Cuba is a beautiful country which is also perceived as exotic and mysterious. There are several factors you should consider if you want to visit it. One of them is the weather. The tropical climate of the country offers a lot of hot and sunny days and the average temperature is situated around 24 degrees Celsius. Still, there’s a dry season and a wet season, so you should plan accordingly.
In today’s guide, I will tell you all about Cuba’s weather, main attractions, potential dangers, and more. You will find out the best time to visit Cuba as well as plenty of useful travel tips that will make your holiday a safe and amazing one.
Reasons to Visit Cuba
1. Breathtaking Cuban Beaches
From the Havana Airport, there’s a two-hour drive to Varadero where you will find the best beaches you have ever seen. These white sandy beaches are endless and the palm trees will leave you breathless. While there, you could swim in crystal blue waters or sip a pineapple drink and relax on your sunbed.
2. World-Class Entertainment
There are phenomenal dancing and singing performances all over the place, no matter where you go in Cuba. You will enjoy street performances as well as formal stage or live shows. Visiting the Tropicana is a must but you should also go to Buena Vista Social Club. You may not know this but the country’s ballerinas are very talented. In fact, they are among the best ones on the globe.
3. Living Off the Grid
Once you arrive in Cuba, you will discover that Internet connection is very hard to find. There are specific locations where they sell special cards. With that card, you must go to designated areas which have Wi-Fi access. My recommendation is to inform your friends and family members that for the entire time you will stay in Cuba, you will be harder to reach. Who knows?! Maybe you will feel good to forget a little about checking your social media pages all the time.
4. Vintage Cars
You can either ride or simply admire Cuba’s vintage cars. They can be seen quite a lot, especially in Havana. It gives you a great feeling to drive a vintage car but make sure to negotiate the price before you leave. These gorgeous vehicles are very easy to find all over Cuba. One interesting fact you should know is that Cuba doesn’t have parking meters.
5. Cuban Food
No holiday is complete without indulging in the local cuisine and eating delicious food. Don’t worry about that aspect because Cuba has a wide range of tasty traditional meals. You can opt for cervezas restaurants, trendy tapas, or locally-run paladars. Or, if you want to save some money, you should stick to low-cost street food. Another good alternative is a local place. Restaurants like La Floridita and El Cocinero are very popular among tourists.
6. Scuba Diving
This is one of the best activities one can engage in while in Cuba. If you get clearance for scuba diving, you will enjoy swimming in crystal clear waters. According to visitors and reviewers, one of the best and most popular locations to practice this sport is the Bay of Pigs. To arrive there, you must take a road trip to Varadero.
7. Horseback Riding
Once you get to Cuba, you must definitely go to Vinales and Havana. In the first location, you can hike, horseback ride, participate in tours of organic farms, and discover the way Cuban cigars are manufactured. You will be able to ride a majestic horse right on the fields of Tobacco farms.
The Best Time to Go to Cuba – When Should You Plan Your Trip?
The country has two distinct seasons: the wet season and the dry season. Cuba’s climate is a warmtropical one. From December to May, the weather is pleasant, with sunny days and clear blue skies. This period is called the dry season. The other season, the wet one, starts in June. It is a well-known fact that some tourists avoid going to Cuba from August to October because there’s a higher risk of hurricanes.
On the other hand, during the high season period, hotel rates go through the roof, so, visitors who want to travel on a budget might choose to see the country while also risking unpredictable weather.
Visiting Cuba – a Brief Month-by-Month Travel Guide
a. November to April
During this time, you will experience pleasant temperatures and sunny days. Therefore, it is a great period if you plan to visit Cuba. Still, beginning to plan early has become an essential condition throughout the entire year. Nevertheless, this factor is much more important when the dry season begins. Some say that planning should be initiated about 9 months in advance and even more if the trip is meant to happen from December to February.
b. May to July
May represents the official start of the country’s wet season. However, you shouldn’t expect heavy rainfalls until late July or even August. During these months, both locals and visitors might feel uncomfortable because of rapid temperature increases. These changes happen all the time, especially in Santiago and Havana.
c. August to October
In Cuba, August-October is definitely the wettest period. On the other hand, unlike other areas’ wet seasons, here, you won’t experience a lot of consecutive days of heavy rainfalls. It’s true that you will feel a tad uncomfortable because of the high humidity, not to mention that the risk of tropical storms or hurricanes increases during this time of year. In the wet season, visitors who come to Cuba choose to do that due to lower hotel rates or because they simply couldn’t find available accommodation in the drier months.
