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 Vedado, 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.

Route: Habana-Varadero
  Depart
Habana
Arrive
Varadero
Price
08:00 11:10 10.00 CUC
10:00 13:05 10.00 CUC
12:00 15:05 10.00 CUC
17:00 19:50 10.00 CUC
 

Route: Varadero-Habana
  Depart
Varadero
Arrive
Habana
Price
08:00 11:05 10.00 CUC
11:25 14:30 10.00 CUC
15:30 18:35 10.00 CUC
18:00 21:10 10.00 CUC
 

 

 

Want to Learn About Planning an Excursion to Another City in Cuba?

Download the Real Havana Guide, For All the info.

buy now

download for free

By | 2017-05-19T02:23:26+00:00 September 28th, 2014|Fun and Entertainment, Havana and Vedado|45 Comments

45 Comments

  1. Rox February 19, 2016 at 3:57 am - Reply

    Great info. thanks! Sine this was writtne in 2014 would you still recommend that hotel in Havana?

    • Mario March 18, 2016 at 4:30 pm - Reply

      Yes, it is a great hotel, and affordable too.

  2. Steve March 25, 2016 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    does this bus stop in mantanzas or at Jibacoa?

  3. Mario March 30, 2016 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    Hi, the bus officially stops in Matanzas for about 10 minutes to pick up and drop off people. If you need the driver to stop in Jibacoa, he will stop along the highway, near Jibacoa Beach and you can get off there. But the driver will probably not take on new passengers in Jibacoa. It’s an unofficial stop that he would only make if somebody on the bus asks him and needs to get off there.

  4. michelle April 2, 2016 at 7:10 pm - Reply

    Where can I get info on tours in Havana if going just for the day?

    • Mario April 2, 2016 at 8:55 pm - Reply

      Hi, are you talking about a walking tour in Old Havana?

      You can hire guides to take you around in Old Havana. You will see many guides offering tours and many people huddled around guides during the tours. You can ask the guide how much it costs to join. It’s not expensive.

      Or you can book a guide online. Just searching on google for “Havana walking guide” brings up many websites that offer the service. Although it is much more expensive if you book online.

      Also, you might not even need a guide. Havana is not very large and it is easy to walk around and explore. Most people suggest not using a guide and just discovering Havana on your own – https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/forums/americas-cuba/cuba/walking-tours-in-havana?page=1#post_20897799

      If you are looking for a taxi guide to bring you around Havana and the neighborhoods, you can just click on the taxi section of this website and you can book that online.

      take care,
      Mario

  5. Mia July 22, 2016 at 1:51 am - Reply

    Hi. How many seats are on this bus? Is the line from Hav to Ver very large for 5pm bus? Im worried for this.

    And can you bring large luggage?
    Thanks

    • Mario July 22, 2016 at 2:05 am - Reply

      The bus seats about 50 people. From Havana to Varadero you should absolutely book your ticket in advance. Just go to Viazul.com and reserve a seat, and then show up 30 minutes before departure to make sure everything is ok. Problems can still happen, but if you have a confirmation paper it is likely to be ok.

      Or else, if you just show up at 5pm, you have maybe a 20% chance of getting a seat. You would get a seat if somebody else does not show up for their trip. But in all likelihood, the bus will be full.

      You can bring luggage on the bus. They store it in a compartment under the bus. You can bring like 2 large luggages, but probably even more. They don’t care. There is lots of space.

  6. rachel August 4, 2016 at 1:53 am - Reply

    my friend and i (both 18 year old girls) will be going to varadero in a week or so and would love to take a trip to havana! However the viazul schedule leaves us with only 6 hours to explore.. would you recommend an overnight trip for us, or would the 6h time suffice? Also we dont speak any spanish and its our first time going.

    and must we book online to guarantee a spot? could we book at the bus station a few days ahead instead?

    thankyouu!

