Travel Guide South America Venezuela



Archipielago de Los Roques

Archipielago de Los Roques

© aniel

Bordered on the north by the ever-popular Caribbean Sea, Venezuela offers travellers the best of two worlds: beautiful sandy beaches along the warm blue waters of the Caribbean; and the stunning diversity of South America's inland. Indeed, if you care to venture beyond the beaches, Venezuela has a wealth of fantastic destinations. A trip to the world's tallest waterfall, Angel Falls, is unmissable. Nor is one to the impressive Andean range in Venezuela's western reaches. And for those adventurous travellers, the Venezuelan Amazon jungle boasts a remarkable set of exotic animals, including the tapir, jaguar, armadillo, anteater and the fearful anaconda.

Warning: Because of the country's unstable political and economic situation, ongoing civil unrest, widespread crime, failing infrastructure, and widespread shortages of food, water, medicine and petrol, only essential travel to Venezuela should be considered. Furthermore, no travel should be undertaken to the border areas with Colombia and Brazil where drug traffickers and illegal armed groups are active, and where there is a risk of kidnapping. Venezuela has one of the world's highest rates of violent crime - including murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, and carjacking. Armed robberies and street crime take place throughout Caracas and other cities, including in areas frequented by tourists.



Brief History

Human habitation of Venezuela could have commenced at least 15,000 years ago, as according to radiocarbon dating, artifacts have been found dating from 13,000 to 7,000 BC.

Christopher Columbus sailed along the eastern coast of Venezuela on his third voyage in 1498, the only one of his four voyages to touch the South American mainland. This expedition discovered the so-called "Pearl Islands" of Cubagua and Margarita off the northeastern coast of Venezuela. The Spanish expedition led by Alonso de Ojeda, sailing along the length of the northern coast of South America in 1499, gave the name Venezuela ("little Venice" in Spanish) to the Gulf of Venezuela — because of its imagined similarity to the Italian city.
Venezuela was first colonized by Spain in 1522 in what is now Cumaná. These portions of eastern Venezuela were incorporated into New Andalusia. Administered by the Audiencia of Santo Domingo since the early 16th century, most of Venezuela became part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada in the early 18th century, and was then reorganized as an autonomous Captaincy General starting in 1776.

The first organized conspiracy against the colonial regime in Venezuela occurred in 1797, organized by Manuel Gual and José María España, and was directly inspired by the French Revolution. European events sowed the seeds of Venezuela's declaration of independence. The Napoleonic Wars in Europe not only weakened Spain's imperial power, but also put Britain unofficially on the side of the independence movement.
The Venezuelan War of Independence ensued. It ran concurrently with that of New Granada.[5] On 17 December 1819 the Congress of Angostura established Gran Colombia's independence from Spain. After several more years of war, which killed half of Venezuela's white population, the country achieved independence from Spain in 1821 under the leadership of its most famous son, Simón Bolívar. Venezuela, along with the present-day[update] countries of Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador, formed part of the Republic of Gran Colombia until 1830, when Venezuela separated and became a sovereign country.

Independence saw Venezuela possibly the most impoverished country in Spanish America. Venezuela in the 19th century following independence did not experience one continuous civil war. Patterns of political ascendancy, downfalls, and resurgences developed. In the seventy years from 1829 to 1899, by one official tally, Venezuela had thirty presidential terms at least.

During first half of the 20th century, caudillos (military strongmen) continued to dominate, though they generally allowed for mild social reforms and promoted economic growth. Following the death of Juan Vicente Gómez in 1935 and the demise of caudillismo (authoritarian rule), pro-democracy movements eventually forced the military to withdraw from direct involvement in national politics in 1958. Since that year, Venezuela has had a series of democratically elected governments. The discovery of massive oil deposits during World War I prompted an economic boom that lasted into the 1980s. The huge public spending and accumulation of internal and external debts during the Petrodollar years of the 1970s and early 1980s, followed by the collapse of oil prices during the 1980s, crippled the Venezuelan economy.

