One of our favorite day trips from Havana is to Varadero, considered among the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. While we definitely recommend spending at least one night in Varadero to make the most of your trip to this idyllic spot, Varadero’s convenience to Havana makes it by far the most popular beach destination in Cuba.
Whether you’re looking for a hassle-free day trip to Varadero, the ultra-local way to get to the beach (how does catching a ride on a truck sound?), or something in between, these are the best ways to consider when planning how to get from Havana to Varadero.
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Havana to Varadero
If you’re planning a trip to Havana, even just for a short time, try to carve out space in your Havana itinerary for at least a day trip to the pristine beaches of Varadero, easily accessible from Havana.
Varadero isn’t famous for nothing, after all – its beaches are among some of the best in the world and make for a perfect, quick, and convenient day trip or weekend away from the city. You’ll find everything from small beach houses to major resorts like the Paradisus Varadero Resort & Spa (a sister resort to Paradisus Los Cabos and countless others around the Caribbean).
Varadero’s popularity with travelers visiting Havana and locals alike means you’ll have plenty of options when it comes to choosing how to get from Havana to Varadero. From all-inclusive day trips to the beach in a beautiful vintage American car to the “local” way to get to Varadero that costs next to nothing, everyone from luxury travelers to budget backpackers can enjoy the beaches of Varadero easily.
Read More: 8 Best Day Trips from Havana
How Far is Havana From Varadero?
Havana is about 90 miles (145 km) from Varadero, making the journey just over two hours long, slightly longer if you’re traveling by bus or by truck with the locals. It’s can be a bit to travel for a day trip, especially coming back to Havana after spending all day at the beach.
However, it’s the nicest beach that is close to Havana, and a day trip is certainly doable, even recommendable if you’re dying to visit one of the best beaches in Cuba (or, in the world).
How to Get from Havana to Varadero
You’ll have your pick of ways to get from Havana to Varadero; there’s really something for every traveler, whether you’re looking for ease or the most budget-friendly option. These are the four main ways to consider when planning how to get from Havana to Varadero:
- Take the Bus
- Take a Day Trip Excursion
- Take a Shared Taxi
- Take a Private Taxi
- Take a Truck (Havana to Varadero the local way)
Most travelers prefer to take a taxi (whether shared or private) or take the bus to Varadero, though taking a day trip to Varadero is certainly the most hassle-free way to enjoy the day. If you’re on a budget, the buses are relatively affordable, though you can always take the super-affordable local way of traveling and take a truck… more on this experience later!
Havana to Varadero Bus
With buses leaving Havana every day for Varadero, the Havana to Varadero bus option is one of the most popular ways to visit Varadero. Viazul interprovincial buses leave from Havana’s bus terminal, located about two blocks north of Plaza de la Revolución in the center of Havana.
Buses from Havana to Varadero are currently leaving twice a day, at 8:30 AM and 4:40 PM. Make sure you arrive a little early to find the ticket counter and get your ticket, but the layout of the bus terminal is pretty simple to navigate. Morning buses do tend to sell out during high travel season (December through April), so get here even a little earlier these months.
You can also book Viazul tickets ahead of time online on the website. If you’re wanting to do this from Cuba, make sure to use a VPN (we use NordVPN and have never had any issues!), as we’ve heard of some travelers having trouble booking these tickets using the internet in Cuba.
Bus tickets cost around $9 (in Cuban pesos) one way, and buses are generally quite comfortable and have air conditioning. It’s a pretty good way to travel!
Havana to Varadero Day Trip
If you just have one day to visit Varadero from Havana, the easiest and most convenient way to travel is by booking a day trip to Varadero from Havana. With transport included to Varadero and back, a day trip excursion is the easiest way to visit Varadero in just one day while enjoying as much time at the beach as possible!
We have used the Civitatis Varadero day trip before when family has visited and it’s a perfect option for travelers looking for just one day in Varadero. They’ll pick you up from your hotel in Havana and take you to Varadero with a stop along the way at the Saturno Caves (among my favorite things to do in Varadero!).
Don’t worry, the cave tour is fantastic and won’t cut into your beach day – you’ll enjoy five or six uninterrupted and unplanned hours at Varadero Beach. Transportation back to Havana is comfortable and easy, much better than haggling for a shared taxi, and you’ll be back in Havana with time for dinner.
