Travel Guide South America Venezuela Caracas

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Introduction

Outside church in Caracas

Outside church in Caracas

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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. Violent crime in Caracas is a major problem. Caracas is now by some counts the world's most dangerous city. However, Prodavinci (portal of intellectuals of the Venezuelan opposition) do not trust at all these figures. Dorothy Kronick from Caracas Chronicles has demonstrated that tatistics have been altered by the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence. In reality, no one really knows the truth because those figures are unofficial. The production of data without definition of procedures, standardized classification systems and duly trained officials for its application does not guarantee data that is accurate, unbiased, interpretable and coherent. The academies of Venezuelan universities do not completely trust these figures. Nobody really has the data. These counts have been made based on unofficial information from the media and protected police sources. For this reason, they are not really reliable at all.

Caracas is hard place to visit. To have an enjoyable trip to this city it is strongly recommended to follow the recommendations of your hotel. You should be really careful with websites like Couchsurfing. The hotel will give you the most accurate information of the district. The information handled by the hotel staff is more reliable, updated and less biased. Nowadays, there are no safe districts at all in the city. Las Mercedes and El Rosal are the fanciest districts of Caracas. Altamira neighborhood has suffered considerable damage as a result of the protests, but it is still a relatively good option. Travelers should be careful in all areas of the city. Sabana Grande is the main commercial corridor of the city and is always very crowded, visited by more than 500 thousand people everyday. The commercial areas of Caracas are very vulnerable to pickpockets, such as the center of Caracas, Chacao, El Rosal Norte, La California and Sabana Grande. However, in the residential areas of Caracas kidnappings are very frequent and most are not reported. The neighborhoods plagued by kidnappers are: Los Palos Grandes, La Florida, San Bernardino, El Hatillo, Los Naranjos, Santa Monica, El Cafetal, Altamira, Chuao El Rosal, etc. Go during daylight and leave your important belongings safe at your accommodation. Avoid any place in the western part of the city and avoid "Petare" in the eastern part of the city.

Try to restrict your activities to the daytime - but remember that crime in Caracas strikes at any time. Be vigilant. Avoid walking alone and do not venture into dodgy-looking places. Trust your instincts. Do not flag taxis on the street, call them by phone or try to arrange some form of trusted private transportation. Do not flash any electronic devices (iPods, cameras, mobile phones) and leave your jewelry in the hotel. Bring copies of your passport and important documents and leave the originals in the hotel. Be aware of your surroundings and even if you are lost, try to look like you know where you're going (in that case try to find a shop or mall, so you can "regroup" and find out where you are. In public transport, try to sit at the front and avoid using your electronics. "Motorizados" are a big problem in most of the neighborhoods in Caracas. They are very common in all the areas of Caracas. They may be scarcer in the boulevard of Sabana Grande because it is a pedestrian space, however. Be careful. Try to dress like the average Venezuelan and you will have fun here.

Quoting spruce16

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.

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Neighbourhoods

The most luxurious neighborhoods are Caracas Country Club (El Recreo-Libertador and Chacao), Valle Arriba Country Club (Baruta) and La Lagunita Country Club (El Hatillo)

