Best time to visit Ivory Coast


Ivory Coast is typically tropical: hot and humid in the south, and a little cooler in the north and the west. Being so close to the equator, it experiences little variation in temperature, with “seasons” restricted to wet and dry, or windy. Daytime temperatures in the equatorial south of the country regularly surpass 30°C, with temperatures in the tropical center and the arid and semi-arid north a little cooler, particularly at night. The best time to go to Ivory Coast tends to be the dry season, roughly from December to April.

When to visit Ivory Coast & when not to

a month by month guide

Mid-November to April is the dry season, and the most pleasant time to travel. You won’t have issues with blocked roads from floods, there are fewer malaria carrying mosquitoes and there are some excellent festivals on the agenda, such as the Fête de I’Abissa in Grand Bassam in November and the Fêtes des Masques held in the villages around Man in February.

The harmattan wind blows down from the Sahara from December, January, February and March. It can cool temperatures a little but be prepared for dusty haze and uncomfortable dryness, as well as reduced visibility for both photography and sightseeing.

The rainy season lasts from May to October, with rains the heaviest in the south from May to July, and the lowest average temperatures in August and September. If you’re planning to explore the west, June to October is best avoided, as the rains can cause roads and hiking paths to deteriorate with alarming speed.

Things to do in Ivory Coast


Things to do in Ivory

Get your culture fix. Dance is a key part of Ivorian culture and is used to celebrate births, marriages and harvests as well as to mourn the passing of the dead. A real highlight is watching the initiation or mask dances of the country’s different ethnic groups. The opportunity to witness artisans at work should also not be missed. Ivory Coast’s traditional art and craft scene is renowned, with jewellers, weavers, blacksmiths, potters, wood carvers and others creating beautiful works of art using ancient techniques.

It’s incredible to think that there are over 60 ethnic groups in Ivory Coast, the majority being the Akan, who live mostly in the east and central regions. The Baoulé are the single largest subgroup of the Akan people and you can learn about their heritage in and around Bouaké, their historical home. In the north, you’ll come across Fulani nomads searching for pastures; the Malinké, descendants of the mighty Mali Empire; and the Senufo, whose ancient capital Korhogo is a wonderful place to watch artisans at work.

Tourism is slowly growing in Ivory Coast, but it remains a tough place to travel thanks to poor infrastructure and limited public transport. For this reason, we recommend joining a small group tour. You’ll travel in a private vehicle and enjoy the services of tour leader and an expert local guide. This reduces the chances of anything going wrong – and ensures that if it does, there is help at hand.

Things not to do in Ivory Coast…

Ivory Coast is not a mainstream tourist destination. That is part of its appeal, so you shouldn’t expect luxury on a trip here. Road conditions and infrastructure can be poor and accommodation, especially outside of the cities, tends to be simple. Do remember that this is all part of the cultural experience. Lodgings will be clean and comfortable with helpful staff, and will give you valuable insight into local life. 

Play it safe with 'international' dishes. Ivorian cuisine takes French traditions and West African techniques and ingredients and turns them into a fabulous culinary adventure. Common dishes include kedjenou, a spicy stew prepared with chicken or guineafowl and accompanied by foutou, a pounded cassava dumpling; and poulet braisé, chicken marinated in garlic, lemon juice, mustard, pepper and chillies, and then cooked on an open charcoal grill. You can get your foodie fix anywhere from streetside stalls to fine dining restaurants – the choice is yours.

Visiting traditional villages and rural areas may be your main objective on a trip to Ivory Coast, but don’t assume this is just a rural destination; the cities are well worth visiting. Chaotic Abidjan is the country’s main metropolis, and a city tour is a fascinating way to start your adventure. Top of your list should be the artefact-packed National Museum, the labyrinthine Marché de Cocody and the chic Galerie Cécile Fakhoury, which showcases the continent’s top contemporary artists.

Ivory Coast travel advice



Aled Evans, from our supplier Undiscovered Destinations, shares his Ivory Coast travel tips: “By taking a tour in Ivory Coast, you have all the arrangements in place and ready. An organised tour reduces the stress meaning that all your transport and accommodation is pre-booked and confirmed before you travel. An expert local guide also accompanies the tour meaning that language issues are not a problem and you also get a more in depth experience of the local culture. By traveling as a small group (max. 12 people) the costs are also lower than independent travel as travel and guiding costs are split amongst all the travelers.”


Aled Evans from our supplier Undiscovered Destinations: “As with many of the countries in West Africa, public transport schedules and road conditions can make traveling unpredictable. Journey times can be doubled by unforeseen road blockages and check points. Hotel accommodation is surprisingly good but travelers in the country should not expect Western standards of service. This is a country still emerging from civil war and the effects can still be clearly seen.”
Tips from Jim O’Brien, from our supplier Native Eye: “Ivory Coast is reasonably well developed compared to some other countries in the region. It was a favoured colony of France and as such the level of development, especially in the south, is high. But even so the roads can be bad at times, especially in the north – you need to have patience when traveling here. As in all of West Africa, the infrastructure isn’t the same as at home, but with a flexible approach and a sense of humour, it shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge.”

Cultural highlights

Tips from Jim O’Brien from our supplier Native Eye: “For me, the main cultural highlight of a visit here is most definitely seeing the mask dances of various groups – the Dan, Baoule and Senoufou people, for example.”
Aled Evans from our supplier Undiscovered Destinations: “The large variety of tribes (approximately 60 different ethnic groups) that you will meet all have their own unique history. As an example, the Baulé people are of Akan lineage originating from Ghana and in the vicinity of Odienne live the Malinké, descendants of the old empire of Mali. All have their own cultural traditions and the production of handicrafts summarises these differences: fine statues that represent the world of the spirits, weaving loom pulleys, and masks.”
Written by Nana Luckham
Ivory Coast small group tour

Ivory Coast small group tour

Explore the little known but welcoming Ivory Coast

From £4145 13 Days ex flights
The Ivory Coast vacation

The Ivory Coast vacation

Explore the rainforest and culture of Ivory Coast

From US $3610 13 Days ex flights
Ivory Coast tour, culture & history

Ivory Coast tour, culture & history

Discover Côte d’Ivoire, coastal jewel of West Africa

From US $3580 8 Days ex flights
Ivory Coast discovery tour

Ivory Coast discovery tour

Join this escorted tour through Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

From £3445 13 Days ex flights
West Africa tour, Bissau to Cotonou

West Africa tour, Bissau to Cotonou

Voodoo heartlands, traditional storytellers and lush islands

From £8499 4 Weeks ex flights
Ivory Coast vacation, ancient Gods of West Africa

Ivory Coast vacation, ancient Gods of West Africa

Traditional tribal cultures and fading colonial towns

From £3349 11 Days ex flights
Ghana & Ivory Coast vacation

Ghana & Ivory Coast vacation

2 weeks to explore Ghana & Cote D'Ivoire

From US $4295 10 Days ex flights
Photo credits: [Page banner: Maxence] [Temperature chart: abdallahh] [Helpdesk: kate fisher] [Getting around: Mickaël T.] [Challenges on the road: Mickaël T.] [Cultural highlights: Tchoops41 ]