Venezuela’s urban spirit can be discovered mainly from understanding Caracas, its capital city, a busy metropolis famous for its food, cultural diversity, and perfect climate, thanks to the unique combination of a high elevation and proximity to the Caribbean Sea. The city grew slowly until the 1940s.
Caracas is a cosmopolitan city, congested and noisy. The restaurants in Caracas are still excellent and have a lot to offer. It is advisable to wear light clothing, comfortable shoes and clothing or jewelry of little value. Also tourists who do not know the language, it is recommended to take a dictionary with Spanish translation to make it easier for them to stay in the country. The people of Caracas are usually quite hospitable and friendly. Caracas is a city of contrasts. El Rosal and Las Mercedes are the most exclusive districts of the city at present. The boulevard of Sabana Grande is the main commercial corridor of the city and is visited by more than 500 thousand people every day. Plaza Bolívar, Plaza El Venezolano and Plaza Diego Ibarra are the most emblematic of the historic center. Plaza Altamira is the icon of the East of the city and has been the center of opposition protests for almost two decades. 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 a modern, dynamic and diverse city where multiple realities converge at the same time. The architectural, cultural and socioeconomic identity of Caracas has been fragmentation and is the key to understanding Venezuela. Until the beginning of the 20th century, Caracas was a small city that reached La Candelaria. Later, the towns of Sabana Grande, Chacao, Las Mercedes and Petare would grow rapidly and be urbanized. Most of the architectural heritage of Caracas was built in the twentieth century. The Towers of Parque Central Complex, even though they no longer hold the title of the tallest skyscrapers in Latin America, remain the tallest twin towers in the region. Sabana Grande was the favorite place of Juan Domingo Perón during his golden exile in Venezuela, when he lived in the El Rosal and El Bosque neighborhoods. Caracas stands 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, 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 of the city, called “barrios”, to the modern business district of El Rosal, Las Mercedes, Sabana Grande and La Castellana or even the huge mansions of the rich neighborhoods. Petare, located in East Caracas, is the biggest favela (barrio) of Caracas. The middle class is mainly concentrated in the east of the city (El Recreo de Libertador, Chacao, Baruta, Sucre and El Hatillo), but San Bernardino, La Candelaria, San Pedro and El Paraiso are also important centers of the middle class. The historic center of the city is Plaza Bolívar, the grid has been modified though. The most luxurious urbanization, Caracas Country Club, is located between Parroquia El Recreo of the Libertador Municipality and the Chacao Municipality of the Miranda State. The geographical center of the Metropolitan District of Caracas has been set at Sabana Grande, considered the Eastern Gate of Caracas. The district of Sabana Grande is the one with the best coverage by the Caracas Metro, but the center of Caracas, Chacao, El Rosal, El Bosque and Altamira are also easily accessible. Most of the embassies are located in the Chacao and Baruta municipalities. However, some have a limited presence in El Recreo. The most important business center nowadays is El Rosal.
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. 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. Since the arrival of the Spaniards, Venezuela has been a country of contrasts. Venezuelan gastronomy from the beginning was influenced by multiple cultures. For example, the Venezuelan pan andino has its origin in the first settlers of America, of Sephardic Jewish origin.
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. 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”, "El Rosal" and “La Castellana” districts are also popular late night hot spots. "Sabana Grande", "Chacao" and "El Hatillo" are important late night hot spots as well, but "El Rosal" and "Las Mercedes" are the fanciest. Sabana Grande is the bohemian district of the city.
People often party until 4 or 5AM, so it’s advisable to take a cab when heading out.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Caracas has a tropical climate with very little variation between summer and winter temperatures. Set in a valley some 900 meters above sea level, its climate is often described as its best feature: never cold, seldom too hot. Average daily temperature in summer ranges from a minimum of 18˚C (64˚F) to a maximum of 28˚C (82˚F). Winter temperatures are only two to three degrees cooler. Most rainfall occurs during the period from May to November and can be accompanied by electrical storms.
