To go or not to go? Cuba Varadero: Touristy but Nice!

Is Cuba’s Varadero worth checking out?

A few nights in Cuba, Varadero, to lap up those beautiful beaches isn’t such a bad idea, though I can see why many people detest Varadero – it portrays very little of the history, character and unique beauty of the ‘real Cuba’.

Varadero is definitely a tourist trap, and seems artificially enhanced to fulfil this function.

Make sure you explore other parts of the island (perhaps via an organised tour) as well – don’t just book two weeks in Varadero and stay in your resort.

Visiting Cuba for the first time? Varadero is probably best enjoyed at the end of your holiday, after you’ve done all the main tourist spots with long drives and lots of early starts.

We’re also in the thick of a beach resort region, a hub of big sprawling beach front hotels, and perfect for flopping around and doing nothing for a while if you need a well earned rest.

There’s lots of construction work going on along the strip too, with monster Β hotels under construction.

I remember one local who was clearly disgusted to hear I’d be spending the last leg of my visit – in Varadero. He really wasn’t impressed, he said we shouldn’t be spending our money there and missing out of the real Cuba.Β 

Anyway, when venturing out, there’s a few things you might want to put on your itinerary, including a traditional Parisian show, colourful Tropicana show, the local craft markets, and the open top Varadero buses.

Plenty of ice please, cheers!

Go see a show

If you want to see some authentic talented and legendary cuban musicians and singers I’d highly recommend you get tickets for the Buena Vista Social Club Cuba.

It’s a small intimate venue with a bluesy feel – adding to the charm and authenticity of the live performances.

The Parisian Show is a must, driven by a desire to bring back the cuban music that was dominant in the era before the revolution spanning the 1930s to 1950s and brimming with vocal and instrumental talent.

I went to see them in Varadero and they were brilliant. The group are internationally known for their latin jazz and still includes some of the original members from when the group started in 1996.

Move over Vegas, the Cuban Tropicana Cabaret show has it all, bright lights, feathers, frills, cabaret, costumes, music and dance moves that will leave you wandering how they do it, what a show!!!

Hop on the open top bus

5 CUC gives you an unlimited day pass – though it’s a bit hit and miss whether they stop, and where they drop off!! Most stops are clearly marked in the main town, but further out around the hotel strip not all the hotels have a marked stop.

Serious warning: β›”πŸ“’The buses go ‘very’ fast, so hats will very likely blow off if you’re sat upstairs – I caught a few while I was up there! Oh and watch out for the tree branches too – speed plus tree branches equals danger on the top deck!

Not sure whether this happened while he was holding onto it on the open top bus, but I think we can safely say this guy is due for a new hat.

Perhaps something a little more robust and vibrant, like this aluminium can exhibit…

Shop around Varadero town

Cuba Varadero is a big hit for arts and crafts, you’ll find plenty of craft markets dotted down the Varadero town main road, and the open top bus announces some of them as it stops – but you’ll see them straight away!!

Tropical craft markets, in Cuba’s Varadero

This shop was in the Plaza Las America shopping mall

Plaza Las America shopping mall – it’s attached to Plaza Las America hotel – another on on the hotel strip

These were the only two members of staff in this shop – I kid you not, they did not look up from the phones once the entire time I was in the shop. I could have filled a bag with goods and walked out (not that I would) and they wouldn’t have had a clue. When I asked the price of something, one of them walked toward me very slowly, still looking down intently at her phone while she spoke to me. Wow!!

Such clever arts and crafts

One of my purchases…

There is plenty of affordable art in Varadero, lots of portraits and scenic paintings

Craft seller making some final touches – she swapped a USA sign for a Cuba sign behind the bar – perfect!

Now I have my own bar, I bought this one! Anything hand crafted like this is really impressive!

Got myself a couple of trees too!

The neighbours are going to fall out with me over these!!

Vinyl art

This place on the main road in Varadero town is much cheaper than the liquor store in the Plaza Las America shopping mall – in case you’re interested!

Street art

The books were very expensive in here

The sun is smokin’

A common sight, sellers leave a tray showing what drinks you can purchase – nice idea

……..and relax

Make your move…

Love these shots – the colours just lift you

Not sure if there was some sort of bikers convention going on here…spotted whilst walking down the main road, in Cuba’s Varadero town.

Careful now, that bike only had one break.

Watching the world go by…

Wish I’d bought on of those little Havana side tables – maybe next time lol

After all that, just have a wander!

Ornate garage gate with a handy little door

The roof…possibly the aftermath of Hurricane Irma

Beach it

How about a beach dance Β lesson…

Rock on

Rocking chairs are definitely ‘a thing’ in Varadero, every home seems to have at least one in the garden, and sometimes you’ll see a child sized rocking chair next to a couple of adult sized chairsΒ  –Β  reminiscent of a scene from Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

While we’re on the subject of chairs……

Improvisation and recycling

Think outside the box and utilise your resources!

Then I saw the bat mobile

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9 thoughts on “To go or not to go? Cuba Varadero: Touristy but Nice!

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