Museums of Havana, Havana (Self Guided)

Havana has a rich history and was once the Spanish center of power in the Caribbean and South America. Later, it became the center of art, architecture and military power in the region. The museums in Havana can show you much of the city's history.
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Museums of Havana Map

Guide Name: Museums of Havana
Guide Location: Cuba » Havana (See other walking tours in Havana)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 km
Author: kane
National Museum of Music

1) National Museum of Music

The National Museum of Music showcases different traditional Cuban musical instruments, which have become an inseparable part of Cuban music in the past centuries. Apart from guitars, vintage pianos, bongo drums and maracas, here you can see exotic instruments like a xylophone, which comes from Laos. There's a small gift shop which sells music tapes and CDs, including some quite unique Rumba recordings.
Museum of the Revolution

2) Museum of the Revolution (must see)

The Museum of the Revolution (Museo de la Revolución) is housed in what was the "Presidential Palace" of all Cuban presidents from Mario García Menocal to Fulgencio Batista. It became the Museum of the Revolution during the years following the Cuban Revolution. The building was the site of the Havana Presidential Palace Attack (1957) by the Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil.

The former "Presidential Palace" was designed by Cuban architect Carlos Maruri and Belgian architect Paul Belau (who also designed the Centro Gallego, presently the Gran Teatro de La Habana) and was inaugurated in 1920 by President Mario García Menocal. It remained the Presidential Palace until the Cuban Revolution of 1959. The building has Neo-Classical elements and was decorated by Tiffany Studios of New York City.

The museum's Cuban history exhibits are largely devoted to the period of the revolutionary war of the 1950s and to the country's post-1959 history. Portions of the museum are also devoted to pre-revolutionary Cuba, including the 1895-1898 War of Independence waged against Spain.

Why You Should Visit:
To get a well-done history lesson on the Cuban Revolution. Basic displays (photos, uniforms) are laid out chronologically with reasonable English descriptions. Admission also includes the "Granma" yacht and some of the vehicles used during the Revolution and in the different crises that arose in the '60s.
The building itself is very grand and an important part of Cuban history, which alone makes it worth the visit. Highlights include the Salón de los Espejos – a replica of the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles or the Salón Dorado (Golden Hall) which is made of yellow marble.

Go early, wear good walking shoes and be discreet with your cell phone.
Be sure to go to the old ballroom and step out on the balcony for great views of the harbor.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-4pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
National Museum of Fine Arts

3) National Museum of Fine Arts (must see)

El Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes exhibits Cuban art collections from the colonial times up to contemporary generations. It was founded on February 23, 1913, thanks to the efforts of its first director, Emilio Heredia, who was a well-known architect. The original 1954 Palacio was recently renovated and houses Cuban art collections. Spanning the 17th and 19th centuries, it has rooms devoted to landscape, religious subjects and the Costumbrismo narrative scenes of Cuban life. A gallery devoted to the 1970s, marked by a preponderance of Hyperrealism and the latest generation of Cuban artists whose works all reflect the strong symbolic imagery that has been most common in recent decades. The most notable works are those of René Portocarrero and Wifredo Lam. A modernist sculpture by noted Cuban artist Rita Lonja stands outside the main entrance.

Why You Should Visit:
To explore a modern well-designed art exhibition with lots of pieces by Cuban artists that really capture the culture and spirit of the country.
It is also exciting to try and understand how art functions under a communist regime and how the art world and politics intersect.

You cannot take in any backpacks – these must be checked for free before you enter.
Once inside, be sure to get a docent to give you a Spanish/English tour. They are excellent.
Be advised, all the art belongs to the state, and if you even attempt to take a photo you will be stopped.
On a side note, the prettiest buildings that everyone wants to take pictures of are on the Paseo de Marti adjacent, as you walk down toward the ocean.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sat: 9am-5pm: Sun: 10am-2pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Casa De Asia

4) Casa De Asia

Casa De Asia is sometimes called Museum of Asia, because it showcases objects from Japan and China. Most of the exhibitions focus on paintings and sculpture. Established in 1997, the Casa De Asia still grows, and aims to display more and more of the Asian culture.

Operation hours: Tuesday - Saturday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm; Sunday 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
National Museum of Natural History

5) National Museum of Natural History

The Museum of Natural History is one of the key museums in Havana. Here, visitors can see various exhibitions of fossils, mammals, mineral samples, and even archaeological artifacts. The museum is the only one of its kind in the country and it's considered the best natural history museum in the entire Caribbean basin. It goes beyond displays, by also conducting far-reaching research in almost every area of natural history.
Casa de los Árabes

6) Casa de los Árabes

Cuba’s Muslims usually pray in their homes since there is no Mosque in Havana and the state does not allow the construction of mosques. Though former President Fidel Castro was reported to have promised to build a mosque for his country’s Muslims, according to members of the Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH) who visited Cuba. The only prayers performed in public are the Friday Prayers that are conducted in a place known as Casa de los Árabes ("The Arab House") in old Havana.

The Arab House belonged to a wealthy Arab immigrant who lived in Cuba during the 1940s, and it was built on Andalusian architectural designs. The House encompasses an Arabic museum, an Arabic restaurant, and the place is used by Muslim diplomats for Friday Prayers. Arab part donated US$ 40,000 for the remodeling of the House, but it is only opened for Friday Prayers, but Cuban Muslims are not allowed to use the facilities, which are only reserved for non Cuban Muslims: tourists and diplomats.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Havana, Cuba

Create Your Own Walk in Havana

Create Your Own Walk in Havana

Creating your own self-guided walk in Havana is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Cuban Freedom Fighters & Battles

Cuban Freedom Fighters & Battles

Since it was discovered by Spain, the Island remained under its rule until the late 19th-early 20th century. During that period, it saw a series of wars, revolutions, and coup d'etats. On this tour you will see the key places in Havana related to those events, as well as monuments to the key people who made them happen.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 km
Christian Churches of Havana

Christian Churches of Havana

Discovered and conquered by the Spaniards, Havana has turned into a major religious center of Catholicism in the Caribbean. Although a communist regime is in power at the moment, many of the churches, cathedrals, and other religious buildings are preserved and still give a glimpse of the religious heritage of Havana.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 km
Clubbing in Havana

Clubbing in Havana

The nightlife in Havana is rich and diverse. Clubs and cabarets are an important part of this city. Havana has a lot to offer - from the famous cabaret Tropicana to the simplest but authentic cabarets. Take a sip of rum and enjoy a show, or go to a Western-style bar and dance until dawn. Feel enticed by the rhythms of Rumba and Bolero - these are some of choices available to you here in Havana.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 km
Havana City Center Walk

Havana City Center Walk

The city of Havana was founded in 1511. Today, Havana is the capital of Cuba and one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Havana is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean region. Almost perfect weather conditions makes it a great spot for taking a vacation. This walking tour will help you explore the center of Havana.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 km
Architectural Walk

Architectural Walk

Havana, once a major sea power in the Caribbean, still retains an aura of royalty and splendor. Take this walk and explore the architectural landmarks of the city and see mixtures of all the styles that have dominated major civilizations in the past several hundred years.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 km
Old Town Walk

Old Town Walk

Old Town of Havana is a perfect place to feel the Spirit of Cuba. This part of the city has a unique atmosphere and history. The city was founded by the Spanish in 1519. Thousands of tourists visit it each year. UNESCO proclaimed it a world heritage site. Take this astonishing walking tour in the middle of Old Havana.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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18 Uniquely Cuban Things to Buy in Havana

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Havana for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Havana has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Havana, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.