Written by Kieran Proctor

10 Best Tours In Havana Cuba: The Ultimate Guide 2024

Discover the stunning beauty and rich history of Cuba’s capital city, with this definitive guide to the best tours in ...

Discover the stunning beauty and rich history of Cuba’s capital city, with this definitive guide to the best tours in Havana. Havana is a city teeming with life, where vintage cars, colonial architecture and Afro-Cuban music all blend together, to create an experience like no other.

Whether you’re drawn to the rhythmic beats of the salsa or rumba, fascinated by the city’s unique history, or you simply want to immerse yourself in the eclectic mix of Cuban culture, there’s a tour in Havana that’s perfect for you.

This guide is your ticket to a personalized journey through Havana. It’s filled with expert insight and insider tips to make your trip to Havana truly unforgettable. Now, I spend at least 3 months of the year in Cuba, mainly in Havana, and this is the guide I wish I had, when I first visited.

Introduction to Havana Cuba

Havana, or La Habana as it is known locally, is the bustling capital of Cuba. But, more importantly, it’s Cuba’s cultural heart. It’s a city that seamlessly blends the old with the new, where classic American cars chug along streets lined with Spanish colonial buildings.

Havana exudes a unique charm that’s hard to resist. And this makes it a popular destination for travelers from around the world. Havana is, in my opinion, one tourist destination everyone needs to visit at least once!

The view over Havana Cuba towards the Capital building
View over Parque Central toward Capitolio in Havana, Cuba.

Planning A Trip To Havana Cuba

Before we jump straight into the 10 best tours you should take in Havana, it’s worth pointing out that if you’re planning to visit Havana during peak season (November to May), you absolutely must book your tours ahead of time.

You should also book your flights a minimum of 3 months in advance. And you should book your mode of transfer from the Havana airport to your hotel, when you book your flights.

Here’s a handy list of resources to help you plan your holiday in Havana:

  1. Packing for Cuba
  2. Essential items to pack for Cuba
  3. What’s La Nave (Cuban Uber) and how to use it
  4. Common tourist scams to be aware of before visiting
  5. Transfers from the José Martí International Airport(HAV)
  6. How to spend 48 hours in Havana (itinerary planning)
  7. Best restaurants in Havana: A foodies guide
  8. How to visit Viñales from Havana (or Varadero)
  9. Transfers between Havana and Varadero
  10. How to spend 48 hours to one week in Varadero (itinerary planning)
  11. Best restaurants in Varadero: A foodies guide

Getting to Havana

Before we dive into the exciting tours that await you in Havana, it’s essential to understand how to get there. Havana is served by the José Martí International Airport. Several international airlines offer direct flights to Havana from major cities worldwide.

For travelers within the United States or nearby countries, a quick flight can land you in the heart of this vibrant city. Upon arrival, there are multiple transport options to get you from the airport to the city. These include private taxis, shared taxis and collectivos (shared minivans). However, for convenience and comfort, it’s highly recommended to pre-book a private airport transfer.

Travel Tip: Save yourself the hassle of negotiating fares with taxi drivers by booking your airport transfer in advance. This way, you can kickstart your Cuban adventure on a high note!

Exploring Havana: Old Havana vs. Modern Havana

Havana is a city of contrasts. On one hand, you have Old Havana (Habana Vieja), a UNESCO World Heritage Site that serves as a time capsule, taking you back to the colonial era. On the other hand, you have Modern Havana, which includes districts like Vedado, Miramar and Playa, that showcase the city’s contemporary side.

While both parts of Havana have their unique charm, if you’re short on time, focusing on Old Havana can offer a richer cultural experience. The narrow cobblestone streets of Old Havana are teeming with historical landmarks, vibrant plazas, colorful buildings and bustling markets.

The Crème de la Crème of Havana Tours

Havana offers an array of tours, from brief explorations lasting an hour or two to immersive experiences that will engage you for an entire day. Here are the top tours you that you must consider adding to your Cuban itinerary, while planning your vacation in Havana.

