Colorful mural with yellow building and Viva Ybor painted on ti

Last Updated on December 13, 2023 by Dr. Shannon Barrett

Ybor City is a fun place to visit in the Tampa Bay Area.

We visited this weekend, and it was a unique neighborhood filled with cigar shops, fun restaurants, and chickens.

I recommend visiting on a Saturday so you can take advantage of the Saturday market.

The neighborhood is a historic district filled with charming cobblestone streets with historical architecturegastronomic wonders, and night spots that breathe life into Tampa’s after-dark scene.

Key Takeaways

  • Ybor City, founded by Vicente Martinez-Ybor, was once the world’s cigar capital. It’s known for its rich history and diverse culture.
  • The city has a unique mix of commercial and residential buildings with varied architectural styles from different cultures.
  • There are many ways to explore Ybor: hire taxis, ride on streetcars, or take a Pirate Water Taxi near Tampa Bay.
  • Visit museums like Ybor City Museum State Park and participate in annual events like Festa Italiana to experience its vibrant culture.
  • Famous people, including Steve Yerrid and Fernando Noriega Jr., hail from Ybor City.

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Where is Ybor City Located?

Ybor City is a historic neighborhood in Tampa, Florida, located just northeast of downtown Tampa and north of Port Tampa Bay.

Ybor City is also part of the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area.

How to get to Ybor City by plane:

The nearest airport to Ybor City is Tampa International Airport (TPA), about 10 miles away.

You can take a taxi, ride-sharing service, or public transportation from TPA to Ybor City.

How to get to Ybor City by car:

Old blue and white car parked next to a brick buidling
Vintage car in Ybor City

To get to Ybor City, you can take Interstate 4, which runs through the heart of the neighborhood.

You can also take surface streets, such as 7th Avenue, the main thoroughfare in Ybor City.

How to get to Ybor City by bus:

From the Tampa International Airport (TPA), you can take the HARTline bus route 300.

This bus route runs from TPA to downtown Tampa, where you can transfer to the HARTline bus route 19.

The bus route 19 runs from downtown Tampa to Ybor City and back.

How to get to Ybor City by Streetcar:

yellow and red streecar
Photo courtesy of TECO Streetcar

Ybor City is also served by the TECO Streetcar, which runs from downtown Tampa to Ybor City and back.

History of Ybor City

black and white photo of Vicente Martinez-Ybor
Vicente Martinez-Ybor. Photo courtesy of Florida State Parks

The story of Ybor City begins with its founding by Vicente Martinez-Ybor, a prominent Spanish businessman.

He transformed the area into the world’s cigar capital during what’s known as The Golden Age.

Despite experiencing a decline after World War II, Ybor City made a triumphant return to prominence, proudly preserving its rich history and historic buildings while embracing modern urban living.

Today, it is an iconic symbol of Tampa’s historic and cultural heritage.

Establishment by Vicente Martinez-Ybor

3 cigars on a wooden cigar box

In 1885, Vicente Martinez-Ybor, a notable cigar manufacturer, laid the foundation of Ybor City.

The city stood independent until it was annexed by Tampa in 1887.

Ybor’s entrepreneurial spirit and foresight were vital drivers that shaped the city’s unique culture and way of life.

For its significant contributions to the cigar-manufacturing sector, the city earned recognition as the “Cigar Capital of the World.”

Martinez-Ybor had a profound impact on raising a town and crafting an industrial powerhouse noted for its cultural richness.

The Golden Age

The bustling streets of Ybor City, the cigar city, came alive during its Golden Age, spanning from 1902 to 1929.

This period saw an exciting evolution in the city’s culture and economy, primarily fueled by the cigar industry.

Local cigar shops thrived as they rolled out fine quality cigars that became renowned worldwide, branding Ybor City as the ‘Cigar Capital of the World.’

Boundaries and population of Ybor City

Street with brick buildings on both sides and palm trees
Popular section of 7th Street

Ybor City sprawls from 22nd Street on the west to Adamo Drive on the north, extending down to 7th Avenue in the south and reaching out to 40th Street on its eastern boundary.

The 7th Avenue Commercial Strip represents the heart of Ybor City’s vibrant character and bustling life.

This vibrant expanse contains a lively blend of commercial activity, nightclub and entertainment district, residential areas, and significant historic sites.

Ybor City stands proudly as a National Historic Landmark District. 

Ybor City Events

Large crowd of people at outdoor festival with tents
Taste of Latino festival. Photo courtesy of Taste of Latino.

We love to take part in a city’s annual festivals. Ybor City has several to choose from, depending on when you visit.

Here is a list of their most notable events.

