Last updated November 14, 2020
Our family recently took a trip from Varadero to Havana, Cuba. The easiest, and quickest way to make this happen with my then 6 year old, was definitely at the forefront of my mind. If you are anything like me, finding ways to make travel smoother and more enjoyable while travelling with family, is a big priority.
The easiest, and quickest way to get from Varadero to Havana, Cuba is to take a taxi which costs $85 – $120CUC one way. The driving distance is 148 km, and takes around 2 hours.
Finding info online was surprisingly difficult and time consuming, so I’ve put together some of our top tips, as well as other travel options should price, time, or experience be factors in your decision.
Please Note: Due to COVID, things are changing daily as to what sort of transportation is available, and where travellers can visit. It is always a good idea to do research ahead of time, and follow your governments travel advisories.
If you do travel, please do so safely, and with consideration of others. Be a responsible traveller and follow all the rules and recommendations, to keep your family and residents of where you are visiting safe.
What Is The Easiest Way To Get From Varadero to Havana?
Taking a taxi is the easiest and quickest way to travel from Varadero to Havana with or without kids.
How To Get From Vardero to Havana
There are 4 main ways you can get from Varadero to Havana; by taxi, Viazul bus, renting a car or a by tour. It can cost anywhere from $10CUC by bus, on up to $100CUC/per person by tour.
- Easiest and quickest: By Private Taxi
- Cheapest: Viazul Bus or Hotel Shuttle
- Most Flexible: Renting a Car
- Best for Day Trip: Varadero to Havana Tour
1. Varadero To Havana By Taxi
There are a few taxi options from Varadero to Havana. We chose a Private Taxi as it was just our family and the driver. Arranging the taxi was easy from where we were staying and still provided us with enough flexibility for our needs.
There was no need to book a rental car months in advance and deal with insurance, car availability, parking, gas or road conditions. Nor was there waiting around in a hot bus station with our luggage and child if the bus was delayed, a distinct possibility in Cuba.
Classic cars taxis from the 40’s and 50’s are mostly privately owned, and capable of holding up to 5 passengers. These cars are a fun way to travel short distances, tour a city, or get the quintessential Cuba picture in.
We decided to forgo a city transfer with one of these cars as they don’t have air conditioning or seat belts and are quite noisy for longer trips.
Mini-Vans are not that common, and difficult to find. They can fit up to 7 passengers. If you have a large family, booking ahead of time through a tour company would be a good option, or use a Shuttle service out of your resort/hotel.
Shared Taxi (Taxi Colectivo) is a slightly less expensive option if you have a small family and don’t mind sharing a taxi with 1 or 2 other people you don’t know. These are available in front of the Viazul Bus station and taxi drivers wait around until their car is full to leave.
How To Arrange Or Find A Taxi
Taxis from Varadero to Havana can be arranged through your resort, hotel, or casa. You can also grab one directly outside your resort or at the Viazul bus station in downtown Varadero (36 y Autopista).
We let our casa hosts know a day or two ahead of time any time we needed a taxi, and they were happy to arrange one for us.
How Much Is A Taxi From Varadero To Havana?
Private Taxis are one of the more expensive options and cost between $85-$120 CUC, the equivalent of $85-$120 USD from Varadero to Havana. Our trip cost $90 CUC one way before tip.
Shared Taxis cost around $25 CUC per person.
I will use the Cuban currency CUC (Cuban Convertible Pesos) throughout the rest of this post. This is the currency most used by tourists who’s value is pinned to the American dollar. $1CUC always equals $1 US dollar.
There is an plan to get rid of the CUC, and only us the CUP (what Cubans use), so this may change in the near future.
Tipping: Our research recommended anywhere from $1 to $5 CUC per taxi trip. As a family our philosophy is to tip generously when we can, especially if they go above and beyond. Our taxi driver took us to a view point and went out of his way to find our casa particular in Havana, which was very difficult to find, so we tipped more than the recommended $5 CUC.
