Two Cuban girls play in a plastic swimming pool.
Photo Norlys Pérez Padrón

Cuba travel essentials – best things to bring to paradise

What do I pack for my first Cuba tour?

Cuba is a sunny warm tropical island, so cotton and other light natural fabrics are ideal. Cubans dress casual and creatively – a consideration when selecting your travel wardrobe. If you think you’ll need it, bring it. You’ll have difficulty finding it in Cuba.

Cuba packing suggestions based on twenty thousand guests

  • Can’t wear beach clothes, cutoffs, and hats to restaurants, evening events, or entertainment venues. Men wear long pants and shoes. Women wear a sundress, skirt or slacks, and a blouse.
  • Bring a light jacket or sweater as rooms, restaurants, tour buses, and other public areas can be overly air-conditioned.
  • Comfortable footwear is key. Never break-in new shoes when traveling.
  • A travel umbrella is needed from May through October for brief downpours.
  • Sunscreen and mosquito repellent are indispensable.
  • Hotels and private homes offer laundry services for a fee. There are no laundromats in Cuba.
  • Airline weight limits and charges change constantly. Check with your airline before packing to avoid extra luggage fees. Consider leaving some space for gifts and donations.

Required documents and money matters

Minimum clothes and accessories to bring

  • Men. Long pants and shoes for evening events, shorts for day activities.
  • Women. Skirt, slacks or sundress for evening events, shorts for day activities.
  • Shirts, T-shirts.
  • Sweater or light jacket.
  • Swimsuit, beach towel if visiting the beach.
  • Underwear and socks.
  • Comfortable shoes (don’t break in new shoes on this trip), sandals, flipflops.
  • Belt, watch, prescription glasses, and contact lenses.
  • Sunglasses travel umbrella, sunscreen.
  • Cap or sun hat.

Medicine and hygiene items – challenging to find in Cuba

  • If you have food allergies, crucial to bring antidotes.
  • Band-Aids, miniature first aid kit, earplugs (if trouble sleeping).
  • Deodorant, fragrance, moisturizer.
  • Face cloth, shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, comb, hairbrush.
  • Fingernail clippers, lip balm, wet wipes.
  • If you are sensitive to foreign food and water, bring Kaopectate or Imodium.
  • Prescription drugs, bring a two-week supply, keep in original container.
  • Mosquito repellent with a 50% DEET component (safe to use on skin).
  • Toilet paper for day excursions, sanitary napkins, condoms.
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, mouthwash, and shaving supplies.
  • Vitamins, headache medicine.

Other travel essentials to consider

  • Camera, mobile phone, tablet, e-reader, laptop, and accessories, including charging cables, batteries.
  • Electricity is mainly 220 AC. Bring a 220 to 110 European adapter for electrical items. See example ONE, example TWO, and example THREE.
  • Snacks, dried fruits, trail mix.
  • Rubber bands, Ziplock bags, super glue, tape, sewing kit.
  • A novel, guidebook, Spanish phrasebook, notepaper, pens, pencils.

Cuba prohibits entry of these items – don’t even consider it!

  • Narcotics. Cuba is a zero-tolerance nation.
  • Explosives and weapons.
  • More than the equivalent of 5,000 US dollars.
  • Anti-Cuba literature or pornography.
  • Aerial drones and walkie-talkies.
  • Stand-alone GPS devices (cell phones are ok).

Need help planning your trip to Cuba?

We love answering questions about Cuba and helping island visitors. Call us toll free at 1-888-965-5647 or email us with your questions.