The 10 Best-Kept Secrets of Caracas

The 10 Best-Kept Secrets of Caracas
Caracas, the crazy, exciting capital of Venezuela, and one of the most beautiful and varied cities in South America. Want to know what to do here? As well as the picturesque golden beaches and idyllic natural landscapes characteristic of the region, there are a number of hidden gems and activity secrets that don’t often make the pages of the average guide book. Here are our top tips on the stuff to see off the beaten track.
Flowers in Caracas I © Daniel/ Flikr

Salsa at Club Privé

A tradition beginning with Le Club, a salsa institution in Caracas since 1969, Club Privé is the place for visitors to Venezuela who love never-ending nights of dance and music. The luxurious lounge, open on weekends only, is located in the heart of the city, and hosts rambunctious parties until the early morning every Saturday and Sunday. Even if you can’t salsa, all customers here are enthusiastically encouraged to don their dancing shoes and party into the night.

Club Privé, Avenida Ppal. de Las Mercedes C.C. Paseo Las Mercedes. 0212 264 66 77

Salsa Club Privé
Salsa Club Privé I Courtesy of Club Privé

Trasnocho Cultural Lounge

Trasnocho Cultural Lounge is a hip and trendy space boasting a chic, polished granite floor, mirrored ceilings and towering pillars. And it is the home of highbrow culture in Caracas, with a cinema, café and theater all regularly hosting works by renowned literary figures, such as the Peruvian playwright Mario Vargas Llosa. Lounge on the leather ottomans and cozy beanbags here whilst admiring the enthralling photography of Venezuelan Gabriela Medina, whose work stylishly adorns the walls. It’s worth visiting on alternate Wednesdays, when short film nights are hosted, showcasing both local and international filmmaking talent.

Trasnocho Cultural Lounge, CC Paseo Las Mercedes, Caracas, Venezuela 0212 993 13 25

The Amazonian Parrots in Las Mercedes

Bold and beautiful Amazonian parrots flock to Las Mercedes, the largest shopping district in Latin America, where they sqwawk with shrill pitches and line the trees of the Guaire River. During the day they soar to the Avila Mountain Range to feed, and return at dusk to occupy the mango and palm trees of the area. This is a colorful and noisy Caracas spectacle, with over 30 parrots and macaws flying through the skies here every evening.

Las Mercedes, Caracas

Plaza Bolívar during the St James Festival

Santiago (Saint James) is the patron saint of Spain, and on July 27th his feast day is celebrated vivaciously in the heart of Caracas, in Plaza Bolívar. Originally the Plaza Mejor, the main square of the city during Venezuela’s colonial period, it is is surrounded by important buildings including the Caracas Cathedral, the Sacred Museum, the