Maiquetía's 1 Simón Bolívar Airport or Aeropuerto Maiquetia (CCS IATA) (28 km (17 mi) from the areas surrounding Plaza Simon Bolivar (downtown) along Autopista Caracas-La Guaira.). Venezuela's main international airport with connections from the Americas, Europe and from within Venezuela. It stands along the northern coast in Maiquetia, separated from Caracas by a series of mountains. The trip to Caracas should take around 40 minutes in open traffic, and up to 60-70 minutes in heavier traffic, along Autopista Caracas-La Guaira. Due to political and economic instability and the amounts of unpaid or withheld fares owing to the foreign airlines many had ceased services to Caracas from their respective countries throughout 2016 and 2017. Other airlines may suspend service with or without notice. Therefore, see their respective sites (or ask them) as to when they plan to suspend service (if any) and what alternatives for onward transportation or compensation would they offer should they suspend service without notice before departure to Venezuela or for the unused portions of the ticket while in Venezuela. As of Sept 2017 The following carriers still offer flights to/from Caracas:
- Terminal Internacional Flights from Europe: Air Europa, Air France, Iberia, TAP Portugal and Turkish. Flights from Florida USA: American Airlines and SBA Airlines. From Cuba, Trinidad and the Caribbean: Cubana de Aviacion and Caribbean Airlines. From Central and South America: Copa Airlines, Latin American Wings (LAW), TAME and Wingo.
- Terminal Nacional (Domestic Terminal) The following are Venezuelan flag carriers offering domestic flights: Albatros, Aeropostal, Rutaca, Aserca, Avior, Conviasa, Estelar Latinoamerica [dead link], LASER; Línea Turística Aereotuy (only to Roques) and Venezolana. Some of the Venezuelan flag carriers also offer international flights from Miami (USA), the Caribbean, Panama, other neighboring South American countries and/or Europe to the international terminal.
With everything in a state of flux any one of the above carriers may cease service to Venezuela from their respective countries or cease or reduce service altogether (as with the domestic carriers such as Aeropostal).
Taxi fares are continuously increasing due to the rampant inflation. As of Sept 2017 the taxi rate with TaxiToCaracas.com is US$40. There are many unlicensed taxis offering their services and travelers should exercise caution as taxi robberies do happen with this option. 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.
If transiting through the area such as arriving from Europe on a late arrival and leaving for another Venezuelan city in the morning (or even the afternoon of the next day) it is advisable to stay in Catia La Mar, a city/town northwest of the airport grounds as there are numerous hotels located there. Some are able to provide shuttle transportation between the airport and their respective properties. Due to the ongoing turmoil in Caracas it would best to travel onwards by plane to another Venezuelan city than risk going into town to the bus station.
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).
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, and at several locations in the city
- Budget Car Rental, Budget Rent-A-Car Building, Avenida Nueva Granada, ☎ . Mon-Fri 8AM-noon and 1:30PM-6PM.
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 (1½ hours), Valencia (2½ hours) and Mérida (~12 hours). The 800-m 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 [dead link], 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.
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 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 for a single ride), slower, less safe, and are invariably in a very bad condition.
Caracas has more than enough sights and attractions to fill three or four days although it is often overlooked by international travellers.
- 1 La Plaza Bolivar, located near the Metro Capitolio (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.
- 2 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 Bolivariano with some of Bolivar's war relics.
- 3 Boulevard of Sabana Grande, Avenida Las Acacias-Quebrada Chacaíto (Plaza Venezuela, Sabana Grande and Chacaíto metro stops). 24 hours. This is the main shopping street in Caracas, host of many fancy stores, such as Balu (H&M), AISHOP, Planeta Sports, Brands Shop, and many more. Sabana Grande is the main 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. Unfortunately, some are in poor condition.
- 4 Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas, Plaza de los Museos, Parque Los Caobos. 09:00 AM - 5:00 PM. 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 free.
