07 Aug Three of the most authentic Cuban experiences in Havana
As the capital of Cuba, Havana shines a light on what life in this Caribbean island nation is really like. From the ramshackle streets of Old Havana to the leafy outlying towns and villages, there is so much to experience. However, it can be hard to identify what is genuinely Cuban and what has been sanitised for Western tourists.
If you want to see the real Cuba, here are three authentic experiences in Havana that will take you away from some of the more tourist-oriented activities.
Watch a baseball game
Havana is a mecca for fans of many sports. Boxing has proven hugely popular here, with many world champions honing their craft in the city before selling out arenas in title fights the world over. Another sport in which Cuba excels is baseball, seen by some as its national pastime.
The Cuban National Series is the country’s equivalent to the USA’s Major League Baseball (MLB) and has produced many top stars who go to play abroad. Baseball games here are a little more rough and ready, but are far better value for money than MLB matches. The best venue is the massive yet charming Estadio Latinoamericano, which holds 55,000 spectators.
Go salsa dancing
A quintessential Cuban pastime, salsa dancing has its roots here and takes place all over Havana. For beginners, few places are better to start than La Casa del Son – you can receive instructions in English and German, but for the sake of authenticity, learn in Spanish!
For the entirety of your holiday to Cuba, try to take daily lessons. As each one becomes more difficult, you will soon know about the discipline, poise and skill needed to master salsa dancing, whilst having plenty of fun in the process. Taking in a salsa dancing performance at some nearby venues will only enhance your experience further.
Gorge on street food
Cuban cuisine is amongst the most unique in the world, drawing on influences across the Caribbean, North America and Europe. There are many bars and restaurants in Havana that stick to original recipes, but Cuban food is at its most authentic when bought from street vendors.
Dishes such as coconut pie and pork burgers will satisfy your hunger whilst also helping to save money. A must try is the Fricasse de Carnero – a platter of grilled goat with salad, white rice and black beans. Goat is very popular in Cuba and forms part of many locals’ diet. It may surprise you!