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Venezuela's capital Caracas is located in the north of the country and is the most populated city in Venezuela. Venezuela's major international airport is located in Caracas, making it the primary entry point to the country for visitors. Located near the coast, Caracas is situated in a valley at an altitude of roughly 800 metres. This gives the city a unique climate which many describe as the Caracas' best feature - never too hot and never too cold.
Caracas has a bad reputation amongst travellers as it offers very little in the way of charming and beautiful. Consisting of densely packed concrete buildings, it is a congested and polluted city. On top of that, many parts of the city are considered downright dangerous, even during the day. Taking the proper precautions however, Caracas will provide you with a unique and interesting travel experience.
Caracas is hard place to visit, to have an enjoyable trip to this city is strongly recommended to be oriented by a "Caraqueño" who can give you, tips to a safer and funny trip. If you want to know the fancy and avoid the danger, go the following "urbanizaciones": Altamira, La Castellana, Los Palos Grandes, Sebucan, Chuao, Las Mercedes, El Hatillo, El Rosal, Campo Alegre, El Cafetal (Este de Caracas). If you want to taste the "third world" feeling, visit on daylight and leaving your important belongs safe at your accomodation visit Sabana Grande and El Centro de Caracas, Bellas Artes, El Ateneo and Parque Central. Avoid any place on the western part of the city, and avoid "Petare" in the eastern part of the city.
I visited caracas for a short period of time. I did not see much of the dangers of which we were warned. It is a very lively city and was very enjoyable. There was only one incident when my english guide stole our money! But other than that great fun and brilliant if you are looking for culture.
One of the most popular activities for visitors is ascending Avila (2,600 metres), the mountain at which foot Caracas lies. You can reach the top either by cable car or by foot, which is roughly a 3 to 4-hour hike. Caracas is also an important cultural center and it's museum of modern art is one of the best in South America.
Caracas has a tropical climate but with somewhat lower average temperatures and rainfall. Maximum temperatures are between 24 °C and 27 °C, minimum temperatures around 16 °C year round. June to November is the wet season, with around 100 mm of rain during each month, while January to April is fairly dry, with only about 20 mm of rain a month on several days each month.
Simon Bolivar International Airport (CCS) is located in Maiquetia, about 20 kilometres from downtown Caracas. Several arlines offer a range of international flights. Iberia and Air Europa have flights to and from Madrid, while TAP Air Portugal serves Lisbon and Air France serves Paris. Other destinations are mainly within the region, Havana and a few American cities.
Aserca, Avior and SBA Airlines (Santa Barbara Airlines) all have scheduled domestic flights to almost all airports in the country from Caracas. The main destinations include Maracaibo, Merida and Ciudad Bolivar.
Nice and pretty highways connect Caracas with La Guaira and the airport to the north; Maracay, Valencia and Maracaibo in the west; Barcelona and Puerto La Cruz in the east.
While driving in Caracas can be a hectic experience, renting a car to experience the outlying areas is a wonderful way to leave behind the well-traveled routes.
There are direct buses between Caracas and Bogota, the capital of Colombia. If you want to visit the northern Caribbean coast of Colombia from Venezuela, there are direct buses from Caracas all the way to Santa Marta and Cartagena. The main long distance bus companies for domestic travels are Rodovias, Aeroexpresos Ejecutivos and Peli Express.
Taxis can be easily hailed in the street and are generally (but not always) safe. They have no meters so prices should be agreed on before getting in. Some reports indicate that the situation has improved and there are fixed rates posted. Caracas traffic is notoriously bad and the metro is a better option if your destination is conveniently located near a station. Licensed taxis have yellow plates and while some private cars with white plates are taxis too, it’s generally safer to take a licensed cab.
Venezuelan taxi cab drivers may quote you about double the actual price when you ask how much a ride will be. Bargaining is totally acceptable in this case. Simply respond with a more reasonable price that you are willing to pay, and it’s more than likely you can meet in the middle. If the taxi driver continues to quote an outrageous price, simply walk away and try another.
The Caracas metro is clean, modern, safe and extremely cheap. A single journey costs just BsF 4, "ida y vuelta" (round trip) is BsF 8.00 and a 10 journey "multi abono" ticket is BsF 36. Because prices have changed little in recent years and bus fares have outpaced inflation, the metro is frequently overcrowded, particularly during peak hours.
