Founded in 1567 as Santiago de León de Caracas by Diego Losada, plundered by English pirates, burned, torn by earthquakes, Caracas nevertheless has grown into the political, economic and cultural capital of Venezuela.
Separated from the coastline by 7800 ft. Mt. Avila, the colonial city nestled in a long, green valley surrounded by lushly forested mountains.
It has long since outgrown that small settlement, stretching the length of the valley, up the hillsides and into intersecting canyons.
Venezuela's largest city, Caracas, blends a modern cityscape with a lush, tropical feel. It's noisy as any large city with millions of inhabitants, with traffic jams, dangerous areas to avoid, slums, and a distinct contrast between the levels of society.
Getting There and Getting Around:
- Most international visitors arrive in Caracas at the Aeropuerto Internacional de Maiquetía Simón Bolívar. Check flights from your area.
- In Caracas, you can do as the caraqueños do, and get around the city by Metro.
- Cruise ships. commercial shipping and private boats stop in La Guaira, the port city for Caracas.
When to Go:
With its proximity to the Caribbean and its altitude, Caracas ( satellite photo) enjoys a mild climate all year long. The day/night temperatures vary by about twenty degrees, with an average of 75°F during the day, with highs reaching the 80s and 90s.
- The dry season is summer and fall - December to April - the high season, when visitors celebrate Christmas, Carnaval, Semana Santa, and the Fiesta de la Virgen de la Candelaria , and the city and country are crowded with tourists and prices go up.
- If you schedule your visit between May to October, you'll still find good weather, fewer crowds and lower prices.
- Check today's weather in Caracas.
Caracas is a shoppers delight. You'll find local and imported goods, clothing, shoes, gems and jewelry, hardwood carvings, pottery, baskets, wool tapestries, and the original wild cotton or palm fiber hammocks.
- El Hatillo, a restored colonial village south of Caracas for crafts
- shopping centers
- The Mercadito de Chacao and the Mercado Guacaipuro are authentic traditional markets
Hotels, Food and Drink:
- Pleasing to residents and visitors, Caracas Hotels and restaurants provide an international cuisine thanks to the multi-ethnic population.
- Dining out is a popular entertainment, and caraqueños enjoy a multitude of restaurants,including Spanish, French, Arab and Chinese food as well as local favorites such as Arepas, Pabellón, Mondongo and Cachapa and grilled dishes at parrilleras for a Parrillada Mixta.
- You'll find recipes for some of these favorites in these Recipes from Venezuela.
Things to Do and See:
Like big cities everywhere, you'll find a central commercial district, outlying suburbs and pockets of older neighborhoods. In Caracas, much of the city revolves around the tree-shaded Plaza Bolivar, named of course for Simón Bolívar, El Libertador, with a monument to him.
From the plaza, you can walk the pedestrian only streets through the historic colonial district to see:
- Casa Amarilla, home of the Foreign Ministry
- the presidential palace
- Catedral de Caracas, with the original facade created in the 17th century
- Basílica Menor Santa Capilla, built along the lines of Saint Chapelle in Paris, and designated a Basilica in 1928
- Basílica de Santa Teresa, built on the site of a previous church, with two facades, one dedicated to Saint Ann and the other to Saint Teresa. The church is a vital part of Holy Week celebrations
From Plaza Morelos, also called Plaza de los Museos, once you've explored all the little shops and the street vendors' wares, you can tour
- Galeria de Arte Nacional
- Museo de Bellas Artes
- Museo Sacra, in a former sacristy and cclesiastical prison built in 1844 to see
- religious statues and costumes from the colonial era
- the silver canopy made for Our Lady of the Rosary
- the ossuary containing the remains of the members of the religious community
- Museo de Arte Contemporaneo
- Museo de Ciencias Naturales for fossils and ancient artifacts
- Iglesia de San Francisco. El Libertador is buried here
- Take in a futbol (soccer) or baseball game
- Parque Nacional El Ávila 7,400 feet above Caracas, via funicular, for a magnificent view of the city and environs or stay at the Humboldt Hotel atop the mountain. Now there are hiking trails and access from parts of the city. Some of the park area is accessible only by four-wheel-drive vehicles. Parque Nacional El Ávila has suffered a number of forest fires, and hopefully will reforest those portions to return to the lush vegetation that caraqueños call the "lungs of the city."
- Hipódromo La Rinconada, one of Latin America's largest and most beautiful thoroughbred race tracks. The Hippodrome also hosts cultural and musical events.
- La Quinta de Anauco home of the Museo de Arte Colonial
- More things to see and explore
- Nightlife in Caracas is active, particularly in La Merced area, and gets going after midnight
- Away from Caracas:
- El Hatillo Music Festival
- Colonia Tovar, an isolated village founded by German immigrants in 1843, still retaining its customs, cuisine and architecture
- Macuto, a popular coastal resort
- Los Roques National Park for diving, snorkeling, sailing and swimming in an ecologically preserved area
- Isla de Margarita for windsurfing, relaxation and duty-free shopping
- Angel Falls, of course! Have you been to Caracas? Or planning to go? Tell us about your trip! Post a message on the forum.