Venezuela: Local Travel Info

South America's Hidden Gem

Major International Airport for Caracas

The airport that services the city is the Caracas Maiquetía International Airport (Simón Bolívar). The airport services flights to Caracas from other Latin American and North America countries, as well as internal Venezuelan flights. This is the main international airport of the country. There are regional airports all around Venezuela.

Getting to and from the airport in Caracas

Maiquetía International Airport (Simón Bolívar) is around 30kilometres north of Caracas. You can get to and from the airport by taxi or UCAM buses. A word of warning: violent muggings and kidnapping are common in Caracas and foreign nationals have been targeted at the airport. The road between the airport and Caracas can be dangerous and crowded. It is recommended that you time your arrival and departure so that they are during daylight hours.

Buses: The buses run every 30 minutes and cost BsF30 ($14). In Caracas, you can catch a bus to the airport at park next to Parque Central (corner of Calle Sur 17 and Avenida Bolivar). The fastest way get to the airport by bus is to catch it at Gato Negro Metro station - this way you avoid slow city traffic. As with much of Caracas, this is not a good neighbour hood, especially after dark. At the airport, buses depart from both the domestic and international terminals.

Taxis: If you decide to use a taxi be sure it is an official taxi licensed by Corporación Anfitriones de Venezuela. In the arrival hall of both terminals you’ll find a yellow desk in the where you can pay for your trip into town. Taxis are available from outside the arrivals and departure halls of both terminals. Do not use one of the unofficial taxis, which tout for business at the terminals. For your return trip to the airport you can ask your hotel to book you one or do it yourself online at www.taxitocaracas.com. Expect to pay BsF100 – 150 ($50 - $75) for an official taxi from the airport to the City. The trip will take between 60 minutes up to 2 hours, depending on traffic.

Car Rental: You can pick up a car rental from the airport and take it into town, but the traffic is so choked and chaotic in Caracas that you will find driving here a real chore.

Travel Cost in Caracas

Metro: The best form of transport in Caracas is its cheap, safe (-ish) yet efficient Metro system. There are four metro lines and 48 stations. Caracas’ metro provides easy, access to most of the main tourist sites and activities. It runs daily from 5.30am to 11pm and trains run every couple of minutes. A single journey is BsF 0.50, with returns (‘ida y vuelta’) BsF0.90 ($0.25 - .50). If you are planning to use the metro a lot, you should get a 'multi abono', which will give you 10 trips on the metro of any distance for BsF4.50 ($2 ). It is generally best to avoid the metro in rush hour and always be on the lookout for pickpockets (which are rife in Caracas).

Buses: In addition to the Metro, Caracas also has small metro-buses that depart from certain metro stations. These take fixed routes to areas of the city not reached by the underground. Like the metro, metro-buses are cheap and clean, but services only run about once every 20 minutes. These buses have fixed stops where you can get on and off. Caracas also has some minibuses (‘por puestos’) which run along several of Caracas’ main streets. These minibuses can be hailed anywhere and you can usually ask the driver to let you off whenever he stops – even at traffic lights. In general, the buses are dearer than the metro (BsF1.20/$0.60 per ride) as well as slower due to Caracas’ notoriously heavy traffic.

Taxis: You can identify a taxi by its 'Taxi' or 'Libre' signs and its yellow licence plate. Taxis are unmetered in Caracas, but use a fix rate system which should be displayed in the taxi and at the taxi rank. If your destination is not cover by the rate list you (or your hotel) will have to negotiate rate for the ride. Be sure to only use taxis from official taxi, from official taxi ranks or have your hotel book one for you. There are numerous unofficial taxis all around Caracas (including at the airport) which will not only overcharge for a ride in dilapidated car, but you may be mugged, raped or kidnapped. If you’re on your own and brave enough you can also use a motorcycle taxi to get around town – certainly one way to beat the traffic.

While travelling around Venezuela your best bet is to travel by air to your chosen destination. There is no national rail service for Venezuela. If you are on a tight budget you may want to use the coach system in Venezuela, which is very affordable For example a short 2 hours coach trip may cost BsF15/$7 and a longer trip will cost 50 BsF50/ $30.