    • Mario August 4, 2016 at 3:20 am - Reply

      Hi Rachel,

      I think 6 hours in Havana will be cutting it a little short. Considering that with the Viazul the trip takes about 3 hours from Varadero to Havana.. and then 3 more hours to get back to Varadero.. in the end you will almost be spending more time in the bus than in Havana.

      There are 2 options which would probably be better (but a bit more expensive).

      1) You could still do a day trip to Havana, but you could go to Havana in a taxi. A taxi from Varadero to Havana would cost about 95cuc. The return trip would cost the same. So in total, the trip to go and come back would be 190cuc. It’s not cheap. But if you split it between 2 people, the price per person is lower. And if you can find a couple of other people to go with, then the whole price becomes pretty cheap on a per person level. There will probably be other people in the hotel who will want to go to Havana too. The challenge is to find them. It’s not that hard, but it depends. If you were to go to the Viazul terminal in Varadero on the morning of your expected trip, you could easily find other people who are going to Havana. There are always tons of people looking to ride share. The advantage of taking the taxi is that the trip only takes 2 hours (taxis go faster and don’t make stops along the way like a bus). So, if you leave at 9am, you would be in Havana by 11am. And you can tell the driver to pick you up again in the evening, like at 8pm.. So your whole stay in Havana is like 9 hours. That’s considerably better than 6 hours.

      2) The other option is to take the Viazul and then stay a night in Havana. This is probably the best option. You get to take advantage of the cheap rates offered by the Viazul, and then you get to spend a much longer time in Havana. It will be a lot of fun and a lot more relaxing. And casas are not expensive. You can easily get 2 separate bedrooms for about 25 to 30cuc each. If you are really looking to save money you can get 1 room and share a bed or maybe have 2 single beds (many options). I have many places listed on the website. I can help you in choosing a place that would best suit your needs. You could arrive to Havana in the morning, get to the casas, then relax, shower and eat, and then head off exploring. And the next day, you leave in the late afternoon and head back to Varadero on the Viazul. You will have to factor a bit of extra money (like maybe 40cuc extra in total) for some taxi rides around Havana and the taxi ride from your casa to the bus station in Havana.

      Not speaking Spanish should not be a huge factor. Most casa owners speak some english and Cubans always try their best to get their point across.
      For the Viazul, I would have to recommend making your arrangements online, ahead of time. If you just show up a few days before to the station, the chance of you getting a seat for the day and time you want is hit or miss. Also, factor that getting from your hotel to the bus station in Varadero will probably cost you 10 to 15cuc… taxis in Varadero are expensive and the bus station is not so close to most hotels (depends which hotel you are staying in). So, if you go there just to try to book a ticket, it wastes money, especially if they tell you there are no tickets for the date you want.

      Also, just remember, once you have your bus tickets, you must show up to the bus station 30 minutes before departure to check your bags.

      Anyway, I hope this helps you and if you have more questions, please just ask me.

      Mario

      • rach August 5, 2016 at 4:23 pm - Reply

        thankyou so much! We are staying in a resort in the “downtown” area of varadero so we are able to just walk to the viazul station. I also have a few more questions. How is the night life in Havana? is it safe? and does it go on all night until the next morning? Also, how can we get in havana? Is there public transit, if so is it accessible to tourists? Lastly, should we exchange both the convertible pesos and the regular cuban pesos so we dont get our convertible pesos ripped off when buying things in havana?

        Thank you so much!

        • Mario August 6, 2016 at 2:04 am - Reply

          Hi,
          Havana is very safe. Technically Cuba is one of the safest countries in the world. But still, never let down your guard. The Cuban men will be very forward and they will certainly approach you. Look up the term “jinetero”. These are street hustlers who are very friendly and will quickly strike up a conversation with you. They are not dangerous, but in most cases they will eventually try to scam you in some way. They will suggest a great bar or restaurant and then they will either make a commission from you if you go, or they will join you and ask that you pay for them. There is always a scam involved. The best advice I can give you is, just treat Havana like it was your home city. If you were walking along the street in Montreal or New York or Toronto and some random guy started trying to make a conversation and then invites you to a bar, would you just go? Probably not. So dont let your guard down in Havana either.

