10 Top Tourist Attractions in Venezuela
Venezuela is a country of many faces. It has Caribbean coastal beaches, Andean peaks, wetlands teeming with piranhas and anacondas and inland sand dunes. It is a tropical country that has great biodiversity. It is also the country of oil exports, beauty pageant winners, and the birthplace of Simon Bolivar, who liberated many South American countries from Spanish rule. Indeed, most cities, regardless of size, have a plaza honoring the great liberator. An overview of the most popular tourist attractions in Venezuela:
10. Morrocoy National Park [SEE MAP]
ruurmo / Flickr
Morrocoy National Park is located in the northeastern part of Venezuela. It contains an area of mangroves and numerous islets and cays with beautiful sandy beaches. Coral reefs and tropical fish are abundant in the waters around the cayos. Dolphins, marine turtles and even some coastal caimans live in the remoter mangroves. Birds include pelicans, flamingos, egrets and the colorful scarlet ibis. On the islands, vegetation is sparse and generally adapted to the dry, salty environment.
9. Medanos de Coro [SEE MAP]
Carlos Adampol / Flickr
The sand dunes at Medanos de Coro National Park are a spectacular sight, especially since they’re located in what is essentially a tropical country. The dunes, some of which are 40 meters (120 feet) high, are in colorful shades of orange and yellow. High winds mean they are always changing shape. The area is quite dry, so there’s limited vegetation and wildlife to see. The dunes are a popular place to go sand boarding, and can also be explored on hired camels. The national park is easily reachable by bus or taxi from Coro.
8. Mochima National Park [SEE MAP]
Padmanaba01 / Flickr
Mochima National Park is located on the northeastern coast and is designed to protect the marine environment as well as the forests of the Turimiquire mountains. Venezuela’s second marine park, created in 1973, takes in the shoreline from Puerto la Cruz to Cumana, as well as 32 offshore islands. Pelicans nest at La Ciena Cove while dolphins prevail at Isla Cachicamo. The park, named after a nearby town, is also popular with snorkelers and divers with excellent underwater spots, including exploring three ship wrecks, within a 30- to 40-minute boat ride from Puerto la Cruz.
7. Isla Margarita [SEE MAP]
Josema Orsini / Flickr
Isla Margarita, the largest island off the northeastern coast of Venezuela, is a great place to do some beachcombing. With 50 beaches strung out over the coastline, popular activities include wind- and kite-surfing, especially at Playa el Yaque. Isla Margarita is a popular vacation destination with Venezuelans, partly because of shopping at the duty-free port. It has several large cities, including La Asuncion, the capital of the Venezuelan state of Nueva Esparta. FYI: Christopher Columbus was the first European on the island, way back in 1498.
6. Mount Roraima [SEE MAP]
Alejandro Sosa / Flickr
Mount Roraima is a tabletop mountain (or tepuy) than sits at an elevation of 2,810 meters (9,220 feet). While most of Roraima lies in Venezuela, it also marks the point where Brazil and Guyana join that country. The only way visitors can climb to the plateau however is from the Venezuelan side. It also is the centerpiece of Canaima National Park, where geologic formations date back two billion years. It rains almost every day on the plateau, which is home to some rare plants and animals. The plateau inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle when he wrote his 1912 fictional novel entitled The Lost World.
5. Merida Cable Car [SEE MAP]
Pascual De Ruvo / Wikipedia
Riding the Merida Cable Car (called the Teleférico) is something that every visitor to Venezuela simply must do. Why? Because it’s the world’s longest and highest cable car. The cable car route is almost 12 km (7.5 miles) and soars more than 4,700 meters (15,600 feet) in the air. The cable car stops along the way, so visitors can get out and maybe do a little trekking; the stops are named after the views and other sights that are seen along the way. December to February is the best time to make the ride because there’s no fog.
4. Choroni [SEE MAP]
EloyBp / Flickr
Choroni is generally known as one of Venezuela’s best Caribbean beaches, though the town itself actually sits slightly inland, boasting some fine colonial houses around a quiet central plaza. Choroni also makes a good base for bird-, plant- and wildlife-watchers who want to explore the cloud forest and lowland jungles of Henri Pittier National Park. Besides monkeys, snakes and deer, the park has 500 bird species and 200 kinds of butterflies. Venezuela’s first national park was originally known as Rancho Grande but the name was later changed to Henri Pittier, in honor of the scientist who proposed it.
