Shopping in Havana Cuba: Handcrafts, Souvenirs, Cuban Cigars and more
In Havana, you can find numerous stores carrying international brand name goods sold in dollars, however there are many others that sell products made on the island, such as clothes, shoes, and souvenirs made of seashells, coconuts, and seeds. There are also beautiful original works of art in the galleries that really showcase Cuban creativity and ingenuity.
Many of the traditional products from Cuba are well worth buying as souvenirs, such as rum, coffee, cigars, and guayaberas (Cuban shirts) that are sold here at a cheaper price than abroad. It is important to mention that there are many vendors in the streets selling illegal merchandise without the official seals, so it is better to shop at the specialty stores or buy directly from the factories when you visit them.
Cuba is well-known for producing the best cigars in the world and in Havana there are several factories and shops where you can buy the top brands at great prices. You can purchase Cohiba, Partagas, and Montecristo at the Museo del Tabaco (Tobacco Museum) and at the shops called La Casa del Habano y La Casa del Tabaco, of which there are many locations in town and at the hotels. La Real Fabrica de Puros Partagas (Partagas Royal Cigar Factory) is a very interesting place to visit because not only can you buy cigars here but they also offer tours of the factory.
The store at the Havana Club offers an extensive collection of rums, including the Solera San Cristobal, their most exclusive brand, created to celebrate Havana's 480th anniversary. Likewise, you'll find all sorts of quality souvenirs, such as Cuban music CDs, books about the history of rum and information about the best bars in town. There are other brands of Cuban rum that are not as well known as Havana Club but are also of a very good quality, such as Bucanero, Cienfuegos, La Palma, Mulato, and a few others.
Although Cuba doesn't produce great amounts of coffee, the quality of the coffee beans grown here is very good, and it is internationally renowned. If you enjoy drinking coffee, then you're going to love Havana. At La Casa del Cafe or at Cafe Habano, you can buy ground coffee or the beans by the kilo and enjoy a delicious cup while you wait for your order. You can also find coffee sold at the supermarkets, with the best brands being Cubita, Hola, Turquino, Extra Turquino, Serrano and Crystal Mountain.
Considered an essential piece of the Latin American wardrobe, and one that has recently gained popularity around the world, the guayabera was originally invented in Cuba in 1709. Nowadays, you can buy guayaberas or guayamisas (a more modern version) in lots of different colors at La Feria de Artesania, located near the Malecon and also in Vedado. You can also find guayaberas made of incredibly fine thread at the Quitrin shop in Old Havana, but if you're looking for something more original and exclusive, go to the designer Emilio Nelson's shop, also located in this part of town, where you can get one tailored made to your specific measurements.
Music and Musical Instruments
Cuban folk music has given the world numerous composers and musicians including Silvio Rodriguez, Pablo Milanes, Los Van Van, Buena Fe, Compay Segundo and Ibrahim Ferrer, all true icons of Cuban music. At the Longina store, located in Old Havana, you'll find lots of CDs, music magazines, sheet music, and an incredible collection of Cuban musical instruments, such as bongos, guitars, maracas, guiros and congas.
In Havana, you can buy beautiful original works of art made by local artists. At the galleries belonging to the Fondo Cubano de Bienes Culturales, such as Acacia, Habana, and the Centro de Arte La Casona, you can find many traditional pieces, as well as work by the best contemporary artists. They also sell paintings, crafts, gold and silver pieces, small sculptures, and antiques.
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