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Caracas , officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital, the center of the Greater Caracas Area, and the largest city of Venezuela. Caracas is located along the Guaire River in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range(Cordillera de la Costa). Terrain suitable for building lies between 760 and 910 m (2,490 and 2,990 ft) above sea level. The valley is close to the Caribbean Sea, separated from the coast by a steep 2,200-metre-high (7,200 ft) mountain range, Cerro El Ávila; to the south there are more hills and mountains.
The Metropolitan District of Caracas is made up of five municipalities:Libertador Municipality which is the only administrative division of theVenezuelan Capital District, and four other municipalities, which are within in Miranda State:Chacao, Baruta,Sucre, and El Hatillo. Libertador holds many of the government buildings and is the Capital District(Distrito Capital). The Distrito Capital had a population of 2,013,366 as of 2011, while the Metropolitan District of Caracas was estimated at 3,273,863 as of (2013). The Metropolitan Region of Caracas has an estimated population of 5,243,301.
Businesses that are located in the city include service companies, banks, and malls, among others. It has a largely service-based economy, apart from some industrial activity in its metropolitan area. The Caracas Stock Exchange and Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) are headquartered in Caracas. PDVSA is the largest company in Venezuela. Caracas is also Venezuela's cultural capital, with many restaurants, theaters, museums, and shopping centers. Some of the tallest skyscrapers in Latin America are located in Caracas.
Venezuela and its capital, Caracas, are reported to both have among the highest per capita murder rates in the world, with 116 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. Most murders and other violent crimes go unsolved. The low class neighborhoods that cover the hills around Caracas are dangerous at all times.
|POPULATION :||• Capital City 3,273,863|
• Metro 5,297,026
|FOUNDED :||25 July 1567|
|TIME ZONE :||VST (UTC−04:00)|
|AREA :||• Capital City 777.1 km2 (300.0 sq mi)|
• Metro 4,715.1 km2 (1,820.5 sq mi)
|ELEVATION :||Highest elevation 1,400 m (4,600 ft)|
Lowest elevation 870 m (2,850 ft)
|COORDINATES :||10°30′N 66°55′W|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 50.14%|
• Female: 49.86%
|AREA CODE :||212|
|POSTAL CODE :||1000 - 1090, 1209|
|DIALING CODE :||+58 212|
|WEBSITE :||Capital District|
Venezuela’s urban spirit can be discovered mainly from understanding Caracas, its capital city.
Caracas is not one of the top touristic destinations of Venezuela, and travelers often bypass the capital city in order to see the country’s amazing natural attractions. However, the Venezuelan capital can be a fascinating city to explore, replete with excellent art, food and a bustling nightlife.
Caracas is located in a beautiful valley, overlooked by Mount Avila, an impressive mountain that separates the city from the Caribbean Sea and shapes most of the city’s landscape. It is a popular weekend destination for the city’s residents (known as Caraqueños) and is easily reached by taking a very modern cable car that goes all the way from the mountain base to the newly nationalized Waraira Repano park, which is situated at the top of the mountain.
In Caracas the staggering inequalities of wealth that characterize Venezuela’s economic situation are on display. They range from very poor neighborhoods in the hills west of the city called “barrios”, to the modern business district of El Rosal, or even the huge mansions of the rich eastern neighborhoods.
The city’s streets and highways are always crowded with vehicles, as Venezuela has the cheapest gasoline in the world (at about $0.12/gallon). Subsidized gasoline and inadequate infrastructure have helped spur pollution and big traffic lines in almost all of the inner city motorways. Caracas’ subway system, once one of the best in all Latin America, is still quick but is often crowded and prone to delays.
Visitors need to be aware that Caracas remains one of the most violent cities in the world, with large parts of the city effectively No Go Areas to outsiders. Murder tallies of as many as 20 are not uncommon on weekends, so exercising caution and common sense - especially at night - is essential to a safe visit.
Entertainment and nightlife
Caracas is a cosmopolitan city and is admired for its gastronomy. It has restaurants and bars inspired by the cuisine of many different countries and cultures due to great waves of immigration from Europe and the Middle East after the Second World War.
The city is filled with “centros comerciales” and department stores, and the popular restaurants and clubs in the towering malls due to security concerns. In the San Ignacio Mall you’ll find the city’s young, rich and beautiful drinking whiskey and “Las Mercedes” and “La Castellana” districts are also popular late night hot spots.
People often party until 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, so it’s advisable to take a cab when heading out.
