Varadero was built to attract foreign tourists with a 20km-long stretch of beaches and all-inclusive resorts. Winters are warm and sunny but not too hot, which are perfect for Canadians and Europeans escaping from much worse climate.
While many tourists remain inside the confines of their all-inclusive resort, the city does have a few attractions worth looking. These sights are connected to the resorts by the tourist bus, which costs only 5 CUC for a day pass.
Mansion Xanadu was once the Dupont family's residence. Built in 1930, Dupont was an American millionaire who decided to retire in Cuba, but eventually fled after the revolution. Today, it is part of a golf club, with the residence open to the public for food or visits.
The interiors have an Old World decor and lots of wood details.
Outside, the ocean views are lovely. The mansion is not built on the beach, but above a rocky area.
Head upstairs to the top floor through a narrow staircase and you will find a bar overlooking the ocean.
Don't forget to visit the basement to see the wine cellar.
Parque Josone once had a mansion that became a guesthouse for foreign dignitaries after the revolution. Today, it is a public park, although it seems the hurricane damage is still quite evident.
Plenty of restored old cars on the street to give you a gimpse of a long gone era. Cuba is a great place for antique car fans.
The waterfront is not so visible, tucked behind the bushes. Why come here when the resorts have their own exclusive beaches?
The Museo Municipal once was a lovely wooden beachhouse dating from the 1920s, but it has been abandoned and looks badly damaged.
While there are lots of artisan markets and shops, the city centre's streets are not too busy or built-up.
I couldn't find a big supermarket like in the US or Canada, but the local markets seem to be stocked with the essentials. Yet, I couldn't find many local residents shopping here?
Locals are enterprising amidst the tide of foreign tourists. At the bus terminus, you can grab a pina colada and enjoy the hour-long ride to the other end.
To escape the sun, head underground into the Cueva de Ambrosio, where a guide will take you around exploring the bats, ancient pre-Columbian paintings, and more. Discovered in 1961, it is thought to be 2000 years old.
The tourist bus no longer reaches Casa de Al in the western end of town. After a hot 2km walk, I reached Al Capone's old holiday home, which has been converted into a retaurant.
Being secure in your resort, it is easy to forget how people live beyond the walls. Some of these resorts do look quite nice.
Regardless of shortages reported elsewhere, there are plenty of cigars and booze for tourists to buy.
The lobster here is also very good, and cheaper than up in New England.
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