Handy Travel Tips For First Time Travelers To Varadero Cuba
Having just returned from an amazing vacation to Varadero – Cuba, I thought I would put together a short list of tips and suggestions that we discovered while away.
I always like to make note of a few tips and tricks that others have passed on prior to traveling to a new destination, so I thought I would do them same for you.
Varadero Cuba Travel Tips
Arriving By Air To Varadero Airport
The majority of travelers to Cuba for a vacation, will be arriving by air to Varadero Airport. Prior to arrival and during your flight, cabin crew will hand out tourist cards to each individual.
These must be filled out (with no mistakes) on both portions of the card.
Upon your arrival to Varadero Airport and as you enter the Customs & Immigration Booth at the airport. The customs officer will keep one portion and hand you the other.
Don’t lose your other half of your tourist card. You will need to hand this back as you proceed through customs when returning home. Keep it safe with your passport during your time in Cuba.
Then head outside after retrieving your baggage to your awaiting hotel bus transfers, taxis or other transportation arrangements.
Money Exchange At The Varadero Airport
As you proceed outside after retrieving your luggage. There is a government money exchange booth open for your convenience. Here you can exchange most visitor home currency for the Cuban Convertible Peso.
Exchange rates seem very common at most places that are available in the country. Hotels, CADECA’s (national currency exchange booths) are available at numerous locations along the Varadero strip as well. ATM machines can be found at banks and popular tourist areas, but beware of the service charges expected when using this service.
We simply brought an expected amount of cash with us to exchange when in the country. Our hotel room had a secure safe for our passports, cash and other valuables.
Cuban law states that you are not allowed to take any Cuban Currency out of the country with you. But, no one really cares or checks to see if you are. However, if you find you have too much left over, then it’s best to exchange your leftover pesos at the airport.
Once you pass through security and immigration, upstairs in the waiting area, you will find shops and a small Cadeca money exchange booth. This booth is supposed to be open for all outgoing flights, and it was open for our very late departure at 3 am. 🙁
Dual Voltage For Charging Your Electronic Devices In Varadero
Even though I carry a small travel adaptor when traveling out of North America at all times, Cuba has dual voltage for the most part in the hotels. Voltage is 110/220, and in our hotel room, there was a switch that you would slide on the receptacle to the appropriate voltage.
As I’m always concerned about low voltage spikes, power surges and so on, we have a really nifty solar/ac charging device that I like to use to charge our cell phone and tablet with. This prevents and unexpected disaster from happening and ruining your device, leaving you without when traveling.
Wifi Internet Service In Cuba
In many hotels in Varadero, you need to purchase 1 hour wifi access cards. A small inconvenience, but it’s only 1 cuc (Cuban Convertible Peso) for an hour. You can only buy one hour cards. At our hotel, wifi could only be accessed in a few of the public common areas. The lobby, main pool and bar and so on.
I’m sure each and every hotel is different depending on the star rating and included amenities.
There is a section on the back of these cards that you have to scratch to access your pin number that is needed when signing in to access wifi. These cards are very cheap, as explained by hotel staff, so get a staff member that sells you the cards to scratch it for you.
They know what they’re doing!
Many visitors ruined their cards trying to scratch the code with a coin or finger nail, including myself.
No big deal, but it will cost you 1 cuc! (Cuban Convertible Peso)
Purchasing Cuban Rum – Cigars and Coffee
Prices are pretty much set all over for these items. We didn’t see much of a difference in price in all the stores we entered. I believe prices for these items are regulated by the government. Be warned though when purchasing cigars from unofficial shops.
For those who wish to purchase fresh Cuban Cigars, be sure to check out my post on Cuban Cigar Scams, to make sure you are buying authentic cigars.
Varadero Hop On and Hop Off Double Decker Bus Service
There’s a great way to go up down Varadero Hotel Strip and it’s their Hop On / Hop Off Double Decker bus. It runs throughout the day starting at 9 am and finishes around 5 pm. It’s an excellent and affordable way to see the sites and hotels all along the Varadero Hotel Strip.
We made stops at the shopping plaza, marina and the markets along the strip. It was and relaxing to go up top, sit back, relax and enjoy the breeze and scenery on the route. The cost is only $5 cuc for the entire day.
Can’t beat that!
Final Varadero Travel Tips Notes
In wrapping up here with a just a couple of more suggestions;
➡ Pack enough sunscreen with you for your vacation. As with most places we’ve traveled to over the years, sunscreen is very pricey at your destination.
➡ Pack snacks for the plane, taking long tours and so on. We always pack granola bars, peanuts, etc. with us wherever we go, and boy there have been many times that we were glad we did!
➡ For an refreshing drink with alcohol, do try their official Cuban cocktail “Mojito.” It’s refreshing and is mixed with real mint! The main ingredients include; white rum, sugar, lime juice, soda water, and real mint. Made properly by an experienced bartender, it’s delicious! 🙂
➡ For those staying at all inclusive resorts, I do recommend tipping staff that treat you well. They work very hard for very little, and a small gratuity goes a long way! Be sure to check out my post on Tipping On Inclusive Vacations for a closer look on this subject.
➡ If you love peanut butter, you better pack some with you. It’s pretty much non existent where we’ve stayed and eaten in Cuba.
Above all, enjoy the country, the people and your vacation!
I have also listed a very helpful Cuba Tourist Board website below, where you can access some excellent travel information, tips and much more for those visiting Cuba for the first time.
Safe and Healthy Travels! 🙂
Did You Know …
🙂 Don’t Forget It … Be Sure To Pin It! 🙂