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Varadero is a relatively exclusive part of Cuba, abundant with private hotels, beach and the country's only full golf course. Fantastic beaches and clear turquoise warm water makes this an island lovers paradise. Note that Cubans are generally not allowed to stay in the hotels here.

Get in

  • Juan Gualberto Gomez Airport. Many package tours fly directly to Varadero from Canada (Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Toronto and Vancouver and from Europe. There is a currency exchange booth in arrival hall.
  • Taxi from airport to the town (about 10km) costs about CUC 25-30. It may be possible to bargain the fare to about CUC 20, but not much less.

It may also be possible to get on a hotel transfer bus for about CUC 10, by negotiating with the driver.

If you are planning to continue to another town such as Matanzas or Havana by Viazul bus, you don't need to go to Varadero, because the bus stops at the airport after departing from Varadero and then continues to other destinations.

Get around

Many visitors do not stray far from their package tour hotel, which is a shame. Depending on how close to the town of Varadero your hotel is, many opportunities to explore either on foot or with a vehicle of some sort are present. Visitors staying at Varadero beach hotels (pretty much from the Internacional Hotel or past) end up walking the beach. Any trip to town will require a ride. Those staying in Vardero proper have many options on foot.

There is a double-decker open-on-top bus that runs on a regular schedule from the tip of the peninsula (up by the Barcelo Marina Hotel and Princessa del Mar) all the way into the town of Varadero, with stops at the International Centre (shopping mall--about 100 stores, restaurants), the open-air marketplace, and most major hotels. Look for the blue sign-posts to indicate stops, routing, and schedules.

All hotels will have a taxi stand. Fares are either metered or set by distance. Some hotels, mostly the better ones, have car rentals available right at the hotel. There are also several rental outlets in Varadero.

In town, there are motorized trikes with a round enclosure (think of a car-sized orange) that are available for hire, either for sightseeing or point-to-point travel.

There are horse-drawn caleches (carriages) available for hire. They are more prevalent in town, but any hotel concierge or front desk can arrange one upon request.


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  • Catamaran trips. Take a day trip by catamaran, snorkeling at sea and stopping at the beautiful Cayo Blanco.
  • Bellamar Caves. Visit the oldest tourist attraction in Cuba, open to visitors since the 1860s. The caves are extensive and impressive. There are quite a few steps down into the cave and it is slightly damp and rough underfoot, and also very warm.


Many packages are "all-inclusive" at major resorts, especially those further up the peninsula. These cater primarily to North American tourists, who make up the bulk of visitors. Some of them do offer room/hotel packages (EP, or European Plan), but they are becoming harder to find. Most hotels past the golf course are all-inclusive by circumstance, as there are few nearby restaurants. There is a very good restaurant at the Marina, and several at the International Shopping Centre. The clubhouse at the Varadero Golf Course (this was the old Dupont Mansion) has an extensive menu and a lovely setting overlooking the ocean on one side, the golf course on the other.

In the town of Varadero, there is everything from open-air marketplace-type food stalls, to the local version of fast food - Pollo Loco (pronounced Po-Yo Lo-Ko, or crazy chickens), hamburguesas con queso (cheeseburgers), sandwiches (surprisingly, pressed Cuban sandwiches are hard to find), the odd pizza joint, to restaurants serving sit-down dinners and lunches. Chicken, pork and fish are the most frequent items, but beef is not hard to find. Menus are usually posted outside.

Visitors staying at any of the hotels in town have many choices. Many of these hotels are older and nowhere near as fancy as the beach resorts, and they cater to a different clientele.



Stay safe

Cuba in general, and Varadero in particular, are very safe places for travellers. Varadero is pretty strictly a tourist enclave, with limited access for locals, and routinely policed. This is not the real Cuba, but an attempt to gain hard currency by selling the very beautiful white sand beaches in a controlled tourist environment.

Elsewhere in Cuba is much different. It is, however, arguably the safest country in the Carribean for travelers, including single females. People are generally genuinely friendly and curious, often speak a minimum of English [routinely taught in primary schools], and want to talk to visitors, not yet having been overwhelmed and burnt out by hordes of obnoxious tourists.

Use your common sense, don't be stupid, and you'll be fine.

Get out

There is CUC 25 departure tax in the airport. Also possible to pay in EUR.

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