Varadero travel guide

Varadero Tourism | Varadero Guide

You're Going to Love Varadero

With about 13 miles of spotless sandy white beaches, blue waters, and sunny skies, it's easy to see why Varadero has been a vacation destination for more than a century. Even though the town itself is small, you can expect a wide range of choice when it comes to hotels, dining, shopping, entertainment, and activities.

The famous beach stretches along the Hicacos Peninsula, a narrow strip of land that is under a mile wide at its widest point, extending nearly 13 miles out from the mainland. Technically, it is part of the town of Cárdenas. Along with the beach, you can explore the tropical environment. Varahicacos Ecological Reserve is home to many native species of fish and birds. Parque Josone is a beautifully manicured public garden on what was once a stately mansion's grounds in pre-Castro days.

Like the many visitors who have enjoyed this tropical paradise over the decades, you'll find it hard not to fall in love with Varadero's natural charm.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Varadero

1. Beach Life

Playa Azul is the name given to 13 miles of soft, white, sandy beach and turquoise waters under the perpetually sunny skies - this one's a no-brainer. Whether or not you'd call yourself a sun worshiper, it's hard to resist the natural appeal of a relaxing day at one of the Caribbean's most beautiful beaches.

2. Explore Natural Wonders

The peninsula is home to many interesting natural features to explore, including caves, lagoons, and cayas (keys). Cueva de Ambrosio is the closest cave. In its 820-foot length, you'll find a fascinating environment with ancient black and red pre-Columbian drawings. Cayo Cruz del Padre is one of many small islands you can explore.

3. Fun in Pristine Waters

You can enjoy those pristine turquoise waters in various ways, including swimming, scuba diving, and snorkeling, catamaran tours, and even swimming with dolphins. Cayo Piedras del Norte is about one hour's boat ride north of Playa las Calaveras. If diving isn't your thing, you can take a glass-bottom boat ride to view the gunboat, airplane, and other vessels deliberately sunk to create an underwater marine park.

4. Fantastic Live Music

Music is everywhere in Varadero, from traditional Cuban favorites on the streets and even on the beach to salsa and other Latin dance music in the clubs. The town is full of great live music venues like Sala de la Musica and Calle 62 to check out. The Tropicana Matanzas is famous for its cabaret.

5. Foodie's Choice

Even if you stay at an all-inclusive resort, you'll want to get out and sample from the vast array of restaurant choices in town. A wave of new, privately run restaurants is taking Varadero by storm and offering the best of fine dining, fusion cuisine, Cuban, and Caribbean favorites, and plenty of seafood.

What to do in Varadero

1. Playa de Varadero: Heaven on Earth

Varadero beach is the ultimate draw to this corner of Cuba, and it does not disappoint. It has been called the most beautiful beach in the world, and some of the world's greatest resort hotels are found here too. Kick back and treat yourself to the pristine sands and crystal waters, all in the comfort of a lounge chair beneath a tropical beach umbrella - the quintessential image. Scuba dive lessons, boat rentals, water sports, and more are all available to spice things up.

2. Cueva de Saturno: Subterranean Surprise

Cuba's natural wonders cannot be missed, and these unforgettable caves are the perfect spot for a day off of the beach. Swim in delightfully warm waters amidst the otherworldly walls of this ancient cave, with a magical aesthetic all around as you splash the day away. Discover corners and caves for yourself as you wander the underground network. Snorkeling is popular too, and gear rentals are available on site so the exploration can continue under the water.

3. Delfinario: Flipping Fun

Your Caribbean vacation is incomplete without the chance to get up close and personal with everyone's favorite sea creature: the joyful dolphin. These intelligent and graceful animals put on shows four times a day that will blow your mind - acrobatics, tricks and all. Visitors can even swim with the dolphins, the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to splash around and make friends in a lush environment.

4. Parque Josone: R & R Galore

The ultimate leisure park in Varadero has something for everyone, all surrounded by flourishing tropical parklands. This oasis is at the heart of the city and boasts aromatic gardens, impressive landscaping, colorful birds, and a slew of activities as you walk through the paradise. Stop at the artificial lake for some paddle boating under the sun, or hit the swimming pool for a refreshing dip. A playground, mini-golf course, and bowling alley also beckon for an afternoon of fun.

