Getting Around, Maracaibo Travel, Transport and Car Rental
(Maracaibo, Zulia, Venezuela)
You can travel to Maracaibo from Miami
and from cities in the region, although most arrivals tend to go through Caracas. The airport in Maracaibo is 15 minutes from downtown via public transport, while the Lake Bridge is a mere ten minutes to the south. This bridge is the main artery to the city, with the Lara-Zulia speedway coming in from the east.
Bus transport serves Maracaibo from around Venezuela
, including from Caracas, although it is better to fly from here if you can - flight time is under an hour. Getting about the city itself is best done via taxi travel as opposed to bus transportation, for the safety and convenience aspect. However, walking around the downtown area by day is fine, although the strong sunshine can prove tiring. Tourists may therefore like to consider using the red and yellow sightseeing Tranvia tramway, enjoying the commentary along the way.
La Chinita International Airport (MAR) / Arriving by Air
Address: Avenida El Aeropuerto / Avenida Don Manuel Belloso, Maracaibo, Venezuela, VE
Tel: +58 261 735 8094
La Chinita International Airport serves Maracaibo and is the country's second airport, after the Simon Bolivar International Airport (CCS) in Caracas. The airport is off to the south-west of the city, roughly 12 km / 7 miles away, and receives flights from around the region, serving in excess of 1.5 million passengers each year. Aeropostal, Aserca, Avior, Conviasa and Venezolana are the principal airlines, flying to and from destinations (some seasonal) such as Barcelona, Caracas
, Las Piedras, Maturin, Oranjestad, Porlamar, Puerto Ordaz, Punta Cana, Santa Barbara del Zulia, Santo Domingo, Valencia
and Willemstad, amongst others. Flights also arrive from Panama City and Aruba, as well as from Miami - with American Airlines (three hours).
Facilities are fair at La Chinita International Airport, with a road running right into the downtown district. Taxis and hotel shuttle transport also serve the airport, together with car hire.
The best bet for renting cars in Maracaibo is to do so from the airport. There are major car rental companies at La Chinita Airport and you can pre-book car rental ahead online. You are also able to hire cars in the city itself, with rental outlets being located on Calle 76 (Budget) and also on Calle 68 (Hertz), at the Hotel Kristoff. It is really only worth renting a car if you plan on exploring the surroundings, such as the lake shore and the Oriental Coast. Those driving to the northerly suburbs will find them linked by the Avenida Bella Vista, the Avenida El Milagro and the Avenida Libertador.
Buses and Coaches
Bus transport arrives directly from Santa Marta, Colombia, as well as from Caracas (ten hours and 30 minutes) and Merida
(nine hours) - both of which are night buses. Regular bus travel in Venezuela is cheap and connects all of the main surrounding cities, towns, suburbs and districts, although is generally uncomfortable and often not very safe, with regards to pickpocketing and crime. For getting around Maracaibo, making use of taxis as opposed to the local buses is the best bet.
The bus station in Maracaibo is known as the National Terminal (Terminal de Pasajeros), being located approximately 1 km / 0.5 miles to the south-west of the historic centre. Long-distance buses regularly travel between popular destinations such as Barquisimeto (five hours), Carora (three hours and 30 minutes), Coro (four hours) and Valera (four hours).
Maracaibo has a metro subway system named the 'Metro del Sol Amado', which is modern, air-conditioned and secure. Opened as recently as 2006, the metro only features a handful of stations at present, including Altos de La Vanega, El Guayabal, El Varillal, Sabaneta and Urdaneta, meaning that there are good options for getting about the south-west and city centre. In addition, the Libertado stop is conveniently near to the main bus terminal.
Taxis are cheap in Maracaibo, and certainly cheaper than those in Caracas. The key here is to never hail one if you can help it (often a difficult task anyway), since most of those driving around looking for such fares are unlicensed. Head for the taxi ranks, which are near public squares, malls and attractions. Major hotels also usually have a taxi service for guests. 'Por puesto' taxi buses are a popular alternative, departing from the corner of Calle 96 and the Avenida 12.