For decades, the embargo against Cuba by the United States, had prevented Americans from buying Cuban goods. In 2014, that embargo was eased, and travelers could bring home $100 worth of goods, specifically cigars. Now that Cuba is officially open to travel, visitors are allowed an unlimited supply, helping the teetering economy of Cuba.
As a newly open country to tourists, Cuba’s main source for cigars comes from La Habana, the capital city of Cuba. The largest city and leading commercial center for Cuba, La Habana definitely has many places to buy cigars. The only problem is that you cannot tell which places have true authenticity, and which do not. One cautious thing to do is to never trust the street vendors when it comes to the fine quality of Cuban cigars. The cigar spots listed below are guaranteed to provide Cuba’s famed authentic cigars.
1. La Casa Del Habano
As the world’s leading franchise for Cuban tobacco, La Casa Del Habano was first introduced to the world in Cancun, Mexico. It’s popularity rose and spread throughout the waters, giving other countries, the sweet and savory taste of Cubantabaco. With no surprise, La Habana was one of the locations that La Casa Del Habano was a part of. On the corner of 5th Avenue and 16th Street, where tranquility and serenity collide, this world-premiere shop hosts a long history of popular cigars.
Like many places that sell cigars, La Casa Del Habano holds several array of private rooms for customers to puff on their newly purchased cigars. With a courteous staff that have their “know-hows” into cigars, even a newly introduced cigar aficionado can feel welcome. Cigar-friendly dining rooms are also available, allowing anyone to enjoy the rich, brim taste of a cigar, while enjoying a drink or a meal. If you’re ever in Cuba, this nice shop is the place to go. Don’t forget to order a nice cup of coffee, after you’ve selected your cigar. La Casa Del Habano also brings a nice little cup of Cubita with real tobacco leaves on the side, so that you can kick back and enjoy heavenly tastes.
2. Partagas Factory
The Partagas Cigar Factory is a huge, integral piece to cigar history. As one of the world’s first cigar rolling factories, the Partagas is a great mainstay and a legendary part to La Habana. Rolling cigars for 172 years, the Partagas’ original building was closed and moved to another location. Although the factory is closed, the shop inside remains open.
Most tourists buy tickets to tour around the new factory and it allows anyone to experience how a cigar is produced. An interesting sight to behold, most of the people who go to the Partagas, are interested in seeing the process, even if they do not know a thing about cigars. The guides at the factory speak fluent English and French, so that visitors feel welcome. The tickets to the factory estimate to $10 and you can even buy a ticket at a hotel you may be staying at. The temperature in the factory is very warm and you must venture through many staircases, so it’s suggested that visitors dress lightly, if you’re interested in taking a tour.
One of the few things that you should be cautious about, is going to the old building. Although the shop is still open and holds a variety of good-quality cigars, there are people who scour around the old building. Be very cautious of the cigars these people might sell to you, because most likely they are fakes. One of the life lessons I’ve learned as a child, is to never trust people who try to sell you something on the street.
© Carsten ten Brink
3. La Corona Cigar Bar
The cigar bar inside the Paradisus Princesa del Mar Resort is always the frequent place to relax. If you are staying at this resort, go and check out La Corona. It will not disappoint. With a small and cozy decor and clean atmosphere, you can be sure that the relaxation inside, along with the mixture of the decadent taste of your selection in cigars, will enchant you to take another visit.
With a wide selection of drinks, you can be sure that the combination of flavors will make you say, “I need to come back again next year.” The hotel is also a five-star rated establishment, so you can be sure that it’s guaranteed to make your trip unforgettable. With great entertainment, food, and staff to compliment your visit, this cigar bar will make you churn for more.
4. Alejandro Robaina Plantation Field
As the only working tobacco plantation in all of Cuba, the Alejandro Robaina Plantation Field will draw you in as soon as you enter it’s gates. With only CUC$2, you can experience a once-in-a-lifetime tour around the field. The tour will approximately take 25 minutes. It starts at the restaurant/bar which explains the what and the how of the plantation, overviewing what is to be expected. With the explanation of the long process, the seeds are planted in a greenhouse during August. The seeds are then removed and replanted onto the fields around November and grown until February. Until May, the leaves are dried in a secadero, a tobacco leaf-drying house.
After you pass by the secadero, the end of the tour will demonstrate how a cigar is rolled. An old man will show you a demonstration and the tour will end with a free cigar. Of course, the older gentleman will remind you to tip him. If you wish to buy cigars from the field, there is a pink house that offers cigars for a price. Although it is not a traditional gift shop that you can go to, it’s genuineness will definitely attract you. If you’re lucky or charismatic, you may even get a sample taste of a Cohiba.
Like a fine bottle of wine, cigars only get better through age. And paralleling the taste of cigars, the Havana of Cuba can offer you the amazing array of culture and beauty within. The main attraction for many tourists are the cigars, however, when you visit La Habana, make sure to relax and have fun.