In February 1992 Hugo Chávez, an army paratrooper, staged a coup d'état attempt seeking to overthrow the government of President Carlos Andrés Pérez. Chávez failed and was placed in jail. In November 1992, another unsuccessful coup attempt occurred, organized by groups loyal to Chávez remaining in the armed forces. Chávez was acquitted in March 1994 by president Rafael Caldera, with his political rights intact. In 1998, Chávez was elected president after a vigorous campaign. In April 2002 he suffered a coup d'état. Chávez has also survived an all-out national strike that lasted more than two months in December 2002 – February 2003, including a strike/lockout in the state oil company PDVSA, and a recall referendum in August 2004. He was elected for another term in December 2006.




Venezuela shares international borders with Colombia, Brazil, Guyana and is located in the north of South America. It has a total area of 916,445 square kilometres and a land area of 882,050 square kilometres, making it the 33rd largest country. The territory it controls lies between latitudes 0° and 13°N, and longitudes 59° and 74°W. Shaped roughly like an inverted triangle, the country has a 2,800-kilometre coastline in the north, which includes numerous islands in the Caribbean Sea, and in the northeast borders the northern Atlantic Ocean. Most observers describe Venezuela in terms of four fairly well-defined topographical regions: the Maracaibo lowlands in the northwest, the northern mountains extending in a broad east-west arc from the Colombian border along the northern Caribbean coast, the wide plains in central Venezuela, and the Guiana highlands in the southeast. The northern mountains are the extreme northeastern extensions of South America's Andes mountain range reach. Pico Bolívar, the nation's highest point at 4,979 metres, lies in this region. To the south, the dissected Guiana Highlands contains the northern fringes of the Amazon Basin and Angel Falls, the world's highest waterfall as well as tepuis, large table-like mountains. The country's center is characterized by the llanos, which are extensive plains that stretch from the Colombian border in the far west to the Orinoco River delta in the east. The Orinoco, with its rich alluvial soils, binds the largest and most important river system of the country; it originates in one of the largest watersheds in Latin America. The Caroní and the Apure are other major rivers.




Venezuela is grouped into 23 states, which are grouped into 9 administrative regions.

  • The Andean Region includes the states of Mérida, Táchira, Trujillo and the Páez Municipality of Apure
  • The Capital Region includes Miranda, Vargas and the Capital District
  • The Central Region includes Aragua, Carabobo
  • The Central-Western Region includes Falcón, Lara and Yaracuy
  • The Guayana Region includes Bolívar, Amazonas, Delta Amacuro
  • The Insular Region includes Nueva Esparta, Federal Dependencies
  • The Llanos Region includes Apure (excluding Paez Municipality), Guárico, Barinas, Cojedes, Portuguesa
  • The North-Eastern Region includes Anzoátegui, Monagas, Sucre
  • The Zulian Region only includes the state of Zulia




Sights and Activities

Los Llanos

Los Llanos is a vast grassy and swampy plain covering parts of the centre and south of Venezuela. This is one of the best places in the country to see wildlife, including anacondas, capybaras (the world's largest rodents) and caimans. Numerous birds live here as well, and with some luck you might even spot predators like jaguars. This area is thinly populated and several of the ranches are your best bet regarding sleeping and taking tours.

Canaima National Park & Angel Falls

Canaima National Park is located in the southeast of the country and is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It covers a vast table mountain landscape, with some parts covered in thick rainforest. La Gran Sabana (The Great Savannah) is also part of this park. It is also of interest for geologists and those keen on visiting one of the most Famous Waterfalls, the Angel Falls.

Sunrise at Angel Falls

Sunrise at Angel Falls

© snatterand

With 979 metres, the Angel Falls are the highest free-falling waterfall in the world. It has a single drop of 807 meters. The falls are located in the Bolivar State in central-southern Venezuela and within the boundaries of Canaima National Park. Although the falls probably were viewed before, the discovery to the outside world was on the 16th of November 1933 when Jimmie Angel (after who the falls are named) flew over in his plane. Nowadays you have to take a plane from Caracas or Ciudad Bolivar to the Canaima Camp from where you can do river trips to the base. There are options to view the falls from the air as well.

