Varadero peninsula is mostly known for its lush all-inclusive resorts, white beaches, and chill holiday lifestyle under the palm trees. But there are plenty of other things to do in Varadero Cuba outside the resort bubble!
Let’s take a look at some other things to do in Varadero you can explore apart from lounging under a parasol and becoming a beach potato!
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What And Where Is Varadero Cuba?
Varadero city, or village if you like, is a pretty and a bit sleepy beach town on a tiny peninsula in Varadero municipality, Matanzas Province.
It is about two and a half to three hours from Havana, and also a whole different world away!
The Varadero city center is clean and tidy, colorful and well kept, and the houses lie like little colored pearls along the main street which follows the beach line of the Varadero beach.
There are lots of little bars and restaurants to enjoy in the city center.
An Array Of Amazing Things To Do In Varadero Cuba
If you stay in Varadero town, there are plenty of things to do. Exploring the center of the city is easily done on foot.
In the city center, you find the Varadero street market, where they sell “anything”, mostly handmade handicrafts and cigars, knitted clothes, and you name it.
When looking for activities, adventures, and other things to do in Varadero, here is what you have to look forward to!
1. The Varadero Delfinario
Among the Varadero main attractions is the delfinario Varadero!
A mangrove is a natural home to the dolphins in the dolphinarium, and as I am not an expert, I consulted someone who is, to learn about a healthy environment for dolphins.
Located in a natural mangrove, the dolphinarium in Varadero is a wonderful environment for the dolphins, and the visit to the Varadero Delfinario was actually a lot more interesting and fun than I anticipated!
I don’t know what I expected but the location and the show were quite impressive in all aspects. I spent an afternoon there, and had the honor of getting my first salty dolphin kiss!
The show is held in connection to the feeding twice a day, where you see how the trainers interact with the dolphins and their ability to learn an amazing set of skills and tricks.
It is also possible to go swimming with the dolphins, so bring your swimsuit if you think that is something for you!
The price for entrance is €20, or €60 if you want to do the swimming as well.
2. Laid-Back Cayo Blanco Catamaran Trip
The day starts at 8 am with around two hours of sailing along the tranquil blue Caribbean waters whilst you relax in the sea breeze before the catamaran reaches the destination of the day: Cayo Blanco.
Cayo Blanco is a deserted island with nothing but white sands, where you will stay for an hour and a half for snorkeling and exploring the marine life on the coral reef.
Here you will find corals, sponges, crustaceans, and countless species of tropical fish. On Cayo Blanco, you will be served a buffet meal of traditional Caribbean foods including lobster.
The whole time there is an open bar, where you can enjoy some of the best cocktails prepared with Cuban rum until you are dropped off back at Varadero in the afternoon. Disfruta!
3. Classic Car Tour In Varadero Cuba
You don’t need to be in the capital Havana to enjoy the famous classic cars roaming around Cuba, you find them all over the island.
Now you can also do a traditional Classic American Car Tour in Varadero, taking you all over the Hicacos peninsula to enjoy the scenery!
The ride takes you by Josóne Park, by the house of famous mobster Al Capone, and the Varadero town market, to mention a few things.
You will be picked up at your hotel at 10 am for the tour, and returned to your doorstep at 12 with messy hair!
4. House of Rum
One of the most popular things to do in Varadero Cuba is La Casa del Ron, the House of Rum. This place has managed to become close to an institution in Matanzas province, where it has existed for almost 15 years.
Those interested in learning more about the production process of Cuba’s iconic liquor are more than welcome to join for a tour here.
The famous Cuban rum is made of fermented sugar cane, and the liquor brand has grown into a worldwide industry since its introduction by Diego de Velázquez in the 16th century.
Of course, your visit here will include a tasting of many variations of rum, from the classic dark and light type to chocolate and vanilla-flavored types or other gems you probably never have tasted before. m
5. La Cueva De Ambrosio
Among other things to do in Varadero you can explore, is the Cueva de Ambrosio, a cave that is famous because it is home to some of the oldest murals, and wall paintings, in Cuba. And also, it is home to tons of bats, hanging around in the ceiling inside.
You visit the cave as part of a nature walk in the Varahicacos Natural Reserve (below). The cave itself is said to be around two million years old, and was discovered as late as 1961!
La Cueva de Ambrosio contains around 47 Pre-Columbian paintings, where the best-preserved can be seen in what has been named the Claraboyas Room.
The indigenous people of Cuba left a testimony to parts of their lifestyle in this cave using drawings made in black and red colors, traced by concentric circles.
The solar light filtering through the cracks of the cave ceiling sporadically illuminates the inside of the walls, making it an impressive sight.
6. Varadero Sugar, Rum & Tobacco Tour
This day starts with a visit to a museum dedicated to sugar cane, learning about the history of the sugar industry in Cuba.
