Smoke a Cuban cigar was definitely top on my list for things to do in Havana. I should say "Take a puff" because I'm not a cigar smoker at all. But when in Rome... Everywhere you go on the island you can find a place to purchase a cigar. However, you are always questioning how authentic the cigar is and if you are paying too much.
There are a few cigar factories that you can tour in HAVANA. For example the Partagas Cigar Factory.
We had a photo shoot in that factory for the Cuban Cutie Bikini. Definitely an experience I would never forget. This factory has recently moved while they are under construction. The new factory is located at: Fábrica de Tabaco H. Upmann (Padre Varela, e/ Desagüe y Peñal Verno, Centro Habana, tel. 07/878-1059 or 07/879-3927, 9am-1pm, CUC10), formerly the Fábrica de Tabaco Romeo y Julieta. Get your tickets in advance.
Although touring the factory is amazing, there is nothing more authentic than the experience of visiting an actual tobacco plantation in the providence of Pinar Del Rio. Just getting outside of the main city of Havana will be an experience all alone. Transportation, way of life, and the landscape change into horse drawn carriages, rural towns and palm tree lined highways with zero traffic.
Now, in order to plan out your day trip adventure to Pinar Del Rio, I listed a few tips to make your experience fun and exciting. Don't worry about planning this too far in advance because getting out to the countryside is actually quite simple. But take a day or two prior once you arrive to confirm a ride and to get the most out of your excursion.
RENT A CAR AND DRIVER
If you did rent your own car, you can make it out there as well, but I'm sure you have to ask for directions quite a few times. But it is totally doable with a map.
There are a few tobacco plantations outside of the city center of Pinar Del Rio that give tours. Not all of them plantations are listed, however I highly recommend once you arrive to Pinar Del Rio, have your driver ask a local to give you some recommendations of where to visit. A lot of these tobacco plantations are not highly visible from the main road. More than likely a dirt road we'll guide you.
During our trip we asked a local to hop in our car and take us to the plantation. His name was Michelle and is a student at the Pinar del Rio University. Some of these guides have deals worked out ahead of time with the plantations to herd tourist to their locations. Although that was the case, we were all pleasantly surprised what a gem the COHIBA plantation was.
As soon as you arrived to the COHIBA plantation, the guide greeted you and gave you a freshly made
Cigars were given to everyone as we started the tour of the plantation. Again, I'm not a cigar smoker, but I indulged myself in a few puffs to get the experience.
The guide spoke perfect English and was incredibly informative on the entire cigar making and smoking process. Seeing the leaves drying from the barn rafters was one of my favorite parts. Also, watching our guide roll a cigar from scratch was another highlight.
I think each cigar was around 5 CUC which normally would have cost around 8-10 CUC buying them in the city.
I made sure to bring extra copies of the Nicolita catalog and leave with the locals to enjoy the photos taken at the most prestigious sites in Cuba. The photo on the cover was taken at a farm in the Vinales Valley.
I think we made a few NICOLITA fans for Life.