Attractions Nearby Maracaibo, Day Trips and Excursions

(Maracaibo, Zulia, Venezuela)

You'll have to head out a fair way to get the most out of the Maracaibo surrounds. You could just take in the lake and its many towns that hang on the shores, however, such as those attractions on the Oriental Coast to the south-east. Another popular day trip is San Carlos Island, which is highly suitable for an excursion and lies within the lake, not far from Maracaibo.

Attractions further afield include the old town of Coro and its spectacular scenery, comprised of mountains and sand dunes. The city of Merida, to the south of Maracaibo, is good for forays into the lofty Andes proper. San Carlos del Zulia can be done on the same trip as Merida, while some pleasant beaches will greet you at Los Puertos de Altagracia and on the Isla de Toas. It is even possible to catch a bus to Maicao in Colombia, although you will need to bring your passport and allow plenty of time to pass through the necessary checkpoints.

San Carlos Island (Isla de San Carlos)

San Carlos Island resides at the top end of Maracaibo Lake and is accessible by boat from Punta Arenas. The island is mostly deserted and comes with some nice white sandy beaches and, most of all, is the perfect counter to busy city life. San Carlos Castle (Castillo de San Carlos) is a major landmark on the island, being built in the latter part of the 17th century to protect the entrance of the lake from possible pirate attacks. The castle has now been declared as a national monument and has been thoroughly restored.
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
Admission: free, charge for boat ride

Oriental Coast (Costa Oriental)

The Oriental Coast resides on the eastern shore of Lake Maracaibo and contains a few cities suitable for day trips. They are located off to the south-east of the city centre and are accessible by boat, or by taking the Maracaibo Lake Bridge, and include Santa Rita, Cabimas, and Ciudad Ojeda. These old cities have several sights and attractions, including the Muro de Contención wall.
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
Admission: charge, bridge toll

Coro and Surrounds

Lying up on the coast a few hours north-east of Maracaibo is the original capital of Venezuela, gaining that prestigious title in 1528. Coro is known for its rich forms in the historic downtown area and perhaps has the best colonial architecture in the country. Nearby are the Los Medanos de Coro sand dunes and the lofty Sierra de San Luis mountains, along with the beaches of the Paraguana Peninsula. Many very noteworthy museums are present in Coro and all come housed within attractive colonial buildings. The best of these include the Museo de Arte Alberto Henriquez, the Museo de Arte de Coro and the Museo Diocesano Lucas Guillermo Castillo. Located on the north-easterly outskirts of the city, the Parque Nacional Medanos de Coro offers an unusual desert-style landscape.

Laguna de Sinamaica

One of the most visited attractions close to Maracaibo (roughly 60 km / 37 miles to the north) is the Laguna de Sinamaica, where the shore is called home by some traditional settlements with groups of stilt houses, known as 'palafitos'. It is even possible to stay in a stilted guest house here, with the Posada Keitchikaru featuring three rooms with quite a view. The best way to explore the lagoon is to join a pleasure cruise.


The Andean university city of Merida is off to the south of Maracaibo Lake, being approximately 225 km / 139 miles away and known to lovers of the outdoors. The city actually resides at the foot of the Andes, within reach of Venezuela's highest point - the snowcapped Pico Bolivar mountain. The central Mercado Principal offers fun shopping and eating, while recreational activities include paragliding, bungee jumping, canyoning and white water rafting, amongst other attractions. If you are here for sightseeing purposes, then head to the Plaza Bolivar and check out the Catedral de Merida, the Museo Arquidiocesano and the Casa de la Cultura Juan Felix Sanchez.

San Carlos del Zulia

The historical town of San Carlos del Zulia can be seen as part of a loop excursion around the bottom end of Maracaibo Lake, along with Merida. There are many important historic attractions within the town, as well as some fine sights nearby. These include the Catatumbo and Escalante rivers, the Birimbay Lagoon and the bogs of San Miguel de Agua Clara.

Catatumbo Swamp National Park (Parque Nacional Cienagas del Catatumbo)

Address: Parque Nacional Cienagas del Catatumbo, Venezuela, VE
The Catatumbo Swamp National Park forms an important protected area of nature and lies between Lake Maracaibo and the Perija mountain range. Tours can be easily organised from Merida and many people choose to take an excursion here, not only to admire the swamps and wading birds, but also to see the famous Catatumbo lightning, which is quite spectacular and takes place here some 300 days of the year. The frequent lightning is believed to be caused by the regional topography and the arrival of cold winds. When viewed by night, the dramatic lightning streaks are nothing short of spectacular.
Open hours: daily - 24 hours
Admission: free