Looking to discover the best time to visit Sierra Leone and what the weather is like in the dry and wet season?
Especially in Freetown?
Then this is the post for you!
Located in West Africa, with the Atlantic Ocean lapping at its heels and a wild, lush tropical landscape lying behind, I think it’s fair to say Sierra Leone is pretty off the beaten track.
Indeed before I travelled there, I hadn’t met a single person that had been to this incredible country, but I have a strong feeling that’s all about to change!
With a bitter civil way now well behind it, and Ebola conquered in the region, there’s no question Sierra Leone is one heck of an upcoming country.
Young, keen and vibrant, this amazing country offers a host of incredible things to do and with great weather for a lot of the year, Sierra Leone is definitely one to watch!
So if you’re thinking of heading there before the backpackers blaze in and the resort tourists follow, then stay tuned, I’m going to bring you the lowdown on exactly when you should visit this West African gem.
After all, there’s definitely some seasons that are better than others, and you want to make sure you time your trip right!
- Want to Travel Sierra Leone? 21 Things to Know Before You Go
- 15 Best Things to Do in Sierra Leone + Itinerary
- Top 15 Things to Do in Freetown
My trip to Sierra Leone was sponsored by the Sierra Leone National Tourist Board, but as always, all views are my own.
This page contains affiliate links meaning Big World Small Pockets may receive a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you.
Sierra Leone Weather & Climate
Sierra Leone is situated just north of the equator and therefore enjoys a tropical climate.
Largely speaking, the country enjoys 2 main seasons – the dry season and the rainy season.
The rainy season runs from May to October and the dry season extends from November to April.
I’ll go into both the rainy and dry seasons more later on in this post, but generally speaking, you can expect Sierra Leone to be hot and humid year round inline with its tropical location.
This is especially true in the low-lying Atlantic coast area, when temperatures tend to be the hottest.
That said, the weather here is also slightly tempered in the dry season by the breezy conditions which blow in off the ocean.
Inland areas of the country tend to experience a more temperate climate, largely because Sierra Leone is a hilly country and the elevation experienced away from the coast helps keep things a bit cooler, although with less wind.
Unfortunately, like most places in the world, global warming is shifting the weather patterns of Sierra Leone too, with rainy season sometimes coming earlier, or later than expected.
Sierra Leone Temperatures
As a rule of thumb, Sierra Leone is hot all year round.
Average daytime temperatures at the coast are around 26 degrees celsius.
At night, this drops slightly to 24 degrees celsius.
Inland, it’s around 22 degrees on average during the day and 20 degrees at night generally speaking.
The hottest temperatures across the country tend to be recorded in March, April and May just before the rains come and help cool things down.
The lowest temperatures in Sierra Leone are generally recorded in July, August and September – these are also the months when the most rain falls.
At the highest points of Sierra Leone, I’m talking over 1000m, temperatures can plummet to 10 degrees at night in the cooler months.
Weather in Freetown
Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, is located in the Atlantic Ocean coastal area.
In fact, it is situated on the edge of a peninsula next to the ocean.
This means Freetown experiences some of the country’s hottest and most humid weather.
This is especially true in the months of March and April just before the rains descend.
The saving grace here is that during the months of November through February, the North East Trade Winds blow in off the ocean and give Freetown a lovely cooling breeze.
This means that even though it’s hot during these months, think an average of around 26 degrees celsius during the day, it can feel cooler and less humid, especially in the early evening and at night, when the winds tend to pick up.
This is one reason Freetown experiences the best weather (and is best visited) during the last and first couple of months of the year.
The other factor that makes November through February the best time to visit Sierra Leone is that it’s precipitation-free!
With almost no rain, especially in December, January and February, you can expect lovely warm, dry days in the capital.
This really is key for ensuring you get to enjoy all the sights and beautiful beaches around Freetown.
Rainy Season in Sierra Leone
So yes, one thing you need to consider when selecting the best time to visit Sierra Leone is the rainy season.
As I mentioned previously, this largely falls between May and October, with July and August being the wettest months.
Essentially, this is the tropical summer season in Sierra Leone – it’s hot, humid and wet during this time.
Almost 800mm of rain falls in Sierra Leone during the months of July and August and the country really is best avoided during these months as far as travellers are concerned.
The rainy season, especially the core months, often brings the country to a standstill, making enjoying Sierra Leone to its fullest, difficult.
In addition, the rainy season can make getting around the country hard too, with roads often washed out or impassable.
This is particularly true in the coastal areas, such as Freetown, where flooding can occur due to violent and torrential downpours.
Inland, there’s less rain, but travel still isn’t really advised at this time.
Overall, there’s less sun during the rainy season across Sierra Leone too, as precipitation falls almost every day, and there’s a heck of a lot more mosquitoes too!
Dry Season in Sierra Leone
The dry season in Sierra Leone runs between November and April.
