Prepare your trip
Packing list: All you need for Cuba
Well packed is half the journey. This is especially true in Cuba, because the socialist country is anything but a shopping paradise. There are hardly any goods to buy in the shops. If you are lucky to find something, then you need to expect a high price. Therefore, it is particularly important to provide everything you need when traveling to Cuba. In this article you can find the main items you should pack.
According to the well-established socialist tradition, Cuba has a shortage economy. The supply situation is generally poor, even if it varies considerably between regions. The import and distribution of goods within Cuba is not organized by the market, but by the state.
While the situation is usually better in the smaller tourist towns, Havana often has the greatest shortage. Finding the simplest goods can be a real adventure in the Cuban capital. In the supermarkets and shops you often find nothing but emptiness. Even to purchase the simplest products - such as mineral water - is often a very complex undertaking. At times, one or the other goods are completely missing.
Due to the extremely limited supply, it is advisable to have all clothes, cosmetics and hygiene items in your luggage. Sufficient sun protection is particularly important. When traveling with children, it is essential to have sufficient supplies of all necessary products. Many goods are not only difficult to get in Cuba, but also very expensive if you are lucky to find them. For instance, a small tube of sun protection quickly costs 20 USD. Since the supply of food is also very limited, travelers with special diets should have long-life snacks.
Overview of everything that should be brought to Cuba
When packing clothes, make sure that clothes are light and breathable at best. Basically, light colors are preferable, because sweat leaves ugly stains on dark fabrics. Light-colored clothes also have the advantage that they are conducive to protection from the strong sun and from mosquitoes.
Sun and mosquito protection include not only light-colored shirts and pants, but also long ones in the suitcase. For light skin types in particular, it is essential to have sunscreen and also guarantee passive sun protection through body-covering clothing. Children must be particularly well protected, for example with suitable headgear, which ideally can also be worn in the water. In summer, like many Cubans, it is advisable to use an umbrella for sun protection. Foldable umbrellas that can be unpacked if necessary are particularly suitable. If it rains, you also have an umbrella on hand.
Sun protection also in the water (Varadero)
For beach holidays, hats and light-colored tops are suitable for sun protection (in the best case waterproof). If you are traveling individually with children, you may also need a beach shelter.
Cuban women wear short and light clothing for the high temperatures. Vacationers shouldn't worry about appropriate clothing; it is difficult to dress more freely than the self-confident women in Cuba.
Shoes should be functional, it is best to have at least a pair of open shoes (sandals) and a pair of comfortable and breathable sturdy shoes in your luggage. However, with open shoes you should consider the risk of sunburn.
Apart from the tourist infrastructure, there is often a lack of toilet paper in public bathrooms and frequently there is a lack of running water. Therefore, you should always have enough paper and a small tube of disinfectant with you. For longer individual trips, it doesn't hurt to pack some handwashing detergent so that you can wash out clothes quickly if necessary.
It is essential to take all medicines in sufficient quantities.
For a flexible round trip without a rental car or taxi rides, it is better to do it without heavy wheeled suitcases. The roads and sidewalks are often in poor condition. If a wheel breaks, you can hardly get a replacement in Cuba. So it's better to take a suitable backpack and take only the necessary, but as little as possible, according to the motto. If it should be a rolling suitcase, it is better to use a model with two stable - preferably large - wheels.
Packing- & Checklist: Overview
The following list provides an overview of the most important things that, according to the experience, travelers might need during vacations in Cuba. Depending on your individual travel planing it is possible to systemize the items in the five categories: Documents, Clothes, Beach items, Hygiene products and others.
Copy of documents
|Light underwear & lingerie|
Long shirts & pants
Comfortable & light shoes
Equipment for snorkeling
Packing- & Checklist: Details
If you want to go to Cuba, you need a passport valid for at least six months. The Cuban passport is obligatory for Cuban citizens - even if you have dual citizenship. You can find the details about entry in the Visa and entry article.
- Tourist card
A visa in the form of a tourist card is required to enter Cuba. You must show it when you check in at the airport. Learn all important information about the tourist card and entry into Cuba in the corresponding article.
- Health insurance
You also need a valid international health insurance. Its coverage must be verifiable on request - in Spanish. Find all the details in the article health insurance for Cuba.
- Money & Credit Cards
Having sufficient funds is fundamental for a trip. The most reasonable recommendation for money supply for traveling in Cuba is a combination of cash and credit cards. The tourism package travelers can only take cash with them. Check all the information about money and currency in the corresponding article.
- Driving license
If you want to drive a vehicle then you need an original driver's license. We give you all the details about rental cars in this article.
It is advisable to make photocopies of all documents and take them with you. You should also have a good travel guide and a map.