3. Los Roques [SEE MAP]
Los Roques Archipelago National Park was created in 1972 by the Venezuelan government to protect a marine ecosystem of exceptional beauty and ecological . It is the largest marine park in the Caribbean Sea. The almost untouched coral reefs host some of the most beautiful underwater fauna and flora of the Caribbean. The park has exceptionally beautiful beaches of white sand and multicolor, crystalline warm waters which make it a diving, sailing and fishing paradise. The main island is Gran Roque, which has a few small villa-style hotels that are small but comfortable.
2. Los Llanos [SEE MAP]
CaplinRous / Wikipedia
Los Llanos, or The Plains, is a vast grassland that straddles Venezuela and Columbia. The Orinoco River that runs through it forms the border between the two countries, and is the main river in Venezuela. Los Llanos generally floods during the rainy season (May to October), turning into a birdwatcher’s paradise. Sometimes called the Serengeti of South America, it’s the place to see wildlife in the dry season, when animals flock to the areas that do have water. Besides being the last stronghold for the Orinoco Crocodile, Los Llanos is also home to anacondas, capybaras, jaguars and caimans.
1. Angel Falls [SEE MAP]
Angel Falls is one the most popular tourist attractions in Venezuela as it is the highest uninterrupted waterfalls in the world. It is 978 meters (3,208 feet) tall, and drops off the side of Auyantepui Mountain in Canaima National Park in Bolivar State. Located on the Gauja River, the falls were originally known as Kerepakupai Vená, or “fall from the highest point” by the local natives. The name was later changed to Angel Falls to honor Jimmie Angel, a U.S. aviator who was the first to fly over the falls. The waterfall is at its highest June to December.
15 Best Places to Visit in Venezuela
There are many beautiful and varied regions of Venezuela to explore. It has the Andean mountain range, the Caribbean coast, inland dunes, and the anaconda filled wetlands. It’s a tropical country with incredible biodiversity that you’re sure to fall in love with. Famous as the birthplace of Simon Bolivar, the liberator of many countries in South America from Spanish rule, you’ll find tributes to him in almost every city and town. Though the country has been struggling in recent years with inflation and rising crime, Venezuela remains a destination spot and the rewards of travelling here are amazing – it’s full of “trip of a lifetime” places you can’t afford to miss.
1. Angel Falls
Source: flickr Angel Falls
Venezuela is home to the world’s highest waterfall. Needless to say, this is the most popular destination in the country. With nearly a 1 kilometre drop, spectacular is really the only word to describe it. Located in a rather isolated jungle in the Canaima National Park, the falls are on the Orinoco River. Hikers will love the trek out to this UNESCO World Heritage Site. To cool off you have the option of taking a dip in the white sand beaches around the lagoon or the natural pools at the base of the falls.
Source: flickr Mérida
Calling all adventure sports lovers! You’ll want to spend time in the progressive town of Mérida. This rather affluent city has both fantastic mountain vistas and an unhurried and cultured vibe. The energy is youthful and friendly, thanks in large part to the university here. Mérida has a gorgeous climate which attracts the outdoor enthusiasts looking for top quality activities to choose from. Try rafting, canyoning, mountain biking, hiking, and paragliding – the city’s specialty. Stay here if you’re looking to take lightening-viewing trips to Catatumbo or wildlife trips to Los Llanos. After you’ve indulged your sense of fun, enjoy a rather fast-paced nightlife.
Source: wikipedia Santa Ana de Coro
This small and somewhat deteriorating town on Venezuela’s coast is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the colonial architecture. Coro also boasts wonderful museums and a lovely cathedral. This is a city for walking and you’ll really enjoy Zamora, where the historic mansions are. Coro is the starting point for the fabulous sand dunes found in Parque Nacional Médanos de Coro and it’s also a nice base camp for exploring areas like the Sierra de San Luis Mountains or the Península de Paraguaná.
4. Los Roques, Venezuela
Source: flickr Los Roques
After your visit to the Archipelago of Los Roques National Park you’ll always think of it as one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Incredible shades of blue in the surrounding waters, white sand beaches, the vibrant green of the mangrove swamps, and the otherworldly shapes and shades of the coral reefs all combine to make the park truly breathtaking. You’ll quickly see that it’s an area of bright and gorgeous contrasts. There are over 1,000 keys here and you can find a landscape to suit your preferences – everything from sand beach, good surf, rock beach, still water bays, coastal barrier, lagoons, salt mines, and more. Don’t leave without trying the fishing, sailing, diving, lobster catching, and windsurfing on offer.
