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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  • 1. Almacenes de San José

    La Habana Vieja | 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 maze filled...Read More

  • 2. Taller Experimental de Grafica

    La Habana Vieja | Art Galleries

    In the small alleyway just off Plaza Catedral, this vast workshop, which started in 1962, is one of the best places to buy unique artwork in...Read More

  • 3. Casa de la Música

    Miramar | Music

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

  • 4. Casa del Habano Hotel Conde de Villanueva

    La Habana Vieja | 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 of Habanos...Read More

  • 5. Casa del Habano, La Quinta

    Miramar | Tobacco

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

  • 6. Ferria 23 y M

    Vedado | Market

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

  • 7. Habana 1791 Aromas Coloniales

    La Habana Vieja | 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 Cuba...Read More

  • 8. La Casa del Habano Partagás

    Centro Habana | Tobacco

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

  • 9. La Maison

    Miramar | 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 is...Read More

  • 10. Longina Música

    La Habana Vieja | Music

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

  • 11. Palacio de la Artesanía

    La Habana Vieja | 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 de...Read More

  • 12. Piscolabis

    La Habana Vieja | Souvenirs

    A unique gift and souvenir shop located in between Plaza de Armas and Plaza Catedral, Piscolabis sells an eclectic range of jewelry, glasswork...Read More

  • 13. Quitrín

    La Habana Vieja | Clothing

    Set up some 30 years ago by the Federation of Cuban Women, this successful shop now has a number of outlets throughout Cuba. It sells off-the...Read More

  • 14. Mercado de Arte y de Artesanía de la Catedral

    La Habana Vieja | Market

    At the end of Calle Empedrado, near the Catedral de la Habana and along the Parque Luz Caballero, is the a street market choked with paintings...Read More

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