At the time of the founding of the city in 1567, the valley of Caracas was populated by indigenous peoples. Francisco Fajardo, the son of a Spanish captain and a Guaiqueri cacica, attempted to establish a plantation in the valley in 1562 after founding a series of coastal towns. Fajardo's settlement did not last long. It was destroyed by natives of the region led by Terepaima and Guaicaipuro. This was the last rebellion on the part of the natives. On 25 July 1567, Captain Diego de Losada laid the foundations of the city of Santiago de León de Caracas. The foundation − 1567 – "I take possession of this land in the name of God and the King" These were the words of Don Diego de Losada in founding the city of Caracas on 25 July 1567. In 1577 Caracas became the capital of theSpanish Empire's Venezuela Province under Governor Juan de Pimentel (1576–1583).
During the 17th century, the coast of Venezuela was frequently raided by pirates. With the coastal mountains as a barrier, Caracas was relatively immune to such attacks. However, in 1595, around 200 English privateers including George Sommers and Amyas Preston crossed the mountains through a little-used pass while the town's defenders were guarding the more often-used one. Encountering little resistance, the invaders sacked and set fire to the town after a failed ransom negotiation.
As the cocoa cultivation and exports under the Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas grew in importance, the city expanded. In 1777, Caracas became the capital of the Captaincy General of Venezuela.
José María España and Manuel Gual led an attempted revolution aimed at independence, but the rebellion was put down on 13 July 1797. Caracas was ultimately the site of the signing of a Declaration of Independence on 5 July 1811. In 1812, an earthquake destroyed Caracas. The revolutionary war continued until 24 June 1821, when Bolívar defeated royalists in the Battle of Carabobo.
Caracas grew in economic importance during Venezuela's oil boom in the early 20th century. During the 1950s, Caracas began an intensive modernization program which continued throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. The Universidad Central de Venezuela, designed by modernist architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva and declared World Heritage by UNESCO, was built. New working- and middle-class residential districts sprouted in the valley, extending the urban area toward the east and southeast. Joining El Silencio, also designed by Villanueva, were several workers' housing districts, 23 de Enero and Simon Rodriguez. Middle-class developments include Bello Monte, Los Palos Grandes, Chuao, and El Cafetal. The dramatic change in the economic structure of the country, which went from being primarily agricultural to dependent on oil production, stimulated the fast development of Caracas, and made it a magnet for people in rural communities who migrated to the capital city in an unplanned fashion searching for greater economic opportunity. This migration created the rancho (slum) belt of the valley of Caracas.
Under the Köppen climate classification, Caracas has a tropical savanna climate(Aw). Caracas is also intertropical, with precipitation that varies between 900 and 1,300 millimeters (35 and 51 inches) (annual), in the city proper, and up to 2,000 millimeters (79 inches) in some parts of the Mountain range. While Caracas is within the tropics, due to its altitude temperatures are generally not nearly as high as other tropical locations at sea level. The annual average temperature is approximately 23.8 °C (75 °F), with the average of the coldest month (January) 22.8 °C (73 °F) and the average of the warmest month (July) 25.0 °C (77 °F), which gives a small annual thermal amplitude of 2.2 °C (4.0 °F). In the months of December and January abundant fog may appear, in addition to a sudden nightly drop in temperature, until reaching 8 °C (46 °F). This peculiar weather is known by the natives of Caracas as the Pacheco. In addition, nightly temperatures at any time of the year are much (14 to 20 °C) lower than daytime highs and usually do not remain above24 °C (75 °F), resulting in very pleasant evening temperatures. Hail storms appear in Caracas, although only on rare occasions. Electrical storms are much more frequent, especially between June and October, due to the city being in a closed valley and the orographic action of Cerro El Ávila. Caracas record extremes have been reported in other city's stations to reach a minimum of 6 °C (43 °F) and a maximum of 35.5 °C (95.9 °F)
|Record high °C (°F)||31.9|
|Average high °C (°F)||23.3|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||19.6|
|Average low °C (°F)||15.9|
|Record low °C (°F)||7.1|
|Source : Instituto Nacional de Meteorología e Hidrología (INAMEH)|
Caracas is contained entirely within a valley of the Venezuelan central range, and separated from the Caribbean coast by a roughly 15 kilometres (9 miles) expanse of El Ávila National Park. The valley is relatively small and quite irregular, the altitude with respect to sea level varies from between 870 and 1,043 meters (2,854 and 3,422 ft), with 900 meters (3,000 feet) in the historic zone. This, along with the rapid population growth, has profoundly influenced the urban development of the city. The most elevated point of the Capital District, wherein the city is located, is the Pico El Ávila, which rises to 2,159 meters (7,083 feet). The main body of water in Caracas is the Guaire River, which flows across the city and empties into the Tuy River, which is also fed by the El Valle and San Pedrorivers, in addition to numerous streams which descend from El Ávila. The La Mariposa and Camatagua reservoirs provide water to the city. The city is occasionally subject to earthquakes - notably in 1641 and 1967.