This is essentially the winter months, but confusingly it’s hotter at this time, especially towards the end of the dry season, just before the rains come.
Thankfully, the Trade Winds that blow in along the coast, keep the temperatures bearable although, during certain weeks, it can reach up to 30 degrees.
Needless to say, things get very uncomfortable at this time, especially given the lack of fans and aircon!
Inland, temperatures can soar to 34 degrees during the day in the dry season, although the Harmattan wind, which blows in off the Sahara, can help keep the humidity down.
At night, inland temperatures drop however and at country’s the highest points, temperatures can go as low as 10 degrees celsius.
Best Time to Visit Sierra Leone
Overall, the best time to visit Sierra Leone is during the months of December, January and February.
During these months, there’s the least rainfall, the sunniest days and usually a breeze (both inland and at the coast) to keep the humidity lower.
These months are also the best time for spotting wildlife across the country, particularly birds, who migrate in their thousands from Europe to Sierra Leone.
Access is also good across the country from December to February, and there’s less mosquitoes around too, meaning less risk of malaria.
Swimming in the sea is also possible during the dry season.
I visited Sierra Leone at the end of January and found the weather very pleasant at this time.
Days were warm, dry and sunny, while the evenings were cooled by the breeze, meaning long pants and even a thin sweater were necessary.
At night, a fan was sufficient to keep me cool. I rarely used aircon.
As such, December, January and February also form the peak tourist season in Sierra Leone.
This can mean prices are higher at this time, but it’s worth paying in my opinion, given the far better experience in the country you’ll have compared to the rainy season.
Usually, I advise people to visit a country in the shoulder seasons – this is a good way to balance prices and crowds with good weather – but in Sierra Leone, the shoulder season are both the hottest (March through May) and can be very wet still (September and October).
As such, December, January and February are definitely the months I’d advise visiting this country.
Because Sierra Leone receives so few visitors, you honestly won’t have to worry about crowds, even in the height of the travel season.
Mini Travel Guide to Sierra Leone
How Long to Visit For?
1 week is a good amount of time to see a lot that Sierra Leone has to offer, including Freetown, the surrounding beaches and islands, plus some of the nearby wildlife destinations too, such as Tiwai Island.
How to Get There?
Most travellers arrive into Sierra Leone via the capital’s international airport.
Flights from Europe are direct with Brussels Airways and Air France, or via Casablanca with Royal Air Maroc.
Kenya Airways and Turkish Airlines also operate flights here from other destinations.
As always I use Skyscanner to find the best prices on aeroplane tickets.
To get from the airport to central Freetown, it’s then best to take the ferry service, which is timed to run with arriving flights.
Sea Bird Express are the main operator and tickets cost $45 USD.
The ticket office is located outside the airport, just across the street from the arrivals hall.
Learn more I wrote in this post all about arriving at, and departing from, Sierra Leone’s airport.
How to Get Around?
It’s best to get around Sierra Leone care of a tour company or an arranged driver.
Visit Sierra Leone (VSL) can help with both.
Where to Stay?
Token Beach Resort was my favourite spot in Sierra Leone, just outside the capital.
Backpackers can also find good cheap lodging and camping at Bureh Beach.
In Freetown, most of the better hotels tend to be situated in the Aberdeen district, where the sea ferry from the airport arrives into.
Here’s my top picks for accommodation options in Freetown…
Travel Insurance for Sierra Leone
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.
Travel Money in Sierra Leone
Firstly, I advise taking mostly cash to Sierra Leone, as ATMs can be unreliable here to say the least!
EUR, GBP and USD can all be exchanged in banks or on the black market.
Only upmarket hotels, bars and restaurants will allow you to pay by card.
Even then, you want to ensure you’re not being charged overseas transaction fees or getting poor exchange rates, which is why I always take my Wise card away with me wherever I travel.
The easy way to spend abroad with real exchange rates, no markups and no sneaky transaction fees, you can use your Wise card just like a debit card in Sierra Leone… and it links easily with Google and Apple pay – sold! Grab yours here.
You need a Yellow Fever certificate, as well as a Covid-19 vaccination certificate, to be granted entry to Sierra Leone.
Bring paper copies of both to show officials at your point of entry.
Always consult a health practitioner before you travel to West Africa.
They will advise you about other recommended vaccinations to get ahead of your trip, as well as about any anti-malaria medication you may need.
Where to Travel After Sierra Leone?
After Sierra Leone, I travelled north to Senegal.
Learn more about my travels in this fantastic West African country here.
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And that’s my full guide to the best time to visit Sierra Leone, its climate and weather.
I hope it was helpful in planning your trip to this amazing West African country.
Have any more questions about adventuring here?
Then don’t forget to check out the other posts I’ve written about my time in Sierra Leone.
Alternatively, you can drop any questions you have into the comments box below and I’ll get back to you…