5. Ciudad Bolívar
Source: flickr Ciudad Bolívar
Ciudad Bolívar has a proud history as the centre of the struggle for independence in Venezuela. Simon Boliver set up his military base here as he began the final campaign in the War for Independence. It’s the capital of the country’s largest state and the historic centre, known as Casco Historico, is without doubt the countries best. There’s a staggering array of colourful colonial buildings, the Paseo Orinoco, and tons of shaded squares to loiter in. Most travellers find a reason to stop here on their way to Angel Falls. Be sure to check out the Plaza Miranda, the cathedral and historic cemetery there.
6. Henri Pittier
Source: flickr Parque Nacional Henri Pittier
This is Venezuela’s oldest national park. Its claim to fame is birdlife, and with over 500 bird species, it’s little wonder. Named for Henri Pittier, who came to the country in the early 20th century and worked to classify over 30,000 plants. He is also one of the founders of the national park system in Venezuela. The park has fantastic coastline, beaches, bays, mountains, and a few resorts. There’s great opportunity for diving, swimming, and sunbathing.
7. Isla Margarita
Source: flickr Playa El Agua, Isla de Margarita
One of the best places for beach bums in Venezuela is Isla Margarita, the largest island off the coast. You’ve got more than 50 beaches to choose from and each will suit various personalities – for instance, Playa el Yaque is great for water sports, Juangriego is a large laid back beach town, and Península de Macanao is largely untouched and deserted. Venezuelans love to come to Isla Margarita thanks to the duty free shopping at the port. The capital is La Asuncion, a large and surprisingly urban city. You’ll find great shopping, restaurants and nightlife here and in Porlamar. Be sure to head inland and do some trekking in the mountains before you go.
8. Mount Roraima
Source: flickr Mount Roraima
Sitting at an elevation of almost 3,000 metres, Mount Roraima has a flat tabletop that feels otherworldly. Lying mostly in Venezuela but partly in Guyana and Brazil, it is the main attraction of Canaima National Park. The hike to the top is usually done in two days. These geological formations are as old as two billion years. Home to rare animals and birds, Mount Roraima was the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. Because of its uniqueness, the mountain figures prominently in many of Venezuela’s folklores.
Source: flickr Maracaibo
Most people come to Maracaibo because they’re in the oil business, but there’s a lively historic centre that history buffs will want to see. Most people stay in the new centre where you’ll find nice shopping and upscale hotels. This is Venezuela’s second largest city and a nice day excursion.
Source: flickr Barquisimeto
The capital of the state of Lara, Barquisimeto is simply lovely, charming, and timeless. Situated on the Turbio River and nicknamed “City of the Twilight,” this is a place you’ll want to linger. Known as the musical centre of Venezuela, there’s an energetic cultural vibe that has a definite global influence. While you’re there, stop by the Museo de Barquisimeto. This museum is housed in a large historic building with a central courtyard and chapel inside. There’s a so the Iglesia de la Concepción, the town’s first cathedral originally built in the 19th century.
11. Los Llanos
Source: flickr Los Llanos Region
Also known as The Plains, the grassland region of Los Llanos is located on the border between Columbia and Venezuela. During the summer months the plain tends to flood making this the perfect destination for bird lovers. When it’s dry season Los Llanos is ideal for wildlife sighting when the animals gather in the few areas with water – giving it the nickname of the Serengeti of South America. You’ll find anacondas, jaguars, caimans, capybaras, and the Orinoc Crocodile – now found in no other place.
Source: flickr Gran Sabana
Not to be mistaken for the country of Guyana, the southeast region of Guayana is Venezuela at its exotic best. This is the region of Angel Falls and Parque Nacional Canaima as well as the Orinoco Delta, a phenomenal wildlife area. You’ll find the Venezuelan Amazon, Rio Caura, and The Great Savanna (La Gran Sabana) where the Tepui Mountains loom large and distinctive. Several large communities of indigenous groups call Guayana home, including the Pemón, the Yanomami, and the Warao. Some travellers come to Venezuela just for this region and spend their entire holiday discovering its many delights.
Source: flickr Choroni
Choroni is a quiet and charming beach town where those looking to relax and do a lot of “nothing” should plan to spend some time. The town has a colonial feel and a quiet plaza perfect for relaxing. If you want to spend time in Henri Pittier National Park, Choroni makes a good base camp. This is the perfect place for those who want to slow down and unwind.
14. Medanos de Coro National Park
Source: flickr Medanos de Coro Desert
Medanos de Coro National Park is famous for its sand dunes – considering that they’re located in a tropical country. Some of the dunes reach 40 metres and are shaded yellow and orange. The high winds here mean the dune constantly and delightfully change shape. Visitors love to come and sand board on the dunes or explore the larger area on camel.
