Cuban ladies in colorful dresses

What To Wear in Cuba & Quick Packing Guide! (2024)

Are you finally heading to Cuba for an absolutely unique holiday and wondering what to wear there? Are there any rules, norms, or factors to consider when you travel to Cuba for your next holiday?

After traveling to Cuba for four years and living in Havana for over two years, I feel quite qualified to help you answer that question and get your packing a little easier!

I can tell you upfront that in Cuba, there are no strict cultural or religious modesty norms that you need to follow in order to not offend anyone.

The dress code in the daytime is pretty casual and even “skimpy” from a North American or European perspective.

So don’t worry about that side of things. What you need to worry about when deciding what to pack is the weather! Let’s get into the smart factors to think about when you are packing for Cuba!

Let’s dig into them!

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What To Wear In Cuba!

Dress to enjoy a tour in a Classic American Car with no roof!
Dress to enjoy a tour in a Classic American Car

When planning a trip to Cuba, it’s essential to consider what to pack to ensure a comfortable and practical experience, and perhaps also a nightlife-proof packing list!

Now, let’s delve into the specifics of what to wear in Cuba, considering factors such as the weather, the seasons, the influence of Latin culture, and how to embrace the local penchant for dressing up.

Dressing Up The Cuban Way

If you want to truly immerse yourself in the local culture, consider donning outfits that reflect the Cuban penchant for dressing up.

While casual summer clothes are normal and acceptable for daytime activities, don’t be surprised if you meet someone in a golden dress in the street on a Wednesday around noon.

For evenings out or special occasions, you can opt for slightly more “elaborate attire” without standing out in the crowd!

You will see Cuban men in jeans, often with shiny details, open shirts, gold chains, and elaborate hairstyles! Women often wear short and/or tight dresses, bright colors, and colored accessories.

Men dress very masculinely, and women very femininely, in Cuba!

It is up to you if you want to follow suit, but in order to have the best holiday experience, here are the things I suggest you pack for your Cuba holiday.

📍 Quick guide for Cuba travel:

  • Buy a Cuban Tourist Card
  • If you are a U.S. national or travel via the U.S., you need to get the PINK tourist card
  • If you are a U.S. national or travel via a U.S. airport, you need to choose one of the preapproved reasons for Cuba travel. The most common reason is “travel to help the Cuban people”.
  • Get travel insurance with health coverage
  • Book the flight, and a casa particular, or a hotel
  • Register your entry to Cuba online on d’viajeros
  • Consider getting a VPN that works well enough in Cuba
  • Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months more
  • Remember that you will only be able to get Cuban peso CUP when in Cuba. Bring all the foreign currency you plan to spend in cash, Canadian dollars, US dollars, or euros.
  • Bring all the medicine you sometimes or regularly use. Cuban pharmacies are empty; you will not be able to get anything when in Cuba
  • Bring a water bottle with a filter to ensure you always have access to drinking water
  • Check out my best advice for Packing for Cuba here!
  • Also read about Money In Cuba & Wifi In Cuba before you go!

My Best Packing List Tips For Cuba Travel

  • Light summer dresses
  • Light tops
  • Airy skirts or shorts
  • Light and airy pants for exploring days
  • Light airy shirts
  • Evening outfits (Cuban evening outfits can be rather sparkly)
  • Bikini or swimsuit
  • Multi-use shawl (aka towel, dress, beachwear, beach blanket, etc)
  • A pair of jeans (for going horseback riding in Vinales Valley, which you should!)
  • A light shawl or scarf to wipe your face during the day, and have around your shoulders in the evening
  • Sun hat or something protecting your face from the sun
  • Flip flops/sandals
  • Comfy breathing walking shoes
  • One pair of (comfy) heels (that you can salsa in!!!)
  • Sunglasses
  • An old-fashioned fan to “cool” your face in the daytime
  • Your handbag should have a zipper or a proper way to close the compartments
  • Tiny cloth bags or plastic bags to roll up inside your handbag/day bag. Not all shops or cafes have bags to offer for items you buy or food to take away, so bringing your own extra little bag can come in handy.
  • A small purse for a passport, vaccine card, visa, cash back-up, and relevant papers.

Also read: The LONG packing list for Cuba with everything!

Latin Culture: Bling-Bling, Jewelry, and “Sexy Vibes”

Dressed up for New Years Eve in Cuba

Cuban culture is infused with a love for vibrant colors, bold patterns, tight dresses, and lots of open shirts.