  • Eastern (Miranda): El Pedregal, San Marino, Campo Alegre, Chacao, Bello Campo, El Rosal, El Retiro, Las Mercedes, Tamanaco, Chuao, Altamira, Los Palos Grandes, La Castellana, La Floresta, Santa Eduvigis, Sebucán, La Carlota, Santa Cecilia, Campo Claro, Los Ruices, Montecristo, Los Chorros, Los Dos Caminos, Boleíta, Los Cortijos, La California, Horizonte, El Marqués, La Urbina, Terrazas del Ávila, Lomas del Ávila, El Llanito, Macaracuay, La Guairita, Caurimare, El Cafetal, San Román, Santa Rosa, San Luis, Santa Sofía, Santa Paula, Santa Inés, Los Pomelos, Palo Verde, Petare.
  • Eastern, commonly known as the Eastern Center of the city (El Recreo, Libertador): La Florida, Caracas Country Club, Sabana Grande, Las Delicias, San Antonio, Los Caobos, Las Palmas, San Rafael de La Florida, Las Lomas, Los Cedros, La Campiña.
  • Southeastern (Miranda): Valle Arriba, Santa Fe, Los Campitos, Prados del Este, Alto Prado, Manzanares, El Peñón, Baruta, Piedra Azul, La Trinidad, La Tahona, Monterrey, Las Minas, Los Samanes, Cerro Verde, Los Naranjos, La Boyera, Alto Hatillo, El Hatillo, Los Geranios, La Lagunita, El Placer, El Guayabao, El Volcán, La Unión, Sartanejas.
  • Centre: San Bernardino, La Candelaria, El Paraíso, Catedral, El Conde, Parque Central, El Silencio, San Agustin, Altagracia

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Sights and Activities

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 more than enough sights and attractions to fill three or four days although it is often overlooked by international travelers.

  • La Plaza Bolivar. Catedral, located near Metro Capitolio. Located in the city center. It has statues of Simon Bolivar, and is close to Congress and other government buildings. It also displays nice examples of colonial architecture. Look out for black squirrels that roams around the trees in the plaza.
  • Galeria de Arte Nacional Venezuela. Avenida Mexico La Candelaria. This is considered the best art museum of Caracas today. It hosts the best artworks of Arturo Michelena, Armando Reverón, Antonio Herrera Toro, Jacobo Borges, Federico Brandt, and many more. It was designed by Carlos Gómez de Llarena (the architect of Centro Comercial San Ignacio and Centro Comercial El Recreo). The museum is projected to be the biggest museum of Latin America, but it has not been finished yet.
  • La Casa Natal de Simon Bolivar. Catedral, near Plaza El Venezolano. Near Metro La Hoyada. Bolivar's birthplace, also downtown. One of the few well-preserved colonial buildings with some great paintings and a museum. Next door is the '''Museo Bolivariano''' with some of Bolivar's war relics. Capitolio Metro Station.
  • Boulevard of Sabana Grande. located near the “Plaza Venezuela, Sabana Grande and Chacaito” metro stops. This is the most important shopping street in Caracas and hosts new fancy stores, such as Balu (H&M), AISHOP, Planeta Sports, Brands Shop, and many more. Sabana Grande is the main shopping thoroughfare in Caracas Venezuela, but is also home to many public artworks and nice street art. Sabana Grande is a broad, tree-shaded, pedestrians-only boulevard lined on both sides with stylish fashion boutiques and gift shops. a charming cobblestone street with countless outdoor and indoor shopping establishments as well as hotels and restaurants. Also a great spot for relaxing and people-watching; on any given day you can observe people bartering at shops, playing chess, or even dancing around dressed like Disney characters. Many of the buildings in Sabana Grande are considered architectural heritage of Caracas and they need maintenance.
  • Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas. Avenida México and Los Caobos Park. Candelaria and Los Caobos neighborhoods. This is an art museum located in the Museum Square in Los Caobos Park, Caracas. It was founded on 1917 and is one of the most important Venezuelan museums. Nowadays, it hosts several Picasso's and Botero's artworks. The neoclassical building is in a process of restoration, as it recently turned 100 years old. The museum has the most important collection of European art in Venezuela. National Art Gallery and Museum of Fine Arts are the best museums of Caracas today.
  • Panteon Nacional, at the end of Avenida Panteón, Altagracia. A modern building fused with an old church. Houses the remains of Simon Bolivar and other national heroes. There's a change of guards every 2 hours.

