Venezuela: Main Sights
South America's Hidden Gem
Despite not being well known as a popular holiday destination there are some interesting historical and cultural sites in Caracas. On the other hand Venezuela offers a wide variety of outdoor pursuits and beautiful scenery.
• La Plaza Bolivar and El Capitolio historic centre: In this square you’ll find a massive bronze statue commemorating Venezuela’s national hero and liberator - Simon Bolívar. The area around the Plaza has several historic sites which date back to colonial Caracas. This includes museums such as La Casa Natal de Simon Bolivar (Museum of Bolívar’s birth place), historic building such as El Capitolio (the National Congress building) and the Panteón Nacional. The Cathedral de Caracas is nearby and is also worth a visit. This area is relatively safe to explore during the day, but should be avoided at night.
• Inglesia de San Francisco: Dating back to 1575, this important church is where Bolívar was proclaimed El Libertador back in 1813. Although the church is a mix of different architectural influences from several periods, with its gilded alters and religious painting, it still retains much of its colonial charm.
• Museo de Art Contemoráneo de Sofía Imber: Located in the eastern end of the Parque Central complex the Museo de Art Contemoráneo de Sofía Imber (Museum of Modern Art) is based over five floors with a dozen galleries. Here you’ll find prominent modern Venezuela artists, as well as Impressionists Matisse and Monet. There are also works by modern artists including Chagall, Leger and Miró, as well as an impressive collection of engravings by Picasso.
• Universidad Central de Venezuela: This was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. The university was designed by Venezuela's most famous architect, Carlos Raul Villanueva. Its campus (Ciudad Universitaria) is an expansive complex, and a magnificent example of 1950/60s architecture combined with art. While here look out for works by artists such as Fernand Leger.
• Galeria de Arte de National and Museo de Bella Artes: These side by side museums are dedicated to exhibiting Venezuelan art both old and new. Here you’ll find fine colonial art, modern films as well as traditional Venezuelan art and crafts.
• Parque National El Avila: While in Caracas you will probably want to visit the El Avila National Park, which acts as a northern backdrop to Caracas. This 85,200-hectare national park separates the city from the Caribbean coast. There are numerous trails for hikers in the park as well as an aerial cable car (teleferico) that gives fantastic views of Caracas. It gets chilly up in the mountains so be sure to take an extra layer.
• Canaima National Park and Angle Falls: While visiting Caracas you may to join a tour to Canaima in southern Venezuela for a couple of days to experience Venezuela’s tropical rainforest and see the world’s highest waterfall – Angle Falls. Canaima National Park is one of the largest national parks in the world.
• Isla Margarita and Los Roques: After the hustle and bustle of Caracas - a major cosmopolitan city -you want to relax and unwind on one of Venezuela’s tropical island resorts, such as Isla Margarita and Los Roques. Here you will be able to participate in a variety of water sports, relax on the white sandy beaches and, of course, enjoy the warm clear waters of the Caribbean Sea.
• Mérida and Los Llanos: If you are into outdoor pursuits then you should consider a trip to either Mérida in Andes or to Los Llanos in Venezuela’s vast open plains, with its spectacular wildlife. Both are great places to explore some of Venezuela’s beautiful national parks.
• Coro: This town in northern Venezuela was made a UNESCO site in the mid-1990s and one of the first colonial towns in Venezuela (founded in 1527).