The Ultimate Cuba Packing ListFebruary 18, 2020
The best way to revel in Cuba’s island magic is to be informed and come prepared. We put together a list of everything you need for your trip to Cuba (from location-specific items based on activities and regional climates to the basic necessities).
What to pack for Havana
The capital city of Havana is the fourth largest metropolitan city in all of the Caribbean. With 500 years of history and diverse neighborhoods, each boasting their own personality, Havana satisfies a hungry traveler’s appetite. Travelers visiting Havana should ready their dancing shoes and salsa attire. Private salsa lessons with a true professional will have you eager to hit the night scene and show off your new moves.
Hats and hair ties will serve you well during the convertible classic car experience. Put on your shades and sunscreen and enjoy the salty island breeze as you race down El Malecón in a 1957 Chevy Bel Air.
What to pack for Viñales
The evergreen oasis of the Viñales Valley captivates visitors with its reflective ponds and manicured rows of tobacco. The lush region is home to some of the most skilled farmers on the island who have perfected the art of growing Cuban tobacco through traditions passed down from generation to generation.
During your trip to Viñales, bring your comfiest clothes as you ride through the valley on horseback or take an ox cart to visit a seasoned cigar maker. Embrace your adventurous side and taste a world-famous Cuban cigar hand-rolled before your eyes.
Leave your swanky clothes in Havana, and do not be afraid to get a little dirty as the red soil of the region follows you around the local farms.
For Travelers Visiting Cienfuegos and Trinidad
Cienfuegos is more than a pit-stop on the drive to Trinidad. Initially settled by the Taino indigenous people before being colonized by French and then Spanish settlers, Cienfuegos is a history buff’s dream. Bring your walking shoes and an umbrella as you learn about the colonial history and visit the battleground for the Spanish-American war that sits just outside the city.
As you continue the ride to Trinidad, have your camera ready to capture the ever-changing Cuban terrain. Verdant forests, sparkling beach views and mountains covered in a blanket of vegetation greet you as you cruise the southern part of the island.
16th Century cobblestone roads signal your arrival to Trinidad. Horse-drawn carriages and local markets welcome you to this colonial town.
When traveling to Trinidad, make sure you leave room in your suitcase for souvenirs. Buy embroidered works of art hand-made by locals or coffee grown in the heart of the Escambray mountains.
Nature-lovers should pack a pair of hiking shoes and a swimsuit to explore the Escambray Mountains and visit the sparkling shores off Trinidad. Shout from caves and dance under waterfalls. The emerald pools and leafy landscape will leave you speechless.
Packing List – The Island Essentials
Many items that are available for purchase in other destinations are difficult to find in Cuba. For that reason, it is important to pack the following no matter what part of the island you explore first:
- Vaccination card or negative PCR test taken 72 hours before arrival
- Face masks
- Toiletries – shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, shaving cream/razor, etc.
- $200 cash per day (for travelers going without a tour company)
- Camera/ phone for pictures
- Universal travel adapter – you won’t need it all the time, but it can save the day
- Hand sanitizer
- Wet wipes and tissues
- Comfortable clothing for walking and nice clothes for evenings
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Light rain jacket and/or umbrella
- Sweater or light jacket – depending on the time of year
- Cap or hat for sun protection
- Band-Aids and Neosporin
- Bug repellent
- Over the counter travel medication
- Prescription drugs in original labeled containers
- Sanitary pads, tampons, contraceptives
What NOT to pack
- Anti-Cuba literature
- Aerial drones
- Satellite phones (cell phones are fine)
- Hand-held GPS equipment
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Pornographic material
In addition to the essential items above, some guests bring donations when visiting Cuba. Providing donations or gifts for the Cuban people is much appreciated and can be a rewarding experience. Ask your host when and where would be the best time and place to offer these gifts:
- Monetary donations
- Deflated soccer balls
- School supplies
- Pack of crayons, colored pencils or markers
- Small children’s backpack
- New bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, soap, face wash
Sustainable Packing Guide
Help us minimize our footprint in Cuba by following our Sustainable Packing Guide.
The first trip to Cuba is awe-inspiring, heartwarming, fun, culturally rich and filled with multifaceted experiences. Come prepared, stay present, be open and take in everything Cuba has to offer.