Coro and its Port

One of the sights on the UNESCO World Heritage list, Coro and its port are located northwest of the capital Caracas along the coast and is one of the best examples regarding colonial architecture with over 600 significant buildings to admire. Building styles include Spanish and Dutch influences.

Los Roques Archipelago

Los Roques is a beautiful chain of islands is located about 170 kilometers from the mainland of Venezuela and is the perfect place in the country to enjoy the Caribbean style life with beaches, diving, snorkelling and relaxing being your main activities here. Apart from around 40 islands there are approximately 250 coral reefs to choose from. The turtle sanctuary is of special interest as well.

Isla Margarita

Isla Margarita is a beach destination, but heavily developed and mainly visited by Venezuelans on holiday, attracted by the island's duty free status and package tourists from North America and Europe.

Merida and surroundings

Merida has a great mountain atmosphere with the Andes in the background. Home to the highest funicular in the world at over 4,700 metres above sea level. Many outdoor activities to choose from.



Events and Festivals

Feria del Sol

Celebrated on February 2 every year, this festival is called the “Virgin de Candelaria,” also known as “Candlemass” in Venezuela, a Christian occasion. Events in the town of Merida are the most lively, where locals adorn themselves with masks and brightly colored costumes, and there is plenty of dancing late into the night.


Similar to the Mardi Gras, Carnival is held to celebrate the start of Christian Lent, usually in February. Events happen all over Venezuela and usually last for four days. The best parties are said to be in the town of El Callao, which has famously been running the festival since 1853.

The Burial of the Sardine

This festival is held at the official start of Lent, on Shrove Tuesday. After wild Carnival celebrations die down, expect a somber affair as locals gather to bury a doll that is symbolic of the Christian faith.

Velorio de la Cruz de Mayo

Held annually on May 3 in Caracas, this day sees locals gather together to pay their respects to crucifixes which have been adorned with garlands. People stand around the crosses praying and singing, dressed in traditional Venezuelan garb.

El Hatillo Music Festival

Held annually the last two weeks of October, this Venezuelan music festival features a mix of jazz, folk, and rock with growing international fame. El Hatillo is a town ten miles south of Caracas, providing a great atmosphere for the fortnight of festivities.

San Benito El Moro

Localized to the area around Lake Maracaibo, San Benito is the patron saint of the lake. Celebrations last over a week from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day, and there are pageants and parades throughout the town, with everyone wearing traditional dress.




Most of Venezuela has a tropical climate with temperatures mostly around 30 °C during the day and 20 °C or more at night. Of course, in the Andes Mountains temperatures drop significantly and Merida has temperatures which are about 5 degrees less, both during the day as well as the nights.
Although most of the country has a wet season from April to October, there are huge variations throughout the country. While the northern coastal area has relatively little rain, especially in the western half (like Maracaibo), the southern parts of the country are much wetter with more variation as well. This applies to Llanos for example, the lowlying area around the Orinoco river. Temperatures in the south can hit 38 °C in the warmest months. On the southeast plateau at the border with Guyana temperatures are somewhat lower, but the rainy season is the same.



Getting there


Simon Bolivar International Airport of Maiquetia (CCS) near the capital Caracas is the main international airport. The Government of the United States has banned flights to Caracas and other cities from airports of the United States. Aeropostal only offers flights from both an to Cuba. Iberia and Air Europa has 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.

The second airport of Venezuela is Maracaibo La Chinita International Airport (MAR), which offers international flights to/from Panama City, Puerto Plata (DR) and Santo Domingo.

By Car

You can cross into Venezueal from both Brazil and Colombia. Border with the latter one might sometimes close for a short while, but they are open nowadays. Borders with Guyana are closed, you have to travel via Brazill. Have your documentations, insurance, driver's licence and maybe a visa in order. If you leave the country, fill up on petrol, as prices are one of the lowest in the world.

By Bus

There are several options of getting to and from Colombia. 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. These buses also travel to and from Maracaibo in Venezuela. It is often cheaper to use only domestic services in both countries and cross borders on foot.

To and from Brazil, the main crossing is between Santa Elana de Uairen and Pacaraima in Brazil. There are direct connections between Manaus and Boa Vista in Brazil to Ciudad Bolivar further north in Venezuela.


