, including rock concerts and theater. Definitely worth checking Cartelera to see what's scheduled.
Teatro Nacional de Cuba, Calle Paseo y 39 Plaza de la Revolución (tel 79 60 11). Havana's biggest theater puts on some of the finest events throughout the year, as well as hosts international festivals, ranging from ballet to jazz.
La Tropical, located in the Playa.
Tropicana, Calle 72 no. 504 Mariano. Possibly the oldest and most lavish cabaret in the world, the spectacularly colorful Tropicana features more than 200 dancers, musicians and vocalists (with an emphasis on beautiful, scantily-clad cubanas). Inaugurated in 1939, the Tropicana has an atmosphere of the 1950s with an exclusively Cuban touch. Pricey: $70/person -- make a reservation. Starts at 8.30pm with the show from 10pm to 11pm. Closed Monday.
Turquino, Calle L e/23 y 25. On the top of a high-rise Habana Libre Tryp Hotel, overlooking central Vedado, Cubans impress foreigners with their dance moves. Decor is 1970s disco.
Vedado, Plaza de la Revolucion
A good source of up to date information regarding nightlife in Havana is http://www.lapapeleta.cult.cu/