Getting Around, Caracas Travel, Transport and Car Rental
(Caracas, Miranda, Venezuela)
As Caracas is the gateway to Venezuela
, there is a good selection of international flights from most parts of the globe. Moving around the city is another story. The public transport system is widely regarded to be disorganised and unsafe. There is a metro system that is useful for travel during the day, but most visitors avoid the buses. Taxis are the best choice for inner-city transportation.
Caracas is not a good city to travel around on foot. Street crime is a very real hazard that is hard to avoid. While no part of the city can be regarded as completely safe, the districts of Las Mercedes, Altamira, El Rosal and Los Palos Grandes are amongst the safest by day. The popular tourist spots of Sabana Grande and Capitolio are also considered fine during the daytime, if you take care of your things and watch for pickpockets.
Simon Bolivar International Airport (CCS) / Arriving by Air
Address: Avenida La Armada, Maiquetia, Venezuela, VE
Tel: +58 0212 355 2858
Locals and travel agents refer to the airport of Caracas as the Maiquetia Airport, while to the locals it is officially the Instituto Autónomo del Aeropuerto Internacional de Maiquetia Simon Bolivar. This busy air field serves around nine million passengers annually from its two terminals (international and domestic) and is approximately 28 km / 17 miles to the north of the capital, where it functions as the main entry point for travellers to Venezuela.
The official airport taxi company Astrala is the best choice for transport to your hotel. Pirate taxi drivers will certainly try to get your business, but these run the risk of muggings and other trouble. Cheap private vans called 'por puestos' travel between the airport and the Gato Negro Metro station, although this isn't a good option if you have a lot of luggage.
Driving in Caracas is a daunting challenge for even the strongest of drivers. The city suffers from heavy traffic, a confusing layout and a definite lack of parking. If you don't plan to stay long or explore much of the countryside, you won't really need the hassle of driving yourself. However, renting a car can be the ideal way to cruise around the outskirts of Caracas and experience the amazing countryside that covers Venezuela. Rental firms can be found at the airport terminal and around the main hubs of the city.
Buses and Coaches
Two separate but parallel bus systems operate in Caracas, stopping at three bus stations - the Terminal La Bandera (Avenida Nueva Granada), the Terminal de Oriente (Autopista Caracas-Guarenas) and the Terminal Nuevo Circo (Avenida Lecuna). Those looking to travel outside of the city can find buses running between the following destinations (note that both Barcelona and Valencia are obviously the Venezuelan versions):
- Barcelona - (five hours)
- Barinas (nine hours)
- Barquisimeto (four hours)
- Carupano (nine hours)
- Ciudad Bolivar (nine hours)
- Coro (nine hours)
- Cumana (seven hours)
- Guanare (five hours)
- La Victoria (one hour and 30 minutes)
- Maracay (one hour and 30 minutes)
- Maturin (eight hours)
- Puerto Cabello (two hours and 30 minutes)
- Puerto La Cruz (five hours)
- San Cristobal (ten hours)
- San Felipe (three hours and 30 minutes)
- San Fernando (eight hours)
- Valencia - (three hours)
The Metrobus is the more conventional urban network and can be used together with the underground Metro system. Smaller vans and minibuses serve as private shuttles, picking up and dropping off passengers on vaguely established routes. Unless you know your way around Caracas, these private vans are not a good choice. Even the Metrobus can be risky, as crowded buses are prowled by pickpockets.
The fully air-conditioned Metro transport system in Caracas is relatively safe and clean, being one of the fastest ways to travel around. Its main line crosses the city from Propatria in the west to Palo Verde in the east, with north to south lines connecting with the Capitolio and Plaza Venezuela areas. Prices are very cheap and tickets can be used on the public buses within four hours of use. Save your ticket, because you will need it to exit the station.
The Metro runs everyday from 05:30 until 23:00, although it is not advisable to use the trains after dark. Also be aware of your belongings at the busy Metro stations, as thieves ply their trade here.
The taxis in Caracas usually do not have meters. Fares within most parts of the city are not exactly cheap, and tourists almost always get overcharged, so make sure that you negotiate a fair price before you set off. Hotel staff will know the proper fares to popular destinations and can help you avoid being ripped off. Taxi drivers will add 20 percent to the fare after 18:00, but this is quite normal and legal.
There are a dozen different taxi companies in Caracas, and all legal taxis have yellow license plates. Avoid the pirate taxis at all costs. They have signs on the roof that are detachable and are the source of countless travellers' tales of muggings and hijackings.