Venezuela holidays

Experience Venezuela

Best Places to Visit

For those looking to experience the culture of Venezuela, Caracas is a must-visit. The country’s capital holds many regional festivals and boasts some of amazing museums. There's also no end of arts and crafts markets here, making it a great place for shopping. Caracas is also home to the Universidad Central de Venezuela Stadium, where visitors can catch a baseball game.

Visitors looking to escape the urban jungle and see some wildlife can head to one of the most famous rainforests in the world, the Amazon Rainforest. This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to a vast array of flora and fauna, with new species being discovered all the time.

The country also boasts stunning beaches on its Caribbean coastline, Playing home to 600 incredible offshore islands. With sandy beaches and turquoise waters, the coast is a popular tourist spot. Margarita Island and Los Roques are both popular destinations, but it's hard to find a bad place along this stretch.

Coro was originally the first capital of the country after emerging from the collapse of grand Colombia in 1830. As a result, the city is rich with colonial architecture; so much so that the historic downtown area is considered a Cultural World Heritage site.

Mérida, a town found in the Andes Mountains, is also known for its sights, albeit of a different kind. With stunning scenery, it’s the perfect place for those looking for outdoor activities, with hiking especially popular here. As a university town, it also has its fair share of nightlife, so visitors can rest their feet in one of the many bars after a tough day hiking in the mountains.

Los Llanos in the north-east of the country is a stretch of plains that is well known for its wildlife. This region floods during Venezuela’s rainy season, turning the plains into wetlands. Due to this flooding, the area supports a huge range of wildlife, including a plethora of water birds. Day trips out to enjoy jeep safaris and boat tours can easily be arranged, giving visitors an insight into this natural landscape. Tours offer the opportunity to see caiman crocodiles, fluorescent scarlet ibis and Orinoco dolphins, perfect for tourists looking to get back to nature on holidays to Venezuela.

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Top Landmarks

The sheer diversity of the country means that around 40 per cent of its territory is protected. Even the Venezuelan Central University in Caracas is a World Heritage site.

One of the best-known landmarks is, of course, the Andes Mountains. Stretching some 7,000kms, this enormous range can be found in the north-west of the country. The scenery here is just breath-taking and many outdoor sports are available, ideal for visitors with a passion for adventure. With a number of peaks to be scaled, the highest being Mount Aconcagua at 6,962 metres, the Andes draw many travellers in their own right.

Another must-see landmark is Angel Falls. Found in the Guiana Highlands, the world’s highest waterfall plummets some 979 metres from the top of a shelf in Canaima National Park. Unsurprisingly, it is a huge tourist attraction, and it's also possible to see it in all its glory by helicopter.

Ciudad Bolivar provides the most popular accommodation for those flying to Angel Falls. A lively tourist town, it boasts good nightlife and plenty of hotels. While Guiana itself is largely uninhabited, it does play home to the Orinoco River, the third longest river in South America. This area also boasts the Amazon Rainforest, along with sites such as the Tepui Mountains. Trips are available to all of these landmarks on package holidays to Venezuela, many of which have to be seen to be believed.

Entertainment

Venezuela has numerous spots that are perfect for nightlife and local music.

Caracas is the undisputed queen of nights out. As the capital, it boasts many music venues and numerous clubs that cater to different tastes. Trasnocho Lounge is a known haunt of the ultra-hip crowd, however, Samoa Bar offers mainstream music and delicious cocktails.

Mérida, in the Andes, is a famous university town. Unsurprisingly, it has a reputation for being the place for nightlife. With plenty of bars and clubs, along with the novelty of partying in the Andes, it's a hit with tourists and locals alike.

El Maní es Así is a long-running bar that is one of the best places to experience traditional salsa music. Found in Caracas, it is home to a varied crowd. Tourists come to admire fantastic dancing, while locals come to show off their moves. After one or two of the local cocktails, many visitors like to join in.

Teatro Trasnocho Cultural might not be the most obvious spot for those looking for a traditional theatre experience, but it is well worth a visit. Known to push the boundaries of traditional theatre, it showcases up-and-coming talent and new works by local playwrights.

Although there are cinemas across the country, it is rare to find a film that hasn't been dubbed with Spanish. Some alternative cinemas do show local films with English subtitles, though.

Dining Out

There are many local dishes to be tried on Venezuela holidays, with both the big and small cities offering a taste of traditional cuisine. Arepas, a thick corn tortilla that is split and then stuffed with any number of fillings, is a staple on many menus.

Hallaca, a mixture of meat, raisins and olives, covered in cornmeal and steamed in plantain leaves, is an interesting take on a traditional tamale dish. Cachapas are pancakes made with corn and topped with telita, a salty cheese.

Street food is common across Venezuela, with empanadas (a variety of savoury pastries often stuffed with meat) and perros calientes (spicy hot dogs) among the most common dishes served. For a sit-down lunch, Venezuelans often have pabellón criollo. This is a rice and meat dish featuring black beans and plantain slices.

Venezuela is also famous for producing some of the best cacao beans in the world, meaning the local chocolate comes highly recommended. The local rum is also world renowned: it tends to be very dark and potent, with several bars serving their own unique blends – a must-try on holidays to Venezuela!

