Best Time to Visit Cuba
By Mayté Solano Gómez
Anyone who has visited Cuba several times has surely witnessed the eternal sun and the embracing heat that prevails almost always. It is common to celebrate New Year Eve on the island wearing light clothing as if it were summer. Wet and dry seasons are more defined, as well as hurricane season.
On the other side, from the point of view of culture and traditions, Cuba is characterized by celebrating great festivities, as well as small regional festivals. In this way, the foreign visitor attracted by these will be able to enjoy the vitality and joy of Cubans, almost throughout the whole year.
So, when is the best time to visit Cuba? Practically everyone agrees that the best time is between the months of December and April, coinciding with the high season. But… why exactly?
If you want to plan your trip to the island in a safe way, join us and find with us the best moments to visit Cuba.
Travelling to Cuba between the months of May and September, even until October, can be really exasperating for those not used to intense heat and high humidity. In this sense, it is good to know that in Cuba the thermal sensation of heat is usually much higher than the real ambient temperature, so you may need to cool off and change your clothes many times a day since you will constantly sweat.
High temperatures and high humidity are the perfect excuse to enjoy a delicious Cuban mojito, in the terraces of any city on the island, accompanied by the music of a traditional group.
Temperatures in May reach 31 ° C / 88 ° F, so it begins to feel intense heat … and already at this time rains begin. From June to September, temperatures exceed 33 ° C / 91 ° F, while relative humidity is the highest of the year. These are the hottest months in Cuba, even in the early morning hours.
On summer nights in Cuba, only very late in the early morning, the temperature decreases, although they don´t become entirely cool.
Already in October and November temperatures begin to decrease slightly, oscillating between 27 and 30 ° C / 80-86 ° F, as well as the rains. It is also favourable that the hurricane season is ending.
Between December and April, temperature drops to 19-21 ° C / 66-69 ° F, as well as the relative humidity and rains are very sporadic. However, we cannot be trusted. It is possible, in any of these months, for the minimum temperature to drop to 10 ° C / 50 ° F on some days, while on others the maximum temperature may reach up to 34 ° C / 93 ° F.
This means that, although Cuba is an eternal summer, even in winter, at this time you can find days so cold as to wear warmer clothes, like days so hot as to go to the beach and sunbathe. Therefore, come prepared for both possibilities.
The Wet & Dry Season in Cuba
In general, in Cuba, the predominant climate is of the warm tropical type, with a rainy season in summer.
The rainy season in this island is between May and October. However, this doesn´t mean that it rains all day long. The weather in this season is characterized by intense heat and a lot of sun during most of the day and more or less intense rains, but of short duration, during the afternoon. At night it is already possible to go outside.
The dry season occurs between November and April, corresponding equally with lower temperatures, although not necessarily cold.
It should also be taken into account that the cyclonic season in Cuba is between June and November. This means heavy rains and winds, although limited to the duration of the weather phenomenon.
Some variations in the typical behaviour of the weather in Cuba
There are areas of the country where, even in the dry season, rainfall can be more frequent and intense. In this case, we find the northeast of the eastern region and the mountainous areas: Topes de Collantes in Trinidad, for example.
Regarding temperature, the heat is generally more intense in the south-eastern region of Cuba (Granma, Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo), either summer or winter, while in the mountainous regions of the centre of the island (Topes de Collantes in Trinidad) temperatures tend to be cooler throughout the year.
So, when is the Best Time to Visit Cuba?
Taking into account the climate on the island, the best time to visit Cuba matches with its peak tourist season, between the months of December and April. In general, more pleasant temperatures and less rain or risk of tropical cyclones.
But there are other things besides the weather to take into account when deciding the best time to visit Cuba, such as the calendar of events. The cultural life of the island is so rich and varied that there are events that we cannot miss if you really want to live a unique experience in this beautiful country. Let’s look at this in more detail.
Best Time to Visit Cuba During The Dry Season
Visiting Cuba between December & February
To begin with, although you will not find cold temperatures, lower than 19-21 ° C / 66- 69 ° F on average for these months, for more than 3 or 4 consecutive days, the weather is usually cooler at this time and it hardly rains. So it is the ideal time to enjoy the holidays and to practice outdoor sports: hiking, biking, canopy. If you do it in the mountainous regions like Viñales or Topes de Collantes in Trinidad, be sure to wear slightly warmer clothes.
