Insider Tip: Cuba is 'full of welcome surprises'

You won't find a car made later than 1959 in Cuba.
FLIGHT CENTRE

You won't find a car made later than 1959 in Cuba.

Where ballerinas are at the height of stardom, it's mandatory for government vehicles to pick up hitchhikers and you won't find a car made later than 1959. Cuba was colourful and full of welcome surprises.

If checking out the local markets while on holiday is a top pick for you, then make sure to head to Almacenes San Jose Craft Market in Havana. A short 15-minute walk from the pier, it's a great place to buy souvenirs.

Top tip: Visit the markets after 4pm if you want a bargain. This is when the vendors are (unusual for Cuba) open to negotiation.

After a hard day of shopping, we earned ourselves a sweet treat. We caught a taxi from the markets to Coppelia ice cream parlour. Insanely popular since opening in 1966, this state-run institution is about far more than mere ice cream. The "ice cream salad" is a must try.

Perhaps surprisingly, going to watch the ballet in Havana is a big deal. Cuba is renowned for producing some of the best ballet dancers in the world, so the standard is exceptionally high.

Stroll down Linea Avenue to the Ballet Nacional de Cuba Theatre and be ready to be amazed.

- Philippa Kriz, Flight Centre Kerikeri

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