What is an Airbnb Experience?
In a similar fashion to booking a house or an apartment on Airbnb you can book what Airbnb has termed “Experiences.” These experiences vary widely but are usually run by a local who has a unique cultural offering to share. You book these experiences on Airbnb's website and they appear just as if you’re searching for a home rental with reviews and a star rating to let you know how others enjoyed it.
These experiences often take the form of a lesson, a tour, or a showing of artistry. Common examples are dance lessons in the local style, a walking tour of the city, or even a night out on the town with a local nightlife guide. People are incredibly creative with their offerings which lead to a wonderful variety of options specifically in Havana, Cuba.
We did a lot of research on Airbnb looking for the best experiences before we traveled to Cuba and we are going to share our 3 favorites while in Havana. All three of these offer a unique cultural exchange and a different way of seeing a vibrant culture. Pick any or all of these experiences for your next trip to Havana.
If you are new to Airbnb and want to sign up, use this link and you will receive a $40 credit just for signing up that you can use on your first experience! Also, once you take your first trip or experience, Airbnb will give us a small commission for referring you so everyone wins.
This three hour driving tour of Havana covers a large amount of the city and includes stops at cultural hot spots such as Revolution Square, Hotel Nacional, and Christ of Havana. You have a driver and a tour guide to take you around the city in a vintage car while giving you great historical information about the city. An added bonus to this tour is that the tour is offered in many different languages, English and French, to name a few, if Spanish isn’t your strongest tongue.
Our guide was Luis, a recent college graduate of Havana University. He was very knowledgeable about Cuban history and the sites he brought us to. It was a true cultural exchange because he was as interested in American culture as we were in Cuban culture.
We took this tour on our second day in Havana and it was a good introduction to the city; we were able to see a lot of the city and get our bearings. I would recommend doing it early in the trip since you hit a lot of popular spots in the city, you may see them if you have already been there for several days so it may get repetitive.
Included: 3 hour guided historical tour in a vintage car and a mojito at Hotel Nacional.
Highlights: Tour of a Cuban missile crisis bunker and visit to Morro Castle wrap up the experience.
This two and a half hour cooking class takes place in a beautiful old house in excellent condition with high ceilings and gorgeous decor. You will walk in and instantly regret not staying there as it is an Airbnb and is incredibly affordable. Our two hosts took excellent care of us, Maggie serving as a translator for the chef Muñeca.
The class starts out with a lesson on how to make a mojito the traditional Cuban way from scratch. We had many mojitos during our stay in Cuba but this had to be the best, partly because we made it ourselves! Then we began helping Muñeca prepare dinner as Maggie described in English what she was doing.
The meal was a very traditional Cuban meal, with pork, rice and beans and tostones with a flan for dessert. The food was absolutely phenomenal; post Cuba we have tried to replicate the recipes with varying levels of success but usually our tostones, at the very least, are phenomenal. The hosts give you a pamphlet full of their family recipes to take with you so that you don’t have to commit it all to memory, a detail we surely appreciated!
We highly suggest this experience! It’s affordable and for the quality of the food we would have paid that much for the food alone, but we were happy to take part in making the meal, meeting friendly locals, and learning more about Cuban culture in the process.
Included: One self-made-from-scratch mojito, a full meal, dessert, coffee, and a recipe pamphlet to take home.
Highlights: Making a mojito the right way from scratch and learning how to make amazing tostones.
This four hour experience takes you all over the city on bike and while it isn’t overly strenuous, be ready to get some exercise. In this experience you visit some of the same spots as Driving Through Cuban History, however you see them in a completely different way. The notable overlaps were the Havana Forest and Revolution Square.
Two of the unique spots we rode to were Colon Cemetery, the largest cemetery in Havana covering close to 7.5% of its land surface, and Havana University which is where our guide Ernesto was currently attending school.
Ernesto was one of the most hospitable guides we’ve ever had; he made sure to take care of everyone’s needs and did so in a friendly manner. He gave us a very authentic Cuban experience as we rode through his neighborhood, met his friends on the corner who sell fresh, organic fruit, and biked the Malecon to a locals-only smoothie shop. We were able to discuss Cuban history and politics with Ernesto to gain insight into how the educated youth view the politics of their government. He also suggested his favorite restaurant in Havana to us, Loco Por Cuba, and it was incredible food for a very affordable price.
This tour isn’t for the faint of heart because you are out in the sun for hours, and depending on the size of your group the tour could run over. If you book this tour make sure you don’t have another tour or activity booked directly after because the tour may run over and you will not want to miss any of it! The tour ended with the amazing complementary fruit smoothies which were so refreshing and very much needed.
Included: Bike and helmet, fresh fruit from a vendor on the street, and fresh fruit smoothies to end the tour.
Highlights: Walking through Colon Cemetery and discussing Cuban politics and society with our guide Ernesto.
Enjoy These Airbnb Experiences in Havana Cuba
All three of the experiences we went on in Havana through Airbnb we enjoyed immensely and we highly recommend all three of them. However, we haven’t tried all the Airbnb Experiences in Havana by any stretch of the imagination; there are so many amazing options out there! Try something new or go with one of the three we selected. It’s a great way to learn about Cuban culture, meet friendly locals, and give back to the Cuban community.
If you are an American and are confused about the travel regulations in place regarding travel to Cuba, check out this post.