          There are parties which go on all night. But you should know that since cuba is very poor, most locals do not have much money to party. A lot of the big parties and discos are filled with tourists who have money to burn. Parties rarely go on until morning. Things almost always die down by 2 or 3 am.

          Public transportation sucks. Buses will be packed and if its your first time in Havana you will find it very difficult to get on the right bus to go where you want. Even locals have trouble. I would suggest using the communal taxis but if you dont speak any Spanish those might be a challenge too. You can use the yellow taxis. They are more expensive but you can negotiate the price. Estimate that during the day, a ride across town should cost no more than 5 or 6cuc. Late at night the price will be about 50% higher. Always negotiate the price before you get on. No tipping is necessary.

          As for the currency, you will probably be using mostly cuc. That’s what people commonly call the tourist currency. The local pesos are useful but they are mostly used for buying street food and produce. Most restaurants and bars will only take cuc. Casas only take cuc. Any souvenirs will be in cuc. Yellow taxis are priced in cuc. If you are only staying 1 night in Havana then you probably won’t need the local pesos much. You might exchange like 10 cuc into local pesos (240mn) and use it for buying street food.

          1cuc is equal to 24 moneda nacional pesos. So if you see a little food stand selling a juice for 3 pesos, you know it is for 3 pesos mn and not cuc. If a food stand is selling a cookie for 1 peso, you know it is 1mn and not 1cuc. The food stands rarely indicate which currency they are pricing their things in, so it can be confusing, but just remember that street food is almost always priced in mn.

          And you can pay for the street food in cuc too, but if you hand over a large denomination, you might not get exact change. For example, if you buy a cookie and it costs 1mn… If you pay with a 5cuc note, then it will be hard for the server to give you change. If you pay with a 1cuc note, then she might give you back 20mn. Its not exact, but at least its something. You might have to ask her directly to give you back more change… But if you paid with a 5 cents cuc, then that would be the best option and you would not get any change. 5 cents cuc is basically the same as 1peso mn, for small exchanges.

          Anyway, maybe the currency sounds complicated but it really is not. You will get the hang of it pretty fast.

          Take care,
          Mario

          • rach August 6, 2016 at 4:35 am - Reply

            you are so helpful! Lastly! Do i need to book the casas ahead of time? I will be going around mid august, not sure if itll be really booked. I am also thinking of staying overnight in the Vedado area!

            • Mario August 6, 2016 at 1:40 pm - Reply

              Hi. I would recommend that you book the Havana casas ahead of time. August is low season, so you should be able to find a casa easy enough by just walking raound the city and looking for the houses that have the casa particular sign outside and then ringing the door and asking about availability… But thi will take some time. It’s fun because you get to walk around and talk to Cubans and see inside a few houses…. but it takes time. And if you have luggage with you, in the hot summer sun, walking around Havana looking for a casa might not be ideal. Plus, since you won’t have as much choice as just browsing on the internet and choosing a place you like. In Cuba you won’t have internet on your phone, so really all your browsing will be live, on foot.

              If you are sure of your dates and know that you will be going to Havana and spending a night, then you should book online, ahead of time. If you have some doubts and are uncertain, what you can do is contact my assistant in Cuba, when you are leaving Varadero to go to Havana. Her name is Claudia and she speaks perfect English. She can find a suitable casa for you on short notice. Her number is +5353 895036. Have a great trip. Mario

  7. Tom August 4, 2016 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    Mario,

    Are there bigger taxis ? That would be able to accommodate more then 4 people? If so, price?

    Thanks

    • Mario August 6, 2016 at 2:05 am - Reply

      Hi, yes there are larger taxis. You can take a mini van. I think that can take up to 7 or 8 passengers. If you click on the taxi tab on the top menu if the http://www.BestCubaGuide.com website you will see the prices for the minivans.

