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Varadero, Cuba

Visit Varadero on your trip to Cuba and enjoy one of the best beaches in the Caribbean during your vacation

Varadero, Cuba
© Chantal Nederstigt

Varadero, located 36 km from the city of Matanzas, in the Península de Hicacos, is the closest point in Cuba to the United States.

Varadero, Matanzas
Varadero, Matanzas
© Possohh

With a length of about 30 kilometers, of which 22 kilometers are beaches, Varadero is considered, because of its perennial tropical light, its exotic and exuberant vegetation, and the quality of its waters, one of the main attractions for travelers from all over the world. Playa de Varadero (Varadero Beach) or Playa Azul (Blue Beach), a beautiful enclave of pink and white sand and crystal-clear water, is one of the most spectacular beaches in the world. Undoubtedly, Playa de Varadero is the most beautiful beach in Cuba.

The tourist area of Varadero is somewhat different from the general Cuban style; it rather resembles the Californian summer resort areas and, to a lesser extent, the Canary Islands. The main chains have built luxurious all-inclusive hotels on the beach, equipped to satisfy any desire you may have. This makes this destination the ideal setting for those seeking a well-deserved rest where the beach, cocktails and nightlife dominate. But Varadero is much more than that, if you are looking to rest surrounded by exuberant and untouched nature, Cayo Blanco or the Cuevas de Bellamar (Bellamar Caves) are just what you are looking for.

In recent years, there has also been a proliferation of accommodation in casas particulares (private accommodation or houses), which allows you to enjoy a holiday in Cuba from a different point of view. You can experience life as the Cubans do, while enjoying a holiday in an idyllic environment.

Varadero started to become known in the 19th century, when Cuba's wealthiest families discovered its natural beauty and potential as a vacation spot. This potentiality was recognized in the 1950s by American tourists after the coup d'état led by Fulgencio Batista

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The Best Places to See in Varadero, Cuba

Torre en Varadero
Torre en Varadero
© Marc Ross
Varadero, Cuba
© Marc Ross

Even during the winter months, a considerable number of visitors come to enjoy the wonders of this Cuban enclave, fleeing from the cold weather of different parts of the world, since the climate here is exceptional virtually all year round.

In addition to its incredible white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, which are considered among the best beaches in Cuba and the world, Varadero has many attractions that make it a very attractive destination for spending unforgettable days of relaxation and fun.

A good example is the Parque Josone (Josone Park), ideal for enjoying a relaxing day out with family, taking refuge on a sunny summer day and admiring a taste of the stunning local nature. There is also the amazing Mansión Xanadú, an elegant building with incredible views from the rooftop, which is also now a restaurant and hotel; the amazing Cuevas de Bellamar (Bellamar Caves), considered one of Cuba's best natural treasures; or the Cueva Saturno (Saturn Cave) and its amazing interior lagoon, which boasts enviable aquatic fauna.

Although some people talk about Varadero's lack of Cuban flavor and its scarce cultural life, the truth is that the city has some very enriching places to visit. A good example of this is the Fondo de Bienes Culturales (Fund of Cultural Assets) a division within the Ministry of Culture , where you will see the best visual works by local artists from Matanzas, as well as paintings by renowned Cuban painters such as Roberto Fabelo or Zaida del Río.

Another fascinating collection of art, history and archaeology can be found at the Museo Municipal (Municipal Museum), where you can discover the skeletal remains of one of the first settlers of the island of Cuba.

The Best Plans to Make in Varadero

This destination is famous for the diverse of activities it offers, especially water sports. It is an ideal place to practice diving or snorkeling, since it has an amazing sea bed with a lot of species all over the Varadero beach area. Multicolored fish, coral reefs and mollusks are some of the marvels you will find if you decide to explore the possibilities Varadero offers to the lovers of this sport. 

Horseback riding or cycling are good ways to enjoy the idyllic surroundings of the area. They allow you to get to know the treasures that await you from a different perspective and one that is extremely respectful of the environment.

One of the best known events in the area is the golf tournament held at the Casa Club Campo de Golf (Golfing Country Club), which is attended by golf lovers from all corners of the world.

Ciénaga de Zapata
Ciénaga de Zapata
© Martina Em

Another of the natural jewels of this area is the Zapata Peninsula, an exotic swamp area that today is one of the most outstanding natural reserves in the country. This reserve, along with Guamá, with its Aldea Taína (Taino Village), its Crocodile Farm and the Laguna del Tesoro (Lake) make up a getaway you can't miss.

One of the most fascinating caves that you can find in Varadero is the Cueva de los Musulmanes, in the Reserva Ecológica Varahicacos (Varahicacos Ecological Reserve), where there are prehistoric remains of the first inhabitants of the island. You will also find fascinating indigenous wall paintings in the Cueva Ambrosio (Ambrosio Cave). Although, without a doubt, the most fascinating caves are the Cuevas de Bellamar, in Matanzas, with its more than 20 kilometres of galleries, its impressive stalagmites and stalactites have become one of the most popular attractions in Cuba.

The Best Beaches in Varadero, Cuba

Playas en Varadero
Playas en Varadero
© Elisabeth C.B.

