August 4th, 2016
By Havana Insider

Cuban Coffee Soon To Be Available In The US

Coffee is another sign of changing dynamics between the United States and Cuba. Swiss giant Nestlé SA recently announced its Nespresso division would begin selling "Cafecito de Cuba" single use coffee pods in the United States.
July 28th, 2016
By Havana Insider
This is a phenomenal cigar still. It was boxed the year the cigar was launched, 1998. As I wrote in the past, this cigar was originally the special gift that Fidel Castro gave away and only came in unmarked boxes of 100 sticks.
June 10th, 2016
By Havana Insider

Edmundo Dantes Añejo 15 Años

I remember first drinking this rare rum in early 2000 and being impressed. Today, it is a limited production spirit from the distillery of Santiago de Cuba – 3,000 bottles are apparently made every year.
March 22nd, 2016
By Havana Insider

U.S. Further Eases Cuban Travel

The U.S. Government recently announced changes to Cuba travel regulations that make it easier, and likely cheaper, for Americans to travel to Cuba. The announcement was made just ahead of President Obama's ongoing geoundbreaking trip to Cuba.
March 21st, 2016
By Havana Insider

We like Obama’s Restaurant – San Cristóbal

You wouldn't expect President Obama to have dinner in a private restaurant on the evening of the first day of his official visit to Cuba - the first in nearly 90 years. But we think he made a good choice. President Obama chose Centro Habana's San Cristóbal - one of our favorite places to eat in the city.
February 29th, 2016
By Havana Insider

Havana Insider: Taste The Best Of Cuba

Seven months after its July 2015 launch, HavanaInsider.com continues to lead the field. It is the single most useful website for travelers to Cuba who want to savor the very best the island has to offer. We extend a big thanks to all our readers for their great support and feedback.
January 20th, 2016
By Havana Insider

My Blog: Cuban Wine Market – California Dreaming

It always seems strange drinking bottles of mostly Spanish and Chilean wines in the few restaurants that offer them in Havana and outside the capital. Most often, everyone else is drinking cocktails, rum or cold beers. There is no wine culture in Cuba.
January 6th, 2016
By Havana Insider

Cool Bars in Havana: La Flauta Mágica

Named after Richard Egues, a flute player and soloist in Cuba’s legendary Orquesta Aragón band, who went by the nickname “the magic flute”, this bar is located on the rooftop of a 10-floor building that is right in front of the United States Embassy in Havana.
December 29th, 2015
By Havana Insider

Hip Bars In Havana: El Emperador

This gem Havana bar located in the iconic FOCSA building, the tallest building in Cuba in Vedado, fits all the criteria Luis Buñuel, the Spanish film director, described except one - music.
December 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Top 10 Cuban Cigars of 2015

HavanaInsider.com has only been online for about six months, but you know that I have been rating Cuban cigars since 1992 - first with Cigar Aficionado magazine and then with my own website JamesSuckling.com starting in 2010.
December 17th, 2015
By Havana Insider
The first añejados I tried a few months ago unfortunately did not draw very well, yet a second cigar (47 ring gauge by 178 mm) showed lots of spice and wet earth character with a wet mahogany undertone and a silky texture.
December 9th, 2015
By Havana Insider

UK Cigar Scene Interview With James Part II

Following James' recent interview with UK Cigar Scene Magazine, a popular London-based online cigar magazine, James shared more of his thoughts on the future of Cuba's cigar industry in this extra bonus video.
November 20th, 2015
By Havana Insider

New Restaurants in Havana: Mama Inés

Located on the lower floor of an restored traditional limestone building with a few tables scattered in the pedestrian street, the food here is mainly Cuban, with pork and fish dominating the menu, which actually changes daily depending on the fresh ingredients available.
November 4th, 2015
By Havana Insider

My Blog: Japanese Whisky Underlies Cigar Smoking Rule

I was thinking about a Japanese whiskey and cigar tasting I did a week ago in Hong Kong at the Red Chamber cigar club prior to a Zachys wine auction on October 31. I said a few words about the cigar, a Montecristo Edmundo, which was My Cigar of the Year in 2014.
October 29th, 2015
By Havana Insider

Cool Restaurants in Havana: Café Laurent

The hip Café Laurent is located on the top floor of an eclectic building in the heart of Vedado, just a few blocks away from the historic Hotel Nacional. This paladar is refurbished from an old apartment, but one can still have the cozy feeling of dining in a living room.
October 19th, 2015
By Havana Insider

