In Cuba, it may well become complicated… Don’t know what “CUC” or “CUP” means? Be sure to read the article on money in Cuba.
Stay – Good news for people who prefer to plan in advance! In Varadero you can book a lot of hotels or casa’s in advance (In many places it is not possible because there is no or very limited Internet).
Hotels that are run by the state are the most expensive. You’ll pay between sixty and one hundred euros per person.
I recommend to stay in a casa particular. These Cuban B&Bs are a lot cheaper, very well taken care of and you get to know the locals.
Varadero is a lot more expensive than other cities in Cuba. Per person you pay at least 20 to 25 CUC.
Breakfast costs an additional 5 CUC.
Eat – Oddly enough, there were not that many places to eat in Varadero. The restaurants cost between 6 and 15 CUC per person, but if you walk a bit further you can find much cheaper places. Fancy some tasty, cheap pizzas? Take a look at Calle 47’s El rápido. The pizzas cost 1.5 CUC and drinks cost 0.5 or 1 CUC.
Transportation – Another issue in Cuba. There is public transportation, but it is very uncomfortable and it is often not very accessible for tourists. If you did a little research, you pay very little! One local CUP for a ride to wherever you want …
Taxis are a lot more expensive. A ride to the airport, for example, will cost between 20 and 30 CUC.
There’s also a hop-on-hop-off bus in Varadero. It costs 5 CUC for a full day and is perfect to explore the peninsula.
Explore before you eat – Varadero is expensive! But that doesn’t need to be like that everywhere … You really need to go to the restaurant every day? Everywhere in Varadero you’ll find some local food courts where you can buy very cheap food. Pizzas for 1.5 CUC and drinks for 0.5 CUC.
One of these food courts is called El Rápido and can be found on Calle 47.
Stay in a casa – Leave the hotels and instead choose a casa. For 20 or 25 CUC you can definitely find a room. Even if the room isn’t that luxurious… you’re going to Varadero to enjoy the beach, right?!
Take the Viazul bus to the airport – At regular intervals the Viazul bus leaves from Varadero to Varadero international airport. You’ll only pay 7 CUC. With a taxi you pay 25 to 35 CUC.
Don’t pay for beach chairs – With almost twenty kilometers of sandy beaches, there are many places that don’t offer beach chairs. If you don’t need this luxury, just sit down anywhere. The soft beach will definitely not hurt your bum!
Don’t change dollars – To obtain the local currencies in Cuba, you should go to an exchange office or ATM. At exchange offices you should change euros to CUC because changing from dollars will cost you a substantial extra fee.
With bank cards linked to an American bank an additional fee is also charged.
Sun, sea, sand – During my trip through the Caribbean, I was amazed by the beauty of this particular beach. There is not much to do for the rest, so just go and enjoy this beautiful beach. The calm, clear water makes you relax at once!
Diving or snorkelling – Fish and other aquatic animals are clearly enjoying the warm waters of Varadero! Take out your snorkelling gear and flipflops and go swimming, snorkelling or diving. In the area there are beautiful coral reefs filled with tropical fishes. For those who do not swim much, there fortunately are a lot of boat trips.
Touring around in a classic car – Cuba is of course known for its many beautiful old timers. Most of them can be found in Havana, but you’ll find plenty of them parading them around and honking in Varadero as well.
Try to find a convertible car and explore Varadero. Well worth it!
Day trip or multi-day trip to Havana – From Varadero it only takes two to three hours to drive to the capital of Cuba; Havana. In one day you can already see a lot, but to enjoy the great vibe of the city, I recommend at least two days.
You can arrange organized tours, but the Viazul bus (or taxi collectivos) are much cheaper!
Mastercard and Maestro – In Cuba, you can not pay with Maestro / Cirrus cards and you must have at least a master card or visa with you. The problem with a mastercard is that they are only accepted in very few places and it will be a whole quest to find that one place that does accept these cards.
Drinking tap water – It tastes horrible and is not very clean… The tap water is not purified in Varadero (Anywhere in Cuba, actually.), and is absolutely not recommended.