15. The Andes
Source: flickr Andes, Venezuela
Most people think of sun and sand when they think of Venezuela so it’s worth noting that it’s also home to a 400km stretch of snow capped Andes Mountains. Pico Bolivar, the country’s highest peak, stands at just over 5,000 metres. If trekking through the high passes isn’t for you, don’t discount the area. You’ll find cascading waterfalls, green valleys of cloud forest, quaint mountain villages that are only accessible by winding roads. Start in Mérida state, which has some of the best tourist infrastructure right now for exploring the mountains. For those big into adventure, try Táchira and Trujillo.
11 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Venezuela
Venezuela is a country of beautiful landscapes and surprising sights, from the coast to the mountain tops. Magnificent waterfalls tumble off table top mountains, and coastal towns and offshore islands offer pleasant escapes and soft-sand beaches.
Inland, the Andes Mountains, soaring to over 16,000 feet, provide a stunning backdrop to colorful and lively cities, and the Orinoco Delta is teeming with wildlife. Caracas, the capital and largest city in the country, offers its own type of adventure, with a number of cultural sites and surrounding attractions.
The best places to visit are not always the easiest to reach, and Venezuela is no exception. Some of these destinations are well off the beaten path. For inspirational ideas, see our list of the top tourist attractions in Venezuela.
1. Angel Falls
In the heart of the country, where table top mountains rise up like giant monoliths from the surrounding landscape, is Angel Falls. Dropping 979 meters, it is the highest waterfall in the world and one of the highlights of South America.
This stunning site in Canaima National Park is remote and difficult to access, but flights over the falls are easily arranged.
The best time to see the falls is during the rainy season, between May and November, when water is plentiful and the falls do not disappear into a mist before reaching the bottom as they do in the dry season. During the dry season, the falls may be little more than a trickle and you will want to check in advance to see if there is enough water to make the trip worthwhile.
The falls are usually visited by either a sightseeing flight or a three-day boat trip beginning in the town of Canaima. The boat trip, which also includes a hike through the jungle to the base of the falls, is not a luxury tour by any stretch, with basic accommodation along the route. The boat trip may not be possible during the dry season due to low water levels in the river.
Flights over the falls depart from many towns and cities and can be arranged from various places, including Caracas, Ciudad Bolívar, Santa Elena, or Isla Margarita, as well as other major cities, although usually with a connecting flight.
2. Los Roques Archipelago (Archipiélago Los Roques)
Sun-drenched beaches, turquoise waters, coral reefs, and modest development with no high-rise hotels, are what draw travelers to this beautiful chain of islands 160 kilometers north of the central coast of Venezuela.
The archipelago is Los Roques National Park, but most people refer to the area simply as Los Roques. This is one of the best places to visit in Venezuela. The small seaside fishing village of Gran Roque, on the island of the same name, is the main settlement, with single-story homes painted in the typical bright colors seen throughout Venezuela.
The buildings stretch out along the beachfront, which seems to go on forever. One of the highlights is the little island of Cayo de Agua. Reached by boat, this is one of Venezuela’s most beautiful beaches, with shallow turquoise waters, perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
The islands are usually reached by aircraft from Caracas, there is no ferry service from the mainland. The airport is located in Gran Roque. Boats can be chartered from the town’s waterfront area for those interested in visiting some of the surrounding islands, diving, or taking a snorkeling trip.
3. Isla de Margarita (Margarita Island)
Isla de Margarita (Margarita Island)
Isla de Margarita is one of the more developed beach destinations in Venezuela. Lying approximately 40 kilometers north of the mainland, this is one of Venezuela’s major tourist destinations for sun seekers. The island’s main attractions are the beautiful soft sand beaches, which are popular with both foreigners and Venezuelans.
Many charter flights fly directly to Isla Margarita from a variety of international destinations, but it’s also possible to take a ferry to the island from Puerto La Cruz on the mainland.
The main city on the island is Porlamar, but the numerous beaches are spread around the island, with some of the best on the north and east side. Many of these are developed, with hotels or restaurants. Some of the most popular beaches are La Playa El Agua, Playa Puerto Cruz, Playa Guacuco, and Playa Manzanillo.
4. Parque Nacional Morrocoy (Morrocoy National Park)
Morrocoy National Park, located along the coast about a two-hour drive west of Caracas, is known for its white-sand beaches and coral reefs, which stretch along the mainland and ring the offshore islands and cays. Diving is one of the main activities for those who are looking for more than simply spending a day on the beach.
