Where to Find the Best Views in Havana, Cuba
TPG Contributor Lori Zaino highlights some of the best spots in Cuba's capital city where you can enjoy views of Havana from above. (All photos are by Darrel Hunter unless otherwise specified).
1. Bar Piscina Mirador at Hotel Saratoga
This spot is ideal if you want to take in some amazing Havana views while soaking up some serious Cuban sunshine. The rooftop pool and lounge area has chairs where you can lay out, as well as cabanas and tables for ordering food and drinks. The crowd is a mixed bunch of young, hip and refined folks, while the vibe is hopping both day and night. The best part? Cocktails run just 4 CUC and food prices are just as reasonable. Head on up from the lobby and order some food or drinks if you aren't a guest at the hotel.
2. The Bacardi Building
Havana's iconic Bacardi Building dates back to 1930 and was once the city's tallest skyscraper at 12 stories high. The art deco-style building housed the company's rum-making operations until 1960 — Bacardi later re-grouped and its factory now resides in Puerto Rico.
The building still stands, and for just 1 CUC, you can take the elevator and climb the dilapidated staircase up to the roof, which offers 360-degree views of the city skyline and sea below. The only bad thing? Ironically, you can't sip a Bacardi cocktail while admiring the view, as the rooftop is just a lookout point — for now.
3. La Guarida's Rooftop Bar
La Guarida is known for being one of the coolest restaurants in Havana, but what many don't know is that there's a rooftop bar just a few floors up from the restaurant. Make a reservation for dinner, then head upstairs to enjoy the rooftop bar — if you can't manage to get in to eat, grab a quick drink at the restaurant's bar before heading up.
You may as well be in Miami when you enter the bar, as the low lighting, sassy music and inviting sofa seating is uber-trendy. Late at night you won't be able to see many landmarks, but the sparkling night skyline makes for a very sexy scene as you sip your Santiago de Cuba 7 Años rum on ice.
4. Hotel Ambos Mundos
Known as the Mirador of Old Havana, this hotel rooftop is one of the most famous in the city thanks to a famous special guest, Ernest Hemingway, who stayed at the hotel as a long-term tenant for just $1.50 per night back in the 1930s.
Take a tour of his room on the fifth floor for approximately 2-3 CUC (ask at reception), for a look at the place where he reportedly wrote For Whom The Bell Tolls, then head up to to the roof to admire the view and relax with a drink. Roof access is free as long as you're planning on ordering drinks.
5. The Christ of Havana Statue on La Cabaña Hill
Head up to Cabaña Hill to visit Havana's take on Brazil's Christ the Redeemer, rumored to be one of the largest statues in the world sculpted by a female at 20 meters (nearly 66 feet) high.
In addition to admiring the statue, you can also take in views of Old Havana's docks and other colorful city scenes across the water. Afterward, head over to Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña, an 18th-century castle complex overlooking the ocean.
6. El Cocinero
El Cocinero is a bar and tapas restaurant located in the city's Vedado neighborhood. It's tall chimney smokestack reminds visitors that this trendy spot filled with Havana's elite was once an oil factory. The restaurant offers some of the best margaritas in town and offers various outdoor seating on the second and third floor patios.
Head up the metal spiral staircase — before downing too many margaritas — to check out gorgeous views of residential Vedado and peer up the smokestack to see the unique lighting the restaurant has installed inside it. Note that you must be drinking or dining at the restaurant to access the roof area. Reservations are recommend if you'd like to sit at a table and not at the bar.
7. La Moneda Cubana
One of Old Havana's best lunch spots, La Moneda Cubana sports a small and charming rooftop, perfect for a lunch of fresh seafood while checking out the view — you can also dine to the tunes of live salsa music. No reservations are needed; just head upstairs and ask to be seated. Note that many of the umbrella-covered tables are taken by midday, so you'll have to sit in the sun or perhaps wait for a shady table.
Have you visited any of these rooftops or others in Havana? Feel free to share in the comments section below.