Basically, Cubans love a touch of glamour.

You can embrace the spirit of Cuba by incorporating a little bit of bling-bling into your outfits. This could be in the form of statement jewelry (it doesn’t have to be real) or accessories that add a pop of color and personality to your ensemble.

For evening outings, consider outfits that exude a sultry and confident vibe, mirroring the lively energy of Cuban nightlife.

There are no Christian religious norms in Cuba dictating dress code, although catholicism does exist on the island.

Most Cubans are members of the Santeria religion, which is a mixture of the African Yoruba and the catholic faith that arrived from Spain with the colonists.

The Santeria norms and influence regarding dress codes are practically non-existent; the Cuban religion does not care much about that!

Weather and Temperature In Cuba

Big waves hitting the Havana Malecon at night: the wet season can have a bit of "weather"!
Havana Malecon the wet season can have a bit of weather

Cuba’s climate is characterized by its warm, tropical conditions. Average temperatures will be from 70°F (21°C) in January to 82°F (around 28°C) in July.

However, it’s worth noting that the summer months can bring higher humidity levels, making it feel even warmer.

Wet and Dry Seasons

In Cuba, there are only two seasons, the wet and the dry. And a semi-season in the middle of the wet season, namely, the hurricane season!

The wet season, which lasts from May to October (November), can bring occasional heavy rains and also has the peak hurricane season between August and October.

Lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing is advisable during this period. Waterproof shoes and a compact umbrella can also be handy additions to your travel wardrobe.

During the dry season, which spans from the end of November to the end of April, you can expect sunny, dry weather, and during the months of December through February, the temperatures are warm but not hot.

Be Smart & Pack According To Season And Activities

Want to go horseback riding in Trinidad Cuba? Make sure you have appropriate clothes!
Dress in long trousers for horseback riding in Cuba

It’s crucial for visiting tourists to dress according to both the season they visit and the activities they plan to engage in.

For beach days, pack comfortable swimwear, cover-ups, and beach-friendly footwear.

For exploring historic sites or hiking excursions, opt for loose, breathable clothing and comfortable shoes or sandals. I usually wear flip-flops or sandals in Cuba year-round, except if I plan to do some hiking!

If you visit during the three winter months, it might even be a good idea to bring a thin cardigan.

Don’t forget to pack sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, and high-SPF sunscreen to protect yourself from the strong Caribbean sun.

Also, you will be very pleased with your plans if you bring with you a water bottle with an integrated filter! Amazingly, water can sometimes be a hard commodity to find in stores in Cuba.

As drinking tap water unfiltered is not recommended for tourists, with a filtered water bottle, you can safely drink the water from the tap anywhere.

Why It Matters

The clothing you choose will impact your overall travel experience on this vibrant and dynamic Caribbean island in a couple of ways; it is HOT for the most part and also very humid!

Leave all your heavy fabrics, thick sweaters and slacks, and any clothing that is made of non-breathing materials at home.

If you don’t pack for Cuba in accordance with temperature, humidity, and shade for your body and head in the Cuban heat, you might not enjoy all the experiences as much as you could have.

Here are three compelling reasons why what you wear will impact your holiday!

  1. Weather and Temperature: Cuba boasts a tropical climate, which means the weather is normally hot and humid, especially during the summer months. From May through October, you will also have afternoon showers.
  2. Embracing Latin Culture: Cuba is deeply rooted in Latin culture, and this is reflected in the way people dress. From bold colors to expressive styles, understanding. You can dress in brown and black if you want to, but by wearing bright red or gold in the Havana nightlife, you will not stand out much!
  3. Dress to Impress: Cubans take pride in their appearance and often dress up, even for casual outings. You don’t have to follow suit, but be aware that the high-end nightclubs in Havana will have a dress code. Men will not get in with shorts and singlet, and flip-flops are a definite no-go. With women, the rules are a bit more flexible as long as the woman looks “nice.”

Wrap-Up What To Wear In Cuba!

In conclusion, dressing appropriately in Cuba can greatly enhance your travel experience.

By considering the climate, embracing the vibrant Latin culture, and dressing up as the locals do, you’ll not only feel more comfortable but also show respect for the customs of this beautiful island nation.

Remember to pack season-appropriate clothing and plan for various activities to ensure you’re prepared for any adventure that comes your way.

With the right wardrobe, you’re bound to have an unforgettable time in Cuba. Enjoy your trip!

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