Attractions Nearby Caracas, Day Trips and Excursions
(Caracas, Miranda, Venezuela)
There's a lot to do in Venezuela
once you get out of the capital. Caracas is the hub for many of the top excursions around Venezuela, with a good choice of colonial and natural attractions to choose from. Numerous tour companies are based in the capital, arranging guided day trips or transport to the natural wonders of the country such as Angel Falls or the Los Roques archipelago, where sandy beaches await.
Closer to Caracas, you can enjoy the colonial atmosphere and attractions of towns like El Hatillo on your own, by simply hiring a taxi. Top choices include hiking in the Parque Nacional Henri Pittier and the Parque Nacional El Avila, the renovated hacienda of La Estancia, the tourist-friendly city of Maracay
, and the peaceful town of San Francisco de Yare.
Founded in the 16th century, this hilly neo-colonial town, just a short distance (roughly 15 km / 9 miles) to the south-east of Caracas, is an ideal place to potter around in relative peace, soaking up the atmosphere of a quieter version of Venezuela. Narrow streets lined with jewellery shops, galleries, candy stores and charming cafes provide plenty of ways to spend your money and your time, while sightseers should search out the attractive church overlooking the Plaza Bolivar. You can easily spend half a day in El Hatillo dining and shopping. A taxi from the city is a cheap and quick way to reach this suburb destination.
Henri Pittier National Park (Parque Nacional Henri Pittier)
Address: Parque Nacional Henri Pittier, Venezuela, VE
Founded in 1937, this was Venezuela's very first national park and is certainly one of the best spots in the country for bird watching, boasting more than 550 species of birdlife. There is also everything from cloud forests and rainforests to coastal lowlands in this massive park, offering a nice look at the ecology of Venezuela. The popular tourist towns of Puerto Colombia and Choroni are conveniently next door to each other, along with a handful of beautiful little beaches and seaside attractions fronting the Caribbean Sea. A tour from Caracas is the easiest way to get to the Henri Pittier National Park, with hikers often favouring Puerto Colombia as a good place to start a trek.
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
Capital of the Venezuelan state of Aragua and founded in the middle of the 16th century, the city of Maracay is within comfortable travelling distance of Caracas, lying roughly 72 km / 45 miles to the south-west and therefore ideal for day trips. Close to the Parque Nacional Henri Pittier, Maracay lies alongside the Lago de Valencia lake and contains more than enough colonial attractions and museums to warrant a visit. Enjoying an altitude of some 450 metres / 1,475 feet above sea level, the city has a slightly warmer climate. Maracay's heart is centred around the Plaza Girardot and the Parque Bicentenario, where many of the most interesting attractions reside, such as the Anthropology Museum (Museo de Anthropologie) and the Casa de Dolores Amelia. Highly suitable for families is the Aeronautical Museum (Museo Aeronautico), although this museum is usually only open at the weekend.
If a sandy beach is top of your agenda while in Caracas, you will probably end up visiting Los Roques. This truly stunning archipelago of tiny islets in the Caribbean is one of the most popular day trips from the capital. The water around the islands is crystal clear and calm, creating ideal conditions for swimming and snorkelling. Check out the tour company Aerotuy to arrange your trip.
Address: Parque Nacional Canaima, Sandy's Parish, Venezuela, VE
Although too far away for a day trip, the highest waterfalls on the planet are something you've just got to see. Located within the Canaima National Park (Parque Nacional Canaima), the falls cascade some 978 metres / 3,210 feet off a sheer rock cliff. The Angel Falls are known locally as the Kerepakupai Meru (highest waterfall) and are impressive anytime in the rainy season, particularly during the months of August and September. Tours are easily arranged with local travel companies.
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
El Avila National Park (Parque Nacional El Avila)
Address: Parque Nacional el Avila, Venezuela, VE
North of Caracas is the Parque Nacional El Avila, where a wealth of indigenous attractions await day trippers. This vast national park stretches for approximately 95 km / 59 miles and lies within the Cordillera El Avila area, providing a natural barrier to the coastline. The distinct ecosystems are called home by literally hundreds of bird species, such as colourful parrots, parakeets, toucanets and trogons. There are also lots of interesting mammals, with the most common including porcupines, squirrels, howler monkeys and armadillos. For the best views, consider taking a ride on the Teleferico Warairarepano cable car, which heads up to the mountain peak, or alternatively, you may like to join one of the scenic hiking trails. If you want to make the very most of your excursion, then you can take advantage of the camping sites and stay for an extra day or two.
Open hours: daily - 06:00 to 17:00
San Francisco de Yare
Located approximately 70 km / 43 miles to the south-east of Caracas, this small and quiet town really does come alive each June, during its famous Festival de los Diablos Danzantes (Dancing Devils Festival). This event dates back more than 250 years and is steeped in tradition. As part of the mammoth celebrations, locals dress up like the devil, wearing red outfits, horns and traditional papier-mache masks. One attraction well worth visiting is the Casa de los Diablos Danzantes, where various festival photographs and masks are displayed so that you can get a taster of what you are missing.
Lying on the northern side of the Parque Nacional El Avila, Litoral Central is a narrow coastal strip containing a number of seaside towns, such as Caraballeda, Catia La Mar, La Guaira, Macuto, Maiquetia and Naiguata. Following a period of torrential rain at the end of 1999, the Litoral Central area saw a series of devastating mudslides, when literally thousands of locals were buried beneath the mud. However, a huge renovation effort has seen the worst-hit towns begin to rise again. Macuto is especially popular and comes with some old colonial buildings, a new promenade and access to the Teleferico cable cars.
Guatopo National Park (Parque Nacional Guatopo)
Address: Parque Nacional Guatopo, Miranda State, Venezuela, VE
Sited to the south-east of Caracas, the Guatopo National Park was officially established just after the mid-20th century and comprises much lush rainforest. A whole host of native wildlife can be found here, including armadillos, jaguars and tapirs, along with innumerable colourful birds and exotic snakes. The hiking trails are fairly basic, although the elevated views are great, with the noticeable lack of tourists being another highlight.
Open hours: daily
Admission: charge for guide