During the month of December, there are many celebrations and cultural events that take place on the island.
Roast Pork for New Year’s Dinner
As for Christmas Eve, December 24 and New Year’s Eve, December 31, are times to celebrate with family and friends. If you are staying in a private house on these dates you can enjoy dinners with typical Cuban food: Moorish rice or congrí, pork, yucca with mojo sauce and seasonal salad. All this accompanied by music, Cuban rum and, why not, a good cigar. However, the best part of the day, at least for Cubans, will be the whole previous process of killing and cooking the pig.
International New Latin American Cinema Festival
This month the International New Latin American Cinema Festival takes place, a special time to meet in Havana, when the weather is cooler and the presence of actors, directors, filmmakers and lovers of the seventh art makes the city overflow with life. The event includes different competitions, as well as film poster exhibitions, seminars on film and new technologies, book presentations and music concerts.
Also in Havana, the International Craft Fair takes place in December. This event brings together Cuban artisans and artists and from other countries. It hosts expo-sales, fashion shows, exhibitions, workshops and theoretical meetings.
For its part, in the centre of the island, the famous Parrandas de Remedios takes place, in the municipality of the same name belonging to the province of Villa Clara. Of religious origin, these carnivals were declared Cultural Heritage of the Nation. Extraordinary floats, fireworks, music and dances attract hundreds of Cubans and foreigners every year.
Similarly, the Charangas de Bejucal, in the city of Bejucal, Mayabeque province, is the popular festival of this region that is celebrated in December. It was also declared Cultural Heritage of the Nation. It has its origin in the first half of the 19th century, during the Catholic celebrations of Christmas Eve.
Among the main drawbacks for tourists visiting Cuba in the month of December is a large number of people that you will find wherever you go, both Cubans and foreigners. This can be really shocking for those who prefer tranquillity and silence.
Already between the months of January and February, Cubans resume their usual activities, after the New Year’s Eve and the triumph of the Cuban Revolution celebrations. Therefore, the streets are usually less crowded (although not completely).
As for events, the International Jazz Festival takes place in Havana in January, under the artistic auspices of the multi-awarded musician Chucho Valdés, with a stage in various theatres and cultural houses of the province; and the Casa de las Americas Award, one of the most prestigious literary events in the American continent.
In February the cultural activities are also varied. The International Book Fair is always held this month, in honour of a writer and a country. It currently covers all the country’s provinces, although its main headquarters are the Fortaleza de la Cabaña, in Havana. The International Salsa Festival also takes place in this province, under the auspices of Maikel Blanco and with the participation of prestigious bands of Cuban popular music. This is a space for those who want to dance and enjoy concerts, dance classes and conferences.
Habano Festival in Cuba
Last but not least, is the Habano Festival. For lovers of a good cigar, there are trade fairs, conferences, tours of factories and tobacco plantations.
In general, foreign visitors who come to Cuba in these months should bear in mind that, taking into account the rise in tourism at this stage, prices are higher, which could be aggravated by the limited availability of resources and services. In this case, it is best to organize your trip and book well in advance.
Visiting Cuba between March & April
March and April are considered the best months to travel to Cuba. Lovers of nautical activities benefit from the pleasant temperature, long sunny days and little rain. It is the ideal time to sunbathe on beautiful beaches such as Playa Ancón in Trinidad, Varadero or Guardalavaca, in Holguín. Diving, snorkelling and fishing are activities easily reachable in any of these places.
For those who like diving, they will find the ideal conditions in some of the best diving spots in Cuba, such as those found in Jardines del Rey, María la Gorda and Cayo Largo keys.
Taking into account the cooler temperatures at this time of the year, visiting the eastern region of the island, always hotter than the rest, is recommended. Here you can enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the area, such as the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park, with ideal conditions for trekking or visit the Piedra (Stone) Zoo, the Sierra Maestra mountain range and La Farola viaduct, in Baracoa.
Among the main cultural events that take place between the months of March and April are the Guillermo Barreto in Memoriam Drum Festival is an event for lovers of Cuban percussion, which includes concerts that take place in theatres, houses of culture and centres of the capital of Havana.
