Come November, the rains of summer fade away (although occasional rains are still possible), and temperatures dip into the Goldilocks zone--just-right! Expect average temperatures of 75°F (24°C) and an average maximum of 84°F (29°C) in Havana, and two or three degrees more in Camagüey, Santiago de Cuba and other cities of Oriente.
The exception is Baracoa, which receives its highest rainfall of the year in the winter months (October, November, December), and the rain can bucket down at this time of year. Elsewhere, however, this is a wonderful time to visit.
Crowds & Costs
The number of visitors to Cuba picks up considerably by late November, although peak season won’t begin for another month as snowbirds arrive from Canada and northern Europe for vacations in Varadero and other beach resorts. The all-inclusive resorts can be crowded and noisy with piped-in music and group activities. Hotel rates and airfares both rise, and many of the most popular lodgings can fill by late November. Early planning is essential for this month.
Where to Go
Everywhere but Baracoa would be an excellent choice this month, as the weather is agreeable everywhere. Canadian and European visitors escaping the frigid winter tend to focus on a beach vacation, with Varadero, Cayo Coco, and Cayo Levisa the key destinations. Cayo Levisa, however, has no Cuban community. If you want to mix sunning and snorkeling with cultural immersion, focus on Varadero or Guardalavaca, where excursions to the nearby cities of Matanzas and Cárdenas, and Holguín and Banes, respectively, provide a great combo.
The popular Havana-Viñales-Cienfuegos-Trinidad circuit will be swarmed by December, so this is a great time to experience these destinations before they become too crowded. Plus, the tobacco-planting season is well underway in Viñales, adding cultural interest to your visit. And you’ll get to visit Cienfuegos during its most important annual festival, when the city will be abuzz with cultural activities celebrating the music of the late Benny Moré.
What to Do
Havana hosts several major events this month. Notable among them is the Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano, when locals flock en masse to cinemas throughout the city. Many titles are sub-titled. Combine some movie going with visits to museums and general sightseeing. The Cine Yara, atop La Rampa (Calle 23 & L) is a key venue, ideally situated across the street from Coppelia, where you can enjoy ice cream with the locals.
With little traffic and the crowds of December yet to arrive, this is a good month for a road trip from one end of the isle to the other. You can hit all the sweet spots by heading east along the Carretera Central as far as Santiago de Cuba. For a round-trip, return via the Circuito Norte—the north coast road—with forays across the pedraplenes (causeways) to Cayo Coco and Cayos de Villa Clara.
Festival del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano, Havana. Cubans are avid moviegoers, so much so that many take their annual vacation during the New Latinamerican Movie Festival, which screens avant-garde movies from throughout the Americas. Other cities also participate in the festival.
Festival Internacional de Música Benny More. The Caribbean port city of Cienfuegos goes wild with all manner of celebrations honoring impresario composer and singer Benny Moré, considered one of the all-time greats of Cuban music.
Havana Classical Music Festival. Concert halls, churches, and cultural centers throughout Havana host classical and chamber music in memory of 18th-century Cuban composer Estebán Salas.
Marahabana Marathon. Several thousand Cubans and international runners participate in Cuba’s annual marathon race, which also includes 5km and 10km races. It’s preceded the day before by Maracuba—when tens of thousands of Cubans take a lap.
Traveling to Cuba in October? Check out these great itineraries
Havana in a Heartbeat – 4 Days. Just a few days to spare? Then this quick take on the capital city provides an immersion that connects you to Cuba’s creative culture and lifestyle.
Adventurous Cuba – 8 Days. The perfect combination of nature and culture, this trip will take you to Havana, Cienfuegos and Trinidad, plus the wildlife-rich Zapata Peninsula.