For a long time, due to its political landscape, Cuba was seen as the kind of destination that cautious travelers just didn’t flock to, especially those coming from the US. Because this is a relatively new travel hotspot for some vacationers, many aren’t entirely sure what they should or shouldn’t bring with them on their trip.

In this guide, we compiled the most complete list of things to bring to Cuba, including gifts for locals if you want to support them during your trip. We suggested items you should take to the island based on our expertise and other travelers’ experiences.

This article has been updated to include the paperwork you must bring to comply with the Cuban Government’s travel restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

NEW: Looking for more than just things to bring to Cuba? Check out our top Cuba travel tips that you must absolutely know in 2023!

1. Meet the Entry Requirements

What to bring to Cuba - Cuban currency

Your Cuba Tourist Card (a.k.a Cuba Visa)

An interesting fact about Cuba is that most visitors must obtain a Cuba Tourist Card or Cuba Visa. This little document is one of the most important things to bring to Cuba.

You can get the Cuba Tourist Card bundled into your flight ticket from an online provider or at the Cuban Embassy or Consulate in your country.

While traveling around the country, please keep it on you at all times so that it’s not lost or stolen.

If you need to purchase the Cuban Tourist Card online, you can get it from Easy Tourist Card. They deliver the Cuba visa almost anywhere.

Travel health insurance

This is another of the most important things to bring to Cuba. Cuban law requires that all visitors have valid Cuba travel insurance while visiting their country.

If you currently have insurance, ensure it will provide coverage while on vacation. Additionally, ensure that you bring with you the proper proof. This is something officials will ask you about.

You also have the option to purchase travel insurance once in Cuba with Asistur, the local provider. However, be aware that this option is rather expensive.

Before traveling to Cuba, consider purchasing travel health insurance. Companies such as Insubuy offer these insurance plans starting at 8 USD per week per person.

Sanitary Statement and Customs Declaration

Everyone traveling to Cuba must also fill out the Sanitary Statement for Travelers (Declaración de Sanidad del Viajero), a sort of health declaration form. You must also provide the Customs Declaration form.

To save some time and annoyance, complete the required documentation in advance on D’Viajeros, the government’s official site.

As of April 4th, 2022, Cuban authorities no longer require proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative PCR.

2. Bring Good Travel Bags

Things to bring to Cuba - Luggage for Cuba

A light travel suitcase or backpack

There are several different types of bags you can bring along for your trip. Your budget, the time you plan to spend in Cuba, and your personal preferences will determine your best choice. Whatever the case, you’ll want something light and durable to pack your things in.

If you are traveling on a budget or packing light, a travel backpack may be just what you need. This YORPEK backpack is designed for traveling by plane and holds up to forty-five liters.

If you aren’t a backpack fan, there are low-cost options for purchasing a suitcase. The twenty-four-inch AmazonBasics suitcase offers a protective shell and plenty of space for packing without an over-the-top price tag.

Packing cubes

Packing cubes are zippable, often rectangular bags that help you organize your suitcase’s contents.

While any bag with a zipper could do, AmazonBasics offers a set of four packing cubes for a relatively low price. These will help to keep you put together while on your vacation. They also keep the entirety of your Cuba packing list easily accessible.

While it may not seem necessary, this is one of our top picks for what to bring to Cuba.

Laundry bags for clothes and shoes

While it’s possible to go on vacation without them, laundry bags are handy. They help with organization and prevent clean clothes from getting dirty.

Carrying a set of laundry bags for clothes and another for shoes is inexpensive to alleviate potential stress.

3. What to Wear in Cuba

What to bring to Cuba - What to Wear in Cuba

Appropriate clothes and accessories

While the island’s landscape differs depending on where you’re staying, the climate is fairly similar throughout. It’s usually quite hot.

Pack mostly lightweight clothing suitable for sweating in the sun, and bring a light jacket or overshirt to wear during potential cold spells.

Although Cuba is a safe country to visit, don’t wear too many eye-catching accessories. When it comes to the jewelry, if you don’t need to bring it and hate it if lost or stolen, consider leaving it at home.

You may wonder what to wear in Cuba for evening events or iconic venues like the cabaret Tropicana. Just bring smart casual clothes, if not overly formal. Remember, there is no need to dress up.