  • FebruaryFiesta Day occurs every February on 7th Street. This is a full-day celebration with food, vendors, and entertainment.
  • AprilFesta Italiana is a weekend of wine and Italian food in Ybor City. The celebration showcases the city’s vibrant culture and rich European roots.
  • October: Make time for the Taste of Latino festival. The event offers an immersive experience of Latin American cultures that form part of the Ybor City community.
  • NovemberYbor City Tree Lighting is the kickoff to the holiday season. The city gathers in the heart of Ybor City to light the beautiful Christmas tree.
  • December: The Cigar Heritage Festival is the world’s largest cigar festival. There is live music, food and of course, cigars.

Best Things to Do in Ybor City

Ybor City Saturday Market

Visit the Ybor City Saturday Market. This is one of the must-do attractions if you visit on a Saturday.

We loved seeing this outdoor market in Centennial Park.

It is open every Saturday from 9:00-3:00 pm.

There is live music and lots of vendors selling produce and local goodies.

Also, enjoy the resident chickens walking around the market.

The event is free and pet-friendly.

If you love outdoor markets, make sure to visit Gulfport, Florida.

They have several outdoor markets each month.

Historical Walking Tour

cuban man in a white hat
Photo courtesy of Viator.

Take a historical walking tour through downtown. Learn about the history of the city while seeing the essential landmarks.

Visit a Cigar Factory

Dark Room with leather furniture in JC Newman Cigar factory
J.C. Newman Cigar Company. Photo Courtesy of JC Newman Cigar Co.

Visit JC Newman Cigars. They are one of the last operating cigar factories.

You can book a tour of the factory.

You can also book a cigar rolling class where you get to roll five cigars to take home with you.

Reservations are required for both tours and cigar-rolling classes.

Take a Food Tour

Plate of black beans rice avacado
Ybor City food walking tour. Photo courtesy of Viator.

Enjoy all the delicious food in Ybor City with a food tour.

This tour takes you to 6 eateries to enjoy food and drink from each.

It’s a great way to explore the culinary delights of Ybor City.

Ybor City Museum State Park

Green house with white trim
Photo courtesy of Florida State Parks

Don’t miss a stop at the Ybor City Museum State Park.

Nested in the historic Ferlita Bakery building, it remains dedicated to preserving Ybor City’s cultural heritage.

Take a Ghost Tour

several people cheers cocktails at a bar in a circle
Photo courtesy of Viator.

If you love haunted history, consider learning about Ybor City’s ghostly past with a ghost and pub walking tour.

Enjoy a night out while visiting 4 of the most haunted pubs in the area and learning about their haunted pasts.

Best Places to Eat in Ybor City

In Ybor City, you are spoiled for choices when it comes to dining.

The one-square-mile area teems with various restaurants that celebrate the city’s rich cultural heritage.

Here are our favorites:

Casa Santa Stefano

Casa Santo Stefano is our favorite place to eat. They serve excellent Sicilian food in a beautiful open-air restaurant with a wood-fired oven.

Columbia Restaurant

The Columbia Restaurant is the most famous in Ybor City.

It is the oldest restaurant in Florida and offers a taste of traditional Spanish cuisine. It is also the largest Spanish restaurant in the world.

Reservations are highly recommended.


Carmine’s is another favorite.

This restaurant blends Italian, Cuban, and Spanish flavors into delicious dishes.

They have been in business for over 35 years and know what they are doing.

They have indoor and outdoor seating and are open for lunch and dinner.

Acropolis Greek Taverna

If you like Greek food, you must stop by Acropolis Greek Taverna.

This place is so popular that walking by the sidewalk tables is tough!

They were voted Diners Choice in 2023 by Open Table. Acropolis has indoor and outdoor seating.

They have great cocktails and even offer flavored hookahs.

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Best Nightlife Spots in Ybor City

Ybor City offers an electric nightlife experience you shouldn’t miss.

  • Club Prana is a must-visit, with its multi-level dance floors and rooftop terrace – perfect for enjoying the Tampa Bay nights.
  • Hosting concerts and events on most nights, The Ritz Ybor promises a unique party experience.
  • For those craving a more laid-back experience, Gaspar’s Grotto is a pirate-themed bar offering great food, live music, and rum punches. They also have an outdoor patio.
  • If you fancy salsa dancing or reggae music, head to the Cuban Club, which holds Latin Nights every Friday.

Where to Stay in Ybor City

There are hotels and vacation rentals available in Ybor City.

I researched those that are walkable to the market and downtown.

The ones below have excellent ratings and can be rented for a weekend trip!

