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 though. 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 Thursday through Saturday 6pm-12am.
Calle San Miguel number 860, between Hospital and Aramburu, Centro Habana
El Floridita Bar
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Opening in 1817 under the name La Piña de Plata, it became El Floridita in 1914. This bar is 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. Think you could do it?
Another signature cocktail affectionately known as the Papa Doble or Wild Daiquiri, also originated here, it is a grapefruit-flavored version that was even more sour 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 the mojitos certainly aren’t the best or cheapest, but you should still stop by this standing-room-only bar and catch a few songs. Grab a marker and sign your name on the blue walls too!
Empedrado No. 207, Havana, Cuba
La Zorra y el Cuervo
“The Vixen and the Crow” is located on Calle 23 in the La Rampa area of Vedado in Havana. This joint is the place to be. Enter through a British telephone booth, walk downstairs, and suddenly you are transported into a subterranean club that features the best musical talent in the city.
Many legendary Cuban musicians have played within these walls.
It’s a popular spot with both locals and tourists, so expect a wait, but it’s well worth it. It’s wise to arrive a little before 10pm. With nightly performances, the entry fee is around $10 per person and includes two drinks. Kick back with a mojito and enjoy the intimate jazzy vibes.
Calle 23 between N & O, Havana
Callejon de Hamel
This is an alley in Centro Habana dedicated to street art murals created by painter Salvador Gonzáles, filled with Afro-Cuban folklore, live music performances, and the religion of Santeria. There’s also a popular rumba show there every Sunday at noon attended by both locals and foreigners.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to visit as we were not in the city on a Sunday. If you go, report back in the comments!
FAC – La Fábrica de Arte Cubano
This cultural powerhouse is the place to be in Havana if you love hip art and music. Residing inside an old cooking oil factory that has been completely transformed, it’s an art gallery, music venue, bar, cultural center, and dance club rolled into one.
Easily one of the best places to catch live music in Havana. They have a full program of activities every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night.
It tends to get busy so you should always try to go before 10pm. Expect to wait in line, but the atmosphere, art, food, and music are worth it. Once you get in you’ll be rewarded with a memorable evening. It’s unfortunate more places like this don’t exist in other cities.
Whatever you do, just don’t lose your drinks card!
Check the FAC Instagram to see what’s coming up. Open Thursday-Sunday 8pm-2am.
Calle 26, La Habana, Cuba
Located within walking distance to FAC this is a mansion converted into a funky little club with a nice patio and tasty tapas! It’s best to either start your evening and pre-party here or to end everything with a good nightcap because it’s open until 3am.
The friendly service and relaxed vibe ensure you’ll enjoy it.
Calle 10, La Habana, Cuba
One of the better places to go salsa dancing in Havana! Located in the La Rampa area of Vedado you’ll find a fun local crowd. Small cover charges of $3-5. Wear light clothing because it can get HOT in here with all the bodies moving!
Ladies will be asked to check their purses at the door, so consider not bringing one. The FUN nights to go are Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. We met a guy along the Malecón who encouraged us to go here, it was a great recommendation!
The club is LGBTQ-friendly.
Avenida 23, La Habana, Cuba
We’ll end this by saying enjoy your time in Havana! It’s one of the most unique cities we’ve ever been to anywhere in the world. If you scratch the surface and dig a little bit you’ll notice that the vibes and rhythms of Cuban culture begin to reveal themselves. Go out and get your groove on!
Hope this helps you find a few fun spots to drink and enjoy live music in Havana. Are there any we’re missing? Leave a comment…