In Cuba, an independently-owned restaurant is called a paladar. There are many notable ones, particularly in the larger cities.
Havana easily dominates the restaurant scene in Cuba. You’ll find a unique experience at La Guarida, one of the most famous paladares. It’s a magical space in a beautifully decaying building, which also has a rooftop with an excellent view of the city.
Doña Eutemia in Old Havana, and San Cristobal Paladar in Central Havana are also great places to experience a cosy atmosphere with delicious food.
If you’re looking for a modern vibe, book a table at El Cocinero or Atelier, both in Vedado.
If you’re headed to Trinidad, go to Cafe Don Pepe for some great Cuban food and an art-filled, lush ambience.
If you want a unique experience, pay a visit to Sol Ananda; it’s like dining in a museum with a diverse menu.
Venturing to the opposite end of the country? Don’t miss out on Restaurante Aurora and El Palenquito.
Because these restaurants are so popular, be sure to book a reservation in advance.
For a classic Cuban night out in Havana, visit the tree-lined patio at Hotel Nacional, which will bring you back to another era of history.
If you want to follow in Hemingway’s footsteps, order a daiquiri at El Floridita in Old Havana.
If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, head to Cafe Madrigal. Located on a quiet street in Vedado, it will take you by surprise. The walls here are covered with artistic posters and historical relics. Enjoy Cuban rum and tapas at this magical place.
A few other notable spots outside of Havana are Casa de la Musica in Trinidad, where you can enjoy salsa and Afro-Cuban tunes al fresco, and Cafe Santiago Nightclub in Santiago de Cuba, which starts off as a fashion show before turning into a lively disco.
Experience the new age of Cuban nightlife at Fabrica de Arte Cubano (FAC). This is an old factory space that has been converted into a cultural center, filled with art galleries showcasing artists around the world.
On Friday and Saturday nights, the space turns into a nightlife hotspot, with dancing, DJs, and live performances.
Cuba is famous for jazz, and the best place to go is La Zorra y el Cuervo in Vedado.
Every year, Cuba also has a jazz festival in January, which travels through Havana, Vinales, Cienfuegos, and Trinidad.
Though the original Buena Vista Social Club – popular with musicians and dancers in the 1940s – is no more, you can still see a newer version of the wonderful performance.
Of course, we can’t talk about Cuban nightlife without mentioning the impromptu dance parties in the streets.
On weekend nights, you’ll find that many locals will start their own salsa parties in the street and town squares – so don’t be shy and join in!
LGBTQ+ travel expert Ed Salvato shares his advice and useful resources to help you plan your vacation in Cuba.
Heading to Cuba? From Hemingway’s house to Che Guevara’s mausoleum, here are some of the most notable landmarks and historical sites to see.
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