What Is the Hottest Month in Cuba?
Without a doubt, the hottest month in Cuba, especially in the capital city of Havana, is June. In this month, the average temperature rises to around 27 degrees Celsius. The most beautiful days full of sunshine happen in July while the coldest temperatures are experienced in January (around 21 degrees Celsius). June, besides being the hottest month, is also the wettest (approximately 80 mm of rain).
What Is the Cheapest Time of Year to Go to Cuba?
Obviously, if you decide to visit the country in the wet season, your entire trip will cost less but you must put up with heavier and more frequent rain showers. Basically, there are two periods you should avoid if you don’t want to spend a lot of money. The first one is the peak season for tourists which starts in December and ends in February. The second period consists of two months: July and August during which the Cubans enjoy their summer holiday.
When Should You Visit Cuba in the Dry Season?
All three winter months are in the dry season so it is a good time to visit the country. One downside might be the fact that the temperatures are not as high as one would expect. Sometimes, even though not very often, the mercury drops to 15 degrees Celsius, especially at night. So, if you intend to go hiking in the country’s mountains, I advise you to pack more than just T-shirts.
Mid-December to mid-March is the peak season for tourists and for that reason is also considered the best period to plan a vacation in Cuba. Some visitors find the atmosphere a tad dull out, when they go there out of high season but places such as Havana and Santiago will always provide plenty of entertaining activities.
When Should You Visit Cuba in the Wet Season?
If you visit Cuba in the summer, which is seen as the wet season, you should expect frequent rain. Although it might not rain on a daily basis, once per few days there will be rain showers. In my opinion, you shouldn’t let this small issue cancel your holiday plans, though. Rain may come down hard but it goes away fast. Soon after, you will enjoy the sunshine again.
The eastern part of the country has higher temperatures and more humid air. Both September and October have a higher risk of hurricanes so they are perceived as quite threatening. Despite this problem, Cuba has had fewer hurricane-related issues compared to other nearby countries.
Cuba Holidays and Events
In December, there’s the Havana’s Jazz Festival which is a major event of Cuba’s capital city. You will be able to attend plenty of formal concerts that take place at several venues. Moreover, artists tend to also put on impromptu performances. Sometimes, this event is organized in January.
In February, and sometimes March, you will be able to attend the Havana International Book Fair. Here, you will find a lot of books on plenty of topics, from poetry and fictional stories to politics and ideology. This event includes poetry readings, concerts, public discussions, and activities dedicated to kids.
Late February is the time of the Cuban Cigar Festival. This is a commercialized event that promotes the entire industry of Cuban cigars. So, if you’re a cigar enthusiast, you will be delighted by visits to tobacco plantations, plenty of tastings, and tours to cigar factories.
In March is the International Festival of Pepe Sanchez. This event commemorates Jose Sanchez’s life. He was a nineteenth-century composer. The streets will be filled with people and the city will vibrate of acoustic guitar sounds and troubadours.
If you go to Cuba mid-April, you will arrive in time for the International Festival of Low-Budget Films. You will see numerous public screenings in both outdoor and indoor projects. There’s also a contest taking place for two movie categories: documentary and fiction. Besides movies, this event hosts a number of recitals, concerts, exhibitions, and seminars.
April is also the month of the International Urban Dance Festival when Havana becomes the “city in motion.” The event is held by the Retazos Dance Company which is a well-known and highly respected brand. Tourists can feast their eyes with contemporary dance choreographies and listen to jazz jams.
People in Cuba celebrate the internationally-known holiday of Labor Day. It takes place on the 1st of May and it represents a huge event which is marked as a national holiday. On Labor Day, the streets of Havana get crowded with people that participate in processions and political rallies.
Right before spring ends, Havana hosts the Feria Internacional Cubadisco which is a local celebration of the recording industry. It is, in fact, a competition of the best Cuban musicians who have launched new and successful albums the year before.
In June, there’s the International Festival of Bolero which is a popular music genre in Cuba. However, the event is a major one since it attracts artists and singers from all the countries of Latin America. It lasts one whole week and the shows can be seen as multiple venues around the country.
As you can see, there’s a lot of music and dancing that are linked to Cuban life. Even July is a great month to visit Cuba if you want to enjoy good music and plenty of Fiestas where you can party all night long. In July, there are several celebrations filled with Caribbean songs, congas, costumed parades, late-night parties, and salsa bands.