- 5 Centro de Arte La Estancia, Avenida Francisco de Miranda,, ☎ . Tu-F 9:30AM-4PM, Sa-Su 10AM-4PM. An art gallery in the middle of the lush and manicured gardens. Rotating exhibits by a variety of artists are shown.
- 6 Jardin Botanico, next to the Central University (Metro Ciudad Universitaria or Plaza Venezuela). A well-kept garden with an impressive array of tropical plants and trees.
- 7 Casa John Boulton Caracas, Avenida Panteon (Next to the Panteon Nacional), ☎ . Tu-F 9:30AM-4PM, Sa-Su 10AM-4PM. Next to the Panteon Nacional. One of the best hidden gems of Caracas. A private collection of Boulton's family.
- 8 [dead link] Parque del Este (Parque Generalísimo Francisco de Miranda) (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
- 9 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.
- 10 Museo Colección Ornitológica William Phelps Caracas, Boulevard of Sabana Grande, ☎ . This is an science museum, the most important ornithological collection in Latin America, and belongs to the Phelps family.
- 11 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.
- 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 co-located 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. US$60.
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. See also Venezuela#Money.
- 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.
- 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 (Metro Sabana Grande). Another large mall, next door to the Gran Meliá Hotel.
- Centro Comercial Millenium Mall, Av. Romulo Gallegos. Los Dos Caminos. (next to the metro station Los Dos Caminos). Another great mall with an amazing infrastructure, 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.
- Altamira. A nice residential area with fancy hotels and small shopping malls. Can be accessed easily by metro.
- Boulevard of Sabana Grande (Metro Plaza Venezuela, Sabana Grande and Chacaito). The main commercial corridor of the city. Balu (H&M), AISHOP, Brands Shop, Levi's and Planeta Sports are the best stores in the boulevard of Sabana Grande. Sabana Grande is the only public space in Caracas that hosts three Balu (H&M) stores. This place is considered an open air shopping mall in Caracas.
- 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.
- 1 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.
- 2 Aranjuez, Calle Madrid, Qunita Anacoa, ☎ . One of the older steak houses in Caracas, with top quality Argentine and Venezuelan cuts of beef.
- 3 Cafe Ole, Calle California at Calle Jalisco, ☎ . This open air candlelight cafe is a popular haunt for after dinner cafe and some excellent desserts.
- 4 Mamma Mia, Avenida Principal de las Mercedes, ☎ . A perennially popular though noisy restaurant with a good selection of Italian dishes.
- 5 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 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.
- 6 Urrutia, Avenida Francisco Solano, Edif. Libertador, ☎ . Traditional Basque dishes in Caracas. One of the most expensive Spanish restaurants in the city. Place frequented by the political elite of Venezuela. Recommended. Expensive.
- 7 La Huerta, Avenida Francisco Solano, Quinta La Huerta (Near Las Delicias Square), ☎ . One of the best Spanish restaurants in Caracas with a very rich history. It never disappoints. Once the favorite restaurant of the former president of Venezuela Carlos Andrés Pérez. Expensive.
- 8 Pizzeria Va Bene, Boulevard of Sabana Grande and 2th street of Bello Monte (Near El Mundo del Libro Bookstore), ☎ . Great modern decorn. Excellent menu. The best pizzas of Caracas. Take a selfie with Shakira, Ghandi and Carolina Herrera! New place. Highly recommended.
- 9 El Arabito, Avenida Casanova, Bello Monte (Near Gran Melia Caracas). Great Arab and Lebanese food. Nice menu. Good quality pita bread. Newly refurnished.
- 10 El Rey Del Sujuk, Boulevard of Sabana Grande (near Golfeados de Antaño and Pasaje Asuncion). New place in Sabana Grande. Nice shawarmas. Try Sujuk, one of the world’s most delicious and ancient types of sausage. The staff is really friendly. Highly recommended
- 11 Da Guido, Avenida Francisco Solano. (Near Gran Melia Caracas), ☎ . Excellent menu. Italian food. A place with a very rich history. The building needs some restoration though.