      Take care,
      Mario

  8. Mariam August 9, 2016 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    thanks for the info, its awesome!

    question:
    If we’re only going to Havana for the day … is it Old Havana that we see and walk around….??? or whats the popular place to visit there?

    Thank you !

    • Mario August 9, 2016 at 2:27 pm - Reply

      Hi,
      Generally if you are only in Havana for 1 day, then 99% of people will stay in Old Havana. It’s convenient. You get to walk around. It’s pretty much a small area that is easily walkable over the course of a few hours. In old Havana you get to see old squares, old building, people, art, music, taste cuban food. It’s just a sample of cuba, but it’s a well rounded sample. Its a good introduction. Its not large.. So you just basically walk down some streets, get lost and you have fun.

      • Mariam August 11, 2016 at 12:36 am - Reply

        Thanks mario for the quick reply!!
        Im soooo looking forward to this !!
        If we do decide to stay over a night….anything in particular should we visit?…in the larger city?

        thank so much again for ur help!! =)

        • Mario August 11, 2016 at 1:44 pm - Reply

          Hi, I would say, take a walk around Centro Havana as well. If you have a chance, a quick trip to Regla, with the ferry is nice too. Or to Casablanca to walk near the statue of Christ to get a view of Havana from accross the bay. I enjoy that. Also, in Vedado, you might want to walk along 23rd street. It’s one of the most popular streets in Cuba. And if you are there for an evening, check out the Malecon, near the corner of 23rd. On a weekend night, it is the fun place to be.

          Here are some links with a bit more info.

          http://bestcubaguide.com/top-10-best-things-to-do-in-havana/

          http://bestcubaguide.com/cuba-and-havana-questions-and-basic-answers-checklist/

          http://bestcubaguide.com/old-havana-vs-vedado-which-to-choose/

          http://bestcubaguide.com/photos-of-havana-and-cuba/

          http://bestcubaguide.com/best-cuba-havana-videos/

          http://bestcubaguide.com/best-havana-map/

          Have a great trip. I am sure you will!

          Mario

          • Mariam August 15, 2016 at 12:14 pm - Reply

            Wow Mario!
            That’s AMAZING!!!

            I really can not thank you enough for all of your help, tips and advice!!!!

            A lot of fun info to learn so we will be ready to have a fun time there!

            I greatly appreciate everything u helped me with!!!

            Thank you!
            Maria 🙂

            • Mariam August 15, 2016 at 12:18 pm - Reply

              Oh I’m sorry… I forgot to ask one small question:

              We will be there during the weekdays.
              Should we still buy the bus tickets a head of time?
              If so, where to u buy it from or how?

              Thanks again 🙂 🙂

              • Mario August 17, 2016 at 11:45 pm - Reply

                Hi, sorry for the late reply. You should go to http://www.Viazul.com and try to buy your tickets there. if you are in Varadero, there is a the Viazul bus terminal at the corner of the highway and 36th street.

                In Havana the bus terminal is at the corner of 26th street and Zoologico street. But if you are going to Old Havana you can get off the bus at the first stop once it arrives in Havana. Just tell the driver you want to go to old Havana and he will stop the bus when you are close-by and let you off.

                Always arrive to the bus station 30 minutes before the scheduled departure to check in. I always recommend you buy tickets ahead of time because the bus will be packed on weekends and you will have trouble getting a seat without a reservation.

                All the best
                Mario

  9. Alicia August 23, 2016 at 11:59 am - Reply

    Hi

    I was just wondering if you know if there are any buses that go from Varadero airport to Old Town Havana? Thanks!

    • Mario August 23, 2016 at 1:29 pm - Reply

      Hi, the following is an excerpt from my book “Real Havana” I encourage you to buy the full book (less than 5$ on Amazon for the digital copy) or to at least download the free ebook which has some basic tips and tricks for traveling in Cuba.

