Every inch of space in Havana is drenched in color and alive with rhythm, full of speed and movement, much like a visualization of the jazz music that has been popular in the city for more than a century. In its glory days, the world-famous Tropicana Club was the place to go, but today’s scene has moved slightly north, to the Miramar and Vedado neighborhoods. Here’s where to go hear the best live jazz in Havana.
Upscale spot on the Malecón
Jazz Café may look high-end, but it’s not high-price. For a cover of CUC $10 (after 8pm), hear some of Cuba’s top jazz musicians. The venue is known around town for its air conditioning, which is kept on full-blast—a boon for American travelers on warm Havana nights. Before or after the show, be sure to hang out with the locals on the Malecón, a five-mile esplanade stretching along Havana’s waterfront.
Café Jazz Miramar
Go-to spot for improvised jam sessions
The bright, pristine Café Jazz Miramar is one of the best spots to hear live jazz in Havana, with a twist. Schedules and lineups for the venue are not readily available. Instead, for a cover of just of just CUC $2, visitors can visit the venue that has become well-known for its improvised jam sessions, featuring some of Cuba’s best jazz musicians.
La Zorra y el Cuervo
Low-key, underground spot with big-name headliners
Enter through a classic red English phone booth into the gritty La Zorra y el Cuervo (The Vixen and the Crow) where big names such as Chucho Valdés, George Benson and Yasek Manzano have performed. The main headline might not come on until late after doors open (from 10pm, with a cover of CUC $10) but the freestyle jazz here is second to none, making it worth the wait.
The Havana International Jazz Festival will take place from December 11 until December 19, 2016 at multiple venues. Visiting Cuba this December? Learn more about our Havana Long Weekend package—with four days and three nights, it’s the perfect option for exploring jazz and more in Havana.