Car Hire in Caracas and Venezuela

Venezuela has the cheapest petrol in the world which has led to heavy traffic in the city. Due to the massive congestion, chaotic drivers and parking difficulties is it generally not a good idea to rent a car in Caracas. Massive traffic jams are common all around the city on weekdays. It’s best to use the metro or take an official taxi. If you decide to rent a car while in Caracas, many of the larger American car hire companies have offices at the airport and in Caracas. You can expect to pay around BsF2.1 million ($980) for a mid-size car for a week in Caracas. Elsewhere in Venezuela, getting around by car is just as frantic as in the capital, however the road network in Venezuela is quite extensive.

Driver licenses requirements in Caracas and Venezuela
You’ll need your driving license and a credit card, as well as your passport to collect your hired car in Caracas. An International Drivers License is needed in Venezuela.

Driving rules in Caracas and Venezuela
Cars should drive on the right and give way to the right. The official speed limit is 80kph (50mph) on major roads and 40kph (25mph) on residential roads. However, traffic laws are rarely observed by local drivers in Caracas (and Venezuela) as they are seldom enforced by the police. Driving in Caracas is not for the faint-hearted. Other rules you should obverse include wearing a helmet if you are on a motorbike and stopping at National Guard and police checkpoints so that your car can be searched. Be sure to have your driving license, car hire/insurance documents, as well as your passport readily available. Elsewhere in Venezuela there is a good network of paved roads which can be used for daytime driving.

There are some rules of safety that you should observed while driving in Caracas and Venezuela. ALWAYS drive with the doors locked and windows closed. Driving at night should be avoided unless you are in a good area of Caracas or another Venezuelan city. Beware that there have been reports of thieves dropping stones from overpasses and bridges in Caracas’ poorer neighbourhoods. Motorists are then robbed once they have stopped to assess the damage to the car. It is best to avoid these areas altogether.

Buses in Caracas and Venezuela

Caracas has small metro-buses that depart from certain metro stations. These take fixed routes to areas of the city not reached by the underground. Like the metro, metro-buses are cheap and clean, but services only run about once every 20 minutes. These buses have fixed stops where you can get on and off. Caracas also has some minibuses (‘por puestos’) which run along several of Caracas’ main streets. These minibuses can be hailed anywhere and you can usually ask the driver to let you off whenever he stops – even at traffic lights. In general, the buses are dearer than the metro (BsF1.20/$.60 per ride) as well as slower due to Caracas’ notoriously heavy traffic. There is also an extensive coach service around Venezuela which you can use to get around the country. A short coach trip of around two hours will cost around cost BsF 15 or $7. Longer coach trips cost around BsF 50 to 60 per person (about $23 or $28). However, some popular places such as the off shore islands and Canaima National Park and Angle Falls can only be reached by air.

Metro in Caracas

This is the best form of transport in Caracas as it is cheap, safe(-ish) and efficient . Caracas has four metro lines and 48 stations. The metro provides easy access to most of the main tourist sites and activities in Caracas. The metro runs daily from 5.30am to 11pm and trains run every couple of minutes. A single journey is BsF0.50, with returns (‘ida y vuelta’) BsF0.90 ($0.25 - .50). If you are planning to use the metro a lot, you should get a 'multi abono', which will give you 10 trips on the metro of any distance for BsF4.50 ($2 ). It is generally best to avoid the metro in rush hour and always be on the lookout for pickpockets (which are rife in Caracas).

Taxis in Caracas

If you use a taxi make sure it is an official taxi licensed by Corporación Anfitriones de Venezuela. You can get one of these from an official taxi rank (such as those outside the malls) or have your hotel book one for you. You can identify a real taxi by its 'Taxi' or 'Libre' signs and its yellow licence plate. Taxis are unmetered in Caracas, but use a fix rate system which should be displayed in the taxi and at the taxi rank. If your destination is not cover by the rate list you (or your hotel) will have to negotiate rate for the ride. There are numerous unofficial taxis all around Caracas (including at the airport) which will not only overcharge for a ride in dilapidated car, but you may be mugged, raped or kidnapped.

Cycling in Caracas

Given that driving is so chaotic in Caracas you are best not cycling here. The steep hills also make cycling in Caracas difficult.

Hitch hiking in Caracas and Venezuela

Caracas has one of the highest crime records in the world. Robbery, mugging, rape and kidnapping are a regular occurrence here. Hitch hiking is not recommended in Caracas, not is it generally recommended for Venezuela. With coaches so affordable you may want to use them to get around.