This trip was sponsored by Memories Varadero. All thoughts & opinions are my own.
Last weekend, me and two friends escaped the Toronto weather to bask in the Cuban sun. It was my second time visiting Varadero and the weather was absolutely perfect. We were there for a short (but sweet) trip from Friday to Tuesday morning and our itinerary was jam packed with fun and leisurely activities.
If you’re planning a trip to Varadero, I thought I’d give you my best tips for things to do, where to stay, and how to spend your time! This is how to spend a weekend in Varadero, Cuba!
Located about 40 minutes from the airport, Memories Varadero was a great place to stay for a weekend escape. Since it was the beginning of Spring Break, we thought it might be packed with college kids, but we were happy to see that there was a good mix of families, couples, and groups of friends.
Everyone at the resort was extremely friendly, which is something that stood out to me the last time I visited Cuba as well. Everyone is very welcoming and proud of their country, which creates an uplifting atmosphere around the resort.
We were part of the Diamond Club, which meant we got access to a private dining room at meals, a private section of the beach with its own bar hut, and our suites were about 20 steps from the beach. The food was pretty good and there was lots of fruit, which was a change from the last resort I stayed at in Varadero. There was always a delicious assortment of sweets to finish off the meals as well.
Along with the buffets, there were also snack bars open 24/7, where you could order hamburgers, hotdogs and French fries, and each night for dinner, we went to one of the on-resort restaurants. The first night we had Italian, the second night we had Japanese and the third we had Mexican (one night we had dinner in Havana). Japanese was definitely my favourite. It’s Teppanyaki-style, so the chef cooks your food right in front of you over an iron griddle. It was so much fun to watch, and it tasted delicious too!
The final two days we spent by the pool and beach, and enjoyed the amenities around the resort. There’s a fitness center, and we got massages at the spa on our final day. They also have a life size chess board, swim-up bars, and activities like water aerobics, salsa dancing and beach volleyball around the resort and at the beach!
On our second day there, we took a bus tour to Havana. Our tour guide was really amazing (very knowledgeable, friendly, and funny), however I would suggest taking a private car if you can. On a bus tour, most of your time is spent on the bus, with barely any time to explore Old Havana. It was definitely a draw for me that Memories was so close to Havana (about 2 hour drive) but picking people up from other hotels added at least an extra hour to the drive and there are a few pit stops along the way. We didn’t get to Old Havana until the sun was almost down.
We also thought we would stop for lunch on the tour, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case, so we didn’t eat from about 9 am to 8:30 pm, with a snack from a bakery in Havana to tide us over at around 7 pm. If you do take the bus tour, make sure you fill up before you get on the bus!
When I visited Cuba two years ago, me, my mom and my sister took a private car and it was such an amazing way to experience Havana. You’re not linked to anyone else’s schedule and you can spend more time in the places you want to explore. I remember we had an amazing lunch at a local restaurant and were able to walk all day, hearing about the history and culture of Cuba from our driver, and walking the old cobble stone streets. Having done both, it’s definitely the way to go.
There are a bunch of outdoor cafés to eat, drink and people watch, and the historical architecture is breathtaking. If you visit Varadero, a trip to Havana is a must!
We ended the bus tour with the Tropicana, Cuba’s world-renowned cabaret show. The dancers were amazing and it was entertaining. The performance was outdoors surrounded with tropical gardens, which was a great way to experience the show.
THE FAMOUS PINA COLADA
On the bus tour, we stopped at a hut on the side of the road to try the best piña coladas in Cuba. They really were delicious. Made with fresh coconut milk and pineapple juice, you could choose to pour in as much or as little rum as you wanted. They were so fresh and sweet, I could have sipped on it all day. There was also a beautiful lookout over the ocean, a perfect place to snap photos.
Cuba is known for its gorgeous, white sand beaches and Varadero beach is no exception. The sand was so soft and silky and the ocean was a gorgeous shade of blue. There were beach chairs spread all along the beach under huts, so you could come in and out of the sun as you wish. There was also a private beach bar for the Diamond Club, so you usually wouldn’t have to wait in any line ups to get a drink!
The Diamond Club section was more secluded, but only a short walk away from the beach activities like volleyball, a dj, and salsa dancing! Dancing on the beach had to be one of my favorite parts of the trip! There’s a huge group of people who dance, and the instructor has so much energy, and the songs are so much fun! Playing beach volley ball is also a great way to meet people and keep active on an all-inclusive (read LOTS of food, sweets and cocktails) get away!
Have you been to Varadero, Cuba? Or are you planning to go? I’d love to hear about your experience!
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