You will get to taste the Guarapo, a sweet drink made from sugar cane, as well as learn how to prepare one of the famous Cuban cocktails!
Then you’ll go to Cardenas town where you can explore the charming city streets and admire its colonial architecture. After a lunch break, you will head into a tasting of local rum and tobacco and learn about their important role in Cuban culture!
Included in the tour are:
- Hotel pick-up and drop-off
- Transport by minibus
- A visit to a sugar factory and sugar cane plantation
- Cuban rum tasting and cigar testing
- English speaking guide
7. Hop On Hop Off Varadero bus
The hop-on-hop-off bus in Varadero makes for a panoramic sightseeing tour around Varadero.
It is an open-top double-decker bus with 46 different stops linking all the hotels, shopping centers, markets, marinas, golf course, as well as downtown Varadero.
Its itinerary runs throughout the day and the buses pass every half hour or so.
The price is €5 and the ticket lasts for the entire day, and you can hop on and off at any of the popular stops. This is both a cheap and convenient way to explore some of the most well-known tourist sites, and decide what things to do in Varadero next!
8. The Varahicacos Eco reserve
A hicaco is a characteristic plant of the Varadero area from which the Peninsula got its name. The plant that lives in the eco-reserve is much appreciated because of the flavor of its white fruit and its use in traditional medicine.
In the Varahicaco eco-reserve, you can also find other native species, like a large cactus named “El Patriarca” which is more than 500 years old!
With hiking trails through the scrub forests, the main attractions of the eco-reserve are the Patriarca, the Cueva de Ambrosio, and the Cueva de Musulmanes which is a cave with human remains dating back over 2,500 years.
In addition, this protected area on the tip of Varadero is the best place to see the local flora and fauna, and also some of the area’s aboriginal history.
9. Matanzas & Bellamar Caves Tour
After you are picked up at your hotel in the morning, the day starts in Matanzas city!
You will explore Plaza de la Libertad, the neoclassical and baroque Cathedral of San Carlos Borromeo, and Plaza de la Vigia, where you will learn about the corsair attacks of the past!
Then you will visit a viewpoint of the Hermitage of Montserrate, which has an unbeatable panoramic view over the valley of Yumurí and the city of Matanzas.
Finally, you will explore the Bellamar Caves, which are more than 300,000 years old.
Admire all the ancient stalactites and stalagmites, and spend time exploring their interior halls such as the Manto de Colón, the Paso de la Lluvia, and the Huerto de las Zanahorias before you are returned to your hotel.
10. Marina Gaviota In Varadero
The Marina Gaviota is a large Cuban marina facility on the Hicacos Peninsula. It has a modern fleet of boats and excellent service, designed to meet the most demanding tastes!
If you are wondering what to do in Varadero, the marina offers a variety of day trips and activities that you can check out on their home page.
To the quality of the services provided and the potential installed, it has become the main center for water sports on the beautiful beach of Varadero.
The most popular adventures offered at the Marina Gaviota are catamaran excursions, fishing trips, diving trips, and life aboard.
You will also find a seafood restaurant where you can enjoy a variety of gourmet dishes including lobster
11. Parque Central (And Parque De Los 8000 Taquillas)
The Parque Central Varadero is a city park where you find a monument in honor of the Cuban national hero Jose Marti, and the big “Monumento a Los Martires”, or Martyrs monument.
The park is also next to the Varadero open-air market where you find a vast selection of handicrafts and souvenirs.
The Parque de las 8000 Taquillas, or Park of the 8000 cubicles, was completely remodeled and is now called the Centro Comercial Hicacos.
The name came from its original purpose when it was built in the 1960s. Visitors could leave their belongings in the basement of the park, have access to sanitary installations and restaurants on the first floor, and rent bathing articles and swimsuits.
Here you find a number of shops, as well as the Varadero edition of the famous and popular Coppelia ice cream parlor on the second floor.
12. Guama and Hatiguanico River Trip
This amazing tour’s first stop is the Peninsula Zapata National Park, and on the way, you will notice the beautiful contrasts between the Cuban countryside and coastline!
You will enjoy a fascinating visit to a crocodile farm before you continue to the coast, where you board a speedboat for a riveting rush of adrenaline!
The boat takes you across Laguna del Tesoro lake and into the center of a spectacular natural wilderness encompassed by vegetation and water.
After the boat trip, you will explore Guamá and the Hatiguanico River, both places of tropical beauty, before a delish lunch of pork, chicken, or fish, drinks, and coffee!
Before returning to your Varadero hotel, you can immerse yourself in the refreshing Caribbean Sea, do some snorkeling, and if you are lucky, you might encounter the exotic species that live in these crystal waters!
13. Varadero Scuba Diving Or Snorkeling
Varadero has some of the most beautiful beaches and clear blue waters in Cuba, and also some beautiful coral reefs off the coast.