- 12 Mandarin House, Avenida Francisco Solano Sabana Grande, ☎ . Chinese restaurant in Caracas. Insanely big portions and great quality. Recommended. This is one of the best hidden gems of Sabana Grande Mid-range.
- 13 Golfeados de Antaño, Boulevard of Sabana Grande, ☎ . The best golfeados of Caracas. But do not eat many golfeados. One of the most caloric meals of the national gastronomy
- 14 Flor Del Pan, Avenida Casanova Sabana Grande, ☎ . Recently refurnished. Excellent menu. Try "Pizza de Nutella". Expensive, but great!.
- 15 Heladeria La Poma, Boulevard of Sabana Grande, ☎ . The most popular ice cream shop in Caracas. People always stand in line, but these ice cream cones are not cheap. The boulevard has many ice cream shops in the nearby area, but La Poma is the only one that makes them crazy. A life waiting in line and no one understands why. Their products are not subsidized.
- 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.
- Cafe Monsieur, Avenida San Juan Bosco. French food in Caracas. Great desserts. Excellent menu. Recommended.
- Din Din Korea, Los Palos Grandes.. Traditional Korean Food. Excellent menu. Recommended. Cheap
- 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.
- El Quijote de la Candelaria, Av. Este, esquina de la Cruz La Candelaria, ☎ . One of the best Spanish restaurants of Caracas. Expensive.
- Café Tribus Cultural, Avenida Mexico, Galeria de Arte Nacional, La Candelaria, ☎ . Located in the National Art Gallery, this is one of the best places to have a coffee in Caracas. Try Chocobananas. Excellent menu. A really exotic place. Excellent prices. Mid-range.
- 1 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.
- 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. Be careful at midnight.
- 2 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. Be careful at midnight.
- 3 Sal Si Puedes, 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.
- 4 Hog Heaven (in La Castellana). More expensive than Los Peruanos, but cheaper than Sal Si Puedes. Incredible atmosphere. One of the best places for metalheads in Caracas. Nice drinks. Highly recommended. Be careful at midnight.
- 5 Los Peruanos Rock Bar, 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.
- 6 Moulin Rouge, Avenida Francisco Solano (Sabana Grande). 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.
Exclusive modern nightclubs:
- Le Club - The most exclusive club in Caracas. Paseo Las Mercedes. Neighborhood Las Mercedes.
- 360º Roof Bar
- Teatro Bar, Av. Orinoco · Las Mercedes · Torre DyD.
- Cool Café Bar - in La Castellana, the best option for LGBT community in Caracas.
- Moskowa Disco. - in Macaracuay. Nice place.
- Triskel. in Altamira.
- Discovery. A really nice place for LGBT couples.
- Pasaje Asuncion, 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.
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 US$20-30 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.
Most hotels are in Sabana Grande, which is the geographic center of the city or midtown. The true downtown or historic city center, is known as "el centro", which is not a good place to stay. While Sabana Grande has affordable hotel rates (from US$100–400 for a five-star), you need to be wary of occasional street crime in the form of purse snatching (on women) and pick-pocketing. Anyway, the Sabana Grande Boulevard sports high-shining lamp posts and police officers along the way. However, crooked cops are also known to sometimes harass hippie-looking travelers during the day, searching for drugs. Sabana Grande is a pleasantly walkable promenade, fantastic for people-watching and casual shopping. As for the large shopping malls around Sabana Grande, they are absolutely safe, especially one known as El Recreo. All this makes Sabana Grande one of the best place to stay for many. Las Mercedes and El Rosal are the fanciest districts of the city, but fewer people walk these streets. You should rent a car or arrange a taxi in Las Mercedes district.
- 1 Hotel Cristal, Pasaje Asuncion, Boulevard of Sabana Grande, ☎ . An affordable option for hardcore travelers, in the center of the boulevard, which is always crowded with people. Dress like the average Venezuelan. Around $3. around 4$.
