Planning a trip to Cuba? Get ready to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture, stunning landscapes, and rich history of this Caribbean gem. But before you pack your bags and set off on your adventure, it’s essential to ensure you have everything you need for a smooth and enjoyable journey.

To help you out, here’s a comprehensive travel checklist outlining nine things you absolutely can’t forget when visiting Cuba.

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Travel checklist for Cuba


Preparing for a trip to Cuba requires careful planning and attention to detail to make the most of your time on this enchanting island. Our travel checklist for Cuba is designed to ensure you have all the essentials covered, from necessary documents to practical considerations for a smooth and unforgettable journey.

Get ready to dive into Cuba’s rich culture, pristine beaches, and vibrant streets armed with the knowledge and preparation provided in this guide.

1. Valid passport and visa

Your passport is your ticket to Cuba, so ensure it’s valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date. Additionally, most visitors to Cuba require a tourist visa, also known as a tourist card, to enter the country legally. You can obtain this visa through your airline, tour operator, or Cuban embassy/consulate. Double-check the entry requirements for your nationality and secure your visa before traveling to avoid any last-minute hiccups. 

When confirming you have packed your passport it is a perfect time to fill out the Advance Travellers Form which must be completed within 72 hours of your departure. Once you have located the form at simply check your language and fill out all of the sections marked in red at least. Ensure that you pay special attention to date formats, for Casa/B&B accommodation select – House or room for rent and be sure to screenshot the QR code at the end.

2. Travel insurance

Travel insurance is a legal requirement when entering Cuba, and while many airlines that offer direct flights from the USA to Cuba will include this with the ticket price, flying from other locations or using smaller airlines means it may not be. Ensure that your coverage is suitable for your length of stay and covers both health and accidental incidents. Some medical and health insurance cover worldwide so check your policy before you leave and add any additional needed coverage.

Additionally, check if your insurance includes coverage for adventure activities like scuba diving or hiking, as these are popular pursuits in Cuba.

3. Cash

Due to the exchange rate being less favorable, especially for CAD, it is recommended that you bring some cash with you while you travel, and research where you can exchange more near your hotel or where you plan to stay. 

It is recommended to not exchange funds at the airport, and is often more beneficial to pay for goods and services in Cuba with foreign currency rather than to exchange it. The preferred and recommended currency is USD, Euro, or Sterling, which can be used or it can be exchanged upon arrival.

4. Prescription medications and basic medical supplies

Cuba boasts a commendable healthcare system, but access to certain medications may be limited. To avoid any disruptions to your health routine, pack an ample supply of prescription medications, along with a copy of your prescription in case you need a refill. Additionally, include basic medical supplies such as over-the-counter pain relievers, antihistamines, adhesive bandages, and antiseptic wipes in your travel kit. 

These essentials can come in handy for minor injuries, allergies, or illnesses during your trip.

5. Travel adapters and voltage converters

Cuba typically uses electrical outlets compatible with North American devices (Type A and Type B), but voltage fluctuations may occur. Bring a universal travel adapter and voltage converter to ensure your electronics can be charged safely. Most hotels provide hairdryers and other amenities, but if you’re staying in casa particulares (private homestays) or budget accommodations, it’s wise to have your own adapter handy. 

Keep your devices charged to capture every moment of your Cuban adventure, from classic cars cruising along the Malecón to salsa dancing under the stars.

6. Spanish phrasebook or language app

While English is spoken in tourist areas, Spanish is the primary language in Cuba. Learning a few basic phrases can enhance your travel experience and foster meaningful connections with locals. Pack a Spanish phrasebook or download a language app (ex.: Google translate) to help you navigate everyday situations, such as ordering food, asking for directions, or negotiating prices. 

Cubans appreciate when visitors make an effort to speak their language, and a little bit of Spanish can go a long way in bridging cultural barriers and creating memorable experiences.

7. Sun protection essentials

With its tropical climate and abundant sunshine, Cuba beckons visitors to bask in its natural beauty. However, prolonged exposure to the sun can lead to sunburn, dehydration, and heat-related illnesses. Pack essential sun protection items, including broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher), sunglasses with UV protection, a wide-brimmed hat or cap, and lightweight, breathable clothing that covers your skin. 

Reapply sunscreen regularly, especially if you’re swimming or engaging in outdoor activities, and seek shade during the hottest part of the day to stay safe and comfortable under the Cuban sun.

8. Respectful attire and cultural sensitivity

Cuba’s rich cultural heritage and diverse population make it a fascinating destination for travelers. When packing your clothing, consider local customs and dress codes, especially when visiting religious sites or interacting with Cuban families. Opt for modest attire that covers your shoulders and knees out of respect for Cuban traditions. 

Additionally, be mindful of cultural sensitivities regarding photography, particularly in rural areas and among indigenous communities. Always ask for permission before taking someone’s photo, and respect their privacy if they decline.


It is recommended for all foreign travelers to use a VPN on their phones and other devices. This allows you to set your location to anywhere and provides access to your familiar app stores and other services. It also protects your private information while you travel.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need a visa to travel to Cuba?

Yes, most visitors to Cuba require a tourist visa, also known as a tourist card, to enter the country legally. You can usually obtain this visa through your airline, tour operator, or Cuban embassy/consulate. It’s essential to check the entry requirements for your nationality and secure your visa before traveling to Cuba.

Can I use credit cards in Cuba?

While major hotels and some upscale restaurants in Cuba accept credit cards, smaller establishments and local vendors usually prefer cash. Due to restrictions on U.S. bank cards, it’s essential to bring enough cash to cover your expenses throughout your stay. 

What should I pack for my trip to Cuba?

When packing for your trip to Cuba, include essential items such as valid passport and visa, travel insurance, cash, prescription medications, basic medical supplies, travel adapters, Spanish phrasebook or language app, sun protection essentials, and respectful attire. Additionally, consider packing lightweight, breathable clothing suitable for Cuba’s tropical climate, comfortable walking shoes, and any specific items you may need for planned activities or excursions.A VPN is also recommended to be installed on your phone to allow access to the app stores and services you are used to.

Is it safe to drink tap water in Cuba?

It’s generally recommended to drink bottled or filtered water in Cuba to avoid the risk of waterborne illnesses. While some hotels and tourist-oriented establishments may offer filtered water, it’s best to err on the side of caution and stick to bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth. You can easily find bottled water at convenience stores, markets, and hotels throughout Cuba.

Do I need to speak Spanish to travel in Cuba?

While knowing Spanish can enhance your travel experience and facilitate interactions with locals, it’s not a requirement for visiting Cuba. Many Cubans working in the tourism industry speak some English, especially in popular tourist areas. However, learning a few basic phrases in Spanish can be beneficial for navigating everyday situations, such as ordering food, asking for directions, or negotiating prices. Consider bringing a Spanish phrasebook or downloading a language app to help you communicate effectively during your trip.


In conclusion, preparing for a trip to Cuba requires careful planning and attention to detail. 

By following this travel checklist and ensuring you have all the essential items, you’ll be well-equipped to embark on a memorable journey through this captivating island nation. 

Whether you’re strolling through the cobblestone streets of Trinidad, savoring a mojito in Old Havana, or snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters of Cayo Coco, your Cuban adventure awaits.

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