Planning a Havana Excursion from Varadero
It’s very common for travelers to land in Varadero and stay at a resort for a week, but also want to visit Havana for a night or two. Typically, an overnight stay in Havana is arranged through a tour operator and is referred to as a Havana excursion. The excursion can last anywhere from an afternoon to a few days. It includes a bus ride to and from Havana as well as a sightseeing tour of Old Havana. Prices range from about 120CUC per person for a day trip, up to about 200CUC per person for an overnight excursion. Excursion plans like this can be booked ahead of time with your tour operator or can simply be organized and paid for at the front desk of your hotel, again, using the services of your tour operator.
But, if you are planning to visit Havana during your stay at an all inclusive resort in Varadero, you can easily create your own excursion plan for a fraction of that cost. Havana is only about 130km’s away from Varadero and there are many buses and taxis which travel between the two cities. In this article I will explain exactly how you can travel from Varadero to Havana and spend a wonderful night in a great Havana hotel. Best of all, since you will be organizing your own excursion, you will save lots of money and you will not have to follow a regimented schedule of sightseeing in Havana, with a bus load of other tourists. You can break free from the tourist hot spots and explore Havana on your own.
Getting from Varadero to Havana on the Viazul National Bus Service
It’s very easy to get from Varadero to Havana and back again. Just take the Viazul bus. It’s a national bus service. It costs only 10CUC for the Havana-Varadero route.
In Varadero the Viazul office is located at the corner of Calle 36 and Autopista (the highway). It’s called the Omnibus Terminal. If you are staying in a resort hotel which is close to the main town of Varadero, you can easily walk to the terminal. Or else, you can take a taxi from your hotel to the terminal for probably about 3 to 5cuc.
The bus is a great way to travel and very safe too. This particular bus will likely be filled with other tourists going to Havana. I suggest that you book your seat a day or two in advance. In Havana it stops in Old Havana and then again in , before going to it’s terminal in western Vedado. If you are staying in Old Havana, just get off at the first stop in the city and either walk or take a taxi to your Havana hotel.
Taking A Taxi from Varadero to Havana
Another option is to take a taxi from Varadero to Havana. It will cost more, but it can be more convenient. Also, if you are traveling with a group of people it might be more economical since the total taxi fare will be divided among 3 or 4 passengers.
The usual taxi rate for the Varadero to Havana route is usually about 80CUC. But, you can potentially get a cheaper price. There are usually many taxi drivers hanging around the Viazul station in Varadero and they are eager to get last minute travelers. Sometimes they already have 2 fares (passengers) and are looking to fill out their seats before leaving for Havana. You might be able to strike a deal and join in with the other passenger for a relatively low rate. If you are traveling solo, I recommend offering 20CUC for one seat in the taxi, and seeing how the driver responds. Anything below 25CUC for this trip is a great price. As I said, it will cost a bit more than taking the Viazul bus, but you will get there much faster, since they won’t make many stops along the way, and the taxi can drop you off directly at your destination, either at a hotel or an apartment (casa particular). Getting a good taxi rate may require you to negotiate prices and talk with taxi drivers, but it’s all part of the fun and adventure of being in Cuba. It helps if you speak Spanish, but you can get by with English or even French.
Spending a Night in Havana: Recommended Hotels
If you are searching for Havana accommodation advice online, you are sure to be bombarded with dozens of different recommendations. Some will advocate that you rent your own apartment in Havana. Others will tell you to get a nice hotel room in the middle of the Old Havana tourist action. Ultimately, it depends on what type of a traveler you are. If you are just staying in Havana for 1 night and it is your first time in the city, I recommend you avoid the hassle and complications of renting a private apartment (casa particular). The process can be somewhat daunting for people new to Cuba and Havana, and ultimately, for a single night, it won’t be very rewarding. At least with a hotel, you know that the service will be good and there will be very few surprises. I recommend that you search on a trusted hotel website, like Tripadvisor.com for ratings and reviews of hotels in Havana.
But, to simplify things, I will give you a recommendation which I feel stands out as better that most. The Hotel Paseo Habana. It’s in Vedado, so it’s quieter and must more relaxed than any hotel in Central or Old Havana. Vedado is a very hip neighborhood. It’s the largest municipality in Havana and many artists and middle class people call it home. You can spend hours just walking around Vedado, admiring the sights and architecture. It’s filled with popular hotels and bars and the University of Havana is there too, so there are always lots of young people in this neighborhood. Best of all. you can easily get to the more touristy areas in the eastern part of the city.
The price to stay at the Hotel Paseo Habana is really cheap. Most night it costs only about $34 CAD. You can check out the price list and book your stay at the following website: www.hoteleshabana.com/ . The hotel has a continental meal plan… so you get breakfast too.
In my opinion, the Hotel Paseo Habana is the best value in Havana. It’s clean, new and comfortable. Best of all, it’s inexpensive. Most hotels in Old Havana or Central Havana will easily cost you upwards of $150 per night. The Paseo Habana will cost you a fraction of that price.
Returning to Varadero from Havana
The last Viazul bus from Havana to Varadero leaves the station at 5pm and gets to Varadero at 7:50pm. The station in Havana is located at the corner of Ave. 26 and Zoológico in Nuevo Vedado. I have posted the bus schedule below, but you can also check it out on the Viazul website. As I mentioned before, you can also probably get a taxi going to Varadero from the Havana bus terminal. There are always dozens waiting around there. Probably best to give yourself some time to find one at a good price. Also, don’t be shy to stop taxis while you are in Havana and ask them how much they would charge to take you back to Varadero. Sometimes you might happen upon a driver who is planning a trip to Varadero anyway, so he might offer to take you along at a discount rate. It happens often enough. And always remember, your money goes pretty far in Cuba. Don’t be afraid to negotiate a bit.
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