Businesses that are located here include service companies, banks, and malls, among others. It has a largely service-based economy, apart from some industrial activity in its metropolitan area. The Caracas Stock Exchange and Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) are headquartered here. The PDVSA is the largest company in Venezuela, and negotiates all the international agreements for the distribution and export of petroleum. When the company existed, the airline Viasa had its headquarters in the Torre Viasa.
Caracas' central business district is Milla de Oro, which is located in the north of the Baruta municipality and the south of the Chacao municipality, it is one of largest financial districts of Latin America, it is home to many companies and is dominated by numerous high-rises. Other important business districts include Plaza Venezuela, Parque Central Complex and El Recreo.
Small and medium-size industry contributes to the Caracas economy. The city provides communication and transportation infrastructure between the metropolitan area and the rest of the country. Important industries in Caracas include chemicals, textiles, leather, food, iron and wood products. There are also rubber and cement factories. Its GDP(Nominal) is 69 billion $ and the GDP(PPP) per Capita is $24,000
Cost of living
A 2009 United Nations survey reported that the cost of living in Caracas was 89% of that of its baseline city: New York. However, this statistic is based upon a fixed currency-exchange-rate of 2003 and might not be completely realistic, due to the elevated inflation rates of the last several years.
There are many "Centros de Conexiones" in which you can easily make domestic and international calls. There is also a growing number of internet cafes.
- Free WiFi
- Chili's, Torre La Castellana.
- Tony Roma's, Las Mercedes.
- Café Ole.
Prices in Caracas
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.00|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$6.50|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$15.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$36.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$70.00|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$6.00|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$2.70|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.00|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.19|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$2.50|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1 pair||$83.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M….)||1 pair||$52.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas…)||1 pair||$125.00|
|Leather shoes||1 pair||$120.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$|
58 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
181 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Maiquetía's Simón Bolívar Airport has three passenger terminals [www] (Internacional, Nacional and Auxiliar) and is 25 km away from central Caracas via a highway through the coastal mountains. A new road bridge, replacing one that collapsed in 2006, came into service in July 2007, ending months of tortuous journeys to and from the airport. The trip to Caracas should now take around 40 minutes or up to 60–70 minutes during rush hour.
This international airport is served by American Airlines, Aeropostal, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Avianca, Aero República, Air Europa, Alitalia, Air France, Air Canada, United, Delta, Caribbean Airlines, Copa Airlines, Iberia, LAN, and Lufthansa among others. Non stop flights are available to and from Miami, New York, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Havana, Curaçao, Madrid, Damascus, Guayaquil, Buenos Aires, Oporto. Santiago, Paris, Roma, Funchal, Milano, Frankfurt, Lisbon, Aruba, Bogotá, Medellín, Cartagena de Indias, Port of Spain, Rio de Janeiro, Panamá City, Lima, São Paulo, Fort de France, Toronto and other cities.
Taxi fares are continuously increasing due to the rampant inflation. As of May 2013, taxi fares are usually BsF 350 (US $55 at official rate, around US $13 at "tourist" rate) to Caracas but there are many unlicensed taxis offering their services and travelers should exercise caution. In particular, it is advised to agree on a price before getting into the taxi, not sharing with anyone other than the driver, with a preference given to the airport's official black Ford Explorer cabs. Check with your hotel to see if they arrange airport pickup - it may need to be booked in advance. There is also a new taxi service that you can book online at TaxiToCaracas.
In and around the airport there are ATMs, currency exchange houses (charging the official rate) and unofficial brokers willing to provide BsFs at a more advantageous rate (but not the best rate that you can find on internet sites).
A taxi from the bus terminal to the center will cost you around BsF 200.
Buses from the airport to Caracas cost between BsF 50 and BsF 100. Passengers have the option of alighting either at Gato Negro metro station (somewhat unsafe at street level) or under a bridge at the Parque Central bus terminal, from where you'll need to get a taxi to your final destination or walk about 1 km along a busy road to the Bellas Artes metro station.