Did you know there are some great beaches near Havana? Don’t forget to pack all your beach essentials
How Long Is A Taxi Ride From Varadero To Havana?
A private taxi will take anywhere from 1.5 – 2.5+ hours, to drive from Varadero to Havana. Length of time depends on your driver and if you stop to sightsee along the way.
Sightseeing Tip: Take a 30 minute break at the highest bridge in Cuba, the Puente de Bacunayagua. This viewpoint is about an hour outside Varadero, so is the perfect place to stretch your legs, have a drink, a snack and take a bathroom break. The highlight is the gorgeous view of the canyon with ocean on one side and the bridge / inland rolling hills on the other.
Advantages Of Taking A Private Taxi
The advantages of Private Taxis are they can be arranged through your resort, hotel or casa for your preferred day and time.
This is a bonus if your Spanish is limited, as they make the arrangements for you. All you and your family have to do is show up at the designated time and away you go, directly to your drop off destination in Havana.
Tip: Write down the address and phone number of where you are staying on a piece of paper, which you can give to your driver, instead of your phone.
This came in handy for us as we were staying in an out of the way Casa Particular in Nuevo Vedado, Havana. Our taxi driver had to show the paper to numerous people to find the street we were staying on.
2. Varadero To Havana By Bus
One of the cheapest ways to travel from Varadero to Havana is by Viazul Bus.
Viazul is the Cuban bus company that provides an affordable way to travel between Cuba’s main urban centres and tourist areas around the country.
They have buses (with on-board toilets) that travel between Varadero and Havana, or vice versa typically three times daily. Check their schedule online to be safe. The bus makes stops at the Varadero Airport, Matanzas and 3 stops in Havana; Old Havana, Vedado, and eastern Vedado.
Where To Find The Viazul Bus Station
In Varadero, the Viazul terminal is called the Omnibus Terminal and is located at 36 y Autopista, Phone 53 (045)614886.
Tip: Reserve your trip online through their website at least one week in advance, as buses book up quickly, especially on weekends. Bring a printed copy of your reservation email and show up at the terminal at least 30 minutes before departure.
How Much Does The Bus Cost from Varadero to Havana?
The Viazul bus costs $10 CUC one way.
How Long Does the Bus Take?
The bus trip takes between 2.5 to 3 hours. The route and times for Varadero to Havana and return can be found on the Viazul website. Here is the latest bus schedule I found on the Viazul website:
Varadero to Havana Bus Schedule, Cuba
|Varadero Airport / Aeropuerto de Varadero||Departure||13:35||15:10||18:25|
|Havana / Habana||Arrival||15:55||17:40||21:05|
Havana to Varadero Bus Schedule, Cuba
|Havana / Habana||Departure||8:00||12:00||17:00|
|Varadero Airport / Aeropuerto de Varadero||Departure||10:45||14:45||——-|
Advantages Of Taking The Viazul Bus
The Viazul bus is a cheap, reasonably comfortable way to see Cuba. The bus has multiple stops in different areas in Havana, which would then be a short taxi ride away to your accommodations. It’s also a great way to travel like a local.
This may also be helpful: How to get WIFI & Internet in Cuba
3. Varadero To Havana Tour
Tours are a great way to do a day trip to Havana if you don’t have a lot of time, or if you want to combine some sight seeing activities with your city transfer.
Tour packages or shuttle services (Transfer Colectivos) between some Varadero resorts and Havana Hotels are also offered by a number of tour agencies.
Tip: We recommend spending some time figuring out what you and your family would like to get out of the tour. This will give you a better idea of where to focus your research to find the tour best suited for your family.
Some things to consider when choosing a tour
- What you would like to see or do?
- What is your budget?
- How will this tour fit into your trip as a whole?
- What is the best tour length for your individual family member needs?
- How flexible is the tour in terms of timing or activities?