In October you will be able to watch ballet performances during the International Ballet Festival. However, this event takes place only in even-numbered years. Most performances are held at Teatro Mella or the Gran Teatro.
Mid to late October, is the time of the Matamoros Son Santiago Festival which lasts three days in a row. It is a commemoration or a tribute, if you may, to Miguel Matamoros. He was a very popular and appreciated Cuban musician. Music stars from all over Cuba participate at this event. There will be amazing dance competitions, seminars, concerts, and workshops.
Then, there’s a ten-day Theatre Festival organized in Havana which showcases both contemporary and classic works and productions. You will encounter a wide range of street performances. Finally, in November, Cuba is the host of a commercial event that consists of seven days of music workshops, concerts, and other classes. All these activities are part of the Baila en Cuba event. It all revolves around Cuban dance styles.
Travel Seasons in Cuba
Peak season – there are two periods of high season. The first one lasts from December all the way through March while the other period is in July and August;
Shoulder season – from April to June you will find lower accommodation rates. This is the first shoulder season period. November is part of the same category;
Off-season – two months are seen as low season: September and October. During this time, prices get significantly lower.
Things to Consider Before Planning a Trip to Cuba
1. Manage Expectations
Cuba is not a cheap destination. Some cities are more expensive than others. This is the case for the following locations: Havana, Trinidad, and Vinales. Those are also highly touristic areas. So, if you want you can visit them or avoid them in order to see the more affordable and less crowded Cuban towns. Savvy visitors might be able to maintain their daily costs at around $15. Still, the majority of tourists tend to spend between $50 and $100 per day.
2. Bring Everything You Need
Make sure to pack wisely. That means you should take the following items with you to Cuba: sunscreen, phone chargers, snacks, medicine, soap, and anything else that’s not perishable. Purchasing any of these products in Cuba is time-consuming as well as costly.
3. Save Money on Accommodation
There are two accommodation options in Cuba: the first one is making online reservations in advance; the second choice is learning the way to haggle well. Rates vary based on the service’s quality and the hotel’s location. Unfortunately, in terms of quality, you should keep your expectations low because even a four-star hotel can seem like one with fewer amenities.
4. Learn Some Spanish Words
Knowing some words and expressions in Spanish will help you get around easily. Language skills come in handy when you negotiate prices. Simply put, you may achieve fair costs on products and services although knowing Spanish but speaking it with a foreign accent isn’t a guarantee that you will avoid getting overcharged.
5. Find Out Good Places to Eat
Knowing where to eat is essential if you want to indulge in delicious local food. But, most importantly, the restaurants which are situated in touristy parts have higher rates. Localestablishments are affordable and they provide you with a real taste of the authentic Cuban cuisine. The best dish of chicken with beans, vegetables, and rice can be found in a local paladar.
Like in many other countries, in Cuba, crime is a real concern, although violent crime doesn’t happen too frequently. However, thieves might try to steal valuable items from your belongings such as smartphones, wallets, and cameras. To avoid these potential problems, you should always keep your documents, money, and other valuables in a safe place or closer to your body (on the inside part of a jacket, for example).
Driving in Cuba is indeed a thrilling and adventurous experience. If you rent a car, you should know that it is a pricey service and the entire action can become hazardous. Lights and road signs are pretty rare. Not all Cuban drivers have headlights. Also, you will encounter potholes almost everywhere you go. Renting a car might not be a great idea, especially if you don’t have nerves of steel.
The Best Time to Visit Cuba – Bottom Line
Visiting Cuba can be an amazing and unforgettable experience as long as you pack right, act smart and cautious, and organize your trip in advance. The best time to travel to Cuba depends on your preferences and budget.
If you are willing to spend a lot of money, then you should go during peak season when the weather is very good. On the other hand, to avoid crowds and to achieve more affordable hotel rates, you should visit the country during the wet season. Either way, this vacation destination should be on your wishlist.
Alexandra is a keen traveler. She loves to discover new places, plan trips, and tell you all about it. In her articles, Alexandra provides useful answers to common questions regarding travel budgets, finding the best travel deals, accommodations, travel expenses, planning a trip, saving money on flights, travel guides, and many other topics that I am sure you will find helpful. All the tips and detail she offers are tested and proven. With her help, you will save a lot of time and you won't feel overwhelmed by long Internet searches. In her role as a travel blogger, Alexandra allows you to spend more time doing exactly what you love most: traveling.