"Museo Casa John Boulton", at the end of Avenida Panteón, Altagracia" Next to Panteon Nacional. One of the best hidden gems of Caracas. This museum houses important historical documents. Some works of the painter Arturo Michelena can only be seen in this museum. In this space part of the torso of "El Saludante" is conserved, a statue of Antonio Guzmán Blanco that was erected in 1875 between the Central University (today Palace of the Academies) and the Federal Legislative Palace. A private collection of Boulton's family. Just in front of the patio, closer to the entrance, is the hand of "El Manganzón", another statue of Guzmán that was in El Calvario. These particular pieces are two of the remains of these statues that were demolished in 1889. The other remains are in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, located on Avenida Francisco Solano de Sabana Grande. The "Bolivarian Collection Room" houses the collection of Bolivarian pieces, consisting of portraits, furniture, china and commemorative ceramic pieces, medals, decorations and objects for personal use of Simón Bolívar.

  • Museum William Phelps Caracas. Boulevard of Sabana Grande, near metro Sabana Grande, this is an science museum located in the boulevard of Sabana Grande. It is the most important ornithological collection in Latin America and belongs to the Phelps family. You should make a reservation.
  • Museo Los Galpones The Sheds. Los Chorros neighborhood. Private museum in Caracas. Venezuelan opposition artists have a strong presence in this museum and is considered by them what an ideal museum in Caracas should be. It has few art galleries, but the gardens are spectacular. The restaurants have good food. Recommended to arrive by taxi, away from the Metro station Los Dos Caminos.

"Museo de Arte Colonial". Located in the Quinta Anauco on Av Panteon in San Bernardino. This is a lovely old house and garden that hosts small concerts some weekends.

  • Universidad Central de Venezuela Urb Valle Abajo, near Metro Ciudad Universitaria and Metro Plaza Venezuela". It was designated a World Heritage Site by the UN in 2000. Designed by Venezuela's most famous architect, Carlos Raul Villanueva, the university campus, known as the ''Ciudad Universitaria'' is a sprawling complex considered a masterpiece of 1950s and 1960s architecture blended in with art. A stroll around the grounds, keeping an eye open for modern art works by artists such as Fernand Leger. Metro Ciudad Universitaria.

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Weather

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.

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Getting There

By Plane

International
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.
Domestic
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.

By Car

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.

By Bus

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.

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Getting Around

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.

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Eat

  • El Granjero del Este, Av. Río de Janeiro, ☎ +58 212 991 6619. Open late. One of the better of the dozens of "areperas" dotted around town. Specializes in arepas, a savory corn-flour bread that doubles as Venezuela's traditional staple food. Pick from a dozen types of filling (including the classic Reina Pepiada - chicken, avocado, spring onions and mayo.) Or try a cachapa (a sweet corn pancake with a choice of toppings) or a nice steak with yuca. Wash it all down with beer, or with freshly made tropical juice. To do it the traditional way, go at 3:00am, after a night out dancing. Cheap.
  • Maute Grill, Av. Rio de Janeiro. open late. A very nice place, often crowded but rightfully so, the food and wine are outstanding. Expensive.
  • Malabar, Calle Orinoco, ☎ +58 212 991-3131. Expensive but very good cuisine, mostly French, with a relaxed but trendy atmosphere

