What to Pack for a Trip to Cuba: The Ultimate Packing Guide

what to pack to visit cuba

Cuba is a vibrant island nation known for its rich culture, beautiful beaches, classic cars, tropical climate, and complex history. As a popular travel destination, packing properly for a trip to Cuba is key to having an enjoyable vacation. This packing guide covers everything you need to know to prepare for your Cuba vacation. 

Research Entry and Travel Requirements

Cuba has specific entry and visa requirements that are important to research ahead of time. All visitors need:

  • Passport – Make sure your passport is valid for at least two months beyond your planned stay in Cuba.
  • Tourist Card/Visa – Also called a “Tarjeta Turistica”, this document is required for entry. You can obtain it in advance through a visa service or airline, or on arrival at a Cuban airport.
  • Travel Insurance – Proof of comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical expenses is mandatory. Check if your existing policy is valid or purchase a Cuba plan.
  • Return Ticket – You must show proof of a return flight out of Cuba.
  • Customs Declaration Form – This must be completed on arrival. 
  • COVID Requirements – Cuba no longer requires proof of vaccination or testing as of April 2022. Check for any updates before departure.

Making copies of important documents and researching Cuban customs regulations is also recommended.

Pack Proper Clothing

Packing climate appropriate clothing is key for comfort on your Cuba vacation.

  • Cuba has a tropical climate year-round, with hot, humid conditions. Pack lightweight, breathable natural fabrics like cotton and linen. 
  • Bring clothes that cover shoulders and knees when visiting churches and other cultural sites. Avoid beachwear.
  • Include some pants, dresses/skirts, sleeved shirts, and closed toe shoes for going out at night. Don’t wear torn clothing or hats inside.
  • Bring a light jacket or sweater for overly air conditioned interiors. 
  • Be prepared for rain with a compact rain jacket and umbrella, especially May-October.
  • Don’t forget swimsuits, coverups, sunhats, and sandals for the beach.
  • Pack versatile outfits that can be mixed and matched, including a nice outfit for special dinners out.

Pack Essential Personal Items

Due to shortages on the island, bring plenty of your own toiletries and medications:

  • Sunscreen, aloe vera gel, sunglasses, hat
  • Toilet paper, hand sanitizer, hygiene products 
  • Mosquito repellent with DEET 
  • First aid kit, pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication
  • Motion sickness tablets for windy drives
  • Prescription medications in original containers
  • Extra eyeglasses/contacts and solution
  • Laundry soap for handwashing clothes

Prepare Your Electronics

  • Cuba runs on 110 volt electricity – you likely won’t need a converter or adapter. 
  • Pack a portable charger or extra batteries as power outages occur.
  • Download an offline map app as internet service is limited. 
  • Confirm international coverage or plan to buy a local SIM card. WiFi hotspots exist but are unreliable.
  • Bring things to entertain yourself like books, games, and music in case of connectivity issues.

What Not to Bring 

There are restrictions on certain items:

  • Leave valuables like fine jewelry at home. Avoid bringing anything extremely valuable.
  • Do not pack drones, walkie-talkies, or GPS devices.
  • Cuban customs prohibits drugs, weapons, and pornography.
  • There are currency exchange limits – inform your bank before traveling.
  • Keep gift items simple – books, hygiene products, clothes, OTC medicines, etc. Avoid technology.

Luggage Tips

  • Check your airline’s baggage limits and fees. Cubana has a 44 lb limit. 
  • Hard-sided suitcases hold up well on rough Cuban roads. Backpacks are also suitable.
  • Use packing cubes and organizers to maximize space. 
  • Leave room for souvenirs! 

Cuban Currency

Cash is preferred in Cuba. Understand payment options:

Caribbean Tourism on the Rise, But Cuba Struggles to Keep Pace Caribbean Tourism on the Rise, But Cuba Struggles to Keep Pace
  • Bring enough US Dollars, Euros, or Canadian Dollars to exchange. Inform bank first.
  • Most credit/debit cards don’t work, except at larger hotels. Notify your bank. 
  • Keep cash in a money belt or secure wallet. Find authorized exchange bureaus (CADECAs).
  • Budget for unexpected fees and expenses. Have a mix of big and small bills.
  • Tip guides, drivers, waiters, and hotel staff in cash.

Additional Packing Tips

  • Pack photocopies of your passport, visas, etc. in case of loss or theft.
  • Bring accessories if you take prescription glasses or contacts.
  • Have entertainment for long drives/flights, like playlists, podcasts, and books.
  • Pack collapsible bags for souvenirs and donations.
  • Bring snacks like granola bars, trail mix in case of irregular meal times.
  • Have a small Spanish phrasebook to help communicate. Download an offline translator app.


Packing for Cuba requires some advance preparation to meet entry requirements and travel prepared with the right clothing, gear, and money. Focus on versatile lightweight layers, cash, adapters, and personal supplies. Research any changing regulations. Above all, pack your spirit of adventure – Cuba offers an incredible travel experience full of culture, natural beauty, and friendly locals!

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