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Need to know

Language

The official language in Venezuela is Spanish and is the first language of more than 95 per cent of the population. Spanish is spoken in its Venezuelan form here, and there are also many indigenous dialects, but these are rarely spoken outside of the Amazon region. While English isn’t commonly spoken, it is now taught as a compulsory subject in Venezuela’s equivalent of secondary school and also in universities. The younger generation living in the big cities tend to speak basic English, and many people within the tourist industry have a basic grasp of the language due to the influx of English-speaking visitors. As such, you should have no problem conversing in popular tourist areas on Venezuelan holidays. However, a Spanish phrasebook would still be a useful tool for everyday travelling and would be appreciated by locals.

Currency

The official currency of Venezuela is the bolivar (BsF). The boliva is strictly controlled, making it hard to exchange. However, many banks and some bureaux de change exchange US dollars, sterling and euros. There are many illegal money changes which offer fluctuating exchange rates but tourists are advised to stick to the banks when exchanging money. All banks have ATMs which accept foreign cards. Changing bolivar into other currencies can be difficult, so relying on card and carrying minimal cash is advised on package holidays to Venezuela.

Visas

A stamp for a 90-day stay in Venezuela is issued on arrival to citizens of the United Kingdom. Officials will simply ask visitors the purpose of their visit and a tourist card will be issued. Anyone travelling for business or work purposes will need to obtain an appropriate visa before arrival.

Climate

Thanks to the country's proximity to the equator, the average temperatures vary little throughout the year. The exception to this is in the mountain regions, which can see temperatures as low as 15°C in the peaks. However, most of Venezuela is low lying, with temperatures remaining between 21°C and 29°C all year round.

Main Airports

Simón Bolívar International Airport, also known as Maiquetia Airport, is the main international airport in Venezuela. Located just outside of the capital of Caracas, this is the main destination for the majority of European flights. International flights do run to Maracaibo and Valencia, but services to these airports are limited and can be more expensive. Buses frequently run from the airport to the city,

Flight Options

There are currently no direct flights from London to Venezuela; however, several airlines fly directly to mainland Europe. Venezuela also has numerous daily flights from North America, meaning it is possible to fly to New York and then on to Venezuela. French carriers fly direct to Caracas from Paris while Italian airlines fly from both Rome and Milan.

Travel Advice

Flying with a budget airline to Charles de Gaulle, Paris, then taking a direct flight to Venezuela is advisable. Flying direct to New York from London and then onto Venezuela means more options regarding flight dates, but is usually the most expensive way of getting here. Booking early is advisable. From the airport, there is a free bus into the capital which runs until late, so although taxis are available, they are not always necessary Venezuela holidays.

Other Transport Options

Because roads link Venezuela with both Colombia and Brazil, driving into the country is an option to tourists. Border controls are strictly enforced and border control officers frequently search vehicles. It is also possible to get a bus across the border, but such buses wait at immigration while all passengers' passports are stamped.

Getting Around

Domestic flights are cheap and there are many connecting the major tourist spots with the capital. Buses are cheap and the network is extensive. Road conditions vary widely, but petrol is inexpensive and renting a car gives visitors the chance to head off the tourist trail on package holidays to Venezuela.

Car

Car hire in Venezuela is reasonably priced and the cheap petrol makes it economical. Drivers should be aware that traffic can be congested across the country and that insurance may not be included in the rental price. Road rules are largely ignored by locals, so it is advisable to drive with caution while on Venezuela holidays. Driving is on the right and the road network, while not very well maintained, is extensive.

Air

The air network has services between the major cities. Caracas is the main hub for domestic flights but several airlines fly to San Antonio del Táchira.

MAP

VENEZUELA`S WEATHER TODAY

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AVERAGE RAINFALL (mm)

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FACTS

  1. The native stilt houses of Lake Maracaibo reminded Italian explorer, Amerigo Vespucci of the watery streets of Venice, thus resulting in Venezuela’s name, which translates as “little Venice”.
  2. Venezuela’s Angel Falls is the world’s tallest uninterrupted waterfall – nearly 20 times taller than Niagara Falls.
  3. Catatumbo Lightning regularly strikes over the area where the mouth of the Catatumbo River meets Lake Maracaibo. This natural atmospheric phenomenon is caused by a mass of storm clouds creating intense flashes of light. This lasts for around 10 hours per day, for up to 160 days each year.

FACTS

  1. The native stilt houses of Lake Maracaibo reminded Italian explorer, Amerigo Vespucci of the watery streets of Venice, thus resulting in Venezuela’s name, which translates as “little Venice”.
  2. Venezuela’s Angel Falls is the world’s tallest uninterrupted waterfall – nearly 20 times taller than Niagara Falls.
  3. Catatumbo Lightning regularly strikes over the area where the mouth of the Catatumbo River meets Lake Maracaibo. This natural atmospheric phenomenon is caused by a mass of storm clouds creating intense flashes of light. This lasts for around 10 hours per day, for up to 160 days each year.

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