Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

10 Things to Do: Caracas, Venezuela



Nestled in a valley approximately nine miles (15 kilometers) from the Caribbean, Caracas is one of Latin America’s most exciting destinations. Although Venezuela’s capital is not a typical tourist stop, this city of 4.5 million people offers unique rewards to the adventurous visitor.

1. Start with a panoramic view. The Waraira Repano cable car ascends 3,608 feet (1,100 meters) to the top of Avila mountain, where visitors can cool off with a glass of traditional raspberry juice at the Hotel Humboldt. Other options at the top include ice skating and outdoor concerts.

2. Try some arepas. Locals, known as Caraqueños, commonly eat this flat cornmeal patty at breakfast or after a night out. Don’t miss two of the more popular varieties of this national food—the reina pepiada (chicken and avocado) and the peluda (beef and cheese).

3. Check out a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The campus of the Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV) is known for its vast collection of noteworthy art, along with hidden gems like the Aula Magna—the university auditorium where Alexander Calder-designed disks hang from the ceiling.

4. Get an adrenaline rush on a mototaxi. Caracas is infamous for its traffic jams, so the best way to get around, especially during rush hour, is on one of the city’s mototaxis. Be warned: the ride is not for the faint of heart.

5. Catch a home run. Baseball is a favorite pastime, and the country’s professional league, referred to as la pelota caliente (the hot ball), runs from October to January. The Leones del Caracas hold the most championship titles (16); and they, along with the Tiburones de La Guaira, play their games at the Estadio Universitario.

6. Visit Simon Bolívar’s birthplace. The home of El Libertador (the liberator), built by his great-grandfather, is located in the El Silencio neighborhood and is one of the city’s best-preserved sites.

7. Combine art and mass transit. Hop on El Metro, ridden by over 1 million people daily, and head to the Bellas Artes stop—site of the Museum of Fine Arts and the National Art Gallery.

8. Enjoy a sneak peak at the Amazon. Located outside the north entrance of the UCV, Caracas’ botanical garden offers a rich sample of the country’s tropical flora. Spend the afternoon picnicking under Amazonian palm trees while still in the city.

9. Finish the day with a drink. Lounge Bar Ávila, the vintage-decorated rooftop bar at the Pestana Hotel on the Urbanización Santa Eduvigis, is one of the more hip spots to enjoy the sunset.

10. Dance salsa. At night, Centro San Ignacio in east Caracas transforms into one of the city’s hottest clubbing spots. The lower level is packed with multiple clubs and bars, bringing the concept of bar hopping to a new level.

Do you have additional travel tips?  Post your ideas here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jason Marczak is deputy director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council. He previously served as senior editor of Americas Quarterly and director of policy at Americas Society and Council of the Americas.

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Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
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