Varadero is 140 km from Havana. The usual path goes along the Vía Blanca road. It is a nice itinerary because of the landscape. You will travel by the coastal zone of Havana and Playas del Este. Upon your arrival in the province of Matanzas, you will pass through the impressive Bacunayagua Bridge and the exuberant Yumurí Valley.
There are several ways to get to Varadero from Havana. The option that suits you the most depends on your needs. Are you with children, alone, traveling in groups, want to save money, are you in a hurry? It’s up to you.
|Bus – Viazul||Taxi – Colectivo||Taxi – Private||Colectivo – Through Matanzas||Camion – Through Matanzas|
|Price||10 per person||25 per person||100 per vehicle||7 per person||2 per person|
|Duration||3 hours||3 hours||3 hours||4 hours||5 hours|
|Departing from||Viazul Station||Casa/Hotel||Casa/Hotel||Havana National Terminal||Berroa|
Buses: Viazul to Varadero
What to do in Havana?
Viazul is possibly the most easily available option to travel to Varadero from Havana’s center. These buses are air-conditioned and pretty comfortable. Up to four buses are living Viazul headquarters (26th Street, in front of the city’s old Zoo) daily, after well-spaced intervals. The trip is roughly 3 hours, and there is a stop in the city of Matanzas. The official website shows a price of 10 CUC.
A daily bus from Astro company leaves Havana towards Varadero. They only offer seats for foreigners if they are students, have identification as Cubans or have Cuban residence. The price for locals is 27 Peso Cubano, but foreigners have to pay in CUC. The bus terminal (Havana National Terminal) is near Plaza de la Revolución. You have to book the tickets several days before at the main station, or the agency offices spread all over the capital.
Hitchhiking to Matanzas is possible from Berroa, a location at the beginning of Vía Blanca. Later on, you will read how to get there. The Transtur buses and other similar ones, pick people up in Berroa for 20 Peso Cubano. As an advice, this option is not appropriate for family travelers or the elderly, because is difficult to get Berroa if you are not confident with Cuban public transport or it is your first time in the island. For first time visitors, Viazul is the safer choice.
If you stay at a hotel, simply go down to the lobby and ask for a taxi. At a casa particular in Havana, the owner can also help you to get a car. It is common for travellers to book taxis this way.
You can also book a taxi online:
Of course, you can take a taxi anywhere in Havana, whether private or state-run. It allows you to indicate the conditions of the travel, like some personalized stops and detours. Private taxis (the yellow ones) price range is between 90 and 130 CUC, so put in practice your bargaining abilities.
For example, if you land in Havana International Airport and want to get Varadero as soon as possible, you can just walk outside and search for a taxi. Those arriving late or feeling tired may like this option. A taxi covers the distance between the two cities in nearly 2 hours.
Hiring a car would be enough for those who like to drive their own car anywhere they go. Such a thing is also possible, but better take this advice: Cuban roads are not very sound. Besides, you are responsible of taking care of the car. REX, Cubacar, and Havanautos are three well-known companies that allow booking several days prior the trip. Prices are around 40 CUC a day, plus fuel and insurance.
Taxi Colectivo – Direct
If you travel with other people, splitting with them the cost of the taxi, you can save some money. Hiring along with friends a taxi colectivo (shared taxi) can cost around 20-25 CUC per person but keep in mind that at night it will cost you more. You can book online or ask your hotel/casa to arrange it for you.
If you stay at a casa particular in Havana, you can ask the people there about a private taxi to take you to Varadero. In this case, taxi drivers often pay the casa owner a commission. Knowing this, be aware of the kind of car you hop in. Be sure you like it before being committed, as some owners may choose the car driver who pays a higher commission and not precisely the one with the best car for you.
Taxi Colectivo – Through Matanzas
Alternatively, at the Havana National Terminal, you can find colectivos to Matanzas for 5 CUC. Nevertheless, this option can be a little tricky, as the taxi drivers sometimes increase the rate considerably if they notice you are a tourist.
Another common practice is the presence of some passenger dealers who offer you a taxi at a higher price than normal, because they receive a commission from the driver for attracting passengers.
Find more details below on how to get from Matanzas to Varadero.
Camiones – Through Matanzas
The way to get Varadero by the Vía Blanca road is suitable for backpackers because there are many camiones (passenger lorries) covering the route Havana-Matanzas every day. The distance between Matanzas and Varadero is 42 km.
The exact place to get into the camiones is Berroa. To get there, you can take at least two of the local buses, especially the quaint PC bus (phonetically pronounced as /peˈse/). Before taking the PC, you should take the P11 if you are in Vedado or the P8 if you are in Old Havana. For both options, the proper stop to get off is the Naval Hospital, which is the first stop of the PC. The Berroa stop is the fourth, but better ask to be sure, as the public buses are sometimes tricky regarding its route. Public buses are appropriate only if you are familiar with them and you have traveled to Cuba before. The price is 40 cents of Peso Cubano (5 cents of CUC).
Once in Berroa, you will see locals squashed up to the contention fence of the road. The thing is that drivers run very fast in this area and you have to be aware of any car turning the road curve. Just stand in line and wait for a camion. It normally costs 30 Peso Cubano, but at weekends it can go up to 40 (remember that 25 Peso Cubano is 1 CUC at the exchange rate, so you can pay 1.20 to 1.60 CUC).
Be sensible and avoid getting ripped off, as the camion drivers can notice you are a tourist and they would challenge you to pay 30 CUC arguing that this is the price for foreigners. Most of the camiones to Matanzas are more comfortable than those going to Pinar del Rio, for instance. Sometimes they are equipped with soft seats (removed from who knows which bus) and a display showing some music videos.
From Matanzas to Varadero
Once in Matanzas, there are many options to get to Varadero:
Take a colectivo at the Matanzas Terminal: 2 CUC.
Hitchhike for a bus in the Viaducto (the Matanzas Viaduct is near the city entrance and facing north promenade): 10 Peso Cubano. Camiones in the Viaducto: 10 Peso Cubano (could be jam-packed).
If for any reason you are staying in Matanzas, is good to know that hiring a private taxi from there to Varadero is 30 to 40 CUC and takes 35 minutes to reach the destination.