- Casa Luisa, Near El Hatillo, some 10-12km from midtown Caracas, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mrs. Luisa has a three bedroom apartment where she rents out 2 of the rooms (with space for 3 in each room). She prepares nice breakfasts and shares travel tips. US$50 a night, $5 breakfast.
- Hotel Altamira, Av Jose Felix Sosa, El Dorado neighborhood (near Britanica Tower), ☎ , , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Some travellers are not impressed with the service. Around US$70.
- 2 Hotel Coliseo, Avenida Casanova, Sabana Grande, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheaper than Gran Melia Caracas. The staff is friendly and speaks fluent English. Russian and Belarussian businessmen stay here. Around $50..
- 3 Hotel Lincoln Suites, Avenida Francisco Solano and Boulevard of Sabana Grande, ☎ . The hotel is affordable and is the best accommodation option in the area after Gran Melia and Hotel Coliseo. Dress like the average Venezuelan and enjoy Sabana Grande. Around $40. Around 30$.
- 4 Hotel Alex Caracas, Esquina Ferrenquin a La Cruz, La Candelaria, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Good option to stay in the center of the city. The museums and the historic center of Caracas is really close to this hotel. Bright clean rooms with good wifi. Tourists are not impressed with the service of the restaurants, but the nearby area has many Spanish restaurants. Around $50
- Hotel Milenio (between the Ciudad Universitaria metro and the Sabana Grande metro).
- El Cid (La Castellana district), ☎ . This residential hotel also caters for short visits. It offers an alternative to many hotels, though with aged wooden furniture and worn out rooms. The service is poor. BsF 280-360.
- Hotel Shelter Suites, Av Libertador and Av Jose Felix Sosa, Chacao (opposite Sambil shopping mall), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Clean and modern, this is a popular option and should be booked two weeks in advance. Max 2 people per room. Rooms from BsF 190.
- Hotel Savoy (near the Alliance Francaise). From BsF 1935.
- Hotel Alba Caracas, Avenida Mexico con Sur 25 (formerly the 'Caracas Hilton'). This once impressive Hilton hotel has suffered from the deterioration of central Caracas. Although close to the city's best museums, the Bellas Artes area is no longer the capital's finest and should not be wandered at night. In September 2007, the hotel was taken over by the state and aims to provide 'socialist tourism' services.
- 5 Gran Meliá Caracas, Ave. Casanova, urb. Bellomonte, 1060, ☎ , toll-free: , e-mail: email@example.com. Upscale 5-star hotel in Sabana Grande, it's connected directly to the El Recreo shopping mall and a block away from the newly-restored Sabana Grande boulevard. Local attractions include Sabana Grande Boulevard, Plaza Bolívar, El Recreo Gallery, Teresa Carreño Theatre, and Cerro El Avila National Park, all in close proximity; and only 2 blocks north, the Sabana Grande metro station. Many international celebrities, CEOs, royals and presidents stay here when they visit Venezuela. It boasts a guest list that includes Sting, Phil Collins, the Black Eyed Peas, the King of Spain and the Saudi Arabian royal family. Gran Melia Caracas is the headquarter of Abkhazia and Chechnya embassies, both related to the Russian Federation.
- 6 Pestana Caracas Hotel & Suites, 1ª Avenida Urb. Santa Eduvigis, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A modern and stylish hotel with all the amenities you might expect at the price.
- 7 Hotel Waldorf Caracas, Av. La Industria con Av. Urdaneta, Esquina Campo Elias a Puente Anauco, La Candelaria, ☎ . Upscale 5 star hotel in the center of Caracas. This new hotel has just opened it doors. Around $100. The museums and Plaza Bolivar are in the nearby area.
- 8 JW Marriott Hotel Caracas, Av. Venezuela con Calle Mohedano, El Rosal, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: . Luxury business hotel in the center of the business district, becoming deservedly popular in recent years. Excellent accommodation, exceptional restaurant and good service.
- 9 Intercontinental Tamanaco Caracas, Final Av. Principal De Las Mercedes, ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon.
