Tony Bourdain's Guide to Cuba
After several years of trying to visit Cuba, Tony Bourdain was finally granted access. He and the No Reservations crew landed in Havana and uncovered the island's heart and soul. The following reflection on Havana comes from Tony's Blog on TravelChannel.com.
"Havana's beautiful -- incredibly so. Probably -- no, definitely -- the most gorgeous city I've ever seen anywhere in the Caribbean or Latin America. The people are lovely. The baseball, some of the best and most passionate fans in the world.
It’s easy and understandable how visitors can get overenthusiastic about the place, gush about it and lose sight of the fact that their experience is very, very different than the average Cuban’s. Things seem to be changing in Cuba. I am grateful to the people who took a chance on us (the No Reservations crew). We did our best to make everybody proud."
-- Anthony Bourdain
How to Get There
It’s no secret that individual tourism travel to Cuba has been restricted. But under the new administration, current restrictions have been slightly lifted. Eager to get there? Here’s a quick rundown of how to gain access.
- Travel with a religious group for an event
- Travel for educational purposes – with a group for an event or study program
- Humanitarian projects
- Free-lance journalism
A complete listing of the requirements and restrictions is listed on travel.state.gov.
Get More Information
- Traveling to Cuba: FAQs to Ensure a Successful Trip
- Read what the New York Times and Miami Herald had to say about the new travel guidelines.
Once you’ve landed in Cuba, you’ll have to decide how to get around. If you’re staying in the city of Havana, walking or taking a bike is the easiest. If you’re eager to travel outside of the city center, taking a bus, car or even train is doable. The main tourist buses are called Viazul and that terminal is located in Nuevo Vedado, Havana.
It's possible to rent a car in Cuba, via a state-run car rental service. On average, a rental in Cuba runs about $49US a day. And if you’re eager to travel outside of Havana, a train ticket can be easily purchased for a trip from Havana to Santiago de Cuba and from Havana to Santa Clara.
Where to Go
If you're a baseball fan, Estadio Latinoamericano is the place to catch a game. Tony and baseball expert Peter Bjarkman caught a Los Industriales game here. The stadium is also shared by the Los Metropolitanos team.
Where to Eat
Tony enjoyed a meal with famed photographer Roberto Salas at El Aljibe, who showed Tony classic, personal photographs of Fidel Castro. El Aljibe is located a few minutes from downtown Havana. Their specialty? Roast chicken.
Address: Avenida 7ma, (between 24 & 26), Havana, Cuba
Chef Jose' Carlos Castillo, from the Basque region of Spain, was recently brought to Cuba to run the kitchen at El Templete, a seaside, upscale restaurant.
Address: Avenue Carlos Manuel Céspedes (Avenue del Puerto), Havana, Cuba
Paladar Los Amigos
Tony visited Paladar Los Amigos, a favorite restaurant among Cubans. Owner Elizabeth Espinoza established the restaurant in the back of her pre-revolutionary house. Open from Noon to Midnight, the restaurant serves popular side dishes.
Address: Calle M, No 253 (between 19 and 21), Havana, Cuba
Puerto de Sagua
A nautical-themed bar in Habana, Vieja’s grittier southern quarter – unchanged since the 1950s. Tony enjoyed a quiet moment at Puerto de Sagua, enjoying a refreshing mojito, a good escape from the day's heat.
Address: Avenue de Bélgica, No 603, Havana, Cuba
Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Sitting on a high bluff overlooking the Malecón, a broad esplanade and seawall, is Havana's signature hotel and it's loaded with atmosphere and history.
Address: Calle 21 y O, Vedado, Plaza, Havana 10400, Cuba