Venezuela - Trinidad and Tobago vv
There is supposed to be a weekly ferry travelling between La Guiria in Venezuela and Chaguaramas in Trinidad and Tobago but check the port authorities if this option is still available for travellers. The ferry arrives late in Trinidad and onward transport to Port of Spain can be hard to find. As of August 2010 the ferry leaves Chaguaramus, not far from Port of Spain, Trinidad at 09:00 am every Wednesday. It gets to La Guiria, Venezuela before 1:00 pm local time. The main option to travel out of La Guiria is a taxi to Carupano where more travel options are available. That's the one down side to the ferry, La Guaira not having more travel options.

Venezuela - Colombia vv
In the west of Venezuela there are several river crossings to and from Colombia, but they are mostly used by travellers that want to visit Colombia on a day trip from Venezuela. The most used crossing is from the Venezuelan town of Puerto Ayachucho in the Amazon/Orinoco area of Venezuela. Onward travel further into Colombia is either impossible by land or not recommended due to drug traffic and other hazards. Best to fly onwards.



Getting Around

By Plane

Aserca, Avior and Santa Barbara Airlines all have scheduled domestic flights to almost all airports in the country, including Caracas, Maracaibo, Merida and Ciudad Bolivar.

By Train

There are no options to travel between towns within Venezuela by train.

By Car

Although the main roads in Venezuela are in an acceptable condition, some might be potholed and minor roads are of less quality. This is why it is important that you are very well prepared and informed about your route. Take a good road map with you like the Venezuela Laminated Map by Berndtson & Berndtson.

Renting a 4wd is the best option and you can rent one at major airports and cities from both international and local firms. Traffic drives on the right and petrol is one of the cheapest in the world. You need either your national driver's licence or an international permit.

By Bus

Travelling around by bus is the most popular way for travellers and buses are generally comfortable, relatively fast and safe and not overly expenisve. The main long distance bus companies are Rodovias, Aeroexpresos Ejecutivos and Peli Express.
For an overview of schedules and connections, also international ones, see

By Boat

The only notable ferries are to and from Isla de Margarita. Other boat trips normally would include the ones on organised trips, like to the Salto Angel (Angel Falls).



Red Tape

Citizens of the following countries may not require a visa to visit Venezuela for tourist purposes only for up to 90 days (a tourist-card will be issued instead): Andorra, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Dominica, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Hong Kong, Iceland, Iran (max. 15 days), Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Korea (South) Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Nevis, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Russia, San Marino, Spain, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Trinidad & Tobago, United Kingdom, and Uruguay. Business travellers almost invariably require a visa to be issued before entry.

In Caracas, passengers pass through immigration in the arrivals hall before going to baggage claim. Officers will check your passport and may ask questions. If a customs officer or anyone asks about your purpose of visit, tell them you are only there to visit, tourism. At baggage claim you will be required to match the baggage sticker on your flight ticket to the bar code on your bag before you hand over your tax form to customs officials.

There will be many individuals who approach you after your arrival offering assistance with locating a taxi or trading currency. It is best to not interact with anyone who approaches you. Even airport officials with proper identification may attempt to lead you to other areas of the airport to trade currency on the black market. When taking a taxi from the airport, always settle on a price before getting into the cab, and only use taxis that have the official yellow oval seal.




See also Money Matters

A currency control system operates in Venezuela, which means it is impossible to officially buy other currencies in the country. In practice, it is possible to change local currency to dollars and occasionally euros on the black market. The black market gives far higher rates of exchange than the official, government regulated ones. If you do not use the black market rate, Venezuela is a very expensive country to visit. The only way a tourist will usually encounter the black market is in the form of a man approaching you (at the airport for example), quietly saying 'dollars, euros'. Changing money this way has a huge amount of risk (you could be given old bills/notes or simply be led away and robbed), however it is the only way to get the best value for your currency and consequently the best value for your visit to Venezuela.

