If you are having a vacation in Varadero, you might like to consider zipping over to Havana for a few days. Usually, short stays, also known as Havana excursions, are organized with a tour operator. You could go just for an afternoon, but if you can spare a few days, it will be well worth it since there is plenty to see and do in Cuba’s capital city. Or, for more adventurous souls, you might like to find your own way from Varadero to Havana and back.
We have put together this handy guide for travelers going from Varadero to Havana on a day trip or longer to map out your options.
How Do I Get From Varadero To Havana?
A tour operator can arrange the return bus ride with a sightseeing tour of the fascinating Old Havana area. You can book in advance before arriving in Cuba or make a spur-of-the-moment booking once you get to Varadero. The other way is to book your Havana accommodation and make your own way there. To go from Varadero to Havana you could take a public bus or hire a taxi to make the 130 km journey.
The benefit of hiring a personal driver is the freedom to stop wherever you wish along the way. When you get to Havana, you can explore by yourself rather than following the route of the tour group. Depending on your travel style, one way might be preferred over the other. Whichever way you decide to go, it’s quite affordable to make the round trip between Varadero and Havana.
If you do go for the solo travel group option, make sure you see the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, a fort and maritime museum and the National Capitol Building which is a significant landmark dating back to the 1920s. Have your camera ready to take photos of the baroque Catedral de San Cristóbal and Plaza Vieja, which are both well-preserved historical buildings that Havana locals are very proud of.
If you want to take a public bus from Varadero to Havana, look for the Viazul bus, which is also a very affordable way to travel. You can find the Omnibus Terminal on the corner of Calle 36 and Autopista which is near the main town area of Varadero. Book a few days in advance to ensure a ticket. This mode of transport is safe and social since there will be many other tourists heading to the same place. Most will be getting off at the first stop in Old Havana, also known as La Habana Vieja.
This is where there is nice accommodation so you can be near the major sights. The bus stops in Vedado and then the final stop is in western Vedado at a bus terminal. It should be easy to get a taxi to your hotel from any of these stops. There are about four buses a day in each direction, with the earliest leaving at 8 am and the latest departing at 5 pm.
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What Is There To Do On A Day Trip To Havana?
Havana is a vibrant and fascinating city and there is plenty to see and do. You can pack a lot into a day trip to Havana as you explore the stories of culture and history that unfold as you journey through the quaint streets.
El Morro Castle is a great starting point. The 16th-century landmark protects the Havana harbor entrance and was designed by Italian engineer Battista Antonelli. Next, head to Old Havana, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can see well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture, including baroque cathedrals and museums.
The awe-inspiring Castillo de la Real Fuerza is an ancient fort and maritime museum. Amaze at the baroque Catedral de San Cristóbal and Plaza Vieja, which are both stunning buildings. Then you can go to Revolution Square, one of the largest squares in the world. You can’t miss the towering monument to revolutionary Che Guevara as you walk around the area. Around there, you can find local markets and restaurants to take a rest before exploring more of the modern Havana streets. If you have time before heading back to Varadero, take a stroll along El Malecon to experience the Havana seaside.
The five-mile road is a scenic stretch and you can see fishermen coming home with their catch of the day, more colorful architecture and locals going about their day. It is a nice way to finish your day trip to Havana. Havana is so photogenic, with vintage cars driving around the cobbled streets and bright architecture all around. Besides the notable landmarks, there are so many interesting art galleries, museums, churches, shops, and restaurants to check out. A day trip is great, but if you can squeeze in more time, you won’t be sorry.
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More To See And Do In Havana
Where To Stay In Havana
– Estancia Bohemia
With a bright and cheery sun terrace and impressive views of the city, this charming hotel is a home away from home that gets rave reviews. Tidy rooms have ensuite bathrooms and air conditioning.
The warm hosts offer free daily breakfast and serve up a good coffee to get your day started.
– Hotel Inglaterra
This hotel is great for families and groups who appreciate great service with a smile. Spacious rooms have private ensuites, air conditioning and modern extras, including WIFI. A complimentary breakfast is included too.
– Casa Floridita
A real home away from home run by a local family, this whole apartment features a kitchen and living room area. Private parking is available on site. The apartment sleeps up to four people, so it is ideal for families or traveling groups.
The rates are very reasonable and reviews are glowing.
– The Lovers Place
If you love staying in and cooking for yourself, this apartment has its own kitchen, living room and plenty of space. With aircon and TV, you have everything you need making it a comfortable base after a day of sightseeing around Havana.
– Casa Amistad
If you want a hotel by the beach, Casa Amistad delivers. This cozy homestay-style accommodation option comes with clean rooms that have TVs and private bathrooms. It makes an excellent base for exploring all of Havana and the wonderful sites on offer.
The neighborhood of Miramar is a fancy side of town that is also nice to stay in. You can book a room at Hotel Memories Miramar Havana or Hotel Cubanacan Boutique Chateau Miramar if you like a touch of luxury. You can find excellent shopping on Quinta Avenida with little boutiques and shops to explore.
Is Havana Cuba Safe For Tourists?
Havana is a safe city (as is Varadero). As with traveling in any place in the world, you should always stay alert to any potential dangers including people, traffic, wildlife and weather conditions. Common sense can take you a long way. Remember to keep all your cash and important documents in a safe and carry copies of documents and important contacts in your bag and/or phone. Don’t go out alone at night or swim alone while on vacation, always let someone know where you are going and be aware of your surroundings.
This advice is for any tourist who visits any place in the world, including those going from Varadero to Havana in Cuba. Varadero on the Hicacos Peninsula is also safe. This bustling beach resort town with all-inclusive resorts has a low crime rate and it is safe during the day and night for tourists and locals alike.
Remember your smart street skills and always take care and you can feel safe when visiting both Havana and Varadero.
Things to do on your Day trip to Havana
9:00 AM – Start your day at Cafe la Flor, Centro Habana district. This cafe is known for its Cuban vintage decor and delicious breakfast options. Be sure to try the huevos rancheros!
10:30 AM – After breakfast, take a stroll down Calle Obispo, Havana’s most famous shopping street. You’ll find everything from souvenir shops to art galleries to Cuban cigar stores here. There’s something for everyone on Calle Obispo!
12:00 PM – For lunch, head to El Palacio de Los Jugos, a local juice bar chain serving freshly squeezed juices and Cuban staples like pork sandwiches and roasted chicken. Make sure to order a jugo de tamarindo (tamarind juice) to wash down your meal!
2:00 PM – Next, head to Old Havana (Habana Vieja), the historic center of Havana. This is where you’ll find some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, including the Plaza de la Catedral and the Gran Teatro de La Habana. Spend some time wandering around and taking in the sights and sounds of Old Havana!
4:00 PM- After exploring Old Havana, head to La Bodeguita del Medio for a quick drink. This bar is famous for being one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite haunts while living in Havana; it even has his signature on the wall! Order a mojito or a daiquiri and pretend you’re Hemingway for an afternoon.
6:00 PM – Make your way to El Cocinero, located in the trendy Vedado district, for dinner. This restaurant is housed in an abandoned cooking oil factory and serves creative contemporary cuisine with a Cuban twist. Be sure to save room for dessert—the tres leches cake is just out-of-this-world.
8:00 PM – To end your day on a high note, head to Fabrica de Arte Cubano (FAC), an art gallery/nightclub that bills itself as “not your typical Cuban experience.” This hip spot features live music, dance performances, art exhibitions, and more—it’s the perfect place to let loose and enjoy yourself!
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