- Light underwear & lingerie
Due to the year-round warm and humid climate, it's recommended to have light and breathable underwear. According to the experience, natural fibers such as linen or silk are well suited for the often very high temperatures.
- Long shirts & pants
Men should wear long trousers in restaurants and when going out at night. Long shirts and trousers are also important to protect against mosquitoes and the sun. Therefore, body-covering clothing is also recommended for women.
Especially in the hot summer months, a headgear protects against the extreme sun. At best, light and breathable hats.
A warmer item of clothing should also be part of your luggage. Some cool days or balmy nights may require a sweater or jacket. Also near the sea, blow a little fresh wind. In addition, air conditioning systems like to run at full speed in many facilities. When traveling by bus or air-conditioned train, for example, you should definitely wear something warm, otherwise there is a risk of colds.
- Comfortable & light shoes
If you don't just want to lie on the beach, you should pack light and comfortable shoes. Better to pack at least two pairs in your luggage. Not that something breaks or that you have to walk with wet shoes. A qualitative replacement is hardly available in Cuba.
It is essential to wear sunglasses, especially on the beach and when driving.
Nudism does not correspond to Cuban taste. So if you want to swim, you should wear a suit for it or a bikini. It is also advisable to wear a long top that protects you from the sun in the water. Cubans like to wear light-colored surf shirts when swimming.
- Equipment for snorkeling
Cuba has a fascinating underwater world on many beaches. You can rent the equipment but, if you don't mind the weight, it is better to bring your own
- Bathing shoes
Many beaches, especially in eastern Cuba, are often quite rocky. Therefore, you better pack bathing shoes.
- Bath towels
If you want to take a bath on the way between two accommodations on a round trip, you should have your own towel with you.
Sufficient sun protection is essential in Cuba. Sunscreen is usually hard to get and also extremely expensive. Basically, the highest sun protection factor is recommended.
Anyone who really travels to Cuba will find that many toilets are in very bad conditions. Often there is also no water to wash your hands. Overall, the hygienic conditions are not comparable with developed countries. In addition, skin diseases have it easier to spread in the warm and humid climate. So always carry a disinfectant when traveling.
- Mosquito repellent
If you are less worried about mosquito repellent than about the bites, take precautions with an effective mosquito repellent.
You should take all other cosmetic and hygiene articles with you. The most common are shaving kits, tissues, shampoo, women's products, condoms and Band-Aids.
It is essential to take all medication with you. For the customs, the medicines should remain in the original packaging. If you get food poisoned, charcoal tablets can help, so it's better to have them with you in an emergency. You can also get them in international pharmacies in most vacation areas.
- Travel adapter
In Cuba is common the flat, two-pin plugs, so if your devices have an Europlug, you must require an adapter to use them in Cuba. A simple one is sufficient in most cases. Details on current, voltage and sockets can be found on the page on the subject.
- Offline Map
A map makes navigation easier for round trips. The better way is to load an offline map to your smartphone. You can get a free and very detailed map with the maps.me app.
A flashlight can be helpful for power outages, poorly lit paths or breakdowns with the rental car. If you have a smartphone with an LED lamp, you may need to take a battery pack with you.
An umbrella not only protects against rain, but also against the often very strong sun at lunchtime. In the best case, you should take a foldable bright umbrella with you. They can be stowed away in the backpack on excursions.
For day trips, a medium-sized backpack is recommended to transport the necessary things. The backpack should be breathable, waterproof and big enough to fit at least provisions, a 1.5 liter water bottle, umbrella, swimming suit and sunscreen.
It is advisable to pack a pocket or a folding knife that will be very helpful if you want to try one of the tropical fruits on the road. If the knife has a corkscrew, you can also open a bottle of wine. But remember that knives can only be transported in checked baggage.
If you forget something
If despite careful planning, you have forgotten something or are unlucky to lose something important, usually it is quite complicated to get a replacement. As described, many goods are often out of stock, but simple hygiene items can mostly be found in normal supermarkets and kiosks. Other cosmetics and hygiene products can only be purchased in special foreign exchange shops. These stores are often located near larger hotels in major cities and important vacation spots. The most important drugs are available from so-called international pharmacies at foreign exchange prices. Condoms can only be bought in pharmacies. There is an Adidas and a Puma store in Havana and Varadero. In some smaller shops you can get simple clothes, shoes and flip-flops.
Gifts & Souvenirs
If you still have space in your suitcase and want to make the people of Cuba happy, you can fill up free storage space with gifts. On the island, many people lack the most trivial daily goods. Almost every vacationer can help without spending any money. How this works and what kind of things are best to take with you can be found in the article about gifts & donations.