There is also a new government-run bus service to the Alba Hotel in Bellas Artes, which costs BsF 40. Passengers do not need to be guests at Alba. Further information is available from the two tourist board offices in the international terminal of Maiquetía airport.
The La Bandera bus terminal connects Caracas with towns and cities to the west of the capital such as La Victoria (1 hour), Maracay (1.5 hours), Valencia (2.5 hours) and Mérida (~12 hours). The 800m walk from La Bandera metro station to the bus terminal is unsafe after dark and travelers should exercise caution at all times. For the eastern part of the country there's the Terminal del Oriente. Beware of the small "independent" bus services which are announced by "voceros" on both terminals. Although they have more flexible departure times, the buses can be small and uncomfortable, with speakers that blast loud music even at night.
There are also private carriers that offer more comfort. They also cost a little more. The most well known are Aeroexpresos Ejecutivos, Expresos Alianza and Expresos del Oriente, which operate from their own private terminals, something to consider if you plan on transferring for a destination they don’t cover.
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.
Car rental is available in the following locations:
- Hertz Car Rental, Maiquetia International Airport, .Mon-Fri 5AM-11:30PM, Sat-Sun 6PM-11:30PM. Hertz Car Rental is available at the international and the domestic terminals, as well as several locations in the city
- Budget Car Rental, Budget Rent-A-Car Building, Avenida Nueva Granada, . Mon-Fri 8AM-12PM and 1:30PM-6PM.
Transportation - Get 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.
- BEST RATED -
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Most ATMs will ask you the last two numbers of a local ID, type 00 when it asks this to make withdrawal with a foreign card possible. CitiBank's ATMs don't ask this information. There is one CitiBank branch in El Recreo shopping mall, Avenida Casanova, in Sabana Grande.
- Centro Comercial Sambil. One of South America's largest shopping malls, with two movie theaters, dozens of restaurants and probably hundreds of shops. Popular destination for shopping and hanging out. Metro Chacao.
- Altamira. An exclusive neighborhood and shopping district in the eastern part of the city. Can be accessed easily by metro.
- Centro Comercial San Ignacio. Many boutique stores here, as well as lots of good bars and restaurants. A hub of Caracas nightlife.
- Centro Comercial El Recreo. Another large mall, located next door to the Gran Meliá Hotel. Metro Sabana Grande.
- Centro Comercial Millenium Mall, Av. Romulo Gallegos. Los Dos Caminos.. Another great mall with an amazing infrastructure, located next to the metro station Los Dos Caminos, have a great shopping stores, cinema and fast food restaurants.
- Centro Ciudad Comercial Tamanaco (CCCT). An old but popular complex of shops, offices, restaurants and a couple of nightclubs. Take a Metrobus from the Altamira metro station.
- Centro Comercial El Tolón. An upmarket mall in the Las Mercedes neighborhood. 15 minutes walking from Chacaito metro.
- Centro Comercial Paseo Las Mercedes. A bit old fashioned but a good art house cinema and Oscar D'Leon's Mazukamba nightclub is here.
The government of Venezuela implemented foreign exchange controls in 2003 including a fixed official rate of exchange against the U.S. dollar: BsF10 Bolivar Fuertes to US$1 dollar. Foreign exchange transactions must take place through exchange houses or commercial banks at the official rate. Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to exchange money at hotels. Currency exchange for tourists can be arranged at "casas de cambio" (exchange houses), located near most major hotels. It is also possible to exchange money at commercial banks; however, tourists should be aware that the exchange will not be immediate. Exchanges through commercial banks must first be approved by the Commission for Administration of Foreign Currencies (CADIVI). This requires a registration process, which delays the exchange. The exchange control mechanisms also require the exchange houses and commercial banks to obtain authorization from CADIVI to trade Bolívares Fuertes (BsF, the local currency) into U.S. dollars or Euros.
It’s likely that travelers will encounter Venezuelans who are willing to exchange Bolívares Fuertes for U.S. dollars or Euros at a rate significantly higher than the official rate of exchange. These "parallel market" currency exchanges are prohibited under the Venezuelan foreign exchange controls. Travelers engaging in such activity may be detained by the Venezuelan authorities if they are discovered. Additionally, in accordance with an October 2005 law, any person who exchanges more than US$10,000 dollars (or its equivalent in other currencies) in the course of a year through unofficial means is subject to a fine of double the amount exchanged. If the amount exceeds US$20,000 dollars the penalty is two to six years imprisonment. Any person who transports more than US$10,000 dollars into or out of Venezuela by any means must declare this amount to customs officials.
