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Overview

At the heart of Caracas’ string of high-rise commercial centers is Plaza Bolívar, around which are monuments to the city’s most famous son, independence hero Simón Bolívar. They were afforded pride of place even before the reverence of late president Hugo Chávez, himself to be commemorated soon in a new museum. In many projects the Bolivarian Revolution aims to address marginalization and reduce inequalities, but it has yet to solve the problem of insecurity, so you should always be on your guard when walking about. You’ll also want to find places to breathe away from the urban highways that cross-cross Caracas’ valley, thriving, or snarled ...

At the heart of Caracas’ string of high-rise commercial centers is Plaza Bolívar, around which are monuments to the city’s most famous son, independence hero Simón Bolívar. They were afforded pride of place even before the reverence of late president Hugo Chávez, himself to be commemorated soon in a new museum. In many projects the Bolivarian Revolution aims to address marginalization and reduce inequalities, but it has yet to solve the problem of insecurity, so you should always be on your guard when walking about. You’ll also want to find places to breathe away from the urban highways that cross-cross Caracas’ valley, thriving, or snarled up, on the world’s cheapest gasoline. These include several large parks, fine museums and the city’s proudest modern architecture at the UNESCO-recognized Universidad Central de Venezuela. There are exclusive shopping malls and great nightlife, and this is the headquarters of baseball-mad Venezuela. Concerts are popular, especially when given by the young musicians of El Sistema. But the main recreation area and the city’s emblematic green space is the 2,600-meter-high Waraira Repano (El Avila) National Park, with its steep hiking trails and cable car. Cross the mountain for beaches on the Caribbean, the farther east or west you go the better (and best not at weekends as the traffic can be a nightmare), or take a day trip to the very un-Venezuelan town of Colonia Tovar.

Ben Box
About the Expert

Ben Box has been editor of Footprint Travel Guides’ South American Handbook since 1989. In addition to writing for Footprint on Peru, Cuzco, Brazil, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, Ben also submits articles to the British travel press.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Caracas is the capital and largest city of Venezuela. It is located in northern Venezuela, near the Caribbean.
  • Language: Spanish (official) & numerous indigenous dialects
  • Currency: Venezuelan Bolivar
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Busiest times are Christmas/New Year, Carnival, Holy Week; dry season is December-April; coolest time is January-February