Activities in Varadero reveal the Cuban charm beyond the world-famous, idyllic beaches. Hicacos and the coast of Varadero have cultural centres and sights that are a must if you want to grasp the essence of Cuba: the welcoming Josone Park, the Vigía publishing house and the majestic Mansión Xanadú, a gem of local architecture and an icon of recent history.
What to do and what to see in Varadero
- Josone Park: This 9ha park was built in 1940 around Laguna de la Paz and is Varadero’s green lung. Financed by the owner of one of Cuba’s most important rum makers, it was developed as private property. The mansion is in the middle of the park, housing an elegant restaurant.
- Cuban Fund of Cultural Assets: One of the marks left by Varadero’s glorious years for culture is this arts centre, housing works by the most prestigious Cuban artists and a regional art collection.
- Bellamar Caves: This natural wonder is among the most popular tourist attractions in Cuba. The 2km complex comprises several caves of various sizes – El Jarrito, Bellamar and Jíbaro, for instance –, discover by a slave in the nineteenth century. There are curious rock formations and pools inside the caves.
- Mansión Xanadú: Now part of the Varadero Golf Club, this mansion is a must to understand the architectural styles in vogue in the 1930s, when a renowned American tycoon had it built. The atmosphere inside is warm and cosy. The house is located in Peña de San Bernardino, its balconies overlooking the sea.
- Bird Watching Centre: On Playa Larga, to the south of Varadero, this centre offers bird lovers the unique chance of watching more than 170 species in their natural habitat. The centre’s trails afford views for spectacular pictures.
- Bacunayagua Bridge: One of the most representative Cuban bridges in terms of both size and beauty, this bridge has a nice viewpoint affording wonderful views of the Yumurí valley, one of the wildest natural areas in Matanzas.
- Ediciones Vigía publishing house: On Playa de la Vigía, in the heart of Matanzas, this traditional publishing house is the only one of its kind in the world: all tasks are manual here. Books in various fields are completely made by hand.