      Excerpt from Real Havana

      Varadero Airport to Havana by Bus

      If you are landing at the Varadero airport and planning to go directly to Havana, you can take the Viazul bus directly from the airport. The Viazul bus going from Varadero to Havana departs 3 to 4 times per day and travels from the town of Varadero all the way to Havana. On every trip, the bus stops to pick up and drop off passengers at the Varadero airport. The bus stops directly in front of the departures area of the airport. Once you land in Varadero and get out of the airport terminal, simply turn left and walk about 10 meters. You will be standing in front of the Departures terminal. The Viazul bus will arrive at this location according to the schedule indicated below.

      Note: There is no terminal and there is no Viazul signage. But simply stay in this location, and rest assured that the bus will come. There are usually other foreigners waiting in this area too, all for the Viazul bus. Here is a youtube video showing the bus.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWlDdCwEc6Y

      The Viazul bus is white, with a large Viazul logo printed on the side. It is difficult to miss. When the bus comes, simply ask the driver if you can buy a ticket to ride to Havana. The fare is 10 CUC. Space is limited, but usually sufficient. The bus usually does not wait around very long, so be sure to have all your baggage in order and your money in hand.

      You can also book your ticket online, ahead of time, at the following link. http://www.viazul.com/
      I strongly recommend booking the ticket ahead of time. Because with the recent influx of tourists to Havana, the bus gets filled up fast.

      Note: I do not recommend asking other bus drivers or taxi drivers for help in finding the Viazul stop or about the arrival schedule. Most of the time they will simply tell you that the bus no longer comes to the airport, or that the last bus just left and you will have to wait hours for the next one. Then they will offer to take you to Havana themselves for a cheap 90 CUC fare. The Cuban taxi drivers waiting at the airport are always hungry for money, and will try to take advantage of a situation to make a little extra from a confused tourist. Simply remember to wait in front of the departures door of the airport and have faith that the Viazul bus will arrive according to the schedule.

      The trip from the Varadero Airport to Havana takes about 2.5 hours. Although the distance from the Varadero airport to Havana is only about 130 km, the bus makes several short stops along the way to the main Havana terminal. The bus usually makes a 5 minute stop in the city of Matanzas to pick up additional travelers. Next, the bus stops at a roadside cantina at the midway point between Varadero and Havana. This stop will usually last about 20 minutes and is a good opportunity to eat something and stretch your legs. The bus makes another quick stop in the town of Guanabo, on the outskirts of Havana.

      Arriving in Havana

      The Viazul bus makes 3 stops in Havana. You should get off at the stop which is closest to your destination (hotel or casa).

      The first stop occurs in Downtown, Old Havana. If your hotel or housing arrangements are located in Old Havana or Central Havana, you should get off at this stop. There will be taxis waiting to bring you directly to your destination, although you will likely be within walking distance of your accommodations. Mention ahead of time to the bus driver that you want to be let off in Old Havana.

      The second stop will occur about 5 minutes later, when the bus enters the Vedado neighborhood. The bus will stop near the corner of Calle 27 de Noviembre Street (close to 29th) and L. This location is directly beside the University of Havana and just a block away from the Habana Libre hotel. If you are staying in the Vedado neighborhood, get off at this stop. You will be within easy walking distance of all the major hotels and most of the casas particulares in Vedado, but you can also just take a short taxi ride to get to your destination.

      Finally, the bus makes its last stop at the main Viazul bus terminal located at Calle 26 and Zoologico (26th street and the Zoo, right in front of the Havana Zoo). This is located in the Nuevo Vedado neighborhood, in the far west corner of Vedado. If you are planning to stay in Nuevo Vedado or at any of the large hotels located in the western suburbs of Havana (Miramar, Playa), then this is your stop.

  10. Sneha September 13, 2016 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    Hi very informative article. I just have one question. I am staying in VARADERO planning a night trip to Havana, doing the way suggested, bus or taxi in and finding out on accommodation as opposed to a planned excursion. Is it best to wait until in Cuba to book the hotel or is it best to book the hotel in advance before leaving for Cuba? Any advice will be much appreciated

    • Mario September 13, 2016 at 3:44 pm - Reply

      Hi, do you mean the hotel in Varadero or in Havana? In Varadero you will likely be staying in a resort hotel. You should absolutely book this before you travel.

