Cuba is the largest island in the archipelago that makes up the West Indies, and has recently become an incredibly popular holiday destination because of its beaches, culture, and fascinating political history. The country is diverse and multicultural and its residents are friendly and passionate about their home, giving the island a truly unique atmosphere that attracts travellers throughout the year.
Visiting Cuba in January will ensure that you experience some of the best weather that the country has all year, which is perfect for enjoying its miles of beautiful coast and dense greenery. Many exciting events take place throughout the month of January in Cuba as well, which will allow you to experience a wide range of the country’s culture.
Reasons to visit Cuba in January
- January is at the start of the country’s dry season, so you are unlikely to get caught in any tropical rainstorms during your holiday
- The weather is warm but not particularly humid, making it a perfect time to explore the island’s many mountains and national parks
- The New Year’s celebrations in Cuba are fantastic, with distinctive traditions alongside commemorations of the country gaining independence
Weather in Cuba in January
Cuba’s position in the Caribbean means that it enjoys a warm and tropical climate all year round, with two distinct seasons. During January, temperatures will be cooler than the summer months with a fresh breeze, which is why many people choose to travel to Cuba in January to make the most of its pleasant weather.
Visiting Cuba in January also means that you arrive right in the middle of the country’s dry season, and are unlikely to experience a lot of rain during your stay.
The average temperature in Cuba in January can reach up to 26ºC during the day in the country’s capital, dropping on average to a very enjoyable 17ºC in the evenings. The north-easterly wind keeps the air temperature very bearable throughout the day, providing a perfect climate for relaxing on the beach or exploring the countryside.
In the evenings you will only need another light layer to continue making the most of the warm weather, and can enjoy dining outside or taking a stroll along the seafront as the sun sets.
Sea temperatures are famously high in the Caribbean, and the majority of people enjoy swimming in Cuba in January with an average water temperature of 25ºC during the daytime, which gets slightly cooler in the evening. The sea might not be as warm as in the summer months, but it is still very pleasant and refreshing.
Clouds & rainfall
There is more rain in the north of Cuba than the south during January, but there is still only an average of six days of rain throughout the month. The skies are likely to be clear for the majority of your stay, with the number of overcast days decreasing as February approaches.
January is one of the sunniest months in Cuba, with seven hours of sunshine every day and very little cloud. The sun tends to rise just after 7am and sets just after 6pm, providing a lot of daylight hours to enjoy the warmth.
UV levels are high throughout January, so make sure that you are regularly applying suncream if you are outdoors.
Where to go in Cuba in January
Since the central areas of Cuba tend to be rather full of tourists in January, you can make the most of the warm weather and explore the quieter town of Baracoa on the east of the island. The main attraction to visiting this area is the incredible surrounding landscape, with dense rainforests, waterfalls, and coconut groves just waiting to be explored.
The beaches in Baracoa are also excellent, and likely to be much less busy than those in central Cuba. History fans can also admire the carved wooden statue of Christopher Columbus on the beachfront promenade, who arrived in the town in 1492.
Cuba in January is popular for a reason, and if you are wanting to go all out on a Caribbean holiday then Varadero is the ultimate beach destination. The resort town stretches out along 20km of coastline, with hotels, private beaches and a huge range of restaurants and bars that are perfect for tourists,
From boating at Josone Park to exploring the Cueva de Ambrosio caves, Varadero is packed with things to do. But the area is known as the ‘Blue Beach’ for a good reason, and its crystal clear waters make it one of the best spots on the whole island to enjoy swimming in the sea.
Those who enjoy history and culture will love taking a trip to Camagüey, Cuba’s third-largest city, which has a vibrant art scene and an incredible collection of historic buildings. The historic centre of the city is the largest UNESCO site in Cuba, and has a lot of lovely plazas that are wonderful for sitting in and soaking up the local atmosphere.
Camagüey is the perfect place to escape from the crowds in January, and get lost in the many side streets and little shortcuts across the city as you admire the surrounding architecture. Fans of film will enjoy a stroll down the aptly named Cinema Street, complete with five different cinemas and a range of other film-related businesses, or you can join the locals at an evening ballet performance at the Teatro Principal, a lovely old-fashioned theatre.