Sunhats offer protection from the sun, which can be brutal in Cuba. They’re also rather fashionable on the island for both men and women.


Similar to sunhats, sunglasses will help protect you from too much sunlight. In Cuba, you will really need them.

Although, the same line of thinking applies to sunglasses as jewelry. Consider leaving your more expensive pairs home so they aren’t lost or stolen during your trip. You wouldn’t want them sinking to the bottom of the ocean or anything.


While traveling in Cuba, you’re likely to do a lot of trekking down rather dusty roads. It’s in your best interest to bring along some close-toed walking shoes for those occasions.

Something simple such as a pair of New Balance tennis shoes for men or women would work just fine. They will also be suitable if you visit the more mountainous parts of Cuba for outdoor adventure.

Walking sandals

A comfortable and stylish pair of walking sandals are essential for Cuba.

You’ll want to wear these while perusing shops and other touristy locations in Cuba’s more metropolitan cities. That’s if you even want to get out of those colorful classic cars in Cuba (tip: you should take a drive!).

KEEN men’s or Teva women’s are relatively inexpensive options that should remain comfortable after a day spent shopping.


A simple, cheap pair of flip-flops are essential for both men and women when exploring the beautiful Cuban beaches.

Microfiber towels

A good microfiber towel is a must for any vacation where you plan to spend some time in the water or under extreme heat. Get a sweat towel that is lightweight, durable, and easy to pack.


Really? Do I need to remind you that Cuba has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean?

Beaches are a no-no for you if you come from the US, but for the lucky rest: don’t forget to pack your swimsuits!

4. Staying Healthy

Things to bring to Cuba - Filtered Water Bottle for Cuba

Face masks

Face masks are not required in Cuba. However, many Cubans still use them everywhere they go. Some facilities may also ask you to wear a mask inside. Please, be respectful of the mask etiquette on the island.

Get a pack of lightweight, disposable face masks suitable to use and carry everywhere in Cuba.

Hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is scarce in Cuba. Commonly, locals use hypochlorite instead.

Bring your own pack of hand sanitizer to protect yourself from getting COVID-19 from surfaces, which may not be sufficiently clean in tourist facilities.

Over-the-counter medicines

Although Cuba is praised for having a free healthcare system, the truth is that shortages of basic over-the-counter medicines are not uncommon.

You never know what might happen, and you’ll want to be able to take care of little emergencies as they arise.

Therefore, consider bringing along your own travel first aid medication kit.

Toilet tissues

Finding toilet paper in Cuba is complicated, except in high-end tourist facilities. You will likely find yourself needing some toilet tissues at some point during your Cuba adventure.

Therefore, bring a travel-size pack of toilet tissues. You will thank us later.

A filtered water bottle

Wait, what? Most people wouldn’t put a water bottle on their list of things to bring to Cuba.

We believe it’s a bad idea to travel without one. Water pollution in Cuba is still terrible. Additionally, the supply of purified water is meager.

If you don’t expect to have bottled water all the time, bringing your own filtered water bottle helps to eliminate some of the risks.


As with all tropical, sun-soaked countries, bringing and wearing an appropriate amount of sunscreen is incredibly important.

You definitely don’t want to spend your vacation sunburnt and miserable.

Mosquito repellent

It’s important to keep in mind that mosquito-borne diseases are not uncommon in Cuba, such as Dengue and Zika.

For this reason, you must take whatever precautions necessary to repel the mosquitoes that carry this virus.

A simple bug spray is one of the most important items on the list of what to bring to Cuba. Make sure you use it every day and safely.

5. Electronic Devices

What to bring to Cuba - Electronics for Cuba

Your personal devices

Obviously, you’ll want to bring your cell phone and, if necessary, your laptop, tablet, etc.

Before traveling with your cell phone, contact your service provider to discuss travel rates. Also, make sure you will have Internet service in Cuba at all.

Additionally, it may be a good idea to fill up your tablet or e-reader with plenty of new books and put some new music in your library.


You’ll want to bring your camera to document all the adventures you will have on your island vacation.

Make sure you have plenty of available storage, whether bringing a professional camera or just using your smartphone.

Consider a waterproof camera to capture more of your beachside memories without the risk of water damage.