      In Havana you will probably be staying in a casa particular. Hotels are state owned and are expensive and mostly fully booked. Most tourists stay in casas particulares which are private apartments and rooms for rent. They are usually better than hotel rooms and cost much less. I suggest you book your Havana casa in advance. Once you get to Havana you will want to walk around and explore the city and have fun. You won’t want to feel the pressure of looking for a place to stay, dragging your luggage around Havana. Its best to have a place reserved ahead of time.

      Take care and have fun.
      Mario

  11. Kim October 8, 2016 at 10:55 am - Reply

    Hi Mario, you are so helpful!! Thank you for all the great information!
    Our dilemma is a wee bit different. There will be 5 of us looking for a day excursion to Havana from Varadero in November, but my mother has mobility issues (cane or walker) so a walking tour of several hours will not be possible for her. Do you have any recommendations that might work for us?
    Thanks in advance!!

    • Mario October 9, 2016 at 2:22 pm - Reply

      Hi, sorry for the late reply. There are a few different options which I think will work. Basically, the first step is to get you a taxi (a minivan) to bring you from Varadero to Havana. This is relatively simply and my team can handle it. The price for a minivan from Varadero to Havana would be about $160. (It would be the same price for the return trip). I might be able to find a cheaper option.

      The second step is to organize the tour of Havana (http://bestcubaguide.com/havana-taxi-tours-cuba-excursions/havana-taxi-guided-tour/). We can do a driving tour of Havana. You will be able to see the different neighborhoods of the city. The tours generally last 2 hours. The cost would be $35 per hour, and if you want to tour for longer, you just tell the guide and he can stay for longer. You would also have to pay the minivan driver a bit extra for driving around Havana. I don’t know exactly how much this would be, but probably around $25 per hour. (The guides and the drivers are usually separate people because most drivers in Cuba do not speak much English, while guides can speak multiple languages).

      So, for the trip to Havana and then back at the end would be about $320 ($160 per way)
      Then, the 2 hour tour with the guide would be $70 ($35 per hour)
      Then the two hours with the minivan driving around Havana would be $50 to $60 ($25 to $30 per hour)

      In total, the day trip would cost about $450 for the whole group.

      As described, you would have the chance to see a good overview of Havana. But it should be noted that most parts of Old Havana are off limits to vehicle traffic. So the minivan would not be able to show you those areas. If you wanted to walk along some of the main promenades and see the old squares, you would have to walk. And most of the streets are cobblestone, so your mother would probably have issues with that. She might be interested in relaxing at a cafe while the group takes an hour to explore the older sections of the city.

      I will send a copy of this message to your email. If you are interested I can give you more details and you can then chat with my assistant in Havana to work out the final plan.

      take care,
      Mario

  12. Andre November 13, 2016 at 12:22 am - Reply

    Hi. Are there any interesting areas to stop by on the road between varadero and Havana?

    • Mario November 13, 2016 at 3:17 am - Reply

      Hi, there is nothing really special that I would recommend. There is the city of Matanzas in between, but honestly, if you are heading to Havana, then why bother with Matanzas… Better to spend your time in Havana. have fun!

  13. Marcia December 6, 2016 at 3:40 am - Reply

    We are heading to Cuba for February 2017. Two families are going, each with two children, 12 and 10 & 12 and 9. We are staying at the Iberostar Varadero but would like to spend some time in Havana. Any suggestions on our best course of action?

