Known as the no-winter island, Cuba cycles through mild to warm to hot-as-hell weather with the changing seasons.

With its gorgeous beaches and tropical climate, sunbathing is possible in Cuba year-round. The summer months of July and August see the warmest weather, but check the weather forecasts before booking your trip, particularly during the June to November hurricane season.

Schools in Cuba shut down in July and August, making this a busy time for local tourism, while cultural festivals and live music fill the calendar all year.

Here’s the lowdown on the best times to visit Cuba, the Caribbean’s biggest island.

A man carrying a large bass instrument smokes a cigar as he walks by a Cuban flag painted on a wall
Musicians take over the cities of Havana and Santiago de Cuba in December © Jeremy Woodhouse / Getty Images

November to March bring crowds (and more costly accommodation)

Between November and March, Cuba is invaded by holidaymakers as families escape the cold North American winter. Prices are at their highest for hotels and homestays, rising even higher around Christmas and New Year. 

Peak tourist season makes reservations essential for accommodations and car rental. The weather is mild but usually dry and sunny. Cold fronts bring cooler evenings in January and February so you might want to pack a jacket.

In December a film festival takes over Havana while provincial festivities and traditional events called parrandas and charangas see locals go firework-crazy.

If you visit in January, expect jam sessions in cities such as Havana and Santiago de Cuba during the start-of-the-year jazz festival, Festival Internacional de Jazz, which draws musicians and fans from all over the world.

February is the best time to go for diving and snorkeling on Cuba’s south coast. It is also perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking and cycling. 

An incredible variety of migratory birds – more than 260 species – use Cuba as a temporary staging post at this time of year. 

These migratory birds mingle with resident species making March the best month for birdwatching, especially in the wetlands of Ciénaga de Zapata and Peninsula de Guanahacabibes in Pinar del Río.

A beautiful white-sand beach backed by a hotel. Lots of people take up space on the sand near the building
Expect busier beaches in July and August as Cubans and visitors head to the coast © Walter Bibikow / Getty Images

July and August are the hottest times to visit Cuba

The summer months of July and August are the liveliest time of the year to visit Cuba but also the hottest, and there's a fair amount of rain. Local schools are closed and it's the height of the domestic tourism season, so expect jam-packed beaches and busy hotels in popular tourist destinations such as Varadero and on fringing islands such as Cayo Coco.

Be sure to book accommodations and activities in advance. Santiago de Cuba hosts Carnaval, one of the nation’s liveliest festivals, with colorful parades, rhythm and dance.

Still peak summer, August fills the island with music as Havana organizes its carnival and Varadero hosts a fantastic music festival that combines the best of both worlds: jazz and son cubano – a Cuban music genre considered to be the foundation of modern salsa. Hotel rates start to come down after August 25.

April and October are best for fewer crowds

By April, the weather in Cuba is already warm and it's less rainy than in the upcoming months of early summer. Beaches are also less crowded than they are during summer’s peak season, except during Semana de la Victoria (Victory Week) when Cubans vacation to celebrate the island's victory over anti-Castro forces at Playa Girón in 1961. This event sometimes overlaps with Easter week, which sees a surge in foreign visitors on vacation.

October is still hot but not as muggy as the summer, and it's the best time to catch a good deal before peak season hits. Be aware that there's a risk of severe tropical storms before the hurricane season ends in November.

Marchers carry the Gay Pride rainbow-colored flag down a street
Cuba's LGBTIQ+ community celebrates in May © PhotosByByron / Getty Images

The best months for budget travelers are May, June and September

It’s rainy and hot at the start and end of the Cuban summer, but the low season is the best time to take advantage of hotels and casas particulares (private homestays) offering the lowest prices. Always check the weather forecast before you depart: June to November is hurricane season, and there's always the chance of a strong storm.

In May, Romerías de Mayo brings music fans to Holguín, and Mayo Teatral in Havana is great for lovers of theater and drama. One of the best months for budget travelers also coincides with a three-week celebration of the LGBTIQ+ community, the Conga Cubana contra la Homofobia y la Transfobia, a music parade that showcases colorful dances throughout Havana’s La Rampa (Calle 23).

Expect performances of conga – a style of Cuban rumba that is danced while walking – alongside educational workshops, concerts and conferences.

June might be the start of hurricane season, but that doesn't stop you from soaking up warm days on the beach with few other visitors. This month is a good time to avoid the crowds and enjoy provincial festivals... before hurricane season really gets going. 

This article was first published November 2021 and updated January 2024

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