I’ve ordered this list of the best tours in Havana, based on the order that you should consider them. Click each tour to see the full description:

  1. Classic American Car Tours
  2. Guided Photo Tour in a Classic Car
  3. Havana Art & Culture Tour
  4. Complete Tour of Havana
  5. Snorkeling in Varadero
  6. Yoruba Religion Tour
  7. Classic Car Beach Day Trip
  8. Tour of Colonial Havana (Free tour)
  9. Viñales Valley by Classic Car (Private day trip)
  10. Casablanca Neighborhood Tour (Free tour)

Travel Tip: You don’t need a to carry a water bottle with a filter for your vacation in Cuba. And in point of fact, if you do carry one with you, it will make you a bigger target for scams!

Walking the colorful streets of Havana
Why am I wearing a mask? Because I have a face suited to radio. But this is one of the nicer parts of Old Havana, Cuba.

An Iconic Ride: Classic American Car Tour

A trip to Havana is incomplete without a ride in a classic American car. These vintage vehicles have graced the city streets since the early 20th century. And a ride in one of Havana’s classic cars offers tourists a unique perspective of the city.

These tours start from your hotel or Parque Central and they take you through the city’s most intriguing spots. You’ll get to see the vibrant Prado, the picturesque Malecon and the lush Havana Forest. Stop by the Plaza de la Revolucion for a photo opportunity with the city’s heroes, pass by the University of Havana and maybe even stop for an ice cream break.

A classic car tour is the ideal way to get a feel for the city beyond the confines of Old Havana. A tour by classic car provides a truly unique Cuban experience.

Travel Tip: If you’re more interested in motorcycles, Cuba has plenty of classic bikes too! And you can take a tour of Havana by classic motorcycle. To see some of the bikes in Cuba and to learn more about classic motorcycles in Havana, follow luisgustavomas on Instagram.

Duration: 2 hours
Languages: English & Spanish

A Picture-Perfect Tour: Guided Photo Shoot Tour

A guided photo shoot tour of Havana is a fantastic way to capture your amazing holiday memories. A professional English-speaking photographer will accompany you to the city’s most picturesque spots, thereby ensuring that you come home with at least 25 high-resolution images of your Cuban adventure.

This 2.5-hour tour will take you to the most visually stunning places in Havana. You’ll be the star of the photos, ensuring your holiday shots are truly unforgettable.

Duration: 2.5 hours
Languages: English & Spanish

A Cultural Odyssey: Half-Day Guided Tour of Cultural Havana

Venture off the beaten path with a half-day guided tour of cultural Havana. During this tour, you’ll see the suburbs not typically on the average tourists itinerary. The tour begins in Regla across the harbor, before moving through Vedado, Miramar, Playa and then out to Jaimanitas.

As the name of the tour suggests, it aims to show you the constant contrasts between neighborhoods and districts within Havana. And it aims to show you that there’s more to Havana than Old Havana or Centro. On this tour, you’ll experience everything from ornate churches, through to forests and restored grand mansions.

The tour ends with a visit to Fusterlandia, a neighborhood transformed into a living art project by artist Jose Rodriguez Fuster. Over the course of three decades, Fuster has turned his home in Jaimanitas into a mosaic masterpiece, with sculptures and art pieces adorning every corner.

Duration: 3-4 hours
Languages: English & Spanish

A Historical Exploration: Full-Day Havana Tour

On this top-rated 5-hour Havana tour, you’ll explore all of Havana’s highlight attractions. Knowledgeable, English speaking local guides will take you through the city, introducing you to the University of Havana, the cultural and religious hub of Callejon de Hamel, the historic Christopher Columbus cemetery (Colon Cemetery) and the famous Partagas tobacco factory.

After lunch, you’ll head over to Old Havana to marvel at the famous Capitolio, the Bacardi building and the city’s impressive colonial-style architecture. This tour provides a comprehensive overview of Havana and its rich history.

Duration: 5 hours
Languages: English & Spanish

Tour of Colon Cemetery on my Youtube – I filmed this video in 2023

A Caribbean Escape: Snorkeling Tour to Varadero

Even if Varadero isn’t on your Cuba itinerary, you can still experience the crystal clear waters and Caribbean island vibe with a one-day snorkeling tour to Varadero.