- 10 [dead link] Embassy Suites, Av. Francisco de Miranda con Av. El Parque, ☎ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon.
- 12 Altamira Suites, 1ª Transversal con 1ª Avenida Urb. Los Palos Grandes, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. A five-star hotel with a popular rooftop lounge. Check for weekend promotions that offer significantly reduced prices.
Owing to the recent acts of political violence between government supporters and anti-government protesters, the security situation in Venezuela is dire. With the lack of effective law enforcement and criminal justice system, crime is also widespread, and often goes unpunished. There is no confidence in government statistics, but not in NGO statistics either. The researcher Dorothy Kronick showed that statistics are manipulated to show that Caracas is even more dangerous, distorting reality. According to Kronick from Prodavinci, Caracas Chronicles and InsightCrime, some NGOs exaggerate the problem. Even so, Caracas is not a safe city. Caracas' major safety problems are the drugged, homeless people that are found all around the city and muggers with knives. The following advice, most of which is common sense, should make your stay more enjoyable and minimise the risk of trouble:
- 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.
Violent crime in Caracas is a major problem, and it has been getting steadily worse during the recent years: Caracas is by some unofficial counts the world's most dangerous city, with 120 murders per 100,000 people in 2015, which is twice that of St. Louis, which had the highest murder rate in the U.S. However, Prodavinci (portal of intellectuals of the Venezuelan opposition) do not trust at all these figures. 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.
The OVV acknowledged that it counted part of the violent deaths twice a year, creating the false impression that there was an increase in violence in that year, which it produced artificially high estimates for 2014 and 2015. Instead of adding A + B, they added A + B + B. To correct this error, they subtracted another B (cases of resistance to authority). After making this change, the OVV produced a revised estimate of 81 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in 2015 (balance between its original estimate of 90 and Kronick's estimate of 68.5). To reach that final B that they subtracted, the OVV used an average of the percentage of cases of resistance and homicides that were resistance, 1990 to 2010 (B / (A + B)). However, that percentage is not stable, so the final death toll was inflated and altered. The Venezuelan Observatory of Violence did not answer why they did so and did not justify its actions. However, they did admit that there were calculation errors.
There is a lack of official information and little cooperation between private NGOs and the authorities. Statistics have been altered by the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, as Kronick pointed out. The most curious thing, that is, the criticisms were also received by the Venezuelan opposition itself. Mr. Kronick has also published his own statistics in Caracas Chronicles, which are less scandalous than those of the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence. Even so, the rates of violence in Caracas remain high. Take into account that what you read in the press could be exaggerated and that has been demonstrated academically.
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 or 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. However, Petare is located in the east side of Caracas, which is the biggest favela of the country. Some say Petare may be the biggest favela in Latin America, but all the area has not been surveyed yet. 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 US$50). Most thieves carry guns and they will use them regardless of the consequences (there is a sense of immunity due to poor policing).
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." Nowadays, it is advisable to follow common sense to stay safe in Caracas. There are no completely safe areas in the city. Dress like the average Venezuelan and follow the indications of the hotel. It is more likely that you will do okay. Venezuelans in general are friendly and helpful. The most common recommendation is not to take the smartphone in open places.
The police in most districts of the city tend to be corrupt, including at the international airport. Nowadays, there are no safe districts at all. It is advisable to avoid dark streets after 9 PM. Lonely streets are not recommended at no time of the day, except for driving. Tourists should stay in areas frequented by high vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Venezuelans in general are friendly and helpful and living through the danger on a daily basis, so will not be shy in their concerns for your safety. Dress like the average Venezuelan and follow the indications of the hotel. It is more likely that you will do okay. Venezuelans in general are friendly and helpful. The most common recommendation is not to take the smartphone in open places.
