Barack Obama, Pope Francis, the Rolling Stones : everyone goes to Havana. The Cuban capital is opening up to the world. While still appreciating its baroque charm, the curves of its American cars that still survive from the 1950s and the energy of the Havana residents, it is also clear that from art galleries to rooftops, the city is also undergoing a revolution.
One day in Havana. Get lost in the old town
Baroque buildings, Art Nouveau masterpieces and colonial houses with an Art Deco feel ; and along winding streets, the charming decay of cracked facades and shaded patios. Get lost in the old town and in its four main squares, Plaza Vieja, Plaza de la Catedral, Plaza de San Francisco de Asis, and Plaza de Armas, today devoted to a quiet book market - on the Calle Opisbo which comes off it, take a detour to experience the subdued atmosphere of old chemists' shops past the Farmacia Taquechel, where fine hardwood windows display jars of ointment. After the walk, a town planner discusses the challenges of restoring the colonial architecture of the old town.
Wander along Callejon de Hamel
Callejon de Hamel is an alley covered in art and by imagery from the Santeria – a synthesies of Christian and Yoruba religions, a cousin of Haitian voodoo : myriad signed works by Salvador Gonzalez Escalona can be admired, products of the mystical universe inhabited by this self-taught painter, sculptor and muralist.
Go on a street art hunt
The walls of Havana were once a propaganda vehicle for the party and are now home to a community of graffiti artists, pioneers of street art, who have replaced the old political slogans with their colourful frescoes.
Enjoy a cigar
There are symbols which instantly make us think of Cuba. The cigar is one of them. So don't worry about the cliche on a visit to Fabrica Partagas, one of the oldest tobacco factories on the island. You see all the steps in the process of making a cigar. A private visit to smoke a cigar can be added to the trip.
Ride through the Malecon district in an old American car
Chevrolet, Cadillac, Dodge and Pontiac : In Havana, the American embargo and a ban on importing cars to Cuba has created a surreal automotive landscape, the charm of which alone justifies the journey. The Cubans flirt there, while you glide along the waterfront in a Cadillac.
Cojimar, a fishing village a few miles from central Havana where fishermen sit at the end of the wooden pier, has not changed much since Ernest Hemingway moored his boat here when he returned from fishing. In fact he mentions the village in The Old Man and the Sea. Like him, you can enjoy a drink by the sea surrounded by the faded charm of la Terrazza de Cojimar.
Dancing reggaeton at the Fabrica de Arte Cubano (FAC)
Over 8,000 square yards of brown field sites have been given over to alternative cultures, like those in Berlin, London or Brooklyn, where hip-hop or electronic music concerts alternate with contemporary art exhibitions and performances. You can see it from a long way off, with its high brick chimney, the FAC is THE place which symbolises the cultural renewal of the capital - - an incubator for young talent and the meeting place for anyone engaging in the hype present in Havana. You can enjoy a mojito and dance to the rhythm of the reggaeton there.