5. Reserva Ecológica Varahicacos: Natural Immersion

Offering some respite from the beach resorts that line the coast of Varadero, this untouched pocket of the peninsula gives a taste of Cuba's flourishing natural world. Hikes for visitors of all skill-levels lead you from one marvelous sight to the next, with tropical plant species and remarkable animals like you've never seen before. It is peaceful and pristine, and certainly worth the trip. Make sure to check out the Ambrosio Cave while you're here too.

Playa de VaraderoPlaya de Varadero;
Parque JosoneParque Josone;

1. Playa de Varadero: Heaven on Earth

Varadero beach is the ultimate draw to this corner of Cuba, and it does not disappoint. It has been called the most beautiful beach in the world, and some of the world's greatest resort hotels are found here too. Kick back and treat yourself to the pristine sands and crystal waters, all in the comfort of a lounge chair beneath a tropical beach umbrella - the quintessential image. Scuba dive lessons, boat rentals, water sports, and more are all available to spice things up.

2. Cueva de Saturno: Subterranean Surprise

Cuba's natural wonders cannot be missed, and these unforgettable caves are the perfect spot for a day off of the beach. Swim in delightfully warm waters amidst the otherworldly walls of this ancient cave, with a magical aesthetic all around as you splash the day away. Discover corners and caves for yourself as you wander the underground network. Snorkeling is popular too, and gear rentals are available on site so the exploration can continue under the water.

3. Delfinario: Flipping Fun

Your Caribbean vacation is incomplete without the chance to get up close and personal with everyone's favorite sea creature: the joyful dolphin. These intelligent and graceful animals put on shows four times a day that will blow your mind - acrobatics, tricks and all. Visitors can even swim with the dolphins, the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to splash around and make friends in a lush environment.

4. Parque Josone: R & R Galore

The ultimate leisure park in Varadero has something for everyone, all surrounded by flourishing tropical parklands. This oasis is at the heart of the city and boasts aromatic gardens, impressive landscaping, colorful birds, and a slew of activities as you walk through the paradise. Stop at the artificial lake for some paddle boating under the sun, or hit the swimming pool for a refreshing dip. A playground, mini-golf course, and bowling alley also beckon for an afternoon of fun.

5. Reserva Ecológica Varahicacos: Natural Immersion

Offering some respite from the beach resorts that line the coast of Varadero, this untouched pocket of the peninsula gives a taste of Cuba's flourishing natural world. Hikes for visitors of all skill-levels lead you from one marvelous sight to the next, with tropical plant species and remarkable animals like you've never seen before. It is peaceful and pristine, and certainly worth the trip. Make sure to check out the Ambrosio Cave while you're here too.

Playa de VaraderoPlaya de Varadero;
Parque JosoneParque Josone;

Top activities & attractions in Varadero

Where to Eat in Varadero

For fine dining in a refined atmosphere and a menu that spotlights local seafood and beef, you can try Varadero 60, where main dishes start at about ₱10.00. For paella and other Spanish favorites, look to Restaurante Meson del Quijote, with main dishes that start at ₱8.00. The government-run La Vicaria is popular for its large portions of Cuban favorites like lobster with chicken and pork. Mains start at ₱4.00.

When to visit Varadero

Varadero in October
Estimated hotel price
$131
1 night at 3-star hotel
Varadero in October
Estimated hotel price
$131
1 night at 3-star hotel

Its peninsula location on the Atlantic sends constant breezes to temper Varadero's tropical sun. Average temperatures in Varadero range between a pleasant 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit year round, making it a popular destination 12 months of the year.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Fahrenheit (°F)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Varadero

Plane

Juan Gualberto Gómez Airport (VRA) serves both domestic and international flights, located about six miles from Varadero. A taxi from the airport to your hotel should cost about ₱25 to ₱30. The double-decker bus that runs along the peninsula and back all day costs ₱5 per day, and it makes the run to the airport as well.

