Travel Best Bets Package Includes
- Round trip airfare to Varadero
- 7 nights all-inclusive hotel at your choice below
- Round trip transfers from airport to hotel and hotel to airport
Calgary & Edmonton
Jan 7-Feb 4: $785 + $420 tax (Melia Las Antillas; 4-star) Adults only
Jan 7-Feb 4: $825 + $420 tax (Sol Palmeras; 3.5-star)
Jan 7-Feb 4: $1395 + $420 tax (Royalton Hicacos; 4-star) Adults Only
Feb 18-Mar 11: $1275 + $420 tax (Iberostar Laguna Azul; 4.5-star)
Feb 18-Mar 11: $1855 + $420 tax (Paradisus Varadero or Paradisus Princessa; 4.5-star)
**Memories Varadero, Star Rating: Based on a number of factors, Travel Best Bets rates the hotel as a 3.5-star
Considered by many as the world’s most beautiful beach, Varadero is part of a peninsula that stretches far out into the calm waters of the Atlantic. Its 21-kilometre strip of fine white sand is an ideal vacation spot for sun-lovers, water babies and golfers. The beautiful Varahicacos Reserve offers wonderful fauna and flora, and a few archaeological findings.
If you also have a craving for art, history and culture then head to the nearby cities of Cárdenas and Matanzas, the provincial capital. Nature seekers will be delighted with the Zapata Biosphere Reserve which is famous for its ecotourism and history.
The temperature varies between 25 and 27C. Coral reefs create a barrier producing gentle waves and breezes. Sunny days and pleasant tropical climate allow the beach season to extend throughout the year.
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The Varadero Municipal Museum displays archaeological artefacts and objects related to Cuban sports. The house dates back to the 1920s and is filled with old furniture. The Centre Plaza America is a well appointed international convention centre that incorporates shopping malls, restaurants and amusement centres. The Santa Elvira Church dates back to 1938 and is known for it peculiar structure consisting of stones and wood. Josone’s Oasis, near the beach, has typical tropical vegetation in its gardens and groves, as well as lagoons.
Across the bay from Varadero is Cardenas, where the Cuban flag was first flown. The town’s story is told through its architecture and museums. Make a stop at Jose Antonio Echevarria’s birthplace and the Polyvalent Museum. It is noted for three unusual monuments: replicas of a bicycle, a horse-drawn carriage and a crab cast in concrete that represents the abundant crustaceans in the area.
The Vigia Square has the Junco Palace Historical Museum, the 19th century Sauto Theatre and an exhibition of ancient fire-fighting equipment in the former military headquarters. Visit the Le Triolet French pharmacy, built in 1882, is still stocked with ancient drugs, utensils and porcelain medicine flasks, all preserved under glass on the store’s original shelves of hand-finished Cuban wood. At the mouth of the river you will find El Morrillo where the bodies of two revolutionaries rest in a mausoleum. The castle also has an archaeological museum from where you can see the Canimar woods.
Cuba has two official currencies: the Cuban convertible peso (CUC) and the national peso (moneda nacional or MN). Transactions involving foreigners almost always take place in CUC. However, visitors should familiarize themselves with the moneda nacional, since it is a common scam for merchants to give change in moneda nacional instead of CUC. CUC is worth substantially more than the MN.
Most foreign currencies can be exchanged at Cadeca exchange houses, found in Cuba’s international airports and in urban areas, as well as in banks and major hotels. Canadian currency (cash and traveller’s cheques) may be exchanged for CUC without fees. American Express Travelers Cheques are accepted at certain banks. Keep receipts for traveller’s cheques separate. Australian dollars cannot be exchanged anywhere on the island.
Exchange of U.S. currency is possible, but subject to an additional fee. CUCs can be exchanged for U.S. dollars (and Canadian dollars, if available) at international airports before leaving the country. It is not possible to exchange CUCs outside of Cuba.
Debit cards and Canadian money transfers are not accepted in Cuba. Credit cards are not widely accepted. Credit cards issued by American financial institutions, such as American Express cards, and some credit cards issued by certain Canadian financial institutions, are not accepted. Other credit cards are generally accepted at major establishments such as state-run hotels and restaurants, and international resort chains. Private restaurants (paladares) and private guest houses (casas particulares) do not accept credit cards of any kind. Credit card cash advances (in CUCs) may be obtained at banks, hotels, or Cadeca exchange houses.
ABMs are few and do not always work in Cuba. In Havana, cash advances in CUCs from Visa cards can be obtained from the ABM machines located in the Miramar Trade Centre and in some hotels. In Varadero, ABMs are located in the Plaza America and at banks. If you use an ABM, do so during business hours at a location inside a bank or large commercial building. Leave copies of your card numbers with a family member in case of emergency.
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