Havana is one of the most epic cruise stops in the world. What better way to hold on to all of the adventure you are sure to experience in the city than by picking up souvenirs and gifts that are uniquely Cuban? Old Town Havana is loaded with tourist-oriented shops that sell a wide variety of Cuban products, especially in the pedestrian-only lanes like O’Reilly and Obrapia. Carnival’s cruises to Cuba take you right to the heart of the action. While you’re there, be on the lookout for the following list of top 9 things you can buy in Cuba’s fascinating historic capital.
1. Cuban Cigars
Cuban tobacco is famous all over the world for its robust deep flavors, excellent quality, and pleasant aroma. Handpicked in the field, hand dried using traditional methods and then hand rolled, Cuban cigars are pieces of art that should top the list of the first things to buy in Havana.
2. Cuban Rum
Considered the producer of the finest rums in the world since Colonial times, Cuba taps into its lush sugar cane fields to distill this tasty distilled beverage. The perfect gift for those rum lovers in your life, Cuban rum is smooth and full bodied, excellent for drinking straight or on the rocks, as well as mixing with fruit juices or sodas for classy cocktails. Havana is home to many specialty shops with a variety of rums available, although its supermarkets may have the best prices.
Comfortable and casual yet stylish in that old school tropical way, Guayaberas are collared button-down shirts with pockets on the front and two vertical lines of pleats. Guayaberas appear in everyday fashion, but will also show up at special occasions. Made from cotton or linen (flax), these long-lasting and truly good-looking shirts are a great souvenir that you can wear back home whenever you want to slip back into vacation mode.
Cuba has a tradition of art unlike any other country in Latin America since the government has long sponsored artistic training for Cubans, free of charge. The streets of Old Havana are lined with independent artists selling their colorful creations, from abstract and political statements to city scenes that will bring Colonial architecture right into your living room. Many Cuban street painters set up their easels right in public, meaning you can even get a custom and unique piece made on the spot.
5. Cuban Chocolate
Still wondering what to buy in Havana? How about a chunk of heaven on earth? Cuban chocolate is considered one of the best in the world, and as a gift to those sweet-toothed friends and family members back home, it simply has no comparison. In Old Town Havana, several specialty chocolate shops stock everything from bonbons and bars to the powdered pure cacao you can use to make hot chocolate or add to smoothies and juice blends.
One of the favorite pastimes of Cubans all over the island, dominoes is an ancient game that originated thousands of years ago in Egypt. You will see dominoes played on the street all over Havana. Picking up a handmade set from one of the craft shops in the area is a souvenir that will keep your mind sharp and your loved ones entertained for many years to come.
7. Cuban Baseball Jersey
Like many other Caribbean countries, baseball is the national sport of Cuba. Passion for the game can be felt running through the air anytime a match is close at hand. Pick up a cool and colorful jersey that sports the logo of a local team at one of the tourist clothing shops in the city center; it will be a welcome gift for those baseball fanatics back home.
8. Cuban Coffee
Cuba is a country of coffee lovers. In fact, you will see locals sipping away on dark strong shots, sometimes mixed with milk, all over Havana. Both whole roasted beans and ground coffee will be readily available for purchase in both markets and gift shops. Bring some back to enjoy on the cruise, or store it away for those wide-eyed caffeine lovers waiting for your return.
9. Wooden Handicrafts and Gifts
From vintage car models to African-style hand drums, items carved out of wood have been taken to truly awe-inspiring heights in Cuba. One of the first things you will notice after getting off the cruise ship is that Havana’s craft markets are packed with wooden carved items in every shape and form imaginable. A handmade souvenir from this tropical wonderland could be one of the best all-purpose gifts to take back to friends and family.