UK Cigar Scene Interview With James Suckling

James recently did an interview with UK Cigar Scene, a popular online cigar magazine based in London, where he looked back to his more than 30 years of experiences writing about Cigars when working as the bureau chief of Cigar Aficionado magazine.
October 16th, 2015
By Havana Insider

New Restaurant In Havana: Al Carbón

Al Carbón, a new restaurant that opened only a few months ago in Havana, is a new addition to Havana's fine dining scene. Created by the same owners of the immensely popular Iván y Justo, the restaurant strikes out in a different but equally successful direction, specializing in traditional Cuban dishes cooked over charcoal.
October 14th, 2015
By Havana Insider

Habanos S.A. Launches New Website

Habanos S.A., Cuba’s state company that distributes and markets Cuban cigars, has launched a new website, which according to the cigar company, will provide users better site navigation and more comprehensive information on cigars.
October 7th, 2015
By Havana Insider

Best Fish Restaurant In Havana: Santy

This is hands down the best fish restaurant in Havana. Far from the salinas and commotion of Old Havana, it is tucked away near the mouth of the Jaimanitas river in a fishermen’s village of the same name in western Havana.
September 18th, 2015
By Havana Insider

Havana’s Groove: Piano Bar Delirio Habanero

This spectacular venue, which is located upstairs at the legendary Teatro Nacional in Vedado, offers some spectacular performances anything from trovadores or Cuba’s singer-songwriters to some of the most sought-after salsa ensembles.
September 17th, 2015
By Havana Insider

A Different September in Havana

September is usually quieter in Havana. Now things are changing and you notice it clearly from month to month. New restaurants and bars are popping up everywhere. Numerous direct flights from the U.S. are arriving full every day, and the number of American visitors is clearly up a lot.
September 14th, 2015
By Havana Insider

Thematic Restaurant in Habana Vieja: La Imprenta

This restaurant, whose name translates as "The Printer," is owned by Habaguanex, an enterprise of the Havnana City Historian's office. It is located on Calle Mercaderes in Old Havana, one door away from the famous Conde de Villanueva hotel, where you can also find one of Havana’s best cigar shops.
September 1st, 2015
By Havana Insider

In The Tube

I have always been a fan of tubed cigars, or tubos as they say in Spanish. Tubos are so convenient for carrying single cigars, and they preserve the cigars beautifully.
August 26th, 2015
By Havana Insider

Café Cantante Mi Habana

Café Cantante Mi Habana is located in the basement of the Teatro Nacional, one of the corners of the iconic Plaza de la Revolución. It is very lively and well-kept, with lots of space for dancing, and some of the hottest, up-and-coming bands on the local scene are often jamming there.
August 26th, 2015
By Havana Insider
This is one of the least popular sizes of the Cohiba Siglo range as a petit corona, yet it offers wonderful light mint, sandalwood and tea leaf, as well as green coffee bean.
August 14th, 2015
By Havana Insider

Today’s Special Moment In History

Today marks a special moment in history of the United States and Cuba as the U.S. flag once again unfurls in front of the U.S. Embassy in Havana after 54 years. As a journalist who has been traveling to Cuba on a regular basis for more than two decades, this has left me breathless this morning.
August 13th, 2015
By Havana Insider

Bar Bohemio

One of the quirky bars in Havana, Bar Bohemio has more of a touch of elegance than what the name suggests.
August 11th, 2015
By Havana Insider

Cuba Opens 35 WiFi Hotspots

Cuba has long been one of the least digitally connected countries in the world, but that is slowly changing. The island country recently opened up 35 public WiFi access points nationwide.
August 5th, 2015
By Havana Insider

Top Cuban Musicians: Gastón Joya Perellada

Gastón Joya Perellada is one of Cuba's finest bass players. At 28, he has already played alongside Cuban piano legends Chucho Valdés and Ernán López-Nussa. A versatile and rounded musician, he has also performed with the Latin American Symphonic Orchestra under the direction of master conductor Claudio Abbado. Watch him perform a masterful solo during a show with the Ernán López-Nussa Trio.
July 29th, 2015
By Havana Insider

Espacios

In a place like Havana where it is sunny all around, Espacios, a beer garden-like bar, is perfect for a buttoned-down dinner and casual drinks with friends.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Havana Is Now

U.S.-Cuban relations are improving, but our societies are already close and increasingly linked. Respect can grow on both sides as our people have more direct contact with each other.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Cuban Cigars Are Still the Best

Cuban cigars are still the best in the world. No cigar delivers the unique aroma, special taste, and vivid freshness like a fine Cuban cigar, or “habano” as some Cubans call them.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Legal Travel for U.S. Citizens

Recent changes in U.S. regulations regarding Cuba travel related transactions have made it much easier for United States citizens to visit Cuba legally. The number doing so is increasing notably, as are the number of direct flights from the U.S. to Cuba. The U.S. has also recently licensed ferry and cruise ship service to Cuba, but the timing of the start of this service is still unclear.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Don’t Bring Your U.S. Credit Card to Cuba – Yet!

