Parque Josone

Park in Varadero

Image by Denis Belyaevskiy Shutterstock

If you're set on sightseeing 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 sometimes, an odd ostrich lurking nearby.