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Drink

  • El León. On the corner of La Castellana roundabout, this Caracas stalwart benefits from one of the best open air terraces in Caracas. Plastic tables and chairs are simple and the service is slow, but the beers are cheap and the atmosphere is good. This is a favorite hangout for Caracas' college crowd. Be careful at midnight.
  • Centro San Ignacio. In La Castellana, it has many outdoor bars. One of the most popular currently is Buddha Bar. Please note that many of its bars have closed and / or changed owners. Until a few years ago, Le Club was located here. Le Club moved to Paseo Las Mercedes. It is still a good alternative to have fun in Caracas. Be careful at midnight.
  • El Maní Es Así. Located in a side street behind Sabana Grande, this remains Caracas' best-renowned salsa club where locals, politicians and tourists like to show off their moves, accompanied by live bands, till the early hours. Take into account that visitors to this place range from low middle class citizens to high level politicians. Celia Cruz and Oscar D'Leon have been here. To get a table, you'll probably have to pay 'servicio', i.e. agree to buy a bottle of rum or whisky. Be careful at midnight and arrange a taxi.
  • Moulin Rouge. Located in Avenida Francisco Solano (Sabana Grande). One of the most popular places in Caracas It has two main areas: one for rock lovers and one for lovers of salsa and reggae. Great for alternative couples. BDSM games for couples and beginners. A place that really defies taboos. Be careful at midnight and arrange a taxi.
  • Sal Si Puedes. Located in Pasaje Asuncion of Sabana Grande, this is one of the very few bohemian places that are still alive in Caracas. Drinks are very expensive here. Great decoration. University professors, writers, plastic artists, poets, homeless people and prostitutes have fun here. A very interesting mix. Be careful at midnight.
  • Hog Heaven. Located in La Castellana. Incredible atmosphere. One of the best places for metalheads in Caracas. Nice drinks. The music is great. Take into account that there are not many tables available and you may have to wait. Highly recommended. Bohemian bar in La Castellana. Be careful at midnight.
  • Los Peruanos Rock Ba. Located in Pasaje Asuncion of Sabana Grande, way cheaper than Sal Si Puedes. Great music, live bands, mojitos, cuba libre. A space for nostalgic metalheads of the previous Caracas that has disappeared. University professors, writers, plastic artists, poets, homeless people and prostitutes have fun here. A very interesting mix. Be careful at midnight.

Modern nightclubs:

  • Le Club - The most exclusive club in Caracas. Located in Paseo Las Mercedes. Neighborhood Las Mercedes.
  • La Quinta Bar.
  • Sawu.
  • 360º Roof Bar - Rooftop bar with views of Caracas. It's on the top floor of Hotel Altamira Suites. Entrance is by the side of the hotel (no signs, yell at the security guard to let you in).
  • Bar Hotel Pestana. Another rooftop bar at the top of Hotel Pestana.

LGBT friendly:

  • Cool Café Bar - Located in La Castellana, the best option for LGBT community in Caracas.
  • Moskowa Disco. - Located in Macaracuay. Nice place.
  • Discovery. Los Cortijos. A really nice place for LGBT couples.
  • Pasaje Asuncion, Sabana Grande. the oldest gay street of the city. A charming place that has many sad and happy stories to tell.
  • La Fragata, Sabana Grande. Frequented by lower middle class Venezuelans.
  • Pullman Bar, Sabana Grande. Plaza Venezuela metro stop. Bear community.
  • Triskel. Located in Altamira.

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Sleep

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.

Budget

  • Casa Luisa, El Hatillo.
  • Bella Vista. Urb. Los Caobos.
  • Hotel Cristal. Urb. Sabana Grande.
  • Hotel Altamira. Urb. Altamira.

Mid-Range

  • Hotel Altamira Village. Urb. Altamira.
  • Hotel Coliseo. Urb. Bello Monte, Sabana Grande district
  • Hotel Lincoln Suites. Urb. Sabana Grande.
  • Hotel Shelter. Urb. Chacao.
  • Hotel Alex. Urb. La Candelaria.
  • Hotel El Cid. Urb. La Castellana.

Upscale

  • Hotel Waldorf. Urb La Candelaria, New upscale hotel.
  • Hotel Cayena Boutique. Urb. La Castellana
  • Hotel Gran Meliá Caracas. Urb Bello Monte, Sabana Grande district
  • Hotel JW Marriott Caracas. Urb. El Rosal, Chacao
  • Hotel Paseo Las Mercedes, Urb. Las Mercedes.

View our map of accommodation in Caracas or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

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.

Phone

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.

Post

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.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 10.49605
  • Longitude: -66.898277

Accommodation in Caracas

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.

Contributors

as well as rojasalas (5%), Sam I Am (3%), spruce16 (1%), hasbeen (1%), adosuarez (1%)

Caracas Travel Helpers

This is version 40. Last edited at 10:59 on Apr 30, 18 by Utrecht. 35 articles link to this page.

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