Cuban Lifestyle

Overview Shopping
  • Unique crafts in Havana
  • Reasonable prices for foreigners in US dollars
  • Advise to exchange money only into dollar, not into pesos
  • Beware illegal products

Shopping in Cuba

With Cuba being the interesting and unique place that it is, you can imagine that shopping here is sure to be anything but boring. Hard currency shops are those that deal in dollars and which usually sell their goods to foreigners.

A great place to see when shopping is the crafts market in Cuba's capital city, Havana, which is set up behind the Plaza de la Catedral in Old Havana. It is okay to bargain a little regarding the price, in general it is expected. Prices will vary as you move around, generally the further you are from the large cities and towns, the cheaper the prices.

Beware of goods made with illegal items, such as animal parts of animals that are protected species. Also be aware that for certain art products and books you will need a special license to be able to take them out of the country.

Currency and Payment

The legal currency in Cuba is the Cuban Peso. One hundred cents (centavos) make up one Cuban peso. Notes come in denominations of peso 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of 1 peso, and 20, 5, 2 and 1 centavos.

The US dollar is also accepted as legal tender since 1993. In larger tourist and urban areas, the Euro is also accepted. Hard currency must be used in most transactions. This is usually referred to as hard currency and most visitors are expected to use it. Pesos are rarely accepted from tourists.

Exchanging Currency – you should change all money at official foreign exchange bureaus, banks or international airports, in which you will be issued with a receipt for each transaction. Even so, remember that pesos are not usually accepted coming from tourists, so it won’t really be necessary to change much money.

The prices in places usually frequented by foreigners will be marked in US dollars.

Useful words and Phrases

Useful words

  • caro/cara - expensive
  • barato/barata - cheap
  • comprar - to buy
  • vender - to sell
  • abierto - open
  • cerrado - closed
  • pagar - to pay
  • efectivo - cash
  • la tarjeta de credito - the credit card
  • el recibo - the receipt

Useful phrases

  • ¿Cuánto cuesta? - How much does it cost?
  • Es demasiado caro. - It's too expensive.
  • ¿Podria mostrarme … ? - Could you show me…?
  • Voy a pagar al contado. - I'm going to pay cash.
  • Voy a pagar con tarjeta. - I’m going to pay with my credit card.
  • Sólo estoy mirando. - I'm just looking.