Perfect Getaway Rental

  • 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom Apartment in the heart of Ybor City
  • Outdoor swimming pool
  • Flat-screen TV with streaming services
  • Fully equipped kitchen
  • Balcony with pool views
  • The apartment has an outdoor fireplace
  • Bicycle rentals also available

4 Bedroom Vacation Home

living room with open floor plan and sofa and chairs
Check Availability
kitchen with white appliances and white bar with seats
See More Photos
  • 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom house walking distance to Ybor City shops and restaurants
  • Fully equipped kitchen with a dishwasher and an oven, and 2 bathrooms
  • TV with satellite
  • Fenced outdoor yard
  • Pets allowed

Hotel Haya

exterior of hotel haya
Check Availability
large hotel bed with white duvet and blue carpeting
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  • Full service hotel with pool, restaurant and fitness center
  • Located in the heart of Ybor City
  • Each room has air-conditioning, free WiFi and a private bathroom
  • Guests can enjoy American dishes at the restaurant or have a drink at the bar
  • Hotel is pet friendly
  • Some rooms have a balcony and others offer city views

Unique shops and boutiques

In Ybor City, I was charmed by the district’s array of unique shops and boutiques.

  1. La France is a must-visit for those who appreciate retro and vintage clothing. They are a vintage clothing store.
  2. If you are looking for a unique store, Dysfunctional Grace is it. Their company line is “The only shop in Ybor where death and dysfunction dance in a graceful ballet.”
  3. Tabanero Cigars offers authentic hand-rolled Cuban cigars for souvenir hunters – carrying on Ybor’s cigar legacy.
  4. Centro Ybor Mall, located in the center of historic Ybor City, is a diverse mix of retail shops, offices, and entertainment spots. We loved grabbing some ice cream at Mayday Ice Cream.

What is the Significance of the Chickens

Chickens have been a part of Ybor City, Florida, since the late 1880s, when Cuban immigrants brought them to work in the cigar factories.

The chickens were a valuable source of food and eggs, and unfortunately they were also used for cockfighting.

In the early 1900s, Ybor City was one of the largest cigar-making centers in the world, and the chickens were a familiar sight in the neighborhood.

They would roam the streets and alleyways, foraging for food and dust bathing.

The chickens of Ybor City became a symbol of the neighborhood’s Cuban heritage and its working-class roots.

They were also a source of amusement and companionship for the residents.

In the 1960s, the cigar industry declined in Ybor City, and the chicken population dwindled.

However, in recent years, the chickens have made a comeback.

Today, there are hundreds of chickens living in Ybor City, and they are a popular tourist attraction.

The chickens of Ybor City are a symbol of the neighborhood’s resilience and its unique culture.

They are a reminder of the neighborhood’s past and add to the vibrancy and charm of Ybor City today.

In addition to their cultural significance, the chickens of Ybor City also play an essential role in the ecosystem.

They help to control pests, such as insects and rodents. They also help to aerate the soil and spread seeds.

The chickens of Ybor City are a beloved part of the community, and a city ordinance protects them.

It is illegal to harm the chickens.

There is even a volunteer group, the Ybor Chicken Society, that takes care of the chickens.

Over 30% of local businesses sell merchandise featuring these beloved birds.

We even purchased a shirt with an fancy chicken to commemorate our time in Ybor City.

Man wearing grey shirt with colorful rooster on it
Many local businesses sell items with chickens on them

If you are visiting Ybor City, keep an eye out for the chickens.

They will surely add a touch of whimsy and charm to your visit.


Ybor City, a gem tucked away in Tampa, brings history to life with each step on its vibrant streets.

Delight in the unique culinary flavors and heart-thumping nightlife that this entertainment district offers.

Ignite your senses and enrich your understanding of Cuban culture through Ybor’s distinctive fusion of past and present.

Explore Ybor City today, a destination where yesterday’s stories weave seamlessly into today’s unforgettable experiences.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who are some prominent figures in Ybor’s history?

Vicente Martinez-Ybor is a key figure in Ybor’s history; he started the significant cigar industry there. Santo Stefano also contributed hugely by providing charitable services to the city’s residents through facilities such as Centro Asturiano.

Can you tell me more about the nightlife in Ybor City?

The nightclub scene is quite active in Tampa’s Ybor City; it boasts various venues, including clubs and those owned by Tampa Bay Brewing Company, offering a fun-filled experience for visitors.

Are any visitor centers available to help plan our stay in Ybor City?

Yes. The helpful staff at the local visitor center will guide you to many options for comfortable hotel accommodations around this historic town.

Is cigar-making still prevalent today within this region?

Traditional hand-rolled cigars are still made – honoring Cigar City’s past -with new factories contributing to maintaining this part of their culture despite modernization.

Dr. Shannon Barrett

Dr. Shannon Barrett

Veterinarian/Travel Writer/Digital Nomad

Dr. Shannon Barrett is a veterinarian and digital nomad. She owned a housecall practice, Island Veterinary Care, for over a decade and now travels full time. She lives in different beach towns and then writes travel guides based on her time there. If you’re looking for resources on travel destinations or how to become a digital nomad, then you’ve come to the right place! Love to bring your pets with you? Even better!

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