Parque Josone

Park in Varadero

Image by Denis Belyaevskiy Shutterstock

If you're set on sight-seeing in Varadero, ensconce yourself in this pretty green oasis. These landscaped gardens date back to 1940 and take their name from the former owners, José Fermín Iturrioz y Llaguno and his wife Onelia, who owned the Arechabala rum distillery in nearby Cárdenas and built a neoclassical mansion here: the Retiro Josone.

Expropriated after the revolution, the mansion became a guesthouse for visiting foreign dignitaries. The park is now a public space for the enjoyment of all – you may see Cuban girls celebrate their quinceañeras (15th-birthday celebrations) here. Josone's expansive, shady grounds feature a lake with rowboats (per person per hour CUC$0.50) and water-bikes (per hour CUC$5), atmospheric eateries, resident geese, myriad tree species and a minitrain (ride CUC$1). There's a public swimming pool (CUC$2) in the south of the park and the odd ostrich lurking nearby. Good music can be heard nightly.