BEST BARS AND LIVE MUSIC IN HAVANA, CUBA
Havana is a city rich in history, culture, and tradition. Walking the streets through the decaying buildings downtown, you can hear the music resonating. Sipping on a mojito or Cuba libre while listening to tunes is all part of the Cuban experience. Below you’ll find the best bars and top spots to see live music in Havana, Cuba.
Of all the music to be found throughout Latin America, the rich musical traditions from the small island of Cuba have been the most widely influential on popular music and dance worldwide. You’d be a fool not to see live music in Havana if you have any interest in exploring and understanding Cuban culture.
Because of bands like the Grammy Award-winning Buena Vista Social Club, Cuban music is sure to live on in the hearts of music fans forever. If you’re visiting Havana, now is your chance to enjoy the nightlife and feel the rhythms of Rumba, Afro-Cuban jazz, and Salsa.
Don’t come to Havana expecting the wildest parties. Most of the bars and clubs have a relaxed and easy-going atmosphere. Keep in mind that Havana Vieja (Old Havana) tends to shut down early, so after seeing a few of the legendary spots you’ll likely need to head over to the Vedado or Miramar area.
Step into this funky vintage restaurant and bar in Habana Vieja for a bite to eat or a cold blended piña colada. This was the first place we saw live music in Havana and it did not disappoint. We saw a soulful all-female band here and enjoyed the friendly staff. We didn’t have dinner, but the food looked tempting. No cover charge. Nightly music until 10pm.
58 San Juan de Dios, La Habana
Palacio de la Rumba de La Habana
This local spot is a cultural center off the beaten path and not so full of tourists. Here you’ll find an enthusiastic crowd enjoying rumba, a genre with African influences that is a mainstay of the Cuban music scene.
Thursday night is hip hop night if you want to see a different style of music in Havana. There can be a cover charge depending on the band. Open Wednesdays to Sundays 8pm-2am.
Calle San Miguel number 860, between Hospital and Aramburu, Centro Habana
Read next: How to Travel to Cuba as an American
Opening in 1817 under the name La Piña de Plata, it became Floridita in 1914. Made world famous because the daiquiri was officially invented here and Ernest Hemingway was a regular in the 1930s while staying at Hotel Ambos Mundos. Rumor is that Hemingway’s personal best was 13 double daiquiris in one sitting.
Another signature cocktail is affectionately known as the Papa Doble or Wild Daiquiri, also originated here, which is a grapefruit-flavored version that was even sourer and created to suit his taste, as he didn’t care for sweet cocktails. The night we went there was a salsa band with a fiddle player and a woman with a fantastic voice. Sure it’s touristy but somehow manages to maintain some of its old school charms.
Calle Obispo No 557
La Bodeguita del Medio
Founded in 1942, this is perhaps the most classic bar in all of Havana. Where else can you grab a drink in the same place that once welcomed Marlon Brando, Nat King Cole, Fidel, and Hemingway?
This establishment claims to be the birthplace of the mojito. Nowadays it’s become touristy and the mojitos certainly aren’t the best or cheapest ($5 CUC), but you’d be foolish not to stop by this standing room only bar and catch a few songs. Grab a marker and sign your name on the blue walls!