The metro system is backed up by a network of metrobuses that depart from certain metro stations and take fixed routes to areas of the city not reached by the underground. Like the metro, metrobuses are cheap and clean, but passengers complain of bus shortages. Most services run only about every 20 minutes. The buses have fixed stops and will not pick up passengers elsewhere.
The ubiquitous minibuses, or por puestos, run along many main roads in Caracas, often ending up in obscure residential neighborhoods that are not accessible by metro. They can be flagged down anywhere and you can generally ask the driver to let you jump off whenever he stops, such as traffic lights. Although sometimes useful (for reaching the Sabas Nieves entrance to El Avila from the Altamira metro station) the buses are more expensive than the metro (BsF 10.0 for a single ride), slower, less safe, and are invariably in a very bad condition.
Caracas has many hotels, but lacks youth hostels found in other South American countries. Backpackers will find that Caracas is not a cheap destination and there are not rooms available in the 20-30 USD typical hostel range. While the whole of the city is considered to be dangerous at night, it’s preferable to stay near Sabana Grande or farther east.
Many hotels in the Sabana Grande area will offer rooms on an hourly basis (euphemistically known as love hotels) which are primarily for unmarried Venezuelan couples.
|Hotel Altamira||Avenida Jose Felix Sosa||Hotel||89|
|Hotel Vistavila Suites||Av. Libertador, between Av. Las Acacias & Av. Los Jabillos Sabana Grande||Hotel||-|
|Dal Bo Hostel||Av Sur 2 y Av Universidad Esq de San Francisco Esq de Pajaritos,Residencias S.Francisco,Capitolio||HOSTEL||94|
|Alto Prado Inn||Avenida 10, 483B Alto Prado||GUESTHOUSE||98|
Internet cafes, often incorporated in the above-mentioned 'communication centers' are increasingly common, and even small towns usually have at least one spot with more or less decent connections.
See also International Telephone Calls
Venezuela has international country telephone code 58 and three-digit area codes (plus an initial '0'), and phone numbers are seven digits long.
Area codes beginning with '04' - e.g. 0412, 0414, 0416 - are mobile phones, while area codes beginning '02' - e.g. 0212 (Caracas), 0261 (Maracaibo) are land lines. A single emergency number 171 is used in most of the country for police, ambulance and firefighters.
Public payphones use prepaid cards which cannot be recharged but are easily available in shopping centers, gas stations, kiosks, etc. Phone boxes are common in the cities and do not accept coins. The vast majority are operated by the former state monopoly, CANTV, although some boxes operated by Digitel or Movistar do exist, particularly in remote areas. CANTV prepaid cards can be used only in their booths.
More popular today are the ubiquitous 'communication centers' or clusters of phone booths located inside metro stations, malls, or like a normal store in the street. Most of these communication centers are operated either by CANTV or Movistar, and offer generally cheap phone calls from a normal phone in comfortable booths equipped with a seat. A log is made of all your calls and you pay when exiting the store.
Mobiles operated by Movilnet, a division of CANTV, start with the 0416/0426 code and use the CDMA 800 MHz system and GSM/HSDPA 850 MHz. Rival Telefónica Movistar, formerly Telcel, start with 0414/0424 and use both CDMA & GSM/HSDPA (GSM/HSDPA 850 MHz). Digitel is another operator with a GSM/HSDPA (GSM/HSDPA 900 MHz) network and its numbers start with 0412. It is possible to buy a pay-as-you-go SIM card for Digitel's GSM phones, but make sure your phone is unlocked. A pay-as-you-go Digitel card is working straightaway when bought from any official retailer. The cost of the card is around 20 VEF (new bolivares). Top up vouchers from 10 VEF. The cost of a text message abroad is 0.3 VEF. Please note that from Movilnet phone you are not able to send a text message almost to any European network. A Digitel phone allows to send a text message to almost any European network (tested) and Movistar may let you send a text message to any european network but is not reliable as Digitel for this purpose.
You may use your phone with a foreign SIM card in roaming. Check: www.gsmworld.com or call to your operator for roaming information to Venezuela. Movilnet and Movistar will require quad-band phones for European users, Digitel will work with any European phone. Tourists from other than European countries should check their phones if the phone will work with the above bands.
Venezuela's state-owned postal is slow, unpredictable and not widely used. Postal offices are few and far between, although they are still probably your best bet for sending postcards back home. For mailing within Venezuela, courier services such as MRW, Domesa and Zoom are the most popular. These usually guarantee next day delivery.
We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Caracas searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Caracas and areas nearby.
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