Havana Shopping

Until recent times, shopping lists in Cuba were short: puros habanos (cigars) and rum. In recent years the availability of an increasing number of products on the market has changed the landscape. While prices are prohibitive to most locals, even cellular phones are now available to Cubans. The result of a slow-but-sure openness has also resulted in more shopping opportunities for tourists.

Look for muñequitas, little dolls representing orishas. Handmade goods—from wood and leather items to terra-cotta pieces—cinema posters and other graphics, musical instruments, and photographs from the Revolutionary period also make interesting buys. The light-cotton men's shirt known as the guayabera is Cuba's national garment, worn by everyone from taxi drivers to El Comandante himself. Practical (side pockets) and elegant (embroidered), the guayabera is worn loose (not tucked in) for coolness, and is considered flattering to middle-age figures.

The state agencies ARTEX and Fondo de Bienes Culturales have shops throughout Havana that sell postcards, books, CDs, cassettes, rum, cigars, and crafts. La Habana: Touristic and Commercial Guide, a booklet published by Infotur, lists the locations of the city's many Tiendas Panamericanas, which sell toiletries and other basic items.

Bargaining is expected, but unlike shopkeepers in other countries where this is true, Cubans ask very low prices to begin with and don't move far. It generally feels better to pay the extra dollar or two. At this juncture, it means a lot more in Cuban hands than in yours.

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Havana Shopping

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Almacenes de San José

  • Crafts

Havana's biggest and best craft market is in an old shipping warehouse, next to the water in Havana Vieja. It's a rabbit-warren-like...

Casa de la Música

  • Music Stores

This small store is attached to the Miramar Casa de la Música nightclub and sells CDs and musical instruments. ...

Casa del Habano Hotel Conde de Villanueva

  • Tobacco

Located on the first floor of the Hotel Conde de Villanueva, this classic old cigar shop is the place to stock up, selling a full array...

Casa del Habano, La Quinta

  • Tobacco

The many locations of the ubiquitous tobacco emporium make shopping for tobacco convenient. ...

Ferria 23 y M

  • Outdoor/Flea/Green Markets

This excellent and eclectic handicraft market is very near the Hotel Nacional and is open weekdays 9–5, selling anything from souvenirs,...

Habana 1791 Aromas Coloniales

  • Perfume/Cosmetics

More like a working museum than a shop, this unique fragrance store sells a range of scents created from natural products all found in...

La Casa del Habano Partagás

  • Tobacco

Although the cigar factory itself has moved to another location, there's still a good cigar shop on the premises. Its knowledgeable staff...

La Maison

  • Clothing

The evening fashion shows (10 pm) here will knock your eyes out—more for the human display than for the textiles—and the luxury clothing...

Longina Música

  • Music Stores

Located on the pedestrianized Calle Obispo, this shop sells an excellent selection of music and Cuban musical instruments. ...

Palacio de la Artesanía

  • Crafts

For tobacco, rum, Cuban music, and all manner of crafts, don't miss this unique shopping mall, housed in the 18th-century colonial Palacio...