13 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Venezuela

Jul 22, 2021

Latin America's largest country is often an afterthought in U.S. travel books. Venezuela, however, is not the only source of fascinating sites in Latin America; Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, and the other countries in the region also boast some impressive tourist attractions.

All of these nations, except Venezuela, are members of the UN's Mercosur trade block, so they all offer free and fast cross-border travel for those traveling in the region. This network also provides tourism synergies, as the number of visitors to all the countries rises when international tourism rises in any one of them.

With a high growth rate, South America's tourism industry is expected to continue its rise. While Venezuela's appeal will inevitably rise in tandem, the country still has a long way to go before becoming a major destination. Plan your trip with our list of the top attractions in Venezuela.

Barquisimeto

Photo of Barquisimeto
Barquisimeto: en.wikipedia.org

The colonial center of Venezuela is the small city of Barquisimeto, known for its local-style horse racing and cockfights. Called El Barrio Chino or Chino de Barrio, the area has several colonial buildings dating from the 17th and 18th centuries, including the Casa de Contratación, a beautiful hacienda with a lovely garden. More of a historic attraction are the antique shops, where visitors can find everything from buxom tambourines to intricate carvings of saints. It's best reached by a short train ride from the town of Ciudad Bolivar.

Caracas

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Caracas: en.wikipedia.org

Venezuela's capital city Caracas (population 3.8 million) is one of Latin America's most underrated destinations. Beautiful colonial-era buildings still survive within the grid-like design of modern Caracas. Once the residence of wealthy merchants, the colonial mansions are protected by the city government and have turned into museums housing valuable historical artifacts. If you enjoy visiting architectural gems, you'll love Caracas. Most of the city's lovely 19th-century buildings were built in Caracas or near the oceanfront. Hotels are luxurious and rates are reasonable. Take advantage of the free tour buses that leave from Baralt, at the corner of Avs. Libertador and 11 de Abril. Other activities include visits to its impressive, modern Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCAN) and the new Simón Bolívar Mausoleum that houses the body of the 19th-century revolutionary and leader of the independence of Venezuela.

Puerto Cabello

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Puerto Cabello: en.wikipedia.org

Lying on Venezuela's Caribbean coast, Puerto Cabello is a bustling port town. It is also the home of the historic Ciudad La Torre, an outstanding example of early 20th-century Spanish colonial architecture. For a visit to one of Venezuela's oldest cities, catch a bus or taxi from the central bus terminal. A trip into the city takes around an hour. For a great view of the waterfront, climb up the 200-year-old El Silencio Tower and the smaller El Caballero Clock Tower. Visitors to the city can also tour the Puerta de Tierra, an octagonal gun battery where cannons were fired to announce the entrance of independence hero Simon Bolivar to Puerto Cabello. An interesting church, the Iglesia de la Virgen de los Dolores, is also on the square. For a quiet afternoon trip to the beach, jump aboard a bus to the main town of Santa Elena de Uair√©n. If the view of the Caribbean from a bus window interests you, you should stop for a coffee in one of the many roadside cafes as you pass by. A popular stop is the popular Ca√Īo Blanco beach, a large stretch of white-sand beach along the coast that is easily accessible by car.

Lake Maracaibo

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Lake Maracaibo: en.wikipedia.org

Lake Maracaibo is the largest lake in Venezuela and second largest in South America. It is bordered by some 80 small islands and is over 300 miles in length. Lake Maracaibo is very much in the center of Venezuela's oil industry, and many Venezuelans do not have a good view of the water, preferring to live along the coastline and be able to see it from a distance. It is the longest inland lake in South America, and its beauty is mostly hidden from the eyes of the citizens of Venezuela. Tourists who take the two-day trip by boat to Maracaibo, will be able to visit several fishing villages and be amazed at the contrasts of color on the shores. Maracaibo itself is a different place, with wide, well-paved roads and a thriving market with dozens of stalls in every street.

Petare

Photo of Petare
Petare: en.wikipedia.org

Just south of Caracas is the highland capital of Catia, which has retained much of its charm from its colonial past. Once home to a largely indigenous population of proud Kereguanos and the original capital of the La Francia Colony of Spanish settlers, Petare is most famous for its street art and low-key local culture. Like many large cities in Venezuela, Petare has seen problems of crime and violent crime but it has also benefited from the government's public works and highway building, and remains a popular and very livable place to visit. Petare is reachable by either bus or car (it is not far from the airport). You may have to pay for a taxi ride, which takes about 30 minutes. There are frequent services between Caracas and Petare. For more information, visit Caracas by Car, a travel blog about the capital city of Venezuela. If you are interested in staying in Petare, several hotels are available on their website.

San Cristobal

Photo of San Cristóbal, Táchira
San Crist√≥bal, T√°chira: en.wikipedia.org

San Cristobal, the cradle of the first Mayan civilization in America, boasts its greatest attraction in the city's most traditional church. The cathedral's bells ring continuously from 8:00 a.m. to midnight on a daily basis and one cannot ignore their piercing tones. During the colonial times, San Cristobal was the capital of the Venezuelan territory until being transferred to Caracas in 1823. It has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Also located in San Cristobal are the former seat of the Venezuelan government and a convent.

Angel Falls, Canaima

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Angel Falls: en.wikipedia.org

The world's largest waterfall is reputed to be Devil's Throat, although this is disputed by locals who claim that the rumble and sight of the thundering cascades of Angel Falls is the true location. The fall itself is between 1,500 and 3,000 feet high. Located within the Canaima National Park, the site itself is not actually accessible to visitors due to its remoteness. In fact, Canaima is the gateway to the Gran Sabana (southern savannah) where the world's largest concentration of orchids can be found. The canopy of verdant rainforest in the Gran Sabana includes plants found nowhere else on Earth.

