Located in the far north of South America, Venezuela is a landlocked country. Its many natural wonders, historical monuments and rich cultural traditions set it apart in the region. It’s a destination where visitors can experience magnificent beaches, beautiful islands, towering mountains, cascading waterfalls, impenetrable jungles and indigenous tribes. In this unique country, the people are known for their openness, friendliness and independence. Welcome to Venezuela – the country awaits you!
Venezuela on the Map
Geographical location of Venezuela
Bordered by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, the Republic of Venezuela is located in the northern part of South America. The coastline is rugged. The Orinoco River forms a large delta to the east and the Maracaibo Lagoon to the west. Numerous islands are scattered along the 2800km coastline. The largest is Margarita. Venezuela borders Colombia to the west, Brazil to the south and Guyana to the east. The island of Trinidad is close by. It lies just 11 kilometres off the Venezuelan coast.
The country’s terrain is varied. Mountains alternate with lowlands. The Maracaibo lowlands lie in the far northwest. The Andes mountain range follows. Most of the country is covered by the jungle plains of the Llanos. The Guiana Highlands begin in the east. The highest point is Mount Bolivar in the Andes. It reaches 4978 metres. The Orinoco, one of South America’s largest rivers, flows from southwest to northeast, forming a powerful delta where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. The flora and fauna of Venezuela is rich and varied.
Travel Safety Venezuela
Due to its difficult political and economic situation, Venezuela ranks 143rd in the World Peace Index, which takes into account factors such as environmental peace and attitudes towards tourists. The most common type of crime encountered by tourists is pickpocketing. This is widespread throughout the country, especially in popular resorts such as Margarita. Robberies also occur. Tourists who venture into less safe areas alone or after consuming alcohol are the main victims. Fraudulent activities, particularly currency exchange scams, are worrying.
Traffic in the country is characterised by chaos. Local drivers often ignore signs and traffic lights due to their scarcity. There is a general lack of road quality. Hygiene is a problem. There is a large population of impoverished people. Tourists are strongly advised to avoid eating in suspicious places. They should practice good food and hand hygiene. Health risks include tropical infections such as malaria, yellow fever and hepatitis B. The hot tropical sun is a natural hazard. Some beaches have strong rip currents, although sharks are not usually a problem off the coast of Venezuela. Dangerous land animals include poisonous snakes, insects, jaguars and crocodiles. A holiday in Venezuela can be an exciting adventure with only fond memories if safety and hygiene guidelines are followed.
Holidays in Venezuela
Despite the many challenges and economic downturn, Venezuelans are known for their exuberance and joy. They enjoy a life filled with holidays, festivals and other celebrations.
The country’s public holidays are either secular, typically in commemoration of significant historical events, or religious.
Secular holidays include Independence Day, Simon Bolivar Day, Labour Day and a few others. New Year’s Day, although secular in nature, is celebrated concurrently with Christmas in the Republic.
Christmas, Easter, All Saints’ Day and Corpus Christi are religious holidays. The celebration of Corpus Christi has evolved into a lively masquerade. People wear frightening masks with horns and fangs and dance in the streets until the early hours of the morning.
The Republic celebrates many exotic festivals in addition to official holidays. As in other Latin American countries, Carnival is celebrated in February, before Lent. Lively and colourful processions take place in various cities, especially in the capital, Caracas. People find opportunities to party and dance even in the poorest neighbourhoods.
Other festivals include: The International Theatre and Song Festival, held annually in Merida.
Fun Things to Do in Venezuela
In recent years, Venezuela has seen a steady increase in tourist arrivals. The local authorities are working hard to develop the country’s infrastructure. Venezuela is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for all types of holidaymakers, despite significant economic difficulties.
Here are the 10 most important things a tourist should experience in Venezuela:
1. Holidays on the beach: The country boasts numerous stunning beaches. The Caribbean is famous for its pure white sand. The island of Margarita has some of the most popular beaches. Cayo Sombrero or the sandy spit of Cayo de Agua, surrounded by the sea on both sides, are even more vibrant.
2. Scuba diving: Corals, exotic fish, molluscs, starfish and sea urchins abound off the coast of the Republic. Virtually every beach in Venezuela is suitable for scuba diving. At around $70 per day for diving and $40 for snorkelling, equipment costs are relatively low.
3. Windsurfing: One of the most popular spots for windsurfing enthusiasts is Margarita Island. There are regular, consistent winds. The sea is warm and calm most of the time.
4. Paragliding: There are excellent paragliding spots in the country, such as the famous Placivel, located in the foothills of the Andes and surrounded by picturesque mountains. Paragliding enthusiasts visit all year round. Flights start at $60.
