Havana's cultural calendar is full of visit-worthy events every month, with the more prestigious festivals taking place between October and April.

Jazz or ballet? Religious processions or fiery festivals? Cheap hotel deals or cool temperatures? You'll be able to find something to fit your taste and budget throughout the year.

Lapped by the choppy waters of the Straits of Florida, Havana is always warm, but it hits a climatic peak during the northern hemisphere winter when the weather is dry and not too humid. This seasonal guide can help you plan the best time for your visit to Havana

People crowd around a bar while musicians perform
Cool off in the hot high-season months with a fresh mojito at the famous Havana bar La Bodeguita del Medio © Kamira / Shutterstock

November to March and July to August are the best times for beaches

Havana’s high season stretches from November to March, when hordes of tourists from Europe and Canada flee the snow and freezing temperatures and decamp to Cuba. While many head to the all-inclusive resorts that line the north coast, a good proportion spend at least part of their time in Havana.

More than a quarter of Havana’s winter tourists come from Canada, and they start arriving in early to mid-November. Prices for flights, hotels and packages start going up from then and nudge even higher (as much as 25%) over Christmas and New Year, making this the most expensive time to visit.

As the rainy season draws to a close, temperatures become more bearable in November, and acclimatized runners line up for Havana’s annual marathon. 

December brings one of Havana's biggest international festivals, Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano (dedicated to film), and its most devotional religious procession (dedicated to San Lázaro).

Christmas celebrations have been reignited in the last two decades after practically dying out during the early years of the Revolution.

A classic car drives along a seaside road in Havana as the sun sets
January is the best time to visit Havana if you prefer cooler temperatures © Agota Kadar / Shutterstock

The busiest month in terms of tourist numbers is January, closely followed by February and March, when the weather is dry but not too hot and tempered by the occasional frente frio (cold front). January is Havana’s coolest month, with average daily temperatures of around 22ºC (72ºF).

Expect some shortages during this busy time, particularly in the availability of rental cars. Sharp-eyed travelers visiting in March should look out for migratory birds that congregate in some of the city's large green spaces, including Parque Lenin and the Jardín Botánico Nacional.

Crowds aside, January to March is the perfect time to visit the beaches of Playas del Este and partake in a range of water activities. It’s also the conclusion of Cuban baseball’s National Series and a potentially exciting time for fans of Havana’s Industriales team.

The mini high season of July and August is when Cubans go on vacation. This two-month-long summer spike affects the country’s cheaper hotels and rural campismos (affordable rustic accommodations) but has less of an impact in Havana, except during the city’s annual carnival in August. Scorching temperatures are guaranteed – August is the city’s hottest month.

The shoulder season months of April and October have fewer visitors

Foreign visitors begin tailing off in April, and prices start to fall after Easter. Despite waning tourist numbers, the weather remains good; April is the second-driest month, the sunniest and the least humid. 

With this good weather and less-crowded beaches, April is a good time for fishing in the Gulf Stream and kitesurfing at Tarará.

Conversely, October can be stormy, with oppressive humidity and persistent rain to dampen tourist numbers. However, early fall delivers some excellent cultural annual events.

The internationally acclaimed theater and ballet festivals – Festival de Teatro de la Habana and Festival Internacional de Ballet de la Habana – are both worth planning a trip around.

A boy stands on the harbor wall in Havana, watching another boy backflip off into the water below
May is a good time to visit Havana if you prefer to avoid crowds © Image Source / Getty Images

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

Low season is prime time for budget travelers, crowd-avoiders and those not averse to getting a little wet. Bear in mind that Havana’s showers – even in the June to November rainy season – are usually short and heavy, with the rain rarely lasting all day.

Ranking as one of the cheapest months, May marks a sweet spot between the crowded winter season and the domestic barrage of summer. It also offers a potential weather window. 

June marks the start of hurricane season, but remember that the Caribbean hurricane season usually starts with a whimper as opposed to a bang.

Big storms are an exception rather than a rule in June, although it’s the wettest month for all-around rainfall. It is also the height of mango season – reason enough to visit! September is peak hurricane season in Cuba, when the outside chance of a “big one” (usually every four to five years) keeps many vacationers at bay. 

While there are not a ton of quirky festivals to savor during the off-season, Havana never lacks life, and all the best museums and sights remain open year-round.

Accommodations-wise, you’ll pay cheaper rates and find better availability in the low season. Similarly, travelers will enjoy shorter lines, less crowded beaches and a quieter, slicker airport experience.

This article was first published March 2022 and updated January 2024

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