Explore El Malecón in Havana by Vintage Car from Nuevo Vedado to Morro Castle

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The coastal avenue El Malecón is the most popular spot in Havana, where locals go for a walk, hang out, appreciate the sunset, and fishing when the temperatures cool down in the evening. Its 8 km of length goes from Nuevo Vedado until Habana Vieja, and on this post, we describe a three-hour panoramic tour by vintage car organized by Hostal Aptofive. El Malecón is for Havana what Brooklyn Bridge and Liberty Statue are for New York City, Eiffel Tower to Paris, and the Parthenon to Athens. Much more than a promenade, it’s an outdoor museum, a viewpoint, a place for sports, the biggest sofa in the world for the habaneros. 

Sunset view from El Malecón, Havana.

Starting from the Hostal Aptofive in Nuevo Vedado, it’s a smart idea doing a car trip through El Malecón until Morro Castle, which you can during the day and in the evening. Before reaching out El Malecón, we pass by the Chinese Cemetery in Havana and the LAB 26 that is a must for designers and architects, both located at Calle 26. Moving towards el Malecón, we find the famous cultural hub Fábrica de Arte Cubano

While walking around the immense San Carlos de la Cabaña fortress complex during the day, you have the chance of appreciating the view of the iron gate over the Almendares River, the tunnel of 5th Avenue, of el Malecón, Morro Castle and of the journey throughout the Havana’s Tunnel (Túnel de la Bahía). At the fortress, there is a guns museum, the ‘Museo de Armamentos’, and the San Carlos Chapel.

Havana Tunnel.

Emblematic Buildings and Monuments Along El Malecón

During your journey along El Malecón, you also find some of the most emblematic buildings of Havana such as La Chorrera Fortress that is a small tower dating back to 1600 in front of the sea, where this coastal avenue officially ends if you walk from Habana Vieja. In this area, you find the restaurant Mesón de la Chorrera, known for the best sangrías in the city, and Jardines del Restaurante 1830, one of the places for a night out in the Cuban capital. The US Embassy is also located on this avenue, walking about five kilometers from La Chorrera Fortress.

The restaurant El Mesón de la Chorrera. Photo credit: El Mesón de la Chorrera

Continuing on the way through el Malecón boulevard, passing by Nuevo Vedado, is the Monument to the Victims of the USS Maine, built-in 1926, honoring and remembering the victims of an explosion of the battleship in the bay of Havana, which started the war between the United States and Spain in 1898.

Near the Monument to the Victims of the USS Maine, you find the Hotel Nacional, the most emblematic building in Cuba that deserves your time to visit to see the remaining splendor from the 1930s in its facilities and gardens that witnessed lots of decisive stories in Cuba. Hotel Nacional also hosts the Cabaret Parisien, known for the show “Cubano, Cubano”.

Hotel Nacional in Havana. Photo credit: Romtomtom, Flickr.

The next monument is the San Lazaro Tower (Torreon de San Lazaro) that dates back from the 18th century and it was built by the Spanish as a watchtower located in the Parque Maceo, where you also find the Monumento to the General Antonio Maceo built-in 1916. Two minutes away driving is located Hermanos Ameijeiras National Hospital, the highest building in the Havana city center where it used to be the Cuban National Bank headquarter.

The Hermanos Ameijeiras National Hospital in the background. Photo credit: Leandro Neumann Ciuffo, Flickr.

For the artsy in Havana, a must-see monument along el Malecón is the impressive 7 meters sculpture Primavera, created by Cuban artist Rafael Miranda San Juan using pieces of steel, inspired by the movements of the Cuban ballerina Viengsay Valdés. 

The sculpture Primavera in Havana.

Reaching the first stretch of El Malecón, we find Palacio de las Cariátides, one of the most important buildings, built at the beginning of the 20th century, known for their Art Deco style and the feminine stoned sculptures that decorate the balcony inspired by the classic Greek architecture.  

Palacio de las Cariátides in Havana. Photo credit: Habana Radio.

Near the Morro Castle, you find a sculpture in the form of the number seven, referring to a recognition the city of Havana has obtained in 2015 as one of the New Seven Wonder Cities in the world for its welcoming atmosphere.

The New Seven Wonders Sculpture near the Morro Castle. Photo credit: Tania Morffis González.

Finally, we arrive in the Morro Castle. This route can be done during the day or in the evening, which is better for smart travelers who want to enjoy the ‘cañonazo’ ceremony. If you want to ride a car through El Malecón during the day, you can include to your itinerary a visit to Christ of Havana, a 20-meters sculpture representing Jesus of Nazareth overlooking the bay in Havana, located next to San Carlos de la Cabaña fortress complex. This spot is great to take pictures of the sculpture, of El Malecón and of Havana from the other side of the bay.

The Morro Castle in Havana.

The Cañonazo Ceremony at Night

A night visit to the Morro Castle during the ‘cañonazo’ ceremony will take you to explore its lighthouse and the Morro-Cabaña Military Historical Site. This ceremony is an old tradition in Havana that happens every day at 21:00h to remember the old times when the walls surrounding the city used to be closed to protect from pirates’ attacks, so you must include in your itinerary.

Plaza de la Revolución and Memorial José Martí

If you are doing a route from Nuevo Vedado to el Malecón during the day, a smart thing to do on the return way is to stop by Plaza de la Revolución and Memorial José Martí, the highest viewpoint in Havana where you can observe the whole city. Both landmarks are must-visit places for travelers taking photographies in the city.

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