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 was lots of construction work going on along the strip too, with monster 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.
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.
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
Serious warning: ⛔📢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!
Shop around Varadero town
After all that, just have a wander!
How about a beach dance lesson…
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 chairs – reminiscent of a scene from Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
While we’re on the subject of chairs……