5 Awesome Souvenirs to Bring Home from Cuba that are NOT Cuban Cigars
I just finished a whirlwind visit to Havana, Cuba, on a people-to-people educational exchange with the Nashville Bar Association and Cuba Cultural Travel. Any time you go to a new country, you want the perfect souvenir to bring home, and Cuba is no different—the difference lies in the issue that Cuba has been largely cut off to the majority of US travelers for the past half century. There is a definite element of mystique and wonder about Cuba and the items you can bring back home with you!
Top 5 Souvenirs from Cuba
Everyone talks about Cuban cigars, but there are other awesome souvenirs that will remind you of your visit to Cuba and your time with Cuba’s friendly, welcoming people.
1. Cuban Coffee
This blog post is fueled by the Cuban coffee seen is the above image, and unlike some other bags of coffee I’ve picked up along the way, I have to say the Cuban coffee I brought back with me is just as tasty in America! ¡Qué rico!
2. Cuban Rum
Cuba is known for cigars and rum, and now travelers can bring these products back to America for personal consumption. This means you won’t be seeing Santiago de Cuba or Havana Club at your local store, making Cuban rum the perfect you-can’t-buy-this-at-home souvenir! Also, it’s really, really high quality rum. CUC$50 will buy a bottle of the premium 12 year Santiago de Cuba, or you can purchase other great bottles in the CUC$10-20 range.
Arts and culture thrive in the Cuban capital city. We visited art galleries, attended the Cuban ballet, and saw an unforgettable performance by the Cuban Youth Orchestra. A highlight was our adventure to José Fuster’s Fusterlandia, a magical wonderland of painted tiles in the Jaimanitas neighborhood. Bring one of Fuster’s famed works home for ballpark CUC$30 for a painted tile, CUC$100-120 for a smaller piece of watercolor, and CUC$300 plus for a larger painting.
Cuba has a very interesting currency system. There are two currencies—one for Cubans and one for foreigners. The Cuban peso (CUP) is the national currency, and the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) is used by visitors. At time of publication, there are 25 CUP to 1 CUC according to Wikipedia, although you won’t find yourself exchanging the two Cuban currencies as visitors only use the latter.
CUC$1 = 1 USD, but take into account a 3% currency exchange fee and 10% penalty when you exchange money. For $100 (USD), you’ll get CUC$87.
If you have leftover Euros laying around from a previous trip, bring those to exchange first before exchanging dollars. You can exchange money at your hotel; if you’re staying in a Casa Particular, exchange at a bank.
Cuba is one of those places where you feel like every photo is a winner. The diverse, crumbling architecture, bright colors, smiling people, stately buildings, grand plazas—it’s a magnificent place to have a camera. You can take photos anywhere, but it’s a special thing indeed to get to photograph Havana.
Have you been to Cuba? Let me know about your visit!
Disclaimer: This blog post does not contain legal advice on legality of travel to Cuba, the customs process, and/or any issues related to travel and import/export from Cuba.