Caracas, Venezuela

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This article originally appeared in Delta Air Lines’ 2012 Caribbean, Mexico and Latin America Travel Guide. It has been extracted from its original format. To read the full travel guide, visit the digital edition.

While foreign visitors may find Caracas less carefree and fun-loving nowadays, in the capital of oil-rich Venezuela there are still many things to see and do. Sightseeing includes the historic heart of the old city, visiting the Great Liberator Simon Bolivar’s home (Casa Natal) and adjacent Bolivar Museum, displaying a large collection of the national hero’s memorabilia. Right on the plaza is the cathedral whose sumptuous interiors are full of art treasures including works by Rubens and Murillo. And while in this neighborhood, break for lunch at La Guayaba Verde for some Venezuelan cuisine, serving healthy takes on national dishes. Modern Caracas is all about modern art and architecture, boasting the excellentMuseo de Arte Contemporaneo de Caracas, where Henry Moore and Fernando Botero pieces share space with Matisse and native son, Jesus Soto. On a clear day, take the modern cable car up Mt. Avila for spectacular views and when back down in Caracas, have a good dinner, in fact stay at, the JW Marriott.

Leisure travelers often bypass Caracas and on arrival, stay seaside and near the airport—Hotel Ole Caribe in Maiquetia’s a good choice. Then head out to explore a country of great beauty in its sun-drenched beaches, verdant jungles, cascading waterfalls, bird sanctuaries in its Llanos grasslands and horizons full of snow-capped Andes. Venezuela’s main resort, the mountainous and green Isla Margarita, is a 45-minute flight away. Visitors love its white sand beaches—long and popular is Playa El Agua—casino nightlife, two nature reserves, and world-class surfing at Playa El Yaque.
However, winning best beach destination awards are those on the islands of gorgeous Mochima National Park on the northwestern coast and Los Roques National Park archipelago, a short flight from Caracas. Both get top rating also for snorkeling and scuba diving. And one flying excursion not to miss is the trip to Canaima National Park, with aerial views of Angel Falls, 15 times as high as Niagara. Best falls-viewing is July and August, perhaps staying at the base of the falls and viewing up-close by motorized canoe.

Facts

  • Best time to go:
    November-December, April/May
  • Fun fact:
    At 3,212 ft., Angel Falls is the highest waterfall in the world
  • Getting there:
    Delta flies from Atlanta to Caracas
  • Entry documents:
    Valid passport, valid for six months from entry date
  • Currency:
    Bolivar (dollars can NOT be exchanged at hotels)
  • Must-try local food:
    Classic arepa, cornbread with different fillings, such as chicken, avocado, spring onions and mayo
  • Best buys:
    Ceramics and wood carvings, on Margarita Island, locally made hammocks
  • Information Please:
    Venezuela Convention & Visitors Bureau— burodevenezuela.com