Beginning March 1, 2015, MasterCard officially began handling credit card transactions by its American cardholders in Cuba, the first US credit card company to do so. However, the range of establishmnets accepting credit cards is limited, and many travelers have reported difficulty using U.S. Mastercards.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Is it Safe Visiting Cuba?

I don't think the person who wrote the caption has ever stepped foot in Havana or Cuba. One key reason why Cuba is so safe is that the government’s security is extremely strong and its police force innumerable. However, more importantly, the Cuban people are friendly and do welcome visitors. They also understand how important tourism is to their economy and are looking forward to more Americans visiting following the recent change in U.S.-Cuban relations.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Our First Legal Cuban Cigar

I was in Havana earlier in February for Havana Cigar Festival. Immediately when I landed, I lit a Cohiba Siglo I in the taxi. It's nice to be legally smoking a Cuban cigar after ten years of it essentially being illegal for Americans to smoke them. Nonetheless, in most cases it appears Americans still should not be smoking Habanos.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Top Ten Bars In Havana

Havana’s bar scene is really varied. There are venerable places, steeped in history or associated with major literary figures, such as Hemingway’s favourite, El Floridita. Most of these are state-owned and major draws for foreign visitors.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Hotel Saratoga

Havana's best hotel, Hotel Saratoga in the heart of Havana, opposite the landmark Capitolio, is the place of choice for visiting stars and other VIPs.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

El Barrio Chino

The Barrio Chino or Chinatown in Central Havana has become a unique sight in Havana, an essential fabric of the Chinese immigrants' history in Cuba.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Video: A Visit To Havana Barber Shop

Like many things in Havana, getting a shave is like stepping into a time-machine. While I was in Havana attending the Habano Cigar Festival in February, I couldn't resist stopping by a local barbershop. Where else in the world can you get a shave and smoke a cigar at the same time? Now that's what I call “the good old days.”
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Café de los Artistas

Café de los Artistas, opened less than a year in Old Havana, is a purveyor of great food and feeling. It serves some great ropa vieja and the best tostones.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

A Vintage Chart for Cuban Cigars

The bottom line is that Cuban cigars can be bought like fine wines, following the vintage or date on the bottle (wines) or box (cigars). I believe that one can buy Cuban cigars according to the box date.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Sia-Kara

Located in Central Havana just behind The Capitolio, Sia-Kara bar is a gem that has not yet made it onto many tourists’ radar.
July 21st, 2015
By admin

A Disappointing Cuban Cigar

We were excited to smoke a vintage Vegueros Especiales No. 1 , but when we took a cool draw off the cigar before we put the lighter to it. IT WAS PLUGGED!
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Habana Café

Habana Café, located inside Hotel Melia Cohiba in the heart of Vedado, is Cuba's answer to the ubiquitous Hard Rock Café.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

La Rampa

La Rampa, which means “the slope” in Spanish, is the last stretch of the famous Calle 23, leading up to the center of Vedado, Havana.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

King Bar

King Bar in Vedado, Havana is definitely ruling the night scene like a king. This is one of the top bars the city has to offer.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Madrigal

Overlooking 17 Street in Miramar, Havana, where old American cars roam by, the atmosphere in Madrigal is unfettered by the bustling on the street.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Sloppy Joe’s Bar

Sloppy Joe's bar was perhaps one of the most luminous and lustrous places along side with Tropicana and Salón Rojo del Capri during the 1950s in Havana.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

2015 Havana Cigar Festival in Photos

The annual Havana Cigar Festival kicked off on the morning of February 23rd, 2015. The day took off with a press conference, where Jorge Luis Fernandez Maique, Commercial Vice-President of Habanos, the global distribution and marketing organization for Cuban cigars; and Javier Terres Ercilla, company Vice-President of business development, gave some insight on the sales of cigars around the world. Please click here to read our report on the first day.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Cigar Talk Video: Hiroshi Robaina

Hiroshi is the head of Finca Robaina, the legendary estate where Hiroshi’s family has been growing tobacco since 1845. Hiroshi would not be where he is if it weren’t for his grandfather, the great Alejandro Robaina.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Museo Napoleónico

Many people are surprised to find there is a museum in Cuba dedicated to the French emperor Napoleon, and that wouldn’t...
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Museo de Artes Decorativas