Venezuela adopted the Bolivar Fuerte (BS.F) in January 2008. This involved knocking 3 zeros off the old Bolivar rate. The current official exchange rate is 1.8 BSF = 1 USD (The black market rate is currently 6.5 BSF = 1 USD).

The 2008 currency change means that, currently, about 3 different mintages of coins are currently in circulation. A large, silver 500 bolivar coin is in fact only worth 50 centimos in the current currency. There are also 50 bolivar coins, worth 5 centimos. 1000 bolivar coins are worth 1 BSf, 2000 BSF notes are worth 2 bolivares. You will also notice that locals still talk in the 'old' currency rate, saying 4 thousand bolivars, when they mean (and expect to receive) 4 BSF. Notes are available in 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 2 BSF amounts. Coins in 1, 5, 10, 12.5 (!) and 50 centavos and 1 bolivar.

Costs in Caracas and Los Roques are exhorbitant. A 2009 survey placed Caracas as the 15th most expensive place to live in the world (higher than London, Berlin etc.). Also be aware that cost does not equal quality - which often remains poor. A notable exception is petrol, which costs about 1 USD to fill a car.




ONIDEX is the state department which issues work visas. They are based in Caracas (Capitolio and a new office for foreigners in Los Ruices). Officially all work visas must be applied for through the company you wish to work for, well before arrival in the country. The process can take up to 4 months and requires medical, yellow fever vaccination, and the completion of various relevant forms by employer and employee. A work visa is issued for one year only at a time. It may be renewed. In practice some foreigners work without visas, but this may invite trouble from various authorities.




Related article: Spanish: Grammar, pronunciation and useful phrases

Spanish is the official language of Venezuela, but the native indigenous languages are officially recognized by the Constitution. Outside of Caracas, English is not commonly spoken or even understood, and even within Caracas it is usually only spoken by the younger generations.




Arepas, thick corn tortillas which are split and stuffed with myriad fillings, are the quintessential Venezuelan dish. The most famous variations are the "reina pepiada" (shredded chicken salad with avocado) and “domino” (stuffed with black beans and shredded white cheese). Hallacas (Venezuela's homegrown version of the tamale, with meat, olives, raisins covered in cornmeal and wrapped in plantain leaves to be steamed) are a popular Christmas dish. Cachapas (corn pancakes often topped with a salty cheese called "telita" or "queso de mano"), empanadas (savory pastries) and the ubiquitous "perros calientes" (hot dogs) are popular street food. For slow food, try delicious fish meals, or a shrimp soup known as “cazuela de mariscos”.

The traditional Venezuelan lunch is pabellón, and consists of rice, black beans, and meat, with a side of fried plantain slices. The above dishes are known as "comida criolla", or Creole food.

Venezuela is a leading producer of fine cacao beans and Venezuelan chocolate can be excellent. The El Rey brand has consistent quality.




In Caracas, there is a good selection of 5-star hotels, although these are predictably expensive. At tourist spots elsewhere in Venezuela, guest houses or B&Bs, known as posadas are usually the best option, each with an individual style and usually offering breakfast or dinner if requested. Posadas can vary enormously in price and quality. Youth hostels are very scarce.

Keep in mind that the beds in many hotels (mostly up to the mid-range levels) are nothing more than mattresses on concrete slabs that resemble box springs. Depending on what your sleep preference is, they may not be the most comfortable for you. Something for you to consider when looking for a hotel to stay at.




To some tastes, especially those who prefer stronger and complicated beers, Venezuelan beers may seem thin and watery. The most popular beer brand is Polar, which is available in a low-calorie version (Polar Light), light version (Polar Ice), or premium version (Solera). Zulia and Regional are other beers available throughout the country. Whisky is very popular among Venezeulans, particularly for special events. Venezuelan-made rum is generally dark and of very good quality. Among the best is the "1796" brand from Santa Teresa. It is a Solera rum. Others popular brands of rum are Pampero "caballito frenado" and Cacique.

A popular non-alcoholic drink is called "chicha Andina," which is made from rice or corn flour. Malta or Maltin is a carbonated non-alcoholic malt drink sold alongside regular soft drinks, although it is also manufactured by the Polar company.

