We present CCD BVI photometry for Be 33, a previously unstudied open cluster located toward the Galactic Anticentre. The radial extent of the cluster is about 4 arcmin, and it contains about 285 stars with V< 20.5 mag. Examination of the derived colour-magnitude diagrams shows that Be 33 is a strongly reddened object, with an age slightly lower than the age of the Hyades. Its apparent distance modulus is (m-M)V≍14.7, and its reddening is E(B - V) ≍0.6 for an assumed metallicity equal to the solar value. Comparison of the cluster colour-magnitude diagram with isochrones published by Berteili et al. suggests that in fact Be 33 has a metallicity significantly lower than solar. For Z =0.004, the best-fitting isochrone implies that E(B-V)≍0.70, (m-M)V≍15.5 and an age of ≍0.7 Gyr. Two W UMa-type variables and one variable that probably belongs to the Algol class have been discovered in the cluster field. One of two discovered contact binaries is likely to be a field star, while two remaining variables are potential cluster members.