When you travel and come back home, it’s customary to give to your closest friends and family a gift from your holidays. That’s why in Casas particulares in Cuba Bandbcuba.com we will like to give you a list of the best souvenirs to bring from your trip to Cuba. Keep this list in mind in your next trip so you won’t have any legal problems and you can take back home pieces that are traditional.
Souvenirs as a tradition
The word souvenir is French, it means remembrance or memory. Traditionally it’s an object that one person gets and associate it with a memory or place. It doesn’t have to be and object that you buy, can be one that you collected.
The idea is that you take that object home, to remember a visit. It doesn’t need to be expensive or cheap. The idea it’s that this gift shouldn’t be really expensive, because the person who receive this can feel uncomfortable.
The object need to have some value, like sentimental or an expression of the experience, a symbol of the country or city, it even can have a symbolic meaning. It’s up to the people who bring the gift from Cuba to explain it to the person who receive it.
At the beginning it was more like a tradition, but the tourism industry has change. And now people see it as a merchandise, as a commercial object, and they are an important income for local commerce. When you go to a very popular destination you will see thousands of objects that you can buy as souvenirs, like ones with geographical information, postcards, clothes, hats, refrigerator magnets, figures, objects for the kitchen, for the office, and so much more.
Keep in mind that not all the souvenirs that you could bring home are mass produced. You can find objects from local artists, some handmade by an artisan, and things that are not commercial, like a stone, or a sea shelve, for example.
¿It’s legal to bring things back from Cuba?
When travelling to Cuba you must think a lot about legal and illegal things. This country have very strong rules and legislations about almost anything. So when you buy something to bring back home, you need to know if it is legal or not to take that out from Cuba.
Off course, you can bring souvenirs from Cuba, but, not everything that is on sale in this island can be transport abroad. Somethings are illegal to bring from Cuba to the United States of America. Some things have change from 2015, but there are some regulations to keep in mind.
The regulations are because of the US embargo against Cuba. It limited the possibility for American’s to bring home Cuban cigars, even if they weren’t buy in Cuba. But as we mentioned the limitations have change over the past years, and travellers can travel back to USA with cigars but that cost no more than 100 dollars.
There are also limitations with the rum and other kind of alcohol. The alcohol and rum must be in your carry-on baggage, and the amount is limited to personal use. It’s banned in the US to sell Cuban’s cigars.
Best souvenirs to bring from your trip to Cuba
Keeping in mind everything you need to know before traveling to Cuba and the things we mention about what is legal and what is not. It’s time to go to the gift shop or to the street market and buy the things you want to bring home from Cuba.
There is not so much variety of things and gifts to buy in cuba, but you will see some pretty things, and very representative of their culture.
Of course Cuban cigars are the first thing in our list. It’s one of the iconic things from Cuba. When you buy this object keep in mind the limitations of amount you can bring to the US and Europe, also buy them in legal stores, because you will need the receipt to show to the authorities in the airport. Some of the best cigars are Cohiba and Montecristo.
The Cuban Government run stores, the official ones, where you can buy authentic Cuban cigars that are from the best labels in the word. The prices are the same in every store run by the government, can be in a hotel or in a street, the cost is the same.
If you visit a local farm, like the ones in Viñales, you can enjoy the walk through the tobacco fields, the factories, and doing the tour, enjoying the whole experience… And then buying some handmade cigars.
This kind of cigars won’t be like de Cohiba, because there are more artisan, but if you are not an expert or regular smoker, this could be a good option for you or to gift to a friend. They are cheaper than the commercial ones, they cost among 1 or 2 CUC each one.
There is a black market in Cuba, locals will see you as a naive person, and they will offer you cigars on the streets. But it’s not advisable to buy this things on the streets, you won’t be able to know it they are legit or good quality
Cigars are not cheap
If you want to buy some really good ones you should know that they cost about 20 or 30 dollars each one. Outside Cuba one of these cigars can cost twice of that amount.
If you want to buy a souvenir to a cigar lover, along with the cigars a humidor from Cuba can be an excellent choice. Also there are lighters, matches and cutters. You will find some with the Cuban flag or other icons from this island.
Another icon from Cuba is the Rum, it’s delicious and it’s the main ingredient of many cocktails and drinks. You might think that you can find rum from Cuba in your country, but it’s worthy to buy the real thing from Cuba. The best brands are Santiago de Cuba Añejo, Havana Club and Legendario Elixir de Cuba.
As we said with the cigars, there is a limited amount of rum you can bring back home, if you bring 1 litre, you won’t need to declare it in the airport.
If you only travel with a carry-on bag, you won’t be able to bring so much rum, but you can buy some at the airport. And it is not a bad choice, because there you can find a good selection.
If you want to bring a good souvenir you must know the person you are going to give that thing. For example, if you have a relative or a friend who loves art or have some cultural inclination, a piece of art is a good gift.
In Cuba you will find pieces of art, like canvas paintings or handmade ceramic or wooden pieces in good prices. This art is easy to find in markets, are made by local artist. This is one of the best gifts to bring back from Cuba
If you are planning a trip to Cuba and don’t know where to stay, contact us and find the best accommodation.
You will find in Cuba the traditional souvenirs shops, special for tourists. In these places you will find things related to traditional icons, persons, places… For example a Che Guevara t-shirt or a traditional Fidel Castro hat. But when buying in these stores, think about if the person is really going to use this item.
Don’t make the mistake of buying things that are not useful, you will be throwing your money away. You can buy things like a key chain, a fridge magnet, for example.
A Cuban baseball jersey or a hat are also a good gifts to bring back home. This island have a strong baseball tradition, so these are a good representation of the island.
You can buy a perfume from Cuba as a gift to a female friend or relative. In Havana there is a store you don’t want to miss, is Havana 1791. There they create perfumes based on local products, like flowers of plant. ¿The cost? From 10 CUC.
Smells like the Mariposa, white ginger or butterfly jasmine are some of the most popular… But there you can also find a perfume based on the tobacco leaves smell.
- Cuban honey it’s a good local product to bring back from cuba. It’s pure, natural, and its taste is delicious. It doesn’t have any chemicals on it. It can cost 1.5 CUC per jar.
- Cuban coffee is another good gift from Cuba. You can find it in the airport. Also you can buy a coffee maker.
- Torticas de Moron, these are Cuban sugar cookies. You will find these cookies in any bakery in Havana.
- Cuban chocolate, maybe it’s not one of the best chocolates in the word. But you can buy some of it, visit the Museum of Chocolate in Old Havana.
There are some other souvenirs you can buy, like: coconut monkeys, Hemingway items, jewels, and a straw hat.
What do you think about the best souvenirs to bring from your trip to Cuba? Do you think we are missing an important one? Tell us about what things you will like to bring back from your journey to this island.