Feb 9 arrival on direct flight from Vancouver to Varadero 16:30. Can’t decide whether to stop in Varadero for one night or just straight on to Havana where we have four days before Cayo Largo. Have looked at Hotel Tortuga. Any advise/suggestions?
Personally, under your circumstances I wouldn’t waste one moment in Varadero. It offers almost nothing that you won’t easily experience in Havana and Cayo Largo.
Jump on the 6:00pm Viazul bus from the Varadero Airport right into Havana.
How long does the bus ride take? Expect we will be a little weary and probably hungry by 6 pm!
I’m with Martian on this one…skip Varadero. It’s approx. a 2 hour drive to Havana. Have you booked a room in Havana?
We haven’t booked in Havana yet. We were thinking Hotel Raquel 1st night and are waiting advice from a co-worker regarding bed & breakfasts. Want to spend more time in Old Havana than last time we were there. Any thoughts?
The Viazul Bus departs at 6:00pm and arrives at the Havana terminal at 9:05pm. It’s 11 CUC one way. Do NOT go to the main terminal. Have the driver drop you off at the end of the Prado; this is close to Old Havana, etc. It’s a normal stop coming into Havana, no big deal.
The Hotel Raquel is lovely.
I’ve had my eye on the Hostal Valencia: http://www.habaguanexhotels.com/en/hotels/hostalvalencia.asp ever since I saw it on my first Havana tour in 2005.
The Valencia is very nice (with the best paella in town) but the Raquel is waaaay classier…
Great roof too…
By the way Jen, I was incorrect above. The Viazul Bus leaves Varadero Airport at 6:30pm, not 6:00pm.
Check out the schedule here: http://www.viazul.cu/asp/reserva/ruta.aspx?id=20
When you get dropped at the Prado (right after the bus pops out of the tunnel) it’s a fast easy taxi ride to the Raquel.
Also, the food at the airport is pretty bad. I suggest you pack a very substantial lunch in your carry-on and eat it on the airplane (it won’t be allowed past security in Cuba, so eat it before you land) so you won’t be too hungry until you hit Havana.
Lastly, if you pop out of Immigration/Customs well before the Viazul leaves, wander around outside and see what kind of deal you can strike up with someone heading towards Havana. Who knows, you might get lucky and jump onto another hotel’s shuttle bus so you get to Havana sooner.
We have stayed, on an overnighter to Havana, at the Hostal Conde de Villanueva and it is a another of the lovely little (9 rooms, only I my memory serves me right) boutique hotels in Old Havana. Martian…they serve a fantastic paella, also ;D
The Hostal Conde de Villanueva holds some very special memories for me too because I was a guest for a week when they very first opened and have remained friends with the management ever since. You’re right about the rooms, there is only 9. The Raquel has 25.
The only thing you have to be cautious of is eating in the courtyard because the bloody peacock is very sneaky and will steal anything and everything right off your plate if you turn your back!
Here’s a couple of shots from when I produced a photo shoot there…
Thieving bastard!!! ;D ;D ;D
Great responses everyone. Thank you very much!
Have spent unumerous hours looking at “Casas Paticulares” online. Anyone have any experiences/advice on any in Old Havana? It’s rather overwhelming…our criteria are: Private bathroom, prefer private entrance, english would be good, local knowledge and of course walking distance to everything!
I used to love peacocks…should I reconsider?
Some excellent local guides/resolvers mentioned here to arrange casas, etc.: