Let’s face it, shopping mecca is not the first word that comes to mind when you think about the Cuban capital. But there are shops in Cuba, don’t panic.
Supermarkets in Havana Cuba are not like supermarkets anywhere else, and the malls are not like malls either.
If your main travel objective is full days of shopping, Havana is simply not your city. But that does not mean that shopping is impossible!
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Shops In Cuba
You can absolutely go shopping in Cuba for new outfits and accessories, at least in the larger cities, like Havana, Trinidad, Santiago de Cuba, and Cienfuegos.
However, shopping in the sense of spending the day in streets full of stores, looking for bargains on elegant outfits, shoes, bags, make-up, and all that is not really a realistic option.
The kind of shopping you can do in Havana is mainly the touristy stuff, Cuban cigars, bottles of local rum, and artwork by one of Cuba’s very skilled artists which are sold in the myriad of showrooms or little shops throughout Havana.
Endless long streets with clothes and accessories shops are not what you find in Havana. BUT!
There are clothing stores in Cuba if you want something to bring home, or suddenly need something special.
So as to whether it is possible to go shopping in Havana? Well, YES, it is. Allow me to show you where you can find what you need!
Shopping In Havana Cuba
Galeria De Tiendas At Manzana Kempinski Hotel
In the same building as the stylish Hotel Manzana, there is a high-end 1st-floor shopping mall. The hotel and mall are situated right between the end of Obispo Street and Parque Central and are easy to find.
Most of the stores here are on the super pricey end of the specter. You can find designer brands of clothing, shoes, and accessories as well as cosmetics and jewelry.
One positive thing about this mall is that there are hardly ever any queues – unless the coffee store has got new shipments of the brown gold coffee (which in 2022 is “impossible” to get in the whole of Cuba).
Also read: The Havana Art Scene & Galleries
Brands Range From Armani To Mango
The shops you will find here range from high-end designer brand clothing like Armani and Versace to more mainstream clothing like Mango.
Also, you will find lingerie, travel accessories, a whole L’Occitane brand shop, and an exclusive coffee shop called D’Cuba Coffee.
You can also get jewelry, watches, perfumes, cosmetics and of course rum and cigars!
Shopping In Havana Obispo Street
The main street of Old Havana is a pedestrian street for the most part and is normally buzzing with life.
Here you will find ice cream, street vendors, music and dancers, small kiosks, and bigger restaurants. You can get a sandwich and a beer to go, or have a seat for a meal.
Most of the shops you find on Obispo street are touristy places where you can buy Cuban rum, cigars, flip-flops, and t-shirts stating CUBA for your post-holiday summer outfits.
However, there are some nice stores in Obispo as well. Sports stores in Obispo offer shoes and sporty outfits of good quality, and some clothing stores have nice clothes and shoes of good quality.
One of my favorite clothes- and accessories stores are also in Obispo, called Unico.
Also read: 33+ Legendary Things To Do In Havana Cuba!
Unico is the most “Western” shop I have found in Old Havana, with a cool and diverse range of items at a decent price.
The shop looks modest and closed from the outside, although they just recently started opening up window displays of clothes which are not very common in Cuba. You may expect some queue to get in though, but it will be worth it.
Check out the photos below for an impression of strolling down Obispo, and notice the Etecsa store is also here – where you need to go to get wifi cards!
Carlos III Shopping Mall
The Plaza de Carlos III Shopping Mall is a four-story shopping mall situated in the border area between Centro Havana and Vedado on Avenida Salvador Allende. Named after the old name of the plaza where it was constructed.
When this mall opened in the late 90ès, it was the largest shopping complex in Cuba, with lots of different shops, fast food outlets, a bank, a food market, and more.
During the pandemic, all the malls have been closed, but in November 2021 slowly all the larger businesses are opening again and restocking their supply – but the prices are a lot higher than two years ago. By September 2022 things are back to normal, although affected by the pandemic and sanctions.
Avenida San Rafael Across From Parque Central
The Avenida San Rafael starts just across Parque Central from Manzana Hotel, with Hotel Inglaterra on one side and Gran Teatro on the other.
The start of the avenue is easily recognizable by the statue of the couple embraced in a kiss right in the middle of the street.
Outside of the entrance of the Inglaterra there normally is a vibrant music scene along with restaurants serving drinks and meals under the stylish palisades.
A lot of little shops with everything from home decor to clothes to sweets to art to liquor stores surround the wide pedestrian zone in Avenida San Rafael that goes on for four long blocks.
The ambiance of Avenida San Rafael is a little more high-endìsh than Obispo Street – which has more of the tourist in slippers-vibe.
The dress above: from a Cuban particular (private) store in Ave. San Rafael, location: restaurant La Guarida in Central Havana, pose Queen’ish!
Regardless of if you have shopping goals or not, a stroll down San Rafael is a nice experience.
The pedestrian Avenida San Rafael ends up in a little park area where there sometimes are markets, and you can have a rest on a park bench and connect to the wifi that is available there.
Shopping In Plaza Vieja Old Havana
In Plaza Vieja in Old Havana on the corner of street Teniente Rey and Mercaderes, you find two incredibly discretely placed clothes shops.
The thing about Cuba and shopping is that there are never any large signs or windows letting you know that there is a shop inside (or what kind of shop for that matter).
The first one is a United Colors of Benetton, and the other one is called Boutique Plaza Vieja.
If you go up close outside, you might just get a glimpse of what is inside!
Clandestina In Calle Villegas
Clandestina is a small almost invisible cool little shop in Calle (street) Villegas 403 in Havana Vieja, Old Havana.
Just beside Parque Cristo between scruffy buildings that look super run down and neglected are a bright sign and a wall painted in bright colors hiding the Cuban contemporary design shop named Clandestina.
Also read: All you need to know about Havana!
Inside are trendy t-shirts and hats and little bags with prints and of course, also design face masks these days.
Here is what they say about themselves in the Clandestina shop!
“Founded by young Cuban artists and entrepreneurs, Clandestina is Cubas first desing store – providing both tourists and residents with contemporary products that are uniquely designed and manufactured in Cuba. The Clandestina name is inspired by the Cuban film Clandestinos. A masterpiece about young and subversive revolutionaries. Clandestian means Cuan-made, progressive, contemporary, youthful, resourcefulness, playful humor and Carribean Happiness”.
The Vedado By Hotel Tryp Habana Libre
Around the open square plaza surrounding the entrance to Hotel Tryp Habana Libre, you also find a selection of shops.
They have a slightly touristy ambiance but sell light summer clothes and accessories like t-shirts, hats, shorts, and skirts. You also find a liquor store on the corner of Calle (street) 23 and Calle L, just across from the Coppelia Ice Cream Bar!
Wrap-Up Shops In Cuba!
Although Havana is not a shopping mecca, you can find nice places to buy what you might need in the different districts in Havana.
My advice is still to lower your shopping expectations for this otherwise vibrant city, which is no real bother as there are so many other interesting things to do!
The shopping you can do anywhere, Havana offers you a whole lot of something different!
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