Imagine your ideal holiday. If what comes to mind is an endless strip of white-sand beach, golden sunshine, and absolutely no stress whatsoever, Varadero may just be calling your name.
If there’s a more gorgeous place on earth than Varadero, it has yet to be found. A thin spit of land on Cuba’s northern coast, the city has grown into one of the world’s premier destinations for sun-soaked getaways: set against pristine vistas of white sand and turquoise waters, a parade of all-inclusive resorts invite visitors to leave all their stress at the airport and grab a seat on the beach instead. La buena vida, as they say in Spanish, isn’t hard to find when your biggest worry is evening out your tan.
And for travellers who crave a return to nature, Varadero offers plenty of opportunities to interact with Cuba’s lush scenery: spend an afternoon scuba diving in warm Caribbean waters, take a tour of the region’s caves and caverns, or pay a visit to the Varahicacos ecological reserve and hike through the park’s verdant greenery.
No matter how you like to unwind, Varadero is the ideal place to de-stress – so book your trip from Zurich to Varadero with SWISS today.
How should I pack for Varadero?
As a consistently sunny and warm destination, sunscreen, sandals, and a bathing suit (or two) are all key. All of Cuba experiences a slightly rainier season between May and October, but this can usually be mitigated with an umbrella or a light raincoat. Many travellers also choose to bring an insulated mug so as to cut down on the number of plastic glasses used for drinks on the beach.
What currency do they use in Varadero?
Cuba employs a dual currency system that many travellers find vexing. Both currencies, convertible pesos (CUC$) and moneda nacional (MN$), are used, though tourists will find themselves using convertible pesos for the large part of their purchases. There may be times where smaller vendors will request payment in MN$; if this happens, CUC$ is often acceptable, though travellers should be prepared to receive change in MN$.
How does tipping work in Varadero?
Tipping is both encouraged and expected in Varadero, especially in hotels and resorts – many Cubans rely on tips to support their families and round out their income. The amount of a tip varies depending on what kinds of services were rendered, and customarily, tips will be offered to tour guides, taxi drivers, hotel/resort staff, and waiters. In restaurants, a 10% gratuity is standard, although more may be left for exceptional service. Maids in resorts or hotels should be tipped 1 CUC for every night of your stay; it is common to tip porters 1 CUC per person at check-in and check-out. When taking a guided tour, a tip of 2 or 3 CUC for bus tours and 4 or 5 CUC for longer, more involved activities (such as sailing or scuba diving) is considered acceptable.
See Varadero through rose-coloured (sun)glasses
It should go without saying that life in Varadero often centres around the beach: an unbroken stretch of almost 20 kilometres of soft, white sand, the beach is Varadero’s pride and joy. To holiday in Varadero without spending at least a few days taking advantage of the sand and surf would be a shame, as any Cuban will tell you.
Varadero: More than just beaches
But making the most of the beach doesn’t have to mean just throwing down a beach towel and watching the waves: activities like kite-boarding, glass-bottomed boat tours, and scuba diving are all ways to make the most of Varadero’s warm water and diverse marine life.
The natural world extends beyond the water as well: the region has several caves for travellers to tour and explore, an ecological preserve, and several companies dedicated to eco-tourism. Varadero also happens to be home to one of only two golf courses in Cuba (the other being in Havana). The region around Varadero holds evidence of thousands of years of settlement that dates back long before the arrival of Spanish conquistadors, including some ancient cave paintings. Grab your sunglasses and pay a visit to one of Varadero’s many outdoor locales:
- Varahicacos ecological reserve
- Saturno cave
- Ambrosio cave
- Varadero golf club
- The Barracuda diving centre
One of Varadero’s other advantages is its proximity to other Cuban cities. If travellers ever desire a change of scenery, daytrips can be arranged to Havana or other outlying areas. Come and see what the city has to offer for yourself – book your flight to Varadero today.
Hit Varadero’s beaches on a full stomach
Once upon a time, Varadero was not known for its menu offerings. Thankfully, that’s begun to change. With the steady increase in tourism from around the world, Varadero’s resorts have started to up their game, and travellers will find themselves able to take advantage of an excellent selection of dishes that take inspiration from around the world. Outside of the resorts, Varadero’s culinary scene is also starting to show signs of life, with several promising newcomers having popped up over the past few years. While it may take slightly more searching to find a meal that will wow you in Varadero than in Havana, the payoff will be well worth it.
Show off your new tan on the dancefloor
Vibrant nightlife is an integral part of any city built around showing tourists a good time, and Varadero is no exception. While most resorts will have their own nightclub, many travellers will enjoy exploring the venues that other resorts and the city have to offer. Pay special attention to clubs that offer live music – the quintessential Cuban experience for many travellers is losing themselves in the rhythm provided by one of the country’s exceptional musicians. It’s worth doing a little research in advance: some nightclubs in Varadero are open 24 hours, while others close at midnight. The nightclubs can also be slightly too far apart to be walkable, so advance planning will make for a better night on the town.
Take a little something home
Varadero is not widely known as Cuba’s foremost shopping destination, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t options. Take some time away from the resorts to peruse the city’s markets, especially if you’re interested in taking home some of Cuba’s famous rum or cigars.