If you’re considering a trip to Varadero in Cuba, it’s important to note that the town is primarily known for its beaches and relaxation opportunities. It’s a destination that some people love and others dislike.
Varadero is a massive coastal resort that offers all-inclusive packages and is home to many large hotels.
It can be challenging to form an opinion on Varadero, but the Captain will provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.
👉 Varadero in a nutshell
👉 Weather in Varadero
👉 Getting to Varadero
👉 Hotels in Varadero
👉 Getting around Varadero
👉 Water activities in Varadero
👉 Things to do & see in the city of Varadero
👉 Things to do & see in the Varadero peninsula
👉 Day-trips from Varadero
👉 Practical information
💡 Planning Your Trip to Cuba 💡
🇨🇺 Visa: Before you depart, be sure to apply for your tourist card (which is your visa for Cuba). You can easily order your tourist card online through CubaVisa.
📸 Activities: Snorkeling, day trips, vintage car tours… there’s plenty to do in Varadero. To book your activities, the Captain highly recommends Civitatis.
Varadero in a nutshell
Located in the Province of Matanzas, Varadero is one of the largest seaside resorts in the Caribbean. The town is situated on the Hicacos Peninsula, and its beaches stretch for more than 20 km / 12.5 miles along the north coast of Cuba.
Over one million visitors flock to Varadero every year, mostly Canadians, Russians, and Europeans. However, it’s worth noting that the town is mostly off-limits to Cubans, with some exceptions.
Weather in Varadero
|📅 Month||❄️ Min||🌡️ Max||☔ Rainfall||☀️ Sunshine|
|Janvier||18°C | 64.5°F||27°C | 80.5°F||54 mm||8 hours/day|
|Février||18°C | 64.5°F||27°C | 80.5°F||62 mm||8 hours/day|
|Mars||19°C | 66°F||29°C | 84°F||27 mm||9 hours/day|
|Avril||21°C | 70°F||30°C | 86°F||43 mm||10 hours/day|
|Mai||22°C | 71.5°F||31°C | 88°F||84 mm||9 hours/day|
|Juin||23°C | 73.5°F||32°C | 89.5°F||96 mm||8 hours/day|
|Juillet||24°C | 75°F||32°C | 89.5°F||83 mm||9 hours/day|
|Août||24°C | 75°F||32°C | 89.5°F||110 mm||9 hours/day|
|Septembre||24°C | 75°F||32°C | 89.5°F||146 mm||9 hours/day|
|Octobre||23°C | 73.5°F||30°C | 86°F||143 mm||9 hours/day|
|Novembre||21°C | 70°F||28°C | 82.5°F||55 mm||8 hours/day|
|Décembre||19°C | 66°F||27°C | 80.5°F||31 mm||7 hours/day|
In Varadero, the temperatures are quite pleasant during the dry season and become warmer during the rainy season.
The dry season is typically associated with low precipitation levels, while the rainy season sees sporadic showers that can weigh down the atmosphere.
Regardless of the season, Varadero enjoys a relatively constant amount of sunshine, ranging from 7 to 10 hours per day, with the highest amount occurring in April.
So, you can expect to bask in the sun’s rays all year round in Varadero!
Getting to Varadero
Varadero is a highly sought-after destination in Cuba, second only to Havana. As such, getting to this seaside resort is incredibly easy. If you’re coming from Havana, you can catch a Viazul bus to Varadero, which runs daily at 8 am, 10 am, 1 pm, and 5 pm. The journey typically takes around 3 hours, and the cost is 10 CUC per person.
You can also arrange for a shared taxi to take you to Varadero directly. Simply check with your casa particular for more information on booking a taxi.
Alternatively, Captain Ulysses recommends this transfer to Varadero. Or if you’re staying in Havana and are content with a short getaway to Varadero, the Captain highly recommends this day trip from Havana.
If you’re looking for a purely relaxation-focused trip, you can even fly directly to Juan Gualberto Gomez airport. To find the best deals on flights, Captain Ulysses highly recommends using Skyscanner or Omio.