5. Fishing: In Venezuela, you can fish both at sea from a boat or yacht and in the more exotic rivers for piranha. These formidable and toothy fish abound in the Orinoco’s many tributaries. Such fishing allows you to admire the dense Venezuelan jungle as well as the thrill of the chase.
6. Angel Waterfalls: The world’s highest waterfall was discovered in 1937. Today it is a popular tourist destination. Still considered sacred by the local Indians, it can be reached by boat or plane. It falls 979 metres.
7. Trekking and hiking: The country has many beautiful national parks. These are ideal for trekking. You can even hike on the island of Margarita. The most popular route is in Avila Park, near Caracas.
8. Mountain climbing and rock climbing: Venezuela has stunning and challenging mountains. They will amaze any mountaineer. Climbing Mount Roraima is particularly popular. It has a flat peak where the constant rainfall creates numerous picturesque waterfalls. The climb is challenging. However, helicopter support is available.
9. Catatumbo’s lightning: A place known as the lightning capital of the world is located on Lake Maracaibo. Almost every day, 16–40 times a minute, in complete silence, without any thunder, lightning strikes here. The mystery of the origin of these flashes remains unsolved. But they are a fascinating, almost cosmic sight.
10. Ethnic tourism: Informative tours to the Amazon Indians will undoubtedly appeal to fans of exotic experiences. Numerous and little-studied tribes live in the jungles of the Orinoco tributaries. Travel agencies offer tours to several, including the Yanomamo, Warao and others. Tours to the Guajiro Indians are more accessible. They live near the Colombian border in the north of the country.
What to Know About Venezuela
Here are some of the most important things to know if you are planning to visit this country:
The official language is Spanish.
There are currently just over 28 million people living in the country.
More than half of them are mestizos, who make up 51 per cent of the population. About 43% of the population are of European descent and another 3% are of African descent. Indians make up just over 1% of the population.
- For more interesting facts about Venezuelans, their character and local culture, read this article.
The national currency is the bolivar, which is divided into 100 centimos.
There are currently banknotes in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 bolivars. There are also coins in denominations of 25 and 50 centimos and 1 bolivar.
The Venezuelan bolivar has undergone several denominations in recent years, making it one of the most volatile currencies in the world. For a more favourable exchange rate, tourists are advised to bring dollars, preferably in $50 and $100 bills. Currency can be exchanged at banks or on the black market, where rates are usually twice as good as the official ones and are constantly changing.
Most of the country’s population is Christian. The majority are Catholics. However, the relationship between the state authorities and the religion is a complicated one. Protestants are in second place. This includes the Venezuelan Assembly of God.
Venezuela has a tropical and subequatorial climate, characterised by a slight variation in average annual temperature and a division into two seasons: humid, windless summers and dry, windy winters.
On the coast, the conditions for long-term residence are not the most comfortable due to the high humidity and heat. For this reason, the Republic’s main cities are located further inland, at altitudes of between 600 and 1500 metres above sea level, where the climate is more pleasant.
The country’s rainy season lasts from May to November, while the dry season lasts from December to April.
The mountains are characterised by altitudinal belts, and above 3,000 metres the weather is cool and even cold almost all year round.
Sea Water Temperature
The average temperature of the seawater off the coast of Venezuela is relatively stable throughout the year. The bathing season in the country is not limited to a specific time, but the ideal period for beach and sea tourism is from December to April, characterised by less rain and consistently high water temperatures.
- Water temperature in winter (December-February): from +24 to +26 degrees Celsius, with the maximum in December.
- Water temperature in spring (March-May): from +24 degrees in March to +26 degrees in May.
- Water temperature in summer (June-July): from +26 to +27 degrees Celsius.
- Water temperature in autumn (September-November): from +28 to +26 degrees in November.
Earthquakes are the main natural hazard in the country, although their frequency and severity are not as pronounced as in other Caribbean countries. Nevertheless, there is the potential for a major earthquake to cause damage and loss of life.
The last significant earthquake occurred in August 2018 in the sea near the Venezuelan coast, with a magnitude of 7.3. While Caracas experienced visible shaking, resorts on the island of Margarita also felt tremors. Fortunately, there were no direct casualties from the earthquake.
Most tropical cyclones pass well north of Venezuela during the summer and autumn months. Cyclones bring increased wind and heavy rainfall, leading to flooding. For example, in October 2022, Tropical Cyclone Julia hit Venezuela, causing severe flooding and killing 54 people.
While the risk of tsunamis in the country is minimal, there is a risk from undersea earthquakes. For example, after the 1900 earthquake, a tsunami wave of up to 5 metres struck several regions of the country, killing 140 people.
During the dry season, forest fires also occur in some parts of the country, as happened in March 2016, when a fire engulfed 120,000 hectares of forest in the immediate vicinity of Caracas, causing heavy smoke in the capital.
