This comprehensive tour of Havana starts in the historic colonial heart of the city and covers the four most important squares, each of which has its own character and history. The Plaza de Armas has a peaceful atmosphere with thick, tropical vegetation sheltering an antique book market and baroque palaces surrounding the square. The Plaza de San Francisco has some impressive commercial buildings, such as the Old Stock Exchange and Customs House, however the main attraction is the Basilica de San Francisco, which dates back to 1580. Plaza Vieja is surrounded by pastel coloured townhouses and is almost completely restored. Finally, the Plaza de la Catedral is home to the exceptionally beautiful Catedral de San Cristobal, as well as important examples of early colonial architecture.
All the squares are linked by historic streets such as Calle Obispo, which are like open-air museums containing historic shops, vintage car museums and even a chocolate factory. Old hotels such as the Ambos Mundos can be visited, where Hemmingway wrote 'For Whom the Bells Tolls'.
After lunch, the tour continues to modern Havana, which contrasts strikingly with the attractive colonial heart of the city. The visit is completely flexible and usually involves transportation in a classic American car. Typically, it includes a drive along the cities' famous Malecon seafront to the high rises and crumbling atmospheric streets of Vedado, passing the historic Nacional Hotel.
You can also visit the Plaza de la Revolucion, an imposing square dominated by a giant statue of Jose Marti (Cuba's most famous independence hero) and the Museo de la Revolution on Paseo del Prado Visiting the harbour fortress is a great way to end the tour with a panoramic view of the city and Havana Bay.
The two 'old Havana' and 'modern Havana' parts of this tour can be arranged as separate half day excursions.