Within the "Parallel Market" there are various exchange rates: the tourist, the black market (a bit higher but dangerous and shady), and the bonds brokerage one (high amounts in government bonds, when on sale). That highest one, which appears as reference on certain internet pages, is the government dollar bonds rate, inaccessible unless you buy thousands of dollars in government bonds through a Venezuelan brokerage firm. This last one determines the rate of the black market one and the tourist one. Once you change you cannot change back to euros or dollars. The rates vary around Venezuela and from week to week. The tourist rate rarely varies in time. The tourist rate is BsF172 to US$1.00 (as of February 2015). Note that these rates are multiple times the official rate.
Credit cards are generally accepted at most establishments, but foreign exchange controls have made foreign credit card use less common than in the past, mostly because of the unfavorable official exchange rate. Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club have representatives in Venezuela. Due to the prevalence of credit card fraud, travelers should exercise caution in using their credit cards and should check statements regularly to ensure that no unauthorized charges have been made. Caracas has ATMs with 24-hour service where users may withdraw local currency, but many of these ATMs may not accept foreign-issued debit cards.
- El Granjero del Este, Av. Río de Janeiro, . 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 3AM, 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, . Expensive but very good cuisine, mostly French, with a relaxed but trendy atmosphere.
- Aranjuez, Calle Madrid, Qunita Anacoa, . One of the older steak houses in Caracas, with top quality Argentine and Venezuelan cuts of beef.
- Cafe Ole, Calle California at Calle Jalisco, . This open air candlelight cafe is a popular haunt for after dinner cafe and some excellent desserts.
- Mamma Mia, Avenida Principal, . A perennially popular though noisy restaurant with a good selection of Italian dishes.
- Carnivino, Avenida Principal. It is good if you want to savor good meat and chicken
- Avila Tei, Avenida San Felipe, Centro Coinasa, . Excellent, if costly, Japanese restaurant.
- Chez Wang, Plaza La Castellana (facing the roundabout), . Very good Chinese restaurant.
- Chili's, Calle Jose A Lamas, Torre La Castellana, . A branch of the American Tex-Mex chain.
- La Estancia, Avenida Principal La Castellana, . A famous beef/meat restaurant with traditional Spanish decor.
- La Romanina, Av Avila (between Calle Miranda and Av Mohedano, just west of Plaza La Castellana), . A simple setting but very good thin crust pizzas.
- New Spizzico, Av Principal La Castellana (one block north of the Plaza), . Very pleasant Mediterranean style decor with a lovely outdoor terrace. Good mostly Italian food but not with very generous portions.
- El Budare de la Castellana, Avenida Principal de La Castellana, con 1ra Transversal., . Traditional Venezuelan Restaurant. Moderately priced and open 24 hours. About one block north and west of Plaza Altamira.
- Cafe-Trattoria Mediterraneo, 1ra Avenida Los Palos Grandes, Edificio Oriental, . Great retro decor, and a minimal but excellent menu. Recommended.
- Rey David, 4ª Transversal de Los Palos Grandes, entre Av. Alfredo Jahn y Av. Andrés Bello., . Excellent menu. Great delicacies and desserts. Highly recommended.
- Bar Basque, Alcabala a Peligro, La Candelaria, . Caracas has a large Basque immigrant community and many excellent Basque restaurants. Bar Basque is the pick of the litter. Run by the same family for half a century, it's a legendary hangout for the politically connected. As in all Basque restaurants, the menu focuses on seafood. Superlative food. Expensive. Only a few tables, reservations required.
Sights & Landmarks
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, located near the Metro Capitolio. Is 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.
- Simón Bolívar Birthplace House (La Casa Natal de Simon Bolivar) (Near Capitolio Metro Station), . 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 Bolivarianowith some of Bolivar's war relics.
- 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. This large university campus was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Designed by Venezuela's most famous architect, Carlos Raul Villanueva, the 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.
- Jardin Botanico, located next to the Central University. is a well-kept garden with an impressive array of tropical plants and trees. Metro Ciudad Universitaria or Plaza Venezuela.