Train

The Hershey Train is a slow and scenic way to make the trip between Havana and Varadero. Built by the Hershey company to transport sugar, it now serves as the country's only electric train, leaving from Casablanca (across the bay from Havana) and arriving at Matanzas, about 30 miles from Varadero.

Car

Varadero is about 87 miles east of Havana, linked by the Vía Blanca highway. From there it links to most other places in the country.

Bus

Viazul bus line makes the trip from Havana to Varadero in about 1 hour and 40 minutes. It's a popular and budget-priced way to make the trip. Viazul service also runs between Varadero and Matanzas daily, including the airport, with overnight runs to Santiago de Cuba and other centers.

Airlines serving Varadero

United Airlines
Good (2,980 reviews)
Lufthansa
Good (2,401 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (4,528 reviews)
KLM
Good (364 reviews)
Air France
Good (443 reviews)
British Airways
Good (1,609 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (1,414 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (3,184 reviews)
SWISS
Good (496 reviews)
Iberia
Good (972 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (1,327 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (1,709 reviews)
JetBlue
Good (1,333 reviews)
Air Europa
Good (160 reviews)
Aeromexico
Good (771 reviews)
Copa Airlines
Good (537 reviews)
WestJet
Good (600 reviews)
Aerolineas Argentinas
Excellent (276 reviews)
Condor
Good (50 reviews)
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Where to stay in Varadero

La Playa - the beach is where a lot of the action is centered in Varadero, for obvious reasons. It runs along the length of the whole town, dotted with resorts and hotels. It's also where you'll find most of the hottest nightlife options.

Popular Neighborhoods in Varadero

Cárdenas - if Varadero is tourist centered, you can get a taste of authentic Cuba in this nearby port town. The small city has narrow streets lined with period American cars, and ornate Spanish-Cuban architecture, including the beautiful cathedral, along with a selection of bars and cafes to while away the day.

Matanzas - this nearby town is where you'll find museums, galleries, and beautifully ornate Spanish-style architecture. The Cuevas de Bellamar, a famous archaeological feature, are located in Matanzas.

Where to stay in popular areas of Varadero

Most booked hotels in Varadero

Tuxpan
Poor (0, 0 reviews)
$114+
Be Live Experience Turquesa
Poor (0, 0 reviews)
$144+
Iberostar Bella Costa
Poor (0, 0 reviews)
$112+
Occidental Arenas Blancas
Poor (0, 0 reviews)
$104+
Meliá Internacional
Poor (0, 0 reviews)
$311+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Varadero

Public Transportation

The hop-on hop-off bus costs just ₱5.00 and the ticket lasts all day. You can hop on and off as many times as you wish. It drives around the peninsula from one hotel to the next and goes all the way to the Plaza Las America.

Taxi

Taxis are fairly plentiful in Varadero, including both official and private taxi companies. A taxi fare to nearby Cárdenas should cost about ₱20.00.

Car

Car rentals in Cuba are offered only via local companies, which include Rex, Havanautos, and Cubacar. Advance booking is advised - as far in advance as you can, including up to a year ahead. Rates start at about ₱58.00 per day.

The Cost of Living in Varadero

Shopping Streets

For souvenirs, there are many vendors with carts set up along the beach with crafts and other items. You'll find better prices in the shops in town on locally made wooden carvings and jewelry. Avenida 1 is where you'll find artisan-style goods, including high-end antiques from Cuba's past at the Galería de Arte Varadero, and ceramic art at the Taller de Ceramica Artistica. The popular flea market is also located on Avenida 1.

Groceries and Other

The Plaza Las America, near the tip of the peninsula, is where you'll find a number of shops, including a well-stocked grocery store. El Rapido is a chain stocked with basic staples, and you'll find them in Matanzas. A quart of milk costs about ₱2.00 and a dozen eggs should cost around ₱1.50.

Cheap meal
$5.00
A pair of jeans
$31.30
Cappuccino
$1.00
Other popular cities in Matanzas