Varadero is one of Cuba's most internationally recognized destinations, largely because of its incredible fine sand beach and warm, crystal-clear waters, making it one of the best beaches in the world. The best known beach is Playa de Varadero, also known as Playa Azul, which is 20 kilometers long.

It also boasts an infinite number of activities for the whole family to enjoy. From exploring the local fauna, like unique starfish, to enjoying a quiet boat ride. Of course, if you are a scuba diving or snorkeling lover you can't miss the wonders that this beach possesses, namely its coral reefs or exotic colored fish.

Other beaches nearby are Playa Coral, a quiet beach with a spectacular sea bed formed by abundant corals; Playa La Caleta and Playa Calaveras.

Where to Stay in Varadero?

Alojamiento en Varadero
Alojamiento en Varadero
© Elisabeth C.B.

The predominant option for accommodation is the all-inclusive hotels along Playa de Varadero. Some of these are the Iberostar Bella Costa, the hotel Meliá Las Antillas, the Blau Varadero Hotel Cuba, Melia Las Americas, the hotel Roc Arenas Doradas, the Iberostar Selection Varadero, Meliá Internacional Varadero, Royalton Hicacos Varadero Resort & Spa or the Starfish Cuatro Palmas. In all of these hotels, you will be able to enjoy incredible swimming pools, restaurants of all kinds, entertainment for everyone, among many other services.

If you are looking for a different and more Cuban experience, you can stay in one of the casas particulares (private accommodations or houses) in the city. This way you can learn about the Cuban way of life and get to know the city from those who know it best, the locals themselves. Besides, it is a more economical option than hotels.

The Best Excursions from Varadero

From Varadero you will be able to make a number of excursions, but there are some you mustn't miss:

Excursion to Cayo Largo, a trip to a beautiful island where you can swim in the nearly untouched beaches of fine white sand with turquoise waters, where dolphins and starfish are abundant. In short, a true paradise..

Cayo Blanco
Cayo Blanco
© Synthia Barranco

Another excursion you cannot miss is Cayo Blanco. The trip begins with a beautiful catamaran ride, with entertainment and open bar, until you reach the cayo. In the middle of the trip, you will make a stop to dive in the coral reef. Once in Cayo Blanco you will be able to enjoy this uninhabited island, virgin beaches and crystal clear waters. The spectacular fauna and flora that live in its mangroves or in its sea beds, like the black coral, will make your day unforgettable.

With the Nature Tour Caribbean Day you can enjoy a 100% Caribbean day in Cienaga de Zapata, the largest wetland in the Caribbean, the Aldea Taína (Taino Village). In addition, you will also be able to dive in the spectacular turquoise waters of the Caribbean.

Thanks to the Guamá-Playa Larga tour you will be able to admire the wonders that the tropical coast has to offer and the traditional practices and ways of life in Cuba. You will be able to admire the spectacular crocodiles in the nursery and take a boat ride on the Laguna del Tesoro (Lake) . In addition, you will swim in the Caribbean waters of the Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs).

Green Habana Jeep excursion is very extensive with several stops such as the Bacunayagua Viewpoint, the highest bridge in Cuba, the Centro Ecuestre where you will enjoy a horse show, the Acuario Nacional (National Aquarium) or the Jardín Botánico Nacional (National Botanical Garden).

The tour of Havana + Tobacco Factory is ideal if you want to discover the capital of Cuba and its historical center, a fantastic sample of colonial architecture, and its famous rum and tobacco factories.

If you want to know other nearby cities with Tour Nicho - Trinidad and Tour Nicho - Cienfuegos you will be able to visit two of the cities with a more distinct Cuban character: the city-museum, Trinidad, and the Pearl of Southern Cuba, Cienfuegos.

Finally, the three-city tour will allow you, in one single excursion, to admire great monuments such as the Mausoleo del Che Guevara (Che Guevara's Mausoleum) in Santa Clara, Trinidad and its Cuban spirit, and Cienfuegos, with its marked French heritage. A unique opportunity to discover the main gems of three of Cuba's most captivating cities in a single day.

How Do I Get to Varadero, Cuba?

To get to Varadero you have several options. The most common option is to fly to Aeropuerto José Martí (José Martí Airport) in Havana. From there you can take a private transfer or bus to the Varadero.

The most recommendable option before leaving for Varadero is to get to know Havana at least a little. Spending 2 or 3 days could be enough to visit some of the must-see places such as Old Havana, Centro Habana and even an excursion to Viñales. Although you can also return to Havana later to go on excursions.

Another option is to go directly to Varadero through Aeropuerto Juan Gualberto Gómez (Juan Gualberto Gómez Airport). Although its airport is international and receives flights from all over the world, it does not have as many connections as Havana's.

Travel Packages to Varadero

Varadero is one of the world's best known destinations, and no wonder. Its spectacular beaches of fine sand, the natural wonders that surround it such as the Cuevas de Bellamar (Bellamar Caves) or the Cienaga de Zapata (Zapata Swamp), along with the variety of activities to do as a family make it an ideal destination. In addition, it offers a multitude of excursions that leave from Varadero to explore the most surprising places in all of Cuba.

If you want your trip to be unique and 100% adapted to your preferences, take a look at our personalized travel packages and we will help you create the trip of your dreams.

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Varadero, Matanzas, Cuba.

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