- Parque del Este (located near the Miranda, formerly “Parque del Este”, metro stop). This expansive park stretches on and holds many unexpected treats including a planetarium, a small zoo, and a cafe that is occasionally open to serve you a cafe con leche while you watch the turtles in a pond
- Centro de Arte La Estancia, Avenida Francisco de Miranda,, . 9:30a-4p Tu-F, 10a-4p Sa-Su. An art gallery situated in the middle of the lush and manicured gardens. Rotating exhibits by a variety of artists are shown.
Things to do
- The Avila mountain to the north of Caracas is highly recommended for hiking, views of Caracas, and its fresh air. The Sabas Nieves entrance, accessible by bus from Altamira, is the most popular.
- The Teleferico is a cable-car that takes visitors up the Avila. The ascent provides a beautiful view of the city. At the top (altitude approximately 2600 m), there is a view of Caracas to the south, and of the ocean (Caribbean Sea) to the north on a clear day. It will cost BsF 45 (approx. US $5.81) to get a round-trip ticket to the teleferico. Reduced fares are available for students, seniors and children (BsF 25). Take the ride up to Avila as early as possible before an afternoon haze obstructs your view from the top of the mountain. There are a few restaurants, many food kiosks, and numerous attractions suitable for children. These include a small skating rink, some small rides, and jungle-gyms. There is a well known fondue restaurant also located at the top. Some hiking trails branch off from the teleferico station, but without a map it is not easy to find them or know where they go, as they are not marked.
- The MetroCable close to Parque Central. It is colocated in the Parque Central Metro station. It's free and provides a fantastic view of the city, although the surrounding area is generally considered unsafe by locals.
- Paragliding Colonia Tovar Venezuela, Colonia Tovar (the road between La Victoria and Colonia Tovar), . 10AM-5PM. Tandem Paragliding Flights with Expert Pilots in one of the most beautiful mountain sites in the world. $60,00.
Hotel Shelter Suites, Av Libertador and Av Jose Felix Sosa, Chacao (opposite Sambil shopping mall), . Individual listings of clubs, bars, pubs, etc are preferred here. Rooms starting at $100.
- 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.
- Whisky Bar. Located in the "Centro Comercial San Ignacio" (Shopping Center), it has a similar layout to a typical East Coast lounge in the United States. This place is a popular hang-out for uppity Venezuelans. If you feel comfortable around posh and preppy crowds and you have certain buying power and trendy casual wear, this is a great place to enjoy people-watching while listening to great rock-alternative music.
- El Maní Es Así. Located in a side street behind Sabana Grande, this remains Caracas' best-renowned salsa club where lower middle-class locals and tourists like to show off their moves, accompanied by live bands, till the early hours. To get a table, you'll probably have to pay 'servicio', i.e. agree to buy a bottle of rum or whisky. Sadly, the area around the club is not safe after dark and visitors should arrange taxis to avoid walking in the area.
Exclusive modern nightclubs:
- Sake Bar.
- 360º Roof Bar
- Teatro Bar, Av. Orinoco · Las Mercedes · Torre DyD.
Things to know
Caracas has been the staging ground of violent political conflict in the last few years, as well as suffering from a high incidence of crime. While taking appropriate precautions (dressing down, keeping valuables out of sight and avoiding dangerous areas) will probably keep you out of harm's way, paranoia abounds. Traveling with a partner or in groups is advisable.
Safety in Caracas
Violent crime in Caracas is a major problem, and it has been getting steadily worse during the recent years: Caracas is now by some counts the world's most dangerous city, with 7,676 murders in 2009. In case you are robbed, simply hand over what is asked of you. For this reason it is advisable to carry a “decoy” wallet with small bills (around $50). Most thieves carry guns and they will use them regardless of the consequences (there is a sense of immunity due to poor policing).
Stick to the tourist areas and dress like the average Venezuelans (jeans and short-sleeved shirt) and do not wear any expensive looking jewelry. The barrios(poor neighborhoods/shantytowns) are to be avoided. They are mostly built into the hills around the west side of Caracas, similar to the favelas in Brazil. These neighborhoods are extremely dangerous, but they are far from the main tourist areas.
Kidnapping is a major problem for upper-class Venezuelans, but is unlikely to be a concern for travelers. As with many other developing nations, petty theft is a problem. Ask hotel management to store your valuables when you leave your room and use a money belt for your passport/extra cash when traveling.
The police tend to be corrupt, including at the international airport. According to the Lonely Planet guide: "Avoid the blue uniformed police. The only 'safe' police are the Chacao police with tan yellow uniforms". However, Venezuelans in general are friendly and helpful.