Don’t think about traveling to Cuba without a good VPN (Virtual Private Network). Using a VPN while connecting to the internet is an easy way to keep your personal information safe from hackers and trackers. We’ve used NordVPN for years and couldn’t recommend it more – it’s a must for safety online, especially in Cuba.
Havana to Varadero Taxi
If you’re not interested in navigating the buses in Cuba, you’ll have no trouble finding a taxi to take you to Varadero! Many taxi drivers make their living just by driving people to Varadero, and with the popularity of Varadero for visitors to Havana, you should have no trouble finding a way to get there regardless of your budget.
Take a Shared Taxi
Taking a shared taxi is an incredibly common way to travel in Cuba, both within cities and between provinces. It’s a great way to save a bit of money and travel just as comfortably as you would if you have the taxi to yourself. There are several ways to arrange for a shared taxi from Havana to Varadero, making it one of the popular ways to get to Varadero.
The easiest is to head to the Havana bus station and look for the private cars that are filling seats on the way to Varadero. Shared taxis that depart from the bus stations can be quite affordable and are much speedier (and more comfortable) than traveling by bus. You might have to wait for up to half an hour while other passengers arrive, but you’ll still save time and money over a private taxi.
Alternatively, check with your guesthouse or hotel to see if they know of drivers that make the trip with a variety of passengers. With the popularity of the Havana to Varadero route, Havana hotels and guesthouses will certainly have a transportation connection to give you.
Read More: 15+ Best Hotels in Havana
Take a Private Taxi
While taking a private taxi to Varadero is the more expensive option, you’ll have much more leeway to plan and schedule your day this way, and avoid having to head to the Havana bus station first.
Secure one-way transport if you’re planning on spending the night in Varadero, or make arrangements with the taxi driver for round-trip private transportation if you’re planning on staying for just one day (it can sometimes be hard to find a private driver returning to Havana in the evening).
If you’re looking for a private taxi to Varadero for just the day, go ahead and book this online ahead of time. These prices are per group rather than per person, and they’re quite reasonable – even cheap compared to other prices we’ve haggled before for our friends and family traveling Cuba.
Cuba requires that all travelers have proof of a comprehensive travel insurance policy in order to enter the country. Check out our guide to travel insurance for Cuba for more details. We recommend these brands for Cuba travel insurance:
Havana to Varadero (The Local Way)
If you’re traveling on a budget, the most inexpensive way to get to Varadero is by taking the cheap transportation options from Havana to Varadero that leave from Alamar, a neighborhood in eastern Havana. Take the P11 bus to Alamar (download HabanaTrans to decipher the local bus routes) and get off at the intermitente de Alamar, where you’ll find a number of cars, trucks, and buses all waiting to take people to Varadero early in the morning.
Feel free to ask the local bus driver to show you where to get off here – it’s a bit strange as it’s kind of by the side of the highway, but this is the cheap, local way to do it.
If you’re hoping to use the local way to get from Havana to Varadero, you’ll need to leave early in the morning! Aim to be at the intermitente at 8:30 AM at the latest, as locals tend to head out super early… the earlier, the better.
Keep in mind, a lot of taking this way to Varadero is leaving things up to chance! We’ve arrived at this spot and found a brand new tourist bus taking people to Varadero for cheap, but we’ve also arrived and found a rickety truck with open sides and bench seating – definitely not comfortable for a 2-hour ride.
Another thing to keep in mind is that these trucks will leave you in downtown Matanzas rather than directly on the beach. From the end of the line in Matanzas, follow the rest of the bus passengers to the bus stop where you’ll catch a bus to Varadero itself. This ride is quick, just 15 minutes or so, and leaves you at the south end of Varadero, within close walking distance of the beaches.
Read More: 10+ Best Things To Do in Matanzas, Cuba
Varadero to Havana
After your trip to Varadero, how will you get back to Havana? You’ll have much of the same transportation options that you had when deciding how to get from Havana to Varadero. Most travelers take a bus from the main Varadero bus station to Havana or grab a spot in one of the shared taxis to Havana that fill.
You can also book a taxi to Havana from Varadero directly online ahead of time as well – they’re quite affordable! – which is a great way to save yourself some of the hassle of waiting for buses or shared taxis.
Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Home to Havana and Explorers Away. She is a serial expat and traveler, having visited 40+ countries and counting. Carley has written for publications like Travel + Leisure, MSN, Associated Press, Weather Channel, Wealth of Geeks, and more. Find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.