Andes Mountains

Photo of Venezuelan Andes
Venezuelan Andes: en.wikipedia.org

The Andes Mountains, located between the Caribbean and the Pacific, rise from sea level at the south and reach over 12,000 feet at the Chilean border. These beautiful ranges are formed of countless volcanic mountains and form a great mountain chain. By no means the tallest in the world, the Andes are still an imposing sight. Canyoning is one of the best ways to view the Andes from the ground, as canyons are carved into the side of steep mountains by the water from rain, or by the natural forces of erosion. Experienced canyoneers find the canyons on the eastern and southern sides of Venezuela to be particularly attractive as there are many beautiful waterfalls and pools of fresh water. Travel to the mountains of Venezuela begins in Maracaibo, where there are direct flights from most international destinations in the UK. From there, travel on the Transandino road northeast to San Felipe, from where ferries cross to some of the main islands. The majority of hotels are in Puerto Cabello.

Valencia

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Valencia, Carabobo: en.wikipedia.org

One of the oldest cities in the Americas and home to a rich, still-feisty culture, Valencia is in the state of Carabobo. Its colonial center, with streets and squares lined with white and yellow buildings, is best explored on foot, but a visit to the Museo Carabobo is worthwhile. It features a collection of more than 5,000 pre-Columbian artifacts, including jewelry, gold plates, ceramics, and woodcarvings from the Tairona, chief of the Caribbean people before Spanish contact. The museum is open from Monday to Saturday, 9am to 8pm, and Sunday, 9am to 3pm. Free guided tours are conducted daily. Visitors to Valencia can also enjoy a visit to the Museo Juan Manuel Fangio, which was named after the famous Argentine driver. It exhibits more than 20 cars and a collection of trophies, including Fangio's gold and silver helmet from the 1956 Indianapolis 500. It's open Monday through Saturday, 10am to 8pm, and Sunday, 10am to 3pm. Admission is 10 pesos, which is about 4.5 US dollars.

Los Roques National Park

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Los Roques archipelago: en.wikipedia.org

Los Roques National Park lies along Venezuela's south coast, some 90 km northeast of Caracas, with a steep natural rocky outcrop of volcanic peaks, creating spectacular natural islands. It was established in 1954 and consists of seven offshore islands (San Fernando, Tinajeros, Luis, Manicari, Gran Roques, San José and Cristóbal), located about 50 km off the coast of Venezuela, and three off the coast of Colombia. On the islands and offshore rocks, visitors will find three beaches surrounded by lush vegetation, and archaeological excavations at the Fuerte de San Telmo on the northern end of Gran Roques Island. There is a beautiful waterfall on the mountain of Guaricayo; among the wildlife one will find anaconda, coatis, owls and manatees.

Simón Bolívar

Photo of Simón Bolívar International Airport (Venezuela)
Sim√≥n Bol√≠var International Airport (Venezuela): en.wikipedia.org

Walking along the steep crags that rise 600 meters from the Caribbean waters to the top of the Río Maranon in Venezuela's coastal town of Puerto Cabello, a visitor might feel as though he is in South Africa. Yet it is hard to imagine that this region once played a central role in the founding of modern Venezuela. This area was first inhabited by the indigenous people of Tairona and Carib tribes who resisted Spanish incursions until the arrival of Simón Bolívar in 1823. When he conquered the area in 1824, he changed the course of the river, which separates Venezuela from Colombia, and built the last city in the Americas that could be considered a town, today's Puerto Cabello. The territory was once the headquarters of the two main political parties of Venezuela: those of Chief Simon Bolívar and General Antonio José de Sucre. Bolívar was the leader of the colonial patriot forces, and Sucre was the leader of the republican patriot forces.

Isla Margarita

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Margarita Island: en.wikipedia.org

Isla Margarita is Venezuela's most appealing island and is characterized by huge tracts of dense rainforest at its eastern end. Overlooked by a huge volcanic cone, this is the largest island in the Archipiélago de Margarita, a group of islands with a total land mass of more than 5,000 square kilometers. In addition to the rainforest, Isla Margarita is renowned for its variety of flora, with more than 800 species of plants, 350 species of birds, 400 species of butterflies and one of the world's largest collections of orchids. Highlights of a visit include the ornate Temple of Guayabo, the Guayabo Lake, which provides the island with its water supply, and the lush rainforest. The eco-friendly Don Bosco Beach & Nature Park is the only area in the Caribbean with an underwater fountain of bubbles; this makes the beach a good spot for snorkeling. The only town on the island is El Callao, located on the southeast coast. It is small, has an attractive main square and a church-bell tower and is the gateway to the archipelago.

Puerto La Cruz

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Puerto la Cruz: en.wikipedia.org

Puerto La Cruz is one of the most picturesque places in South America. With its colonial buildings, beautiful white-sand beaches, mountains, and rainforest, this small city in Venezuela's northern coast has a unique charm not found anywhere else. Puerto La Cruz attracts tourists from all over the world to its beautiful island beaches, such as La Boca, which is backed by a horseshoe-shaped cove that is connected to the Caribbean Sea. It's a good city to relax or party. Puerto La Cruz is located on a long island situated between the Penonoméo and Yakuzá Rivers. In addition to a nice sandy beach, visitors enjoy a wide selection of restaurants, spas, nightlife, and family-friendly activities.