The statistics of the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence have been strongly biased, as demonstrated by Dorothy Kronick of Prodavinci. However, the crime problem is still serious. Kronick's estimates were not far behind in demonstrating the violence in Caracas, but they made evident the statistical errors of some NGOs. Robberies, assaults and kidnappings are very common, so it is recommended not to go out on the street with valuable items, keep cell phones out of sight of others while in public places, and avoid certain areas of Caracas. The latest security report of the United States Embassy is updated (January 2018). Previously, the districts of Chacao and Baruta were quite safe, but the situation has changed. In fact, kidnapping is very common in these districts. The kidnappers demand sums of money that can reach 20 thousand dollars. Las Mercedes and El Rosal are good alternatives for the most demanding tourists who have a comfortable budget to pay for line taxis or rent a car in the city. To walk the city and use public transport, the ideal area of the city may be Sabana Grande, following the recommendations of the hotel. The previously mentioned districts have safer areas than others and the hotel will provide you with the necessary information to make your stay in Caracas a pleasant one. Hotel Alex and Hotel Waldorf are the most recommended options to stay in the center of Caracas, both hotels are in La Candelaria. Hotel Waldorf is a brand new five star hotel and it is a landmark of Venezuelan architecture.
All areas of Caracas are vulnerable to crime, but the target of the gangs is not the same. The gangster who steals a phone is not as professional as the one who is part of a gang of kidnappers. The best idea is to stay in crowded places, where you see riots of people, such as the boulevard of Sabana Grande and the commercial areas of Chacao and Baruta. In these last two, take into account that most people travel in a private car and not on foot. The commercial and residential areas of Caracas have different dynamics. In crowded commercial districts, it is prudent not to wear fancy clothes and to dress like the local population. Nowadays, precautions must be taken in all the districts of Caracas. Of course, the conditions of the district make it more vulnerable to certain types of damage. While pickpockets abound in Sabana Grande for being the most important commercial corridor in the city, gangs of kidnappers are more common in the residential and dark areas of the Metropolitan District. These areas are: Santa Monica, Florida, Altamira, El Hatillo, Prados del Este, El Cafetal, Los Palos Grandes, etc. You must follow your instincts and not get carried away by first impressions. Often, these gangs of kidnappers receive information from security personnel working in the residences. Common sense. Do not talk about dollars with any stranger.
Again, common sense prevails and note that driving a Mercedes through a poor neighborhood may be unpleasant for both you and the locals (just like anywhere else in the world).
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.
- Pizzeria Va Bene, Boulevard of Sabana Grande.
- Tony Roma's, Las Mercedes.
- Café Ole.
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.
- Canada, Avenida Francisco de Miranda con Avenida Altamira Sur, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- France, Calle Madrid con Avenida Trinidad, ☎ , fax: .
- Germany, Torre La Castellana, piso 10, Avenida Eugenio Mendoza con Calle José Angel Lamas, ☎ , fax: .
- Indonesia, Avenida El Paseo, con Calle Maracaibo, Quinta "Indonesia", Prados Del Este, ☎ , , , , fax: .
- Japan, Torre Digitel, Piso 9, Av. Don Eugenio Mendoza con Esquina Calle, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com.
- Malaysia, Centro Profesional Eurobuilding, Piso 6, Oficina E-F-G, Calle La Guairita, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Russia, 60313, Qta. Soyuz, Calle Las Lomas, e-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
- United States of America, Calle F con Calle Suapure, ☎ .
El Litoral, or the narrow band of coast between El Avila and the Caribbean Sea, is also known at the State of Vargas and the location of the best airport hotels. These beaches are not well known with visitors, but are popular with Caraqueños on weekends. The area has been slow to recover from the disastrous mudslides of December 1999 which made the beaches better. Still they are of lesser quality than the beaches of Choroni, Morrocoy, Mochima or Margarita.
- La Guaira - historic port district
- Macuto - long history as the favored among the urbanite Caraqueños and most crowded on weekends
- Caraballeda - upscale district with yacht marina
- Naiguatá - surf and cultural festival zone
- Catia La Mar - west of the airport with cheaper hotels that do airport pickup. Marginal neighborhood and beaches
- El Hatillo - nice restaurants and pretty colonial architecture.