Varadero is primarily a tourist destination, with more than 20 kilometers of white sandy beaches. The first visitors arrived at Varadero in the 1870s, and for many years it was considered an affluent resort. The annual rowing race began in 1910, and five years later the first hotel, Varadero, and subsequently Club Nautico, were erected. Tourism boomed in the early 1930s, when American billionaire Irénée du Pont erected his home on the peninsula. Many famous and notorious persons, including as Al Capone, stayed at Varadero.
Many mansions were expropriated from their wealthy owners during the Cuban Revolution in 1959. These homes were soon turned into museums. The Park of the 8000 Cubicles (Parque de las 8000 Taquillas) was established in 1960 as a symbol of the new integrated tourism for Cubans and foreign tourists of all socioeconomic strata. Visitors may store their stuff in the park’s basement, use sanitary facilities and culinary services on the first level, and rent swimming goods and swimwear. The park’s environs became the city’s focal point.
Varadero was developed into a cultural center between the 1960s and the 1980s. Throughout those years, the central park (8000 Taquillas) (placed between 44th and 46th Street) hosted a plethora of concerts, festivals, and athletic events.
The 1990s saw the beginnings of yet another hotel construction drive, this time focusing on the 4- and 5-star segments. Many of the hotels are run or co-owned by international companies like as Meliá, Barceló, TRYP, and others. (Club Med, a French company, used to have a facility in Varadero but has since gone.) As foreign tourism flourished, the local population grew with the immigration of individuals from other regions of Cuba, some of whom held crucial economic roles. As a result, Varadero has lost most of its social and cultural vitality, as well as many of its customs. The central park, the cinema, and other cultural gathering spaces were ignored in favor of hotel-centered all-inclusive tourism and eventually closed. The International Carnival, which began in the 1980s as a joint project of Cubans and foreigners, has likewise come to an end.
Varadero features natural attractions like as caverns and a line of readily accessible virgin cays in addition to its most valuable resource, the beach. There are other cultural, historical, and natural sites nearby, such as Matanzas and Cárdenas, the Zapata Peninsula, and the resort of San Miguel de los Baos. Varadero, a free port, also has scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, yachting, and other water sports facilities.
Every year, more than one million visitors visit Varadero.
Tourists from Europe and Canada are the most common visitors to Varadero. Although the number of US visitors visiting Varadero is rising, it is still restricted due to US government regulations that make it difficult for US residents to enter Cuba as tourists.
In tourist facilities and other service units, prices are set in Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC). In Varadero, Cayo Largo del Sur, Jardines del Rey (Coco and Guillermo Keys), Santa Lucía Beach, Covarrubias Beach, and Holguín province, you can also pay in euros. Credit Cards (except those issued by US banks or their branches in other countries) can be used in most Varadaro shops but it is more useful to take cash (CUCs) to the markets.