And to ensure a stress-free experience, you can even pre-book your airport transfers. Check here to learn more about your transfer options.
Accommodation in Varadero
When it comes to accommodation in Varadero, there is no shortage of options, which can make it challenging to decide where to stay. To help you narrow down your choices, we recommend three standout hotels:
- Iberostar Varadero: This hotel is perfect for families traveling with children. It boasts a kid’s pool, playground, and even a small water park.
- Royalton Hicacos Varadero Resort & Spa: This hotel is exclusively for adults and is ideal for couples or groups of friends. It offers a variety of amenities, including a wellness/spa center, beauty salon, and nightclub.
- Melia Las Americas: Another adults-only option, this hotel features a spa, Jacuzzi, four pools, seven restaurants, and five bars, making it an excellent choice for those seeking relaxation and luxury.
Getting around Varadero
When it comes to getting around Varadero, there are several options available:
- Bus: Transtur buses run daily from 9 am to 9 pm, stopping at various points of interest in Varadero. You can purchase a day ticket for 5 CUC, and there’s also a double-decker bus, the Varadero Beach Tour, that stops at the main hotels and shopping centers for 5 CUC per day.
- Coco-Taxi: Similar to tuk-tuks in India, coco-taxis provide rides in Varadero for around 5 CUC.
- Carriage: Coachmen offer carriage tours of Varadero for 15 CUC at the entrance of the main hotels.
- Taxi: Taxis are available for trips around the peninsula or excursions in the Province of Matanzas. While less unique than coco-taxis or carriages, they are still a reliable option. Expect to pay around 20 CUC for Cárdenas, 85 for Havana, or 180 for Trinidad.
Water activities in Varadero
Varadero’s pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters offer a plethora of water activities for visitors to enjoy. Here are some popular options:
Diving and Snorkeling:
Varadero has three diving clubs that offer sea trips to the 21 spots on the Hicacos Peninsula. Barracuda Scuba Diving Center, Marina Gaviota, and Marlin Marina Chapelin (Aquaworld) Diving Center all offer snorkeling for 30 CUC, daytime or nighttime diving in reefs or caves for 50 to 60 CUC, and introductory courses for 70 CUC. Training is also available for 220 CUC.
Cayo Blanco Cruise and Diving:
Explore the beautiful surroundings of Cayo Blanco on a catamaran accompanied by a professional guide. Activities include snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean and discovering a coral reef. The tour includes drinks and lunch.
👉 More info: Cayo Blanco Catamaran Trip
Excursion and Diving in Guama (Bay of Pigs):
Discover the Zapata Peninsula and the Bay of Pigs on this 12-hour excursion. Explore the Guama lagoon in the heart of the mangrove and swim in the turquoise sea at Punta Perdiz. Put on your snorkel gear and discover the diversity of corals and fish that inhabit the Bay of Pigs. The excursion includes snorkeling equipment, lunch, and an open bar on the beach.
👉 More info: Guama and Hatiguanico River Trip
The Barracuda Scuba Diving Center, Marina Gaviota, and Marlin Marina Chapelin (Aquaworld) Diving Center also offer deep-sea fishing trips for 290 CUC for four people.
Other Water Activities:
For those looking for some physical activity, windsurfing boards can be rented for 10 CUC, as well as kayaks and catamarans directly on Varadero’s beaches.
Tourist sites in and around Varadero
In Varadero proper
Aside from snorkeling, diving, and sunbathing, there aren’t many activities in Varadero, but for travelers interested in culture, there are a few sites worth exploring:
– Parque Josone
This 9-hectare landscaped park is one of the most popular sites in Varadero. Created in 1940 by José Fermín Iturrioz y Llaguno and his wife, Onelia, the park features a neoclassical-style mansion that now houses one of its four restaurants.
Visitors can stroll around the lake, swim in the pool, or take a ride on the small train. The park is also known for its diverse flora, and you may even spot one of the few ostriches that call it home. Prices for activities include 0.50 CUC per hour per person for a canoe ride on the lake, 5 CUC per hour for a pedal boat ride, and 2 CUC per hour per person to access the pool.
– Municipal Museum of Varadero
Housed in a pretty seaside house, the Municipal Museum of Varadero features a diverse collection that traces the history of the region.
On the Varadero Peninsula
– Mansion Xanadu (Casa Dupont) & Varadero Golf
Built in 1920 by Irenee Du Pont, a wealthy American, Mansion Xanadu is a stunning palace made entirely of precious wood and marble. Irenee Du Pont, a golf enthusiast, also built a 9-hole course by the sea to indulge in his hobby in peace.
Today, Mansion Xanadu has been converted into a luxury hotel with a restaurant on-site. Visitors can also enjoy a panoramic bar on the third floor of the house. For those who share the owner’s passion for golf, the golf course, now called the Varadero Golf Club, has been expanded to 18 holes.
– Varahicacos Ecological Reserve
To explore the Varahicacos Ecological Reserve, head to the end of the Varadero peninsula. Protected since 1974, it covers only 3 km2.
The reserve offers hiking trails, cave exploration, and the opportunity to discover the local fauna and flora, including a giant cactus over 500 years old. Birdwatchers will enjoy the many species of birds, some of which are endemic.
Unfortunately, the reserve is slowly being encroached upon by large resorts.
– Cueva de Ambrosio
Located in the Varahicacos Ecological Reserve, the Cueva de Ambrosio is a 300-meter-long/1,000-foot-long cave covered with 47 pre-Columbian paintings. These paintings, made of concentric red and black circles, were discovered in 1961 and are believed to be 2000 years old.
Be warned, hundreds of bats have taken up residence in the cave, but they are harmless.
Located on the edge of a mangrove forest, the Delfinario in Varadero organizes dolphin shows twice a day. For an additional fee, visitors can have their picture taken with the dolphins. For those who have always wanted to swim with dolphins, they can fulfill their dream for a fee.
– Cayo Piedras del Norte
Located 5 kilometers north of the Hicacos Peninsula, Cayo Piedras del Norte is a tiny island classified as a marine reserve. Diving enthusiasts can explore the many wrecks that cover its seabed, including the remains of an AN-24 plane. For those not into diving, a glass-bottom boat can be used to explore the depths of Cayo Piedras del Norte.
Excursions from Varadero
There are plenty of exciting excursions to take from Varadero to explore the best tourist sites in Cuba! If you are short on time and haven’t planned a tour, consider taking one or two excursions to the must-see cities and attractions in the country, like Havana, Trinidad, or Vinales.
You can easily book these excursions that depart from Varadero in the morning and return to your hotel by evening:
If you have more time, there are plenty of options to explore the Province of Matanzas and its surroundings, including Cienaga de la Zapata, Guama, Cardenas, and more.
Check out the many available excursions near Varadero:
Banks & exchange offices:
- Banco de Ahorro on Calle 36
- Banco de Credito y Comercio on Calle 36
- Visa/Mastercard ATMs at Parque Central
- ATM on Avenida 1, after the intersection with Avenida de la Playa, near Parque Joseone
- Cadeca on Autopista Sur, Parque de las 8000 Taquillas
- Omnibus Terminal (bus station) at the intersection of Autopista Sur and Calle 36
- Juan Gualberto Gomez Airport, 20 kilometers southwest of Varadero
- Cubatur at the corner of Avenida 1 and Calle 33
- Infotur at the corner of Avenida 1 and Calle 13. Infotur also has desks in major hotels in Varadero
The majority of hotels in Varadero have internet access. You can also visit the Etecsa Telepunto office at the corner of Avenida 1 and Calle 30.
If you’re staying in a large hotel in Varadero, you can leave your mail at the hotel reception. Otherwise, you can find a post office on Avenida 1, between Calle 43 and Calle 44, a few steps from Parque Central.
If you’re yearning for a laid-back getaway with no worries, why not unwind in Varadero? However, if you’re looking to immerse yourself in the authentic Cuban culture, this isn’t the right spot for you!