International Dance Festival in Urban Landscapes
The International Dance Festival in Urban Landscapes is increasingly popular with tourists. It is set in the streets, squares and museum houses of the Old Havana Historic Center. Sponsored by Danza Retazos, it presents choreographies, parades, comparsas and spontaneous presentations.
In the eastern part of the island, in the province of Holguín, the Gibara International Film Festival takes place, founded by Cuban filmmaker Humberto Solás.
Finally, the LA HUELLA DE ESPAÑA (The Footprint of Spain) Festival, based at the Gran Teatro de La Habana and the National Theater of Cuba, calls for dance, music, plastic arts, literature and theatre, conferences, and cinema. It is a sample of the Spanish roots present in Cuban culture and of the cultural life and customs of the provinces and communities of Spain.
At this time of year, the high prices for tourists and the limited availability of accommodation and other services remain, as it is high season.
Best Time to Visit Cuba During The Wet Season
Visiting Cuba Between May & August
May and June are months of low tourism in Cuba, when the prices of services and other facilities in tourism fall. The ending of the school year begins, so children and adolescents are in schools and adults at work.
However, in these months temperature begins to rise, exceeding 33 ° C / 91 ° F in August. Humidity also increases, so the sensation of heat is even higher and, moreover, the rainy season begins, mainly in the summer afternoons.
In general, for those who travel with the family or on honeymoon, the lower influx of tourists at this time is very favourable. Among the main festivities and events that take place in the months of May and June is the International Festival Romerías de Mayo, a festival of religious origin based in the province of Holguín, while in Havana the Cubadisco International Fair takes place, the event most important of the record industry of Cuban music in the country, based in theatres of the capital; the International Marlin Fishing Tournament “Ernest Hemingway”, based in the Hemingway Marina, is the main sport fishing event in Cuba and the Boleros de Oro Festival, dedicated to this genre of traditional Cuban music, includes in its programs conferences, galas, concerts and dances of the genre.
Summer period in Cuba
In July and August, the summer period begins on the island, so large crowds of Cubans are common in the streets, beaches, restaurants, and recreational and cultural centres. For many, these are the worst months to travel to Cuba, but if you like a lively life and want to be in direct contact with people, this is the ideal time.
In the eastern region of the island, the streets come alive, both day and night, with the Caribbean Festival or “Fiesta del Fuego” and the Carnival of Santiago de Cuba, two of the most deeply rooted popular festivals, the latter considered Cultural Heritage of the Nation. In the capital of the country also takes place the Carnival, a party of comparsas, floats and dancers of prestigious musical groups; Circuba, circus art event, considered one of the most important in the world, brings together artists and exponents from different countries and Art in La Rampa is the fair that not only hosts artisan work, but also provides space for various artistic manifestations like music, fashion, plastic arts, literature, among others.
It is important to bear in mind that the cyclonic season in Cuba begins in June. Although you will be safe during a phenomenon of this type, it is an element to consider if you are going to travel to the island in this period. For those who like emotions, it can be a very interesting experience.
Visiting Cuba Between September & November
September and October are also months of low tourism in Cuba. Life for Cubans returns to normal after summer vacation, children return to schools and adults to work. Everything is a little quieter. Prices fall again, but the heat and rains remain, although already in November the temperatures begin to drop slightly. It is still hurricane season. It ends in November.
In this month tourists can enjoy with 2 of the most anticipated activities, with the Fashion Week in Havana, which seeks to promote Cuban fashion, with the participation of artists and designers from different provinces of the country and the Marathon of Havana Marabana, a sporting event that attracts professional and amateur competitors from around the world every year. In it, you run over distances of 42 km (marathon), 21 km (half marathon) and 10 km. Marabana 2020 it will be virtual.
Contact us for more information and advice about the best time to visit Cuba
We have presented here information about the best time to visit Cuba. We hope that it will serve as a guide for all those travellers who wish to visit the island. Either way, there are many more options than those mentioned in this article. Therefore, do not hesitate to contact the Cuba Casa team for more information and advice. We want to help you discover what is best for you and have a truly enriching experience.
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