The Museo de Artes Decorativas (Museum of Decorative Arts) is a work of art in its own right. The site is the original residence of María Luisa Gómez Mena, a wealthy patron of Cuban artists. Built in 1927, the sumptuous, French Renaissance-inspired mansion was designed by French architects P. Virad and M. Destugué. The residence was claimed by the Cuban government in 1964 and became what is known as today - the Museum of Decorative Arts.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Museo del Ron Havana Club

This is a stop that visitors to Cuba have to make. Otherwise, what’s the point of visiting a country that is famous for its national drink - rum? Opened in 2000 by the country’s most famous rum brand Havana Club, the museum uses visuals and models to guide visitors through the whole rum-making process, from harvesting at sugarcane plantations to the final bottling process.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Coppelia

Cuban’s devotion to ice cream is almost religious, and there’s good reason why Coppelia is popularly known as the “ice-cream Cathedral”.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Hotel Nacional

Hotel Nacional’s striking architecture, commanding seaside location on the Malecón in Vedado, Havana and retro feel make it a natural draw. The hotel has soul.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

El Floridita

El Floridita is an institution in Havana for its daiquiri and its association with the towering literary figure Ernest Hemingway.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Ivan & Justo

Ivan & Justo is a place where you can’t get in without a reservation. We chanced it twice, each time we were politely turned down by the doorman downstairs.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Galería Villa Manuela

Under the influential Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC), Galería Villa Manuela in Vedado, has been pushing the boundaries...
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

2015 Havana Cigar Festival: Day I Video

The first day of the 2015 Havana Cigar Festival took off a with a press conference at the Palacio de las Convenciones in Havana, where Habanos’ business development vice-president Javier Terrés Ercilla and commercial vice-president Jorge Luis Fernández Maique commented on the new releases as well as the company’s relevant commercial information.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Bella Ciao: Best Italian Restaurant

Bella Ciao, a lush Italian restaurant deep in the Miramar area delivers stellar classics that stay faithful to their Italian roots. With outdoor seating under a roof of green ivies and trees, there’s a casual atmosphere that plays nicely off the classic austerity of many of the dishes on the impressively packed menu.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Factoría Habana

Opened in December 2009 by a Spanish art aficionado Concha Fontenla, this spacious art gallery on O’Reilly Street in Old...
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Cuba Travel Insurance

Visitors to Cuba (including Cubans living abroad) are required to have medical insurance adequate to cover medical expenses that may arise while in the country. Travelers may be asked to show proof of such upon arrival, and should check with their insurance companies beforehand to confirm coverage.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Corner Café

Corner café comes alive during the night when hip young Cubans converge in this pub for live music performances, DJ jam sessions and sultry jazz dancing.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider
I smoked this baby blockbuster Robusto during a lunch outside at a friend's winery. Temperatures were close to 100 degrees fahrenheit, even under the shade of the dinning area. So I wasn't sure it was the right time to have a smoke. But what a cigar!
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider
I love Cohiba in the morning. This tiny cigar – four inches long by 40 ring gauge – packs a lot of flavor for its size. Great smoke. Great morning smoke.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Parque Almendares

An urban jungle just under the bridge of Calle 23, the Parque Almendares is located in the heart of the lively Vedado area.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

More Great Cigars Rated at 2015 Havana Cigar Festival

A lot of cigars were smoked during the 2015 Havana Cigar Festival, the annual mega-cigar festival in Havana celebrating the greatest of Cuban cigars from February 23 to 28. I smoked and rated just about everything that was handed out during the five-day event that including various dinners, seminars and visits to cigar factories and tobacco plantations.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Café Miramar

Café Miramar, a sleek jazz Club, located right next to the old Miramar cinema, has recently become one of the hot spots of Havana's jazz scene.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider
This is very powerful with masses of flavor of walnuts, tobacco and cappuccino. Full and incredibly rich with so much density and length. It goes on for minutes. A cigar to age for years. What a cigar!
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

How to Get Around in Havana?

Most of Old Havana is eminently walkable - the best way to experience it. Traffic city-wide tends to be light by most urban standards, as few Cubans own private cars.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

When Is The Best Time To Travel To Cuba?

Now. If you mean weather,high season is also dry season, and Havana's limited hotels can quickly fill up in this November-April window, when daytime temperatures average in the low 80s.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

How Does Internet Work in Cuba?