You’ll be picked up from your hotel and you’ll travel to Varadero, where you’ll board a catamaran for a journey through the stunning coral reefs of Coral Beach, one of Latin America’s largest reefs. After snorkeling, you’ll enjoy a seaside lunch and sip on classic Cuban cocktails, before heading back to Havana.

Duration: Day trip from Havana – 11 hours
Languages: English & Spanish
Note: You can also snorkel in Havana and even scuba dive on old-wrecks. Yet, the coral reefs are much nicer in Varadero.

A Spiritual Journey: Yoruba Religion Tour

Start your Yoruba Religion Tour in Central Park, separating Old and Central Havana, and head over to the Orishas museum. This tour will give you insight into the Yoruba religion (better known as Santeria in Cuba) and its fascinating history.

The term “Santeria” translates from Spanish into “worship of saints” and it’s a blend of Catholicism and the African Yoruba religion. You can learn all about this fascinating mixed religious practice on this tour.

Duration: 4 hours
Languages: English & Spanish
Local Tip: Go back and visit Callejon de Hamel by night. I lived next door to it for 3 months and I can tell you, it’s definitely spooky at night!

Callejon de Hamel in Vedado, Havana Cuba
Callejon de Hamel in Vedado by night!

A Beach Getaway: Private Classic Car Beach Day Trip

For this private beach trip with a Classic American Car, you’ll head out to Playa del Este, a stunning stretch of white sandy beach, just outside Havana.

You can also opt to drive a bit further to Varadero and to Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs) for a beach day. Just remember to pack sunscreen, a hat and plenty of water (or Cristal verde)!

Duration: 4-12 hours depending on where you want to go!
Languages: English & Spanish

A Trip Back in Time: Old City Walking Tour

To really immerse yourself in the history of Havana, consider taking this top-rated guided walking tour of the old city. You’ll be able to admire the old classic colonial architecture, that has earned Old Havana a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

Start at the venerable Hotel Inglaterra in Parque Central, from where you’ll see the famous El Capitolio, the Parque de la Fraternidad Americana, Partagas tobacco factory and then you’ll stroll the narrow colonial streets down to the Plaza Vieja.

Duration: 3 hours
Languages: English & Spanish
Cost: Free – just tip whatever you think your tour was worth!

Parque Central, Havana Cuba
Parque Central in Havana, where this tour begins.

Viñales Valley Tour by Classic Car: A Private Day Trip

No trip to Cuba is complete, without visiting the UNESCO listed Viñales Valley. And the best way to get there is in a fully restored, classic 1950’s American car. A day trip to Viñales from Havana is the best way to experience Viñales.

Havana is a little less than 2.5 hours from the Viñales Valley. It’s about 180km (111 miles). The scenery along the route from Havana to Viñales is breathtaking in parts. And being able to sit back, relax and watch it all roll past the window of your classic ride, is an experience you’ll want to tell your friends about.

The Private Classic Car Tour will hit all the major attractions. First, stopping at a traditional tobacco plantation, you’ll learn all about Cuban cigars and the better rums on the island. Spoiler alert, Havana Club is not the best and nor is it the oldest rum in Cuba!

After you’ve had your fill of Cuban cigars, rum and rural life, you’ll hop back in your classic ride and your driver will take you to Mirador de los Jazmines, the best lookout with unparalleled panoramic views over Viñales. You’ll also visit the Mural of Prehistory.

Once you’ve admired the Mirador de los Jazmines and the Mural of Prehistory, the next stop is lunch. You get to choose where you want to eat. I recommend the Mogote Cafe.

After lunch, you’ll visit the Cueva del Indio, experience a traditional ‘native’ Cuban dance and take a boat ride through one of the more impressive cave systems in Cuba. Once done, your driver will chauffeur you home to Havana, in style!

Duration: Day Trip from Havana – 10 hours
Languages: English & Spanish
Tip: For a full run down of all the attractions in Viñales including where to eat, read my guide to visiting Viñales from Havana or Varadero.