- Is the tour price all inclusive, or will you have to pay for things like food, museums, attractions separately?
- Do they have tour guides that speak a language you are fluent in?
- Are these tours highly recommended?
Personal tours with just your family and a guide can be tailored to your needs, better than a large group tour with a full, set itinerary.
Recommendations from friends, family or acquaintances, or through sites like trip advisor, can give you an idea if the tour is highly recommended, or not.
I like to take into consideration who is making the recommendation. Some of the best gems I’ve found have not been highly recommended by others due to personal tastes, or expecting things to be the same as home.
What Is The Cost For A Varadero To Havana Tour?
Tours typically charge per person and can range anywhere from $45 to $200 CUC per person or more, depending on how many people, type of vehicle, length of time, activities and services included.
Shuttles (Transfer Colectivo) between your Varadero resort to a Havana hotel are another affordable option that is only a little more expensive than the Viazul bus at around $15 CUC per person. Arrange ahead of time online or through your resort.
How Long Is A Varadero To Havana Tour?
Time will vary depending on the type of tour you take. Options range from 3 hour trips between Varadero to Havana that added in a little sightseeing, to 12 hour day trips return, overnighters or even a few days. The sky’s the limit for your imagination (and budget).
Advantages of A Tour
Tours can often be tailored to your needs, so they provide a fun way to make a city to city transfer or if you are looking for a day trip away from the resort and beach.
Havana is a place full of culture, history, delicious food and interesting architecture. We highly recommend venturing off resort and getting a a taste of the real Cuba.
4. Varadero to Havana: Car Rental
If you prefer travelling independently and having the flexibility to make and change your schedule, this may be the option for you. Here are some things to consider first:
- Booking your car online at least 2-3 months in advance is strongly recommended, especially during peak season (November to February). There are relatively few cars for rent in Cuba, so even if you do book in advance you may have to wait a few hours to a day or two extra to get your car.
- Cars are not always well maintained, and manual transmission is more common.
- Driving is considered fairly easy in Cuba due to the low number of cars on the roads, but navigation can be a challenge due to the lack of road signs.
- GPS is not an option with your car rental, so make sure to buy a paper map or download an offline map of Cuba before you go. Maps.me is a good choice.
- Driving only during daylight hours is recommended due to poorer road conditions, lack of streetlights and the potential for wandering livestock outside of major cities.
- If you are in an accident, you will likely not be allowed to leave Cuba until the trial is over. This can take 5 months to a year.
Where Can You Rent A Car?
Rex is a little more expensive but generally considered to have a better reputation, keeping in mind all are owned by the same government. You can make reservations online through both Cuban and foreign agencies. Cars can also be rented at hotels and airports.
Cost Of Car Rental In Cuba
Renting a car in Cuba is not cheap. Car rentals start at $60 CUC per day for a basic car, up to $200-$300 CUC per day for a luxury car. You will also need to pay $15 CUC a day for insurance, and deposit of around $200 CUC.
Advantages Of Renting A Car In Cuba
Renting a car can provide more freedom and flexibility, especially while travelling with children. You can choose your own route, decide when and where you want to go, and change your plans last minute. For some people this is reason enough to rent a car.
It is also a good option if you are bringing a carseat.
If you are wondering what the carseat situation is like in Cuba, I’ve written all about it in Cuba and Carseats – What You Need To Know.
Other advantages for families include:
- Seat belts! Buses and many taxis do not have seat belts.
- Efficient way to store all your gear ( strollers, backpacks, favorite teddy bears)
- You can go at your own pace and stop to stretch your legs or enjoy the view whenever you want.
Everyone has different comfort levels for risk and adventure, only you know what works best for you and your family. There are a lot of great options to make your way from Varadero to Havana.
Have you travelled from Varadero to Havana? What do you recommend? let us know in the comments below or connect with us on social media. We’d LOVE to hear from you!
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Varadero to Havana
Featured photo: Canva / Getty Images