Cuba’s socio-economic landscape is complex. The ongoing economic situation means that many everyday items are not easily accessible. Things like toiletries, medicines, and electronics will be harder to find or more expensive than anticipated.

The Cuban Government also requires you to bring some documentation you may need to obtain before flying to the country. On top of that, you will have to deal with the country’s scarce infrastructure, which limits basic services (Internet, ATMs, etc.).

This article will teach you how to pack strategically for Cuba. 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 suggest only essential items; things you should take to the island based on our expertise and other travelers’ experiences.

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!
In this article…

    Entry Requirements

    What to bring to Cuba - Cuban currency

    The Cuba Tourist Card (a.k.a Cuban Visa)

    An interesting fact about Cuba is that most visitors must obtain a Cuba Tourist Card or Cuba Visa.

    You can get the Cuba Tourist from:

    • Your airline.
    • The Cuban Embassy or Consulate in your country.
    • Online on Easy Tourist Card (recommended). They deliver the Cuba visa almost anywhere.

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

    Travel health insurance

    Travel health insurance is one of the most important things to bring to Cuba. Not only does the Cuban law require it, but you will be protected.

    We analyzed dozens of insurance providers for Cuba and recommend Insubuy, which offers 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.


    What to bring to Cuba - What to Wear in Cuba

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

    In general, pack mostly lightweight clothing suitable for sweating in the sun.

    Although Cuba is a safe country to visit, don’t wear too many eye-catching accessories. Consider leaving expensive jewelry at home.

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

    However, consider that you can’t wear beach clothes or shorts at most evening venues.


    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.


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

    However, the same line of thinking applies to sunglasses as jewelry. Consider leaving your more expensive pairs at 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, will work. They will also be suitable if you visit the more mountainous parts of Cuba for outdoor adventure.

    Walking sandals

    You’ll want to wear a comfortable and stylish pair of walking sandals while perusing shops and other touristy locations in Cuban 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.

    Flip-flops or water shoes

    When exploring the beautiful Cuban beaches, a simple, cheap pair of flip-flops is essential for both men and women.

    Remember that some swimming areas may be a bit rocky, so you may be better off wearing water shoes.


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

    Officially, beaches are a no-no for you if you come from the US, although no one will watch you while on the island. For the lucky rest, don’t forget to pack your swimsuits!

    Light jacket or sweater

    Bring a light jacket or overshirt to wear at restaurants, buses, and hotels where the air conditioning may be very cold.

    Raincoat or umbrella

    If you travel during the rainy season, bring a light raincoat or a compact umbrella to protect you from the occasional rain downpours.

    Blister bandages

    Increased walking in Cuban cities can lead to blisters, especially if you’re not used to the climate or terrain.

    Blister bandages will help you prevent foot discomfort. It’s a small addition to your travel kit that can significantly impact your overall experience.

    Health and Hygiene

    Things to bring to Cuba - Filtered Water Bottle for Cuba

    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. The supply of purified water is also 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.

    Mosquito repellent

    Mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue and Zika, are not uncommon in Cuba.

    You must take whatever precautions necessary to repel mosquitoes. A simple bug spray is an essential thing to bring to Cuba. Make sure you use it every day and safely.


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

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

    Hand sanitizer

    Access to soap and water is limited in Cuba, and hygiene standards differ from what you’re accustomed to.

    Hand sanitizer is nowhere to be found. As an alternative, locals use hypochlorite when available.

    You should bring a pack of hand sanitizer to maintain good hygiene and prevent illnesses from surfaces, food, and interaction with others.

    Toilet tissues

    Finding toilet paper in Cuba is complicated, except perhaps in high-end tourist facilities.

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


    Bringing a toiletries kit to Cuba is essential for several reasons, primarily due to availability and quality. Basic toiletries like shampoo, toothpaste, or deodorant are difficult to find in local stores.

    Over-the-counter medicines

    In some places, food and water in Cuba can carry diseases like hepatitis A, typhoid, and travelers’ diarrhea.

    Although Cuba is praised for having a free healthcare system, the truth is that shortages of basic over-the-counter medicines are not uncommon. Therefore, you should always practice safe food and water precautions while traveling in Cuba.

    If you get sick, you will want to have some over-the-counter medicines readily available.

    Here are some medications you might consider bringing to Cuba:

    • Pain and fever relief: Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help alleviate pain or reduce fever, whether from headaches, muscle aches, or mild illnesses.
    • Antihistamines: especially useful for allergic reactions, insect bites, or mild allergic symptoms.
    • Antidiarrheal medication: Imodium or similar drugs can help manage mild cases of traveler’s diarrhea until you can access further medical assistance if needed.
    • Motion sickness medication: if you’re prone to motion sickness, bringing medication like Dramamine can be beneficial, especially if you plan to take long drives or boat trips.
    • Antacids: for digestive discomfort or heartburn due to changes in diet or unfamiliar foods.
    • Basic first-aid items: bandages, antiseptic wipes, gauze, adhesive tape, and antibiotic ointment can help with minor cuts, scrapes, or blisters.


    What to bring to Cuba - Electronics for Cuba


    Considering the country’s unique Internet landscape and restrictions, you should install a VPN on your phone, computer, or tablet.

    With a VPN, you can bypass restrictions on certain content and everyday apps.

    For example, many US-based websites, especially banking, streaming, and even travel sites, will not work in Cuba.

    We recommend NordVPN to mask your IP address and avoid the geo-restrictions. It will also offer enhanced security and privacy while connected to the public Wi-Fi networks in Cuba.

    Portable charger

    Bringing a portable charger means you are prepared for an emergency. Even if you cannot return to where you’re staying, you can keep your devices charged.

    Pin adapter

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

    Some outlets also accept European rounded 2-3 prong plugs, depending on where you stay. Please reach out to your hotel or casa particular and ask about it.

    To be safe, bring a pin adapter to plug in your electronics.

    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.

    However, you will be better off selling your home currency in the informal market. Just make sure you trust someone on the island to help you exchange your currency. It could be your host, a hotel staff, or a friend; don’t do it with random people on the street, please.

    Travel guide book

    There’s certainly no shortage of things to do in Cuba. A travel guide pointing 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 as 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 will be incredibly helpful in communicating with Cubans, whether you have a simple question or need help in an emergency.

    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 show your appreciation and meet your host’s vital needs.

    That said, please don’t give 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.

    Cuban Import Regulations

    Cuban Customs

    Please read the Cuban import regulations and the FAQ page on the official Cuban Customs website. They explain what you can legally bring to Cuba.

    For example, you can’t enter any of the following items into the island:

    • Certain products and by-products of plant and animal origin.
    • Narcotics.
    • Walkie-talkies.
    • Stand-lone GPS devices.
    • Weapons.
    If you want to know more about what to expect in a Cuban airport, take a look at our walkthrough of Havana Airport.

    The Complete Packing List to Cuba

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

    Cuba is a wonderful destination. You’ll want to ensure you have everything you need to 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 packing list for Cuba if you enjoyed it!

    About the Author

    Tour Republic

    Tour Republic is a marketplace where you can discover, book, and review the very best experiences Cuba has to offer. We are a team of tourism professionals and journalists who have partnered with Cuban entrepreneurs to provide travel experiences that can transform your trip into a life-changing adventure. We also share our profound love for Cuba through in-depth travel guides, myth-busting articles, and captivating narratives. Whether you want to explore Cuba's wonders or understand its intricacies, our blog posts are your gateway to the heart of this extraordinary country.

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