    • Mario December 6, 2016 at 5:23 am - Reply

      Hi, it is very easy. You just have to decide how long you want to be in Havana. A day, a day and a night, or a few nights. I can take care of getting you a cheap accommodation in Havana if you want to stay a night in Havana, it is no problem. I can also take care of the taxi to Havana. For 6 people you could go in a minivan. It would cost about 150$ to go and then the same to return. I can see about getting a cheaper price. The casa would cost maybe 80$ per night, depending on the style you want. You can get to Havana with the bus too, if you like. It would be 10cuc per person, but you would also have to factor getting to and from the bus station yo your hotel and casa. In all it would be almost the same price as a taxi, so I recommend taking the taxi. The taxi is also much faster and convenient. For followup messages please write me at casas.bestcubaguide@gmail.com and my team and I can work to get you exactly what you want. Take care, Mario.

  14. Paskual January 4, 2017 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    I was told you can eat for 1$ in havana.( ex rice bean and chicken) is not as fancy as a paladar but many locals eat in those small restaurant. is that true?

    • Mario January 4, 2017 at 10:38 pm - Reply

      Yes, for sure. Small restaurants often have cheap food. Basically it’s like street food. Many of the little restaurants are nothing more than a store in front of somebody’s house that sells home cooked rice and beans with a bit of chicken or pork. Prices are about 1cuc which is 1$.

      State restaurants like el cochinito and Castillo de la jagua located in Havana on 23rd street have cheap meals prices in pesos. For the equivilant of 1$ you can get a reasonable meal. But be warned they will try every trick in the book to scam a foreigner into paying more. It is not fair or legal, but they will try. Just know that locals pay about 1$ for a meal in these places and you are entitled to the same prices. But you might have to argue if they try to trick you with made up prices.
      Have fun.

  15. Nicholle January 13, 2017 at 4:20 am - Reply

    Hi,

    Thank you so much for your article. My boyfriend and I will be going to Havana for a night while we are in Cuba.Do you know of any clubs or restaurants where the locals go salsa dancing? I would love to see that. As well, where is some authentic but delicious must try restaurants that are not touristy?

    Thank you!!

  16. carlos March 26, 2017 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    Hello,
    my wife and I are going to be in Havana in June. We are planing to sight see around there. What would be the best way to do this?
    also we would like to go to Matanza and varadero.
    We really want to go to las cuevas but also relax and enjoy the varadero beach.
    How do suggest we do this and would you suggest we stay over night or is it possible to make this a day trip.
    Thanks for your help
    Carlos

    • Mario March 27, 2017 at 12:53 am - Reply

      Hi, for Havana, the best way to sight see is to just walk around. There are 3 main parts to the city, Old Havana, Vedado and Central Havana. Walking around is the easiest way to get a feel for the city and culture. You might also consider booking a walking tour of Old Havana or a taxi tour of the whole city.

      For Matanzas (the town) I would suggest you skip it. It’s just a mid sized Cuban town. There is nothing in Matanzas that you cannot find in Havana. I would not sacrifice a day in Havana to spend a day in Matanzas. It would be like planning a 3 day trip to New York City, but then taking one of those days to check out downtown Hartford Connecticut.

      Varadero is nice. You can stay at a casa, but you are much better off just renting a hotel room. You should stay at least 1 night. The casas are not beachfront and they are nice, but you won’t have a pool or bar or a buffet. With a hotel (even a bad hotel) you will get a pool and bar and buffet and most hotels are beachfront. Considering all the costs, it is usually cheaper to stay at an all inclusive hotel rather than a casa in Varadero. Check out http://www.Sunwing.ca for hotel options.

      If you have more questions, just ask.

      take care,
      Mario

  17. sam April 11, 2017 at 6:58 pm - Reply

    Hi
    I am heading to Cuba in June.
    Planning on staying a few days in va
    radero then want to catch a bus to havana to meet a friend. I have been looking on the viazul site. It says four times daily but does that include Saturday and Sunday?
    And also what is the cheapest way to get from varadeo airport to my hotel. Thanks Sam 🙂

    • Mario April 11, 2017 at 7:11 pm - Reply

      Hi, the Viazul is every day, including Saturday and Sunday. 4 times per day and you should book the ticket ahead (online if you can) because these buses run full almost always.