Internet in Cuba is expensive and slow, and only a small percentage of the population enjoys regular internet access. Some options are available to visitors, but don't expect easy or fast connectivity.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Fototeca de Cuba

This art institution was inaugurated on November 15th, 1986, and is best known for its photographic exhibitions. La Fototeca de...
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Galería Habana

Founded in 1962, Galería Habana is the first art gallery opened after the revolution. It is the country’s benchmark fine art gallery.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Plaza de la Revolución

Though Plaza de la Revolución is not particularly distinguished for its architecture or design, the square carries important historical weight for the Cuban Revolution.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

2015 Havana Cigar Festival: Day V

The 2015 Havana Cigar Festival concluded with a gala dinner at Pabexpo in Havana's Siboney neighborhood. The night was dedicated to to the 80th anniversary of the Montecristo brand. Throughout the dinner guests were entertained by various musical numbers while they smoked cigars handed out after each course.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

2015 Havana Cigar Festival: Day IV

Day four of the 2015 Havana Cigar Festival saw Phoenicia, the regional distributor of Habanos in the Middle East, continental Africa, Cyprus and Greece, organize a cigar tasting session at El Laguito cigar factory, where many Cohiba cigars are manufactured.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

El Gato Tuerto

Located in Havana’s Vedado, El Gato Tuerto is a dimly lit bar with gleaming furniture, crowned with a small stage and a few tables distributed around it.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Hotel Parque Central

Until the Saratoga was operational this was the best hotel in Havana. This attractive, large (427-room) hotel in Parque Central, opened in the '90s, is one of the newer additions to the city’s roster of top hotels.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Parque Central

The Parque Central is huddled by some of Havana’s most famous landmarks such as El Capitolio, Gran Teatro de La Habana, Manzana de Gomez and Payret Cinema.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider
An incredible cigar with great depth and flavor. Peppermint, maciato, and cream. The texture is truly superb. Full and flavorful. Goes on for minutes. What a cigar!
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Hotel Conde Villanueva

The former residence of Count Villanueva was turned into a courtyard-style boutique hotel in Old Havana in 1998. One of the 20-odd hotels run by the city’s hotel brand Habaguanex, the nine-room hotel has a red façade that opens up to a lush courtyard. A café is hidden in the back of the courtyard, where free-roaming birds and peacocks amble lazily. The lobby and reception are well furbished and the front desk staff are more than willing to provide suggestions for visiting Old Havana.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider
I am a big robusto smoker and this is a robusto that many seem to overlook, but it is consistently outstanding quality. The 50-ring-gauge thick by 4.8-inch long cigar delivers plenty of spicy and cappuccino like character. A beautiful smoke.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider
As I wrote already, it’s one of my all-time favorite Habanos and constantly delivers rich character of tobacco, leather, cedar, and cocoa as well as an underlying mineral or minty flavor.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Café del Oriente: Best Burger

This is one of the most upscale restaurants in Havana, located in Plaza de San Francisco in Habana Vieja (the very professional and jacketed waiters traded off-street salsa with classic live piano performance). The decor is striking and grandiose; you'll regret it if you dress down.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Mediterráneo: Best Ingredients

In a short span of two years since its opening in 2013, Mediterráneo has already amassed a loyal following among Havana foodies and visitors. The restaurant’s overall environment is agreeable: Mediterranean blue and white decor, spacious, airy, attractive and modern.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Plaza de Armas

This is the oldest square among Old Havana’s five squares built in the early 16th century. Plaza de Armas, was originally known as Plaza de la Iglesia.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider
This started off a tiny bit bitter but calmed down to what it should be as I smoked it own with spice, mahogany, and walnut character and some dried earth. Read more: http://www.havanainsider.com/cigar/montecristo-edmundo/ ‎
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Plaza Vieja

Originally known as Plaza Nueva, meaning “new square” in English, Plaza Vieja was constructed in 1559, and was considered Havana’s...
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

French-style bakery in Havana

French-style bakery is still a new concept in Havana, and you’d be surprised by how some local bakeries can turn out jaw-dropping, hard-as-a-rock chocolate muffins. Bianchini is in a class of its own, a bakery-cum-café that first opened near Plaza de Sanfrancisco over ten years ago.
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Vigia Gran Añejo

Floral and woody with cedar and toasted oak. A little hot and unbalanced with some plastic and slightly unclean spirit...
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Café El Escorial: Best Coffee In Havana

Café El Escorial is the closest thing Havana has to Starbucks, minus the takeout services. If you insist, bring along your own mug or even a Ziploc bag (like Cubans do) for a café con leche, the holy grail at this quaint café shop on Plaza Vieja, for only $1.2 CUC!
July 21st, 2015
By Havana Insider

Castillo del Morro

Castillo del Morro (Morro Castle), short for Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro, standing at the mouth of Havana Bay, is an iconic landmark in Havana.