Maria Karagianis is a freelance writer and founding executive director of Discovering Justice, a Boston nonprofit whose mission is to teach about democracy. She lives in Milton.
HOW TO GET THERE
Traveling to Cuba from the United States legally means going with a sanctioned tour group. Some operators:
Center for Cuban Studies
124 W. 23rd St.
NY, NY 10011
Weeklong trips $2,300-$2,600, including air fare, lodging, and some meals. Specialty trips geared toward performing arts, visual arts, architecture, and other interests cost more.
8324 SW 40 St.
Miami, FL 33155
Arranges charter trips.
1540 Monument St.
Concord, MA 01742
Arranges cultural tours of one to two weeks, including air fare, lodging, travel license, travel within Cuba, and some meals for $3,000 to $3,500.
WHAT TO DO
Museo de la Revolucion
Calle Refugio 1, Centro
This white marble confection was the dictator Fulgencio Batista’s Palacio Presidencial when students attacked it in 1957. Contains photographs of tortured revolutionaries and traces liberation struggles from colonial times.
The tank outside was used in the Bay of Pigs invasion.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
Calle Trocadero, e/Av. De la Belgica y Calle Agramonte
Havana’s fine arts museum is in two buildings, one an exciting Cuban collection, the other an international collection.
Real Fabrica de Tabacos Partagas
Industria No 520
One of Havana’s oldest cigar factories and its most famous, founded in 1845. Factory tours take place at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. every weekday. Admission is $10 to enter and watch 400 workers handroll cigars. There is also a bar where visitors can sample a cigar.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Santa Isabelle
Plaza de Armas
Calle Baratillo 9, La Habana Vieja
Beautiful, with a wonderful restaurant and courtyard; 17 rooms, 10 suites, $100 to $150 per night.
Hotel Habana Libre
Calle 23 (La Rampa) y Calle L, Vedado
547 rooms, starting at $150 a night.
Calle O y Calle 21, Vedado
Great harbor, city views; 434 rooms, 16 suites, starting at $150 per night.
Calle Obispo 252
La Habana Vieja
A noble mansion with 21 rooms, 4 suites, $75-$125.
WHERE TO EAT
7th Avenue, between 24th and 26th
A well-known restaurant in Havana’s Miramar neighborhood, serving traditional Cuban food. Entrees are about $10 each; full meals about $15.
Between Garbasio and Escobar
In Central Havana, highly recommended. Entrees $15-$20.
Palacio de la Salsa
Hotel Riviera, Paseo and Malecon
Top salsa musicians like Los Van Van and Isaac Delgado perform regularly here. Arrive early or make reservations in person. Open 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. daily.
Hotel Habana Libre
Opens nightly at 10:30. Superb views and you can order dinner.