Venezuelan coffee is excellent, but make sure you are asking for proper coffee (machine-made, 'de la maquina'), otherwise you might be served a 'negrito' or 'guayoyo', which can be anything from weak filter coffee to coffee-smelling brown water.




See also Travel Health

There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Venezuela. It's a good thing to get your vaccinations in order before travelling to Venezuela. The general vaccination against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) is recommended. Also a hepatitis A vaccination is recommended and vaccination against hepatitis B, rabies and typhoid are also sometimes recommended for stays longer than 3 months. A yellow fever vaccination is recommended except for Isla Margarita and the coastal area between Punto Fijo and Carúpano.

Malaria is prevalent in much of the country, including the area around the Angel Falls and in rural areas of the provinces of Apre, Amazonas, Barinas, Bolivar, Delta Amacuro, Sucre and and Tachira. There is no malaria on Isla Margarita. The risk of getting malaria is biggest from February to August, especially after the start of the rainy season at the end of May. It is recommended to take malaria pills and take other normal anti-mosquito precautions as well when travelling in these regions and especially during that times. Dengue sometimes occurs as well. There is no vaccination, so buy mosquito repellent (preferably with 50% DEET), and sleep under a net. Also wear long sleeves if possible.

Finally, other possible health issues include diarrhea and other general travellers' diseases like motion sickness. Watch what you eat and drink and in case you get it, drink plenty of fluids (to prevent dehydration) and bring ORS.




See also Travel Safety

Venezuela has its fair share of poverty, corruption, and crime. Venezuela has one of the highest homicide rates worldwide. It is necessary to be vigilant when in crowded cities, as pickpockets and muggers may be around. Most sections of large cities are not safe to walk at night. Stay in populated areas. Always travel by vehicle at night. The outskirts of many cities are very poor and crime-ridden, and are not appropriate for tourists. When in doubt, ask local inhabitants or taxi drivers whether an area is safe or not. In general, if one looks like a (presumably wealthy) tourist, these sections of town should be avoided. It is advisable not to wear expensive jewellery or watches. Take care with using the cellphone, taking pictures and unfolding maps in crowds. Pretend you know where you are going even if you aren't sure.

Always ride on a legal taxi (Yellow plates). The white plates taxis are not legal and may be dangerous.

Additionally, be wary of corrupt officials (police and National Guard). Some officials may demand bribes or otherwise extort voyagers. Keep watch of your belongings at all times. Despite all these recommendations, you are usually quite safe in Venezuela if you apply a little common sense, and avoid looking overly wealthy when traveling. Women with big purses should not walk around alone. Tourists should avoid walking long distances in the towns and cities unless you know where you are going. Where possible arrange vehicle transport. It is not advisable for female tourists to walk through poor areas or shanty towns without a local guide. It is greater risk of rape or sexual assault if they walk through these areas.

Above all, when you are in Venezuela it is very important to use common sense. If you follow the right precautions, you'll probably have no problem. Don't look at anybody the wrong way, and don't look too wealthy.

If you get mugged, don't resist, and avoid eye contact. Most muggers in Venezuela carry firearms and shoot at the slightest provocation. Keep calm and give the mugger whatever they want. Failure to do so is quite often deadly. Also, reporting a mugging to the police is seldom worth the trouble: it's best to forget it as muggers are only rarely caught.

Despite all the issues with insecurity, you may avoid most problems by either staying in the tourist areas or visiting the less tourist areas with someone that lives in the country.

Also, Venezuela has an interesting policy towards cannabis. You may possess up to 20 g, but anything more can get you thrown in prison for a long time. Even though this policy is quite liberal, you should keep all cannabis use private, to not draw unwanted attention.

Avoid long distance car travel at night, since many highways are unsafe then. Venezuelans are usually ready to help you if you have a problem. However, they probably won't dare to stop for you in the dark, as they would have good reason to fear being assaulted.

The Venezuelan-Colombian border hosts more frequent kidnappings, and cross-border violence. Travel near the border is discouraged.



Keep Connected


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: 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.


Quick Facts

Venezuela flag

Map of Venezuela


Christianity (Catholic)
Calling Code
Local name


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