The Venezuelan capital lies in a long, narrow valley 16 km from the coast. In addition to numerous modern buildings, there are still preserved old town parts such as San José and La Pastora. Beautiful is the Plaza Bolívar, where the old Cathedral and the Casa Amarilla (Archbishop’s Palace) rise. The Capitol (parliament building) was built in just 114 days in 1873 and features murals celebrating the victories of the Venezuelan army. The coffin of freedom fighter Simón Bolívar is laid out in the Panteon Nacional. The Jardín Botáníco, the Parque Nacional del Este and theCountry Club are ideal for long walks. The city has good museums, the Museo de Bellas Artes, the Museo del Arte Colonial, the Museo del Arte Contemporáneo and the Museo de Transporte being particularly interesting. When strolling through the city, you should also plan a visit to the Casa Natal del Libertador (replica of the house where Bolívar was born, which was destroyed by an earthquake ) and the adjacent museum, where you can admire various personal items of Bolívar. For night owls, the Boulevard de Sabana Grande is the place to be with nightclubs, bars and cafés.
- Andyeducation: Introduction to education system in Venezuela, including compulsory schooling and higher education.
Excursions: From the Avilaberg you have a good view over the city and the coast. There are several good beaches 30km out of town with excellent bars and restaurants. More information about the holiday locations in the following sections.
The north coast
The 4000 km long Caribbean coast is one of the main holiday areas in the country. There are beautiful beaches and holiday villages ranging from comfortable to luxurious. There are daily flights to Porlamar on Margarita Island, which attracts many visitors with its beautiful beaches, good hotels and shopping malls. West of Caracas are Macuto, Marbella, Naiguata, Carabelleda, Leguna and Oriaco, all with very good beaches. North of Maiquetia lies the enchanting island of Los Roques.
La Guaria is the main port of Caracas. Although industrial settlements have changed the cityscape, it is worth taking a detour to the old town and Hügelstrasse, which leads out of town. Continuing west on the Pan American Highway you come to Maracay. The opera, the bullring and the Gomez mausoleum are worth seeing. A trip to Gomez’s country home, the Rancho Grande, is a must.
The seaside resorts of Ocumare de la Costa and Cata with their beautiful beaches can be reached via the 1130 m high Portachuelo Pass in the central highlands. Most of the islands can be reached by boat. Morrocoy is off the coast of Tucacas, one of the most charming islands; Hundreds of palm-covered coral reefs invite you to dive and fish here. Palma Sola and Chichiriviche are also very popular. Delays should be expected on the approximately four-hour crossing from Vela de Coro and Punto Fijo to Aruba and Curaçao.
The lively seaside resort of Puerto la Cruz offers good beaches, bars and restaurants. There are also secluded beaches nearby. Morro Marina is located not far from Puerto la Cruz, in the Lecherías region. In the lagoon city of Pueblo Viejo, with its houses in the style of old Caribbean buildings, boats are the only means of transport. The area around Puerto la Cruz is becoming more and more popular with visitors. South of Coro lies Barquisimento, one of the oldest cities in Venezuela. The country’s fourth largest city and the capital of the Llanos is best known for its modern cathedral.
Maracaibo and Lago de Maracaibo lie in the area between the Sierra de Perije on the Colombian border and the Cordillera de Mérida mountain range further east. The city and surrounding area have long benefited from the world’s largest oil field. An excursion to the Guajira Peninsula, the original settlement area of the Motilone and Guajiro Indians, gives an insight into their way of life (visa required to re-enter Venezuela from Colombia). North of Maracaibo live the Goaro Indians, whose lifestyle has hardly changed since the Spanish colonial era. Their stilt construction also earned Venezuela its name “Little Venice”.
The snow-capped high peaks and icy plateaus of the Cordillera de Mérida characterize the landscape of this region. Lagoons, mountains, beaches, ancient villages, historic towns, sand dunes and lakes with Native American stilt villages typify this area, which is rich in attractions and natural beauty. The Sierra Nevada National Park is also worth seeing.
The tourist hub of Mérida, in the Sierra Nevada to the south, is a city of wide, modern avenues lined with state-of-the-art buildings. However, some old buildings from the colonial era have been preserved. In the background rise the peaks of Bolívar (5007 m) and Espejo on. Sights include museums with exhibits of modern art and colonial testimonies, the Valle Grande, the Flower Clock, Los Chorros de Milla, the Mucubaji Lagoons, Los Anteojos, Tabay, Pogal, Los Patos, San-say and the famous Black Lagoon. A cable car (the highest cable car in the world, it goes up to 4675 m) connects the town to Pico Espejo, from where there is a panoramic view of the highest peaks of the Andes and the Llanos. The Andean Club offers trips to Los Nervados, the highest mountain village in the country. Detours to San Javier del Valle, a relaxing mountain town, and to Jaji (beautiful colonial buildings) are also recommended.