The Top 8 Bars With Live Music in Old Havana, Cuba

Cuban Mojito
Cuban Mojito | © Wine Dharma / Flickr
Barbara Maseda

Traditional Cuban music bands give bars in Old Havana a special feel. The food and the service may not be very good in some of these establishments, especially the state-run ones, but the music is so good that you won’t have time to pay attention to those minor inconveniences. The tunes of Buena Vista Social Club and other traditional songs are the perfect soundtrack for enjoying a drink while contemplating the eclectic landscape of the old quarter, and the musicians performing at these bars will give you exactly that.

1. Santo Angel

Restaurant, Cuban, Caribbean

Santo Angel on the corner in the background, Old Square
© Stephen Colebourne / Flickr
At a superb location in Old Square (Plaza Vieja), Santo Angel is a restaurant divided into different service areas, including a bar called Don Gaspar. This colonial building has an ample porch that accommodates a big band of traditional Cuban music that performs daily. It’s a great place to have a drink while taking in the atmosphere of one of the busiest centers in the old quarter.

2. El Patio Bar Restaurant

Restaurant, Bar, Cuban, Caribbean

With a gorgeous view of Cathedral Square, El Patio offers one of the best outdoor areas in which to enjoy a drink in a very colonial setting. Although the building houses an indoor bar and restaurant, the best tables are on the porch and the cobblestone street outside. In tune with the surroundings, the bands performing here play very traditional Cuban music—which tends to be more enjoyable in these outdoor locations than in the typical tiny bars in the old quarter, especially if you want a pleasant background for your conversation over one or two Cuban cocktails.

3. Bar Monserrate

Bar, Pub Grub, Cuban, Caribbean

Bar Monserrate
© Drek Blackadder / Flickr
What used to be the lobby of a hotel that no longer exists, the Monserrate Hotel, is now a bar—technically a restaurant, but in practice, it’s more popular as a bar. Renovated and re-opened in 1994, Bar Monserrate is a short stroll away from Havana’s Capitol Building, at a cool location on Monserrate Street. Music is central to the decoration and spirit of the place: pictures of famous Cuban musicians hang on the walls, including those of Benny More, Bola de Nieve, and the Trio Matamoros. In addition to playbacks of traditional Cuban music, the place offers live performances by bands at different times of the day. If you are looking to get an idea of how bars looked in Havana the 1950s, this is a good option.

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