Visiting Cuba is a completely unique experience, and you are likely to want to bring home some souvenirs that reflect that. From Cuban cigars to retro books, here are the top places to buy souvenirs in Havana.
There’s a reason US President John F Kennedy bought 1,200 Cuban cigars just hours before signing the US trade embargo. No one makes cigars like Cuba.
To ensure you buy the best quality cigars, you need to go to an authentic cigar shop. Casa del Habano is a chain of stores with authentic cigars. Hotels such as Hotel Nacional, Habana Libre, Cohiba and Melia Habana also have official stores in their lobbies. Another option is to visit a cigar factory such as Casa del Habano, Partagas, or Tabacuba.
For Americans, cigar shopping in Cuba is filled with new possibilities. In the past, Americans could only bring home $100 worth of rum and cigars. Now those sanctions are lifted, and Americans are free to shop for the highest-quality cigars. It’s the perfect gift to bring home from your trip.
For art lovers, Almacenes San Jose is a must. When you arrive at the market you will find a large two-story warehouse. Walk inside and you’ll be bombarded with colors, smells, and the loud chatter of bartering salespeople. Thousands of local artists rent stalls at Almacenes San Jose. Expect to find original paintings, handmade crafts, and jewelry. It’s a great place to find a unique souvenir, at the same time as supporting local Cuban artists.
Obispo is a boulevard that cuts through Old Havana. It is full of souvenir shops, bookstores, restaurants, and homemade crafts and is within walking distance of many attractions in Old Havana. You can start your day at Havana’s art museum, Museo de Bellas Artes Cubano, viewing work from Cuba’s most famous artists. Then you can walk down Obispo toward the canal, and end your day at the book market at the Plaza de Armas.
The secondhand book market is full of unique souvenirs that represent Cuban history. The plaza is filled with rows of booksellers, selling their favorite used books. You’ll see books about Che Guevara and the Cuban Revolution. You’ll also find books by Ernest Hemingway, who lived in Cuba for nearly 20 years. Along with books, you can will also find stacks of retro posters, stamps, and old beer labels, any of which would be a great conversation piece back home. The market runs every day except for Sunday, and reflects the love of reading that Cuba is famous for. According to the UN, Cuba has the highest literacy rate in the world.
Cuba is also known for its rum, and it’s a great souvenir to bring home as a gift or to share among friends. Like cigars, Americans now have more options when it comes to bringing rum home as a souvenir. With the sanctions lifted, Americans can now bring more than $100 worth of rum and cigars through customs.
There are many suitable places to buy rum. You can buy it at the Havana Club factory, where you can also take a tour of how they make their rum, or in a souvenir shop. One of the best places to buy rum, however, is at the airport in Havana, which has a large selection of rums at competitive prices. Buying it at the airport allows you to bring it on the plane with you, so you don’t have to risk it breaking in your luggage.
Cuban coffee is known around the world for its sweet, rich taste. Cuban coffee beans make a great gift, and are a simple way to share a piece of your trip with friends back home. They are also a much more cost-effective souvenir than rum. Cubita and Serrano are two brands known for their distinct Cuban taste. You can find them at food stores, at the airport, and at souvenir shops.
Paseo del Prado (or Paseo de Martí) is a large walking path that connects Parque Central to El Malecon, the avenue that runs along the bay. The street is lined with vendors selling art, crafts, and food. Many young artists live in apartments lining the promenade. On the weekends, you’re likely to hear live music and people meeting up for their weekly knitting and sewing clubs. They will often sell their products to tourists passing by. It’s a great place to buy a souvenir, an walking the promenade is a beautiful way to spend an afternoon.