Visiting Viñales in 2023 on my YouTube Channel

Casablanca Neighborhood Tour: The Other Side Of Havana

Quite a lot of visitors to Havana never see the other side of the port. They just wander around Old Havana and assume that’s all there is to see. And it’s a shame. On the other side of Havana’s harbor, lies some of the most impressive fortresses on the island.

During the free Casablanca Neighborhood Tour, you will get to take a ride across the harbor on the Lanchita de Regla, one of the most popular boats in Havana. Crossing the bay of Havana to get to the Casablanca pier.

You’ll get to marvel at the famous Christ of Havana. And you will visit the La Cabaña de Che Guevara, where Che lived after the revolution, when he was the commander of Cuba’s military forces and while he was overseeing the revolutionary trials.

You will visit the fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña. The fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña is a 18th century fortress complex, that was the site used as a prison and makeshift courtroom after the Revolution.

At the end of the tour, you will visit my favorite vantage spot in Cuba. The Castillo De Los Tres Reyes Del Morro. This massive 16th fortress, with its impressive lighthouse, is also home to the Military History Museum, which is an open-air military graveyard of sorts.

The Military History Museum, is home to the U.S. Air Force plane that was shot down during the Cuban Missile Crisis and it showcases some of the missiles and anti-aircraft weaponry, that Cuba had at its disposal. From the Military History Museum in front of the Castillo De Los Tres Reyes Del Morro, you have one of the best panoramic views of Havana.

Duration: 2.5 hours
Languages: English & Spanish
Cost: Free – just tip whatever you think your tour was worth!
Tip: Consider staying on the Casablanca side of Havana after the tour, to attend a cannon firing ceremony while in Havana.

Castillo De Los Tres Reyes Del Morro, Havana Cuba
My favourite view of Havana

Bonus Suggestions: 3 Havana Tours You Should Consider adding to your itinerary

Now, if you’re a foodie, a fan of literature (Hemingway), or need some expert tuition on the finer points of Cuban cocktails and where to party in Havana, the three (3) tours below are sure to be of interest.

The reason they didn’t make it into my top 10 best tours list for Havana, is that not everyone is interested in the activities they encompass. Not everyone want’s to learn about Hemingway, tour his favourite drinking spots and take a ride to his house, which has its own pet cemetery.

Spoiler alert, Hemingway must have cared more for his dogs. Because, in the 20 years he lived in Cuba, he only had 4 dogs. But he buried an average of 3 cats a year in his backyard, during the time he spent living in Havana.

As for the street food tour of Havana, I loved it. It’s run by a local collective of English speaking foodies, who can provide fascinating insights into the way Cuban’s adapt their recipes based on seasonal availabilities, shortages and blockades. Did you know that you can fry eggs in old beer, when you have no seasoning? Yeah, neither did I.

The Havana nightlife tour will take you to some of the best venues in Old Havana. It will provide more photo opportunities of the Cuban capital illuminated than you could want. And it will educate you on the finer points of Cuba’s cocktail scene. If you’re looking for fun night out, with cocktails and salsa galore, it’s the tour for you. And it’s free!

Final Thoughts on Tours in Havana

Choosing the right tours in Havana, can enhance your experience and ensure you don’t miss out on any of the city’s best experiences. The local guides running the tours in my list, all speak English and they will ensure that you make the most of your visit.

Even after years of traveling in Cuba and staying in Havana for months on end, I still discover new places, every now and then. So, for a short visit, getting a little guidance is probably the smartest thing you can do.

Make sure to also set aside some time to explore Havana on your own as well. And maybe, even get a little bit lost, in the old colonial streets!

Happy travels!

Where Can I Get More Information About Cuba?

I’ve made my Cuba travel guide available on this website. And I recommend you read it, before traveling to Cuba. It will help you navigate Cuba and Cuban society.

My ultimate guide to Cuba will save you a lot of time and a significant amount of money on your trip to Cuba. Read the most up to date guide to traveling in Cuba.