Published October 2019
From Havana, a two-hour drive will take visitors to the sunny Varadero, a white-sand peninsula filled with modern resorts – unlike the explicit situation in the streets of the capital.
This is the main summer destination in Cuba, where tourists enjoy the sun at hotels that offer comfort and a great infrastructure at more reasonable prices than in Cancún, for example. There are over 12 miles [20 km] of beaches for such activities as snorkeling, fishing, and boat rides that take visitors to paradisiacal islands like Cayo Blanco and Cayo Piedras Del Norte.
It’s not hard to find diving centers that offer excursions and lessons for beginners, as well as windsurfing boards for rent at the beaches. Sport fishing is also popular and easily found at the three marinas in the region.
Meanwhile, on dry land, an activity close to nature is Cueva Ambrosio, a cave that’s home to preserved rock paintings from the Taino culture. Nearby you’ll find the entrance to the Varahicacos Ecological Reserve, which offers such activities as trails and visits to another grotto, Cueva de Nysaknabesm, with ancient human remains.
To explore the busiest side of the region, take a stroll on Avenida Primera. To the west, there’s a larger concentration of bars, cafés, and restaurants. At Esquina Cuba, try the ropa vieja (a traditional Cuban dish comprised of shredded beef). Meanwhile, Calle 62 has an informal setting and live music.
Esquina Cuba: Av. Primera / Calle 36
Calle 62: Av. Primera / Calle 62
By the banks of the lake in Parque Josone, popular among Varadero residents, make sure to stop by the Italian restaurant El Dante. Opened in the 1990s, it’s one of the best options in the city – for its food and wine cellar.
Parque Josone: Avenida Primera
El Dante: Av. Primera / Calle 55
Some 4 miles [6 km] away, Mansión Xanadú is a manor in the middle of a golf course – currently home to a luxurious hotel. At the rooftop bar, a cocktail is the perfect company to watch the sunset, where you’ll know for sure that Cuba will never lose its tenderness.
Mansión Xanadú: Carretera Las Américas Autopista Sur, km 8.5