This year, Havana not only marks its 500th anniversary but the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall have just made history by becoming the first members of the royal family to visit Cuba in an official capacity. Here's how to explore.
During their time in Havana, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are believed to be visiting a number of natural areas, protected reserves and a solar-powered energy station in order to discuss climate change policies. It is likely that they will be given a tour of Havana by the mayor, stopping at John Lennon Park. The city is also celebrating its 500th year in 2019, making now an ideal time to go. Connections from the UK with Virgin Atlantic (virginatlantic.com).
With an infinity pool overlooking El Morro Castle, and the Bay of Havana, the central location of new Iberostar Grand Packard (1) (iberostar.com) is perfect for Old Town sights and wandering Havana’s iconic ocean boulevard. Doubles from €373 (£330) including breakfast. Bijou bed and breakfast Madero B&B (2) (maderobnb.com) packs a lot of style into a petite converted townhouse. Doubles from US$103 (£80).
Walk south from the ocean along elegant El Prado Promenade (3). Swing left, past the Moorish facade of the Hotel Sevilla (guests have included Al Capone, and Josephine Baker) on Trocadero Street. Cross Zulueta Street passing between the Revolution Museum garden (4) with the encased yacht Granma, which brought Fidel Castro from Mexico to Cuba in 1956 at the start of his rebel campaign, and the modern Museum of Fine Arts.
Turn right on Monserrate Avenue; look up for the exquisite caramel-and-cream art deco Bacardí building (5) topped by a bat sculpture. Further up is Hemingway haunt, El Floridita (6). Step inside for live music and that icy daiquiri at the gorgeous long bar.
Cuba’s renovated wedding-cake white Capitol building (7) has reopened to the public. Go for the third largest interior statue in the world, the gleaming Hall of Lost Steps, and the unusual garden statue of Lucifer. 3-6 guided tours daily Tue-Sun. CUC$10 (£7.80).
For a Lilliputian view of Old Havana life, climb to the Camera Obscura (8) on Plaza Vieja, 0830-1800 daily. CUC$2 (£1.57).
Browse memorabilia at the Book and Curiosities Market, Baratillo St, corner of Justíz St, off Plaza de Armas (9). For cool Cuban design gifts, visit Clandestina (clandestina.co).
For funky colours, convivial company and live piano and sax, pull back the curtain at Siá Kará (10) (facebook.com/pg/siakaracafecuba) and head straight to the bar.
At old-school paladar (private restaurant) Grados (11), chef Raul Bazuka is reviving traditional Cuban recipes. Expect to pay around CUC$20 pp (£15.70) including a cocktail.
Off the map
Hemingway’s Havana home for 21 years, Finca Vigía is preserved as a museum. The novelist’s house, writing tower, pool and beloved boat Pilar can be seen in the fragrant gardens. Mon-Sat 10.00-16.00. (Closed if raining.) CUC$5 (£3.90) entry. Return taxi CUC$20 (£15.70). Eight miles from Old Havana.