The park is also home to a large number of birds, from osprey and parrots to flamingos and scarlet ibis. Some of the most popular islands are Cayo Sombrero, Cayo Borracho, Cayo Sal, and Cayo Peraza, to name just a few.
There are two main access points, one at Tucacas and the other at Chichiriviche, with boat services to the islands available at both of these towns. The park is easily accessible and, as a result, very popular with Venezuelans. It can get extremely busy, particularly around holidays.
5. Canaima National Park and the Gran Sabana
Canaima National Park and the Gran Sabana | Photo Copyright: Lana Law
Canaima National Park covers three million hectares and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is usually associated with Angel Falls and the area around the town of Canaima, but this is actually only a small area of the vastly diverse park.
The park also encompasses the high plateau of La Gran Sabana and includes more than 100 tepuis (table top mountains), which rise more than 1,000 meters above the savannahs. A trip through the Gran Sabana and Canaima National Park is a unique experience and does not necessarily even need to be combined with a trip to Angel Falls, particularly during the dry season.
Highlights in this area are the numerous waterfalls spread across the entire area, particularly in the Gran Sabana near the Brazilian border. Swimming at the base of the waterfalls is one of the highlights and can provide a refreshing escape from the heat of the midday sun during the dry season.
The table-top mountain of Roraima has an alluring appeal for nature lovers and adventure seekers, with an almost mystical Jack and the Beanstalk type of wonder attached to it. Rising up from the surrounding lowlands, Roraima is an island in the sky that has been intriguing people for centuries, with its bizarre rock formations, waterfalls, and meat-eating plants. This tepui (table-top mountain) was even the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous novel The Lost World.
Roraima is one of the highest tepuis in Canaima National Park. It is also one of the most easily accessible and a popular hiking destination, although it is a demanding, multi-day hike. The temperature drops as the elevation rises and Roraima is often cloudy, misty, or raining, so hikers need to be prepared to face the elements.
7. Orinoco Delta
The Orinoco Delta, in the northeast of Venezuela, offers a completely different landscape and experience than other parts of the country. The river delta is home to all kinds of interesting wildlife, from monkeys and macaws to piranhas.
Riverside lodges offer multi-day packages that take guests out in boats for wildlife viewing and visiting local Warao people. Some camps also offer night safaris. The quality of the lodges varies so it’s best to do some research in advance. Trips can be arranged from Ciudad Bolivar, Ciudad Guayana (Puerto Ordaz), or from other cities, and can be combined with a larger tour of other areas.
Caracas: Galipan and the National Pantheon
While few people plan to spend much time in Caracas, the city does have a couple of sites worth seeing. One of the highlights is a trip up the funicular to the small town of Galipan on Avila Mountain in northern Caracas.
It is also possible to drive, but this is a twisty road that doesn’t lend itself to looking around. The views from the top of the hill are spectacular, particularly on clear days, when you can see Caracas and the coast. At the top are stalls with vendors selling a variety of goods, and a number of decent restaurants offering some tasty treats.
9. National Pantheon of Venezuela
National Pantheon of Venezuela
The National Pantheon is one of the most important attractions in Caracas. The building was constructed after the 1812 earthquake when the original church on this site was destroyed. Today, it is the country’s most sacred shrine and houses the remains of prominent Venezuelans, including those of Simon Bolívar.
10. Parque Nacional Los Médanos de Coro (Medanos de Coro National Park)
Parque Nacional Los Médanos de Coro (Medanos de Coro National Park)
Medanos de Coro National Park offers surprising sights, with rolling sand dunes typical of a desert scene. The sand dunes, known locally as medanos, roll across the landscape, with twisting and curving lines, and some dunes reach up to 40 meters in height.
Dispersed within the hills are a number of lagoons, formed by decades-old flooding. This park is a fun place to wander around, slide down the dunes, take photos, and appreciate the diversity of landscapes that make Venezuela so unique.
11. Mochima National Park
Mochima National Park | Photo Copyright: Lana Law
This park covers a portion of the coast and a chain of offshore islands east of Puerto La Cruz to Cumaná. The main attractions here are the beaches and the diving. The islands can be accessed by boat from Puerto La Cruz, Santa Fé, and Mochima.
It is also possible to explore the mainland portion of the park by car or bus, stopping off at small villages and beach-lined bays off highway 9, but this is primarily a place for boating. The area around the park is very quiet and it doesn’t see nearly the amount of traffic as Morrocoy. This is a good option for people who happen to be in this area or heading out to the Paria Peninsula.
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