      From Varadero airport to the hotel in Varadero – Ok, make sure that you do not already have a bus ride included in your ticket price. If you bought an all inclusive ticket (flight and hotel) then in 90% of cases you have the bus transfer included in the ticket price. If the transfer is not included in the price, you have 2 options.

      1 – You can get a taxi. This is expensive, not because it is far, but because there is a taxi cartel at the airport that has fixed the prices super high. A taxi from the airport to the hotel will probably cost 25 to 30cuc. And the taxis might ask for even more, so you would have to negotiate these prices.

      2 – A cheaper alternative is to just ask the bus drivers to let you on. When you get out of the airport you will see dozens of buses parked in the lot. Tourists will be everywhere. Most of the people landing in Varadero have all inclusive vacations and they get on the buses for free. Just see a bus with some action around it and talk to the driver or to the guide waiting in front of the bus. They are legally allowed to take on extra passengers. You pay the driver 10cuc and they will put your bags in the bus and you just hop on. And the bus goes to all the hotels and you just get off at your hotel.

      Note: The buses have their hotel routes pre-established. Talk with the guides or drivers (they usually speak ok English) and tell them where you need to go. They will tell you which bus to get on. The price is always 10cuc. If they ask for more (scammers), just say you only have 10cuc. This is the option I always take and it always works. It’s a bit of a mess at the airport after a flight lands and there are tourists everywhere, but it’s not so bad and you should be able to find a bus in like 5 or 10 minutes, max. The bus will stop at like 15 hotels, so if your hotel is the last one, you will be on the bus for a while (maybe 40 minutes or more) but it’s not so bad. If your hotel is near the entrance to Varadero then it goes super fast. Good luck man.

  18. sam April 12, 2017 at 8:55 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the tips! I will book the bus online. Can you recommend a hotel in varadero? Perhaps somewhere close ish to town.
    Thankyou ☺

    • Mario April 12, 2017 at 10:11 pm - Reply

      Hi, the ones closer to town are older and usually they are the “Cuban” hotels, meaning that they are not so good. It depends how much price and quality are important to you. A good beach is a given for almost all hotels, but you pay more for better service, cleaner/updated rooms, better food, and wider variety of alcohol. Personally, I would not suggest anything below 3.5 stars. 3.5 stars is like the minimum that most foreigners would tolerate. 4 stars is good. Anything higher than 4 stars is more for luxury. At 3.5 star, the best cheap places are Roc Barlovento and Tuxpan. At 4 stars the cheapest is Roc Arenas Doradas (really it’s like a 3.75 star). These are all below 100$ Canadian per night. If you pay more, you get better, but in their star range, they are good. You can look up the lowest rates at http://www.sunwing.ca. I hope this helps.

  19. sam April 13, 2017 at 8:59 am - Reply

    That’s a great help! Tuxpan was the one I was looking at. Double checking all inclusive in Cuba does that mean food drink and hotel tax?
    Thanks Mario.
    Sam

    • Mario April 13, 2017 at 4:52 pm - Reply

      Hi, all inclusive means that once you pay the nightly rate, you can basically use anything you want in the hotel and get all the food and drinks for free (you pay for it all in your nightly rate).

      So, for cheap hotels, the rooms and pool and lobby might not be as grand as with a more expensive hotel. Also, more expensive hotels usually have better food and some higher end alcohol choices. But even the most cheaply priced all inclusive will have unlimited food and drinks and alcohol (but it might have cheap rum instead of expensive rum). The main difference in a more expensive place will be that the rooms are more modern, beds are more comfortable, pool is new, everything looks freshly painted. Tuxpan is an older hotel (so the price is low) but the food and alcohol are good. It’s a solid choice for a mid level, affordable stay. I have been about 2 years ago and I thought it was fine. Maybe it has changed since, but I think it should still be ok. I saw the prices at about $90 CAD per night. Honestly, at that price, I would consider going back this year to try it out. Have fun!

Leave A Comment

CLOSE
CLOSE