Portable charger

Bringing a portable charger means you are prepared for an emergency. Even if you cannot make it back to where you’re staying, you’ll be able to keep your devices charged.

Pin adapter, if necessary

Cuba uses the same plug types as North America, which is great for people traveling to Cuba from Canada or from the US.

This means you will need to purchase a pin adapter to plug in your electronics if you fly from elsewhere.

6. Touring Around

Touring Around Cuba

Cash, always cash

Cuba is primarily a cash country. ATMs are old and scattered. Many facilities won’t accept credit or debit cards, especially if issued by American banks.

Therefore, expect to pay most of your trip to Cuba costs in Cuban Pesos. Upon landing on the island, exchange your home currency for CUPs (Cuban Pesos)!

The official place to exchange your money for CUP is called CADECA (Casas de Cambio). You can find them at airports, resorts and hotels, cruise ports, and other tourism facilities across the country. Please, don’t exchange your money on the black market. You may be exposed to scams.

Travel guide

There’s certainly no shortage of things to do in Cuba.

However, having a travel guide that can point you in the right direction can be helpful, especially if you are backpacking Cuba alone.

Real Havana by Mario Rizzi promises to guide you away from the tourist traps and enjoy Cuba the way Cubans do. You can also read our ultimate guide to the best Havana attractions.

Spanish-English phrasebook

Unless you are fluent in Spanish, a Spanish-English dictionary or phrasebook is a no-brainer.

Carrying one of these around with you will be incredibly helpful in communicating with the locals. This is important whether you have a simple question or need help in an emergency.

7. What to Bring to Cuba for Locals

Certain items that may be readily available and inexpensive in your home country may be hard to come by in Cuba. Many Cubans spend hours in long lines at stores to buy essential products you may take for granted, such as toothpaste, toilet paper, and painkillers.

Inflation, low wages, and shortages of almost everything have made it difficult for Cubans to access food, medicine, and other basic goods. Therefore, bringing a thoughtful gift will not only show your appreciation but can meet the vital needs of your host.

With that said, please don’t go around giving gifts to everyone on the streets. It’s inappropriate and unsafe. Bring gifts to friends, some hotel staff (don’t forget to tip them!), your “casa particular” or Airbnb host, and other locals you have emotionally connected with.

Also, be mindful of any items the Cuban authorities may consider offensive or subversive. You don’t want to get your hosts into trouble!

Here are some ideas for gifts you can bring to Cuba:

  • Clothing, shoes, flip-flops, and accessories.
  • Hygiene products: toothbrushes and toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, soap, deodorant, toilet paper, and other female hygiene products.
  • Medicines: aspirin, ibuprofen, anti-diarrhea pills, band-aids, and vitamins.
  • Sheets, pillowcases, and towels.
  • Sweets: chocolate, candies, chewing gum.
  • School supplies and toys for kids: pencils, pens, coloring books, notepads, crayons, action figures, puzzles, balls, etc.
  • Electronics accessories: flash drive sticks, SD cards, old tablets or cell phones, used cameras, batteries, power banks, charging cables, and USB chargers.
  • Non-perishable food: canned goods, peanut butter, dry soups, jelly, coffee, cereals, granola bars, powdered milk, etc.

Essential personal items you leave behind after your trip may also be appreciated.

8. Cuban Import Regulations

Cuban Customs

Finally, read carefully the Cuban import regulations and the answers to your most burning questions about what you can legally bring to Cuba.

If you want to know more about what to expect in a Cuban airport, take a look at our walkthrough of Havana Airport.

What to Bring to Cuba: The Packing List to Cuba

To recap, here is the full list of things to pack for Cuba. Review it, cross off the items you already have, and pack it up!

It’s a Wrap!

Cuba is a wonderful destination. You’ll want to ensure you have everything you need to fully enjoy all the island offers. Hopefully, our guide on what to bring to Cuba will help you achieve just that. 

Feel free to share your thoughts below, and share this article if you enjoyed it!

About the Author

Tour Republic

Tour Republic is a travel marketplace where local entrepreneurs offer memorable experiences in Cuba. We also write about our passion for Cuba, from in-depth travel guides to myth-busting articles. Some articles may contain affiliates links at no cost to you.