Overall, the risk of a natural disaster in the country is minimal, but it cannot be completely ruled out.
- For more information on the most devastating disasters in Venezuela’s history, see this article.
Venezuela is a presidential republic, with the president as head of state. The president appoints the prime minister, who in turn forms the government. Legislative power is vested in a unicameral parliament known as the National Assembly.
Administratively, the country is divided into 22 states and 1 federal district, with Caracas as the capital.
Major Cities and Resorts
Caracas is the country’s capital and most populous city. Founded in 1567, it is home to over 2 million people. Caracas is known for its contrasts, with ultra-modern neighbourhoods with tall skyscrapers next to slums. The city has many museums and beautiful old buildings.
Margarita is the largest island in the country and the most sought after and popular resort. The largest town on the island is Porlamar, which is often visited by tourists in transit from Caracas. Margarita is famous for its beautiful beaches, national parks and free trade zone.
Choroni is a small village in the state of Aragua on the shores of the Caribbean Sea. Despite having only 5,000 inhabitants, it boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.
Maracaibo is the second most populous city in the country, with a population of 1.5 million. Located near the famous Maracaibo Lagoon, many tourists visit to admire the nature and the famous Catatumbo lightning. The city itself has many old churches and colonial buildings.
Symbols of Venezuela
Simon Bolivar is the national hero of the country, officially known as the Bolivarian Republic.
Mayflower – a delicate pink orchid is the national symbol.
Araguani – the country’s national tree, blooms with bright yellow golden flowers.
Trupial – a beautiful black and orange bird chosen as the national symbol.
Murals – this type of mural painting is very popular in Venezuela and has become a real art form.
How to Get to Venezuela
For a European or Asian tourist, the only way to get to Venezuela is by plane. There are 8 international airports in the country, but Venezuela’s main gateway is the capital’s airport, named after Simon Bolivar. It handles 10 million passengers a year. The largest airlines in the world operate regular flights and there are direct connections to Latin American countries, the USA, Paris, Madrid, Baku, Frankfurt and many other cities.
There are international airports in Maracaibo, Valencia and Barcelona, but the main flow of tourists passes through Caracas. Holidaymakers to Margarita Island, for example, fly from Caracas on local airlines rather than from nearby Barcelona. This is because these airports offer a very limited number of international flights, only to neighbouring countries.
Some Caribbean countries are connected to Venezuela by ferry, but these tend to be used by locals rather than European tourists.
Cost of Holidays in Venezuela
The cost of a holiday in Venezuela can vary greatly, depending on whether you plan to go on your own at your own risk, or use the services of a travel company and trusted guides.
Venezuela is located on the northern coast of South America, which is quite far from Europe. Flights to Venezuela are not cheap for tourists from the EU. For example, a round-trip ticket from Paris to Caracas will cost at least $700-900, depending on the season.
The cheapest tours to the country start from $1300 to $3000 for 7 days, not including flights. Their advantages include an extensive itinerary, during which you can get to know the country’s main attractions.
In the country itself, tourists can expect the following expenses
Food: Food prices are slightly lower than in Europe. For example, lunch in an average restaurant for two people will cost $30-80, in a local snack bar – only $8-12. A cheeseburger costs $3, a cup of cappuccino about $1.5.
Accommodation: The average price of a double room in a three-star hotel is $45-50, but you can get a room in a hostel for as little as $20. The most comfortable hotels offer rooms from $110.
Attractions: Beach services are free if you stay in a hotel, except for additional services such as diving. Many historic buildings and churches are free to visit, but you’ll have to pay to enter a museum. Themed tours can cost from $50 to $2,000. For example, a guided tour of Caracas costs $170, but a day trip to Angel Falls costs $800 per person.
Souvenirs: From Venezuela, tourists take the products of local artisans: ceramics, weaving, wooden statuettes and jewellery, Indian amulets and Negrita dolls. Food products include local coffee, cocoa beans, chocolate, rum and kokuy, a strong alcohol made from the agave plant. The cost of souvenirs is individual and can vary greatly.
Transport: It is easier and sometimes safer to get around the cities using public transport – buses and shuttles. A ticket costs between 25 and 50 cents. A taxi will cost you about $3, plus an average of $2 to $2.50 per kilometre.
Thus, taking into account a contingency fund, a holiday in Venezuela for two people will cost between $2000 and $4000 for 7 days, taking into account the flight. Of course, the maximum amount of the holiday can be much higher.
If you have already visited Venezuela, please share your impressions in the comments. Please write a few words about what you liked most, what moments you will always remember and what you would recommend to other tourists. Your recommendations will be greatly appreciated!