If you like to go scuba diving, Varadero is a great destination for exploring the underwater world.
As well as the coral reef dives, there are also wrecks outside of Varadero that make for great scuba diving destinations when you are visiting.
14. Yumuri Valley Jeep Tour
You start your tour at Coral Beach, a stunning natural enclave of crystalline waters where you can snorkel an amazing coral reef, admiring the island’s rich marine diversity.
Then the tour continues to the incredible Cave of Saturn, which is home to two large caverns and a natural pool of emerald waters where you can swim in the cool cave water!
Then you will pass through the city of Matanzas, before visiting the Rancho Gaviota, where you will be welcomed with a cocktail, visit the farm (go horseback riding?), and enjoy a traditional Cuban lunch!
At last, you will go on a thrilling speedboat ride on the Cánimar River, before returning to Varadero in the afternoon!
15. Visit The Tripadvisor Award-Winning Varadero Beach
The Varadero beach is the name of the part of the peninsula beach that runs along with Varadero town, practically ten meters from the main street.
You can literally go take a swim in between shopping and the city lunch if you would like to!
The Varadero beach was voted the second most beautiful beach in the world in 2019 in TripAdvisor’s Travelers Choice, so you don’t need a private resort beach to find white sand perfection here!
16. Take A Cuban Cooking Class In Varadero!
On this day tour, you will travel to Matanzas town, where you will be welcomed by the family, who will lead the workshop. After getting settled, you can cool off in the swimming pool if you like!
Your hosts will give you an introduction to the traditional Cuban recipes that you are going to prepare, before putting theory into practice in the kitchen!
After creating a number of mouth-watering dishes, you will of course get to taste them. And of course, you will learn to perfectly prepare three Cuban cocktails, including the famous mojito. Salud!
17. Visit Iglesia Santa Elvira
The Iglesia Santa Elvira is said to be the oldest church in the area, built in 1938. Very small and peaceful, it is open for everyone to visit during the day.
It is well known for its distinctive structure on the inside, consisting of stone walls and wooden details. A horseshoe arch upfront serves as a bell tower with a cross at the top.
The details and layout give it a special character to see for those interested in history or architecture.
18. Galeria Espacio 34
The Galeria Espacio 34 is a mixture of a museum and an art gallery that focuses on unique Cuban designs in art, through photographs, paintings, and sculptures in particular.
Previously this gallery was part of the multi-art center “Casa del la Cultura Los Corales”.
The center is now divided into two parts; a dance academy called ABC Academia Baile en Cuba, and the art gallery Espacio 34.
19. Artecru Art Center In Varadero
Artecru (the acronym of Contemporary Rural and Urban Art in Spanish), is a name and a symbol of the place that represents a group of artists on the Cuban art scene.
United by friendship and work, intending through this platform to become visible by creating unique pieces of art.
This group works in many styles, conducts expositions, creates decorations, and works by charge.
Each artist here has their own style of work, and the artists will show you their visions and help you choose a special piece for you if you decide not to leave empty-handed!
Where To Stay In Varadero
Varadero town has a lot of Casa Particulares for rent well within the budget accommodation price range, as well as all the all-inclusive high-end options like beads on a chain along the peninsula.
This is perfect if you want to have the local experience and also get to know a little about the Cuban way of life.
When looking for authentic places to stay in Varadero Cuba, you can book beforehand online on sites like Airbnb or Hostelworld, both very popular in Cuba in 2022.
You can also just find a place when you get there with no problems at all if you like to be flexible and adventurous!
On the other end of the scale, you can choose to take some of your vaycay in Varadero one nudge up and go all-in on a Varadero all-inclusive resort.
Although I am very fond of the Casa Particulares in Cuba, I do not hesitate to recommend a couple of nights in lush luxury here, if it does not topple your budget.
It really is like meditating for a few days, everything is just done for you, no need to lift a finger. You come out on the other end involuntarily smiling with no trace of blue circles anywhere. All-inclusive can be an incredible recharge!
Also read: Best All-Inclusive Resorts Varadero
Travel To Varadero Cuba
Several international airlines fly regularly to Varadero, not just to Havana or Santiago.
Research the best flight option from your nearest airport below with Skyscanner, who will find you the best deals for your holiday. Remember that if you fly from, or via, the US, you need the PINK travel card to Cuba!
Travel From From Havana To Varadero
The Viazul bus station is also right there in the city center, so if you travel from Havana to Varadero (or the other way) it is super easy both for arrival and departure by bus.
Not Booked Yet? Compare Flight Prices Here!
Wrap-Up Things To Do In Varadero Cuba!
As you see, even more than a cocktail throw away from your all-inclusive world, there is a myriad of other things to do in Varadero Cuba!
Whether you enjoy adventure, the beach, nature, or history, you are bound to find something that interests you on the Hicacos peninsula, or even on the mainland a short drive away.
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