Things to do in Cuba in January
The best way to enjoy yourself in Cuba in January is to make the most of outdoor activities and embrace exploring the lesser-known areas of the country.
The climate in January makes hiking a perfect pastime if you are visiting Cuba, and the Torpes National Park is an excellent location to explore on foot. Make sure you are prepared with appropriate clothing and footwear, and spend some time taking in the stunning peaks and waterfalls that populate the protected area.
Take a Road Trip
The best way to get around Cuba is by car, and if you are planning a longer stay in the country then an excellent way to explore it is with a road trip. You can do a circle of the island to experience the different regions or cruise along the coast between Havana and Varadero or Trinidad and Cienfuegos.
Swim in a Cenote
Whilst diving is a popular activity in Cuba, you can also experience what it is like to swim in one of the country’s cenotes; a freshwater natural pool that is only found in a few places across the world. The best cenote in Cuba is the Cueva de Saturno (Saturn Cave) which is just outside of Varadero and is a beautiful swimming spot inside an underground cave.
Enjoy a Classic Cuban Mojito
At the end of a long day exploring the island’s scenery, there is nothing better than sitting back and enjoying a crisp mojito made with authentic Havana Club Rum. These classic cocktails can be enjoyed in the majority of bars, but for the best experience try one at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba or La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana.
Crowds & costs
January is one of the most popular months to visit Cuba because it is one of the best times of year to see the country, and so you can expect a fair amount of tourists wherever you are staying. January is the peak holiday season and many of the popular attractions are likely to be very busy, but you can avoid the majority of the crowds by planning to get to places early in the morning.
Because of the popularity of Cuba in January, flights and accommodation tend to be more expensive than if you were visiting in the off-season. Planning your trip well in advance will help you to save money, as many smaller B&Bs or ‘casas particulares’ still offer very reasonable prices in January if you get to them first.
January festivals & events
Dia de la Liberación
As well as celebrating the start of the New Year with the rest of the world, the 1st of January is also ‘Liberation Day’ in Cuba, marking the anniversary of the revolution victory led by Prime Minister Fidel Castro. You can expect military parades, concerts and firework displays across the country, and a number of fun cultural traditions as the clock strikes midnight!
Havana Jazz Festival
The biggest festival of jazz in South America takes place in Havana in January, with a whole week of performances from Cuba’s finest jazz musicians and many other famous jazz stars from all over the world. Attending the Havana International Jazz Festival is a brilliant way to really immerse yourself in a significant part of the country’s culture, and enjoy the upbeat and vibrant atmosphere of Cuba’s capital city.
Festival de la Trova Longina
Another popular music festival in Cuba is the Festival de la Trova Longina, which celebrates the popular style of Cuban music known as ‘trova’. The festival takes place in the city of Santa Clara and is named after a famous song by the well-known Cuban musician, Manuel Corona.
Casa de las Américas Prize
For those who want to absorb even more culture, the prestigious Casa de las Américas Prize tends to be awarded in Havana at the end of January and brings together the very best writers and literary thinkers across Central and South America. It’s a great time to visit the city if you want to expand your literary knowledge and pick up books that you might not otherwise have come across.
Frequently asked questions about Cuba in January
Is it safe to travel in Cuba?
Cuba is actually a remarkably safe place to travel, even on your own, and has a relatively low crime rate. You are likely to be approached by locals trying to sell things to tourists during your stay, but a polite refusal is enough to be left alone, and everyone is very friendly.
Is Cuba warm in January?
Cuba is very pleasantly warm in January, and also has relatively low humidity meaning the air temperature is lovely.
Can you swim in Cuba in January?
In January the sea in Cuba is pleasantly warm and very calm and safe, so most people will find swimming in it absolutely fine. Those who are more sensitive to cold however might find the water too cool.
January is a brilliant time to visit Cuba, as you can make the most of the perfect weather whilst avoiding hurricane season or the months of sweltering humidity. The country is a fantastic place for travellers, and once you escape the tourist traps you will see exactly why the island has become such a popular holiday destination.