9 Unforgettable Free Things to Do in Cuba

Some things in life also unfortunately do cost something, like taking the holiday of a lifetime. But once you’re in Cuba here is a list 9 unforgettable free things to do in Cuba!

When you travel, you need to balance activities that have an actual monetary cost with activities that are free. Cuba is one of those destinations where you could spend hundreds of dollars each day at a luxury resort, but there are also so many things that are utterly fascinating and loads of fun… and are totally free.

1. El Malecón, Havana

el malecon UNFORGETTABLE things do Cuba

Pretty much any list of things to do in Cuba (free or paid) will include El Malecón in Havana. It’s one of those landmarks that is an attraction for visitors and yet is still utilised by the locals. This is not always the case, and really – how many Parisians actually visit and go up the Eiffel Tower.

El Malecón is a boardwalk that runs from Old Havana and stretches for 8 kms (5 miles) to the district of Vedado. Walk as far as you want or just sit down, drink a cold beer and watch the world go by. And don’t cost a dime!

2. Callejón de Hamel, Havana


Havana is rather darn colourful, and it seems like buildings are given their vibrant colours dependent on the mood of their owners, rather than with any consistent plan. This use of colour steps up a notch in Havana’s Callejón de Hamel.

This small laneway in Central Havana is where a group of local Cuban artists have their studios. The laneway is full of colourful murals and wonderfully weird sculptures.

There are many street musicians who play every Sunday at noon as well as at sporadic times during the week. While it’s all free, it’s customary to give a small tip if you hang around and listen.

3. Avenida Victoria de Garzón, Santiago de Cuba

If you should find yourself in Santiago de Cuba on a Saturday or Sunday head to Avenida Victoria de Garzón. The avenue is home to a gargantuan street food market each weekend! You will be tempted by the wide selection of local street food such as roast pig on the spit (known as lechon). If you really want this to be a free activity and want only to look, make sure you eat breakfast first!

4. Isla de la Juventud-Tropical Paradise and a Prison

If you crave isolation and want to see a part of the country where many visitors don’t venture, then take the short boat ride to Isla de la Juventud. So ok the actual boat ride is not free! It’s all very very tranquil!

But it’s most well known for being the location of the Presidio Modelo jail. Fidel Castro was imprisoned here for 2 years after leading the failed July 1953 attack on the Moncada Barracks.

5. La Habana Vieja, Havana

If you don’t mind sharing your wanderings with other visitors, spend some time walking around the UNESCO World Heritage site that is Havana’s Old Town (La Habana Vieja). You really should allow several days to explore this part of central Havana, since these picture perfect streets are the Havana you were dreaming of.

And you are going to have a field day filling your social media with photos of this area.

6. Those White Sands of Casilda

Casilda just outside of Trinidad is a sleepy little seaside village. Only a 20-min bike ride from Trinidad or by car or horse carriage taxi too. There’s not a lot to do here but that’s the beauty of it!

Just a few miles of white beaches some shops and a couple of restaurants. Bliss!

7. Varadero Street Market

The resort area of Varadero is an easy day trip from Havana, and it’s worth a look even if you don’t plan to stay in one of the lavish resorts that dot the shoreline. Head to the mammoth flea market in the heart of the town. Obviously it’s free to browse, but this will not be a free activity if you decide to buy anything.

Some visitors have warned against giving your name to one of the friendly vendors who might ask you. They will speedily etch your name onto some wooden trinket with an implied obligation for you to buy it.

8. San Miguel de los Baños

Roughly halfway between Havana and Varadero is a true oddity. The town of San Miguel de los Baños was once even more of a drawcard than the nearby beaches. This came to an end in the 1950s when a local sugar mill accidentally poisoned the town’s water supply, causing the town to become abandoned.

Much of it is fenced off, but it’s free to wander around many of the deserted streets.

9. Valley of the Sugar Mills

valle ingenios UNFORGETTABLE things do Cuba

The Valley of the Sugar Mills (Valle de los Ingenios) is another UNESCO World Heritage site, and is a short drive from the city of Trinidad. These sweeping green fields were once the centre of Cuba’s bustling and profitable sugar production, primarily accomplished using slave labour. The sugar mills that populate the landscape are mostly crumbling ruins, as though this part of Cuba’s dark past has been consigned to history.

Some of the attractions within the area require an entrance fee, but it’s free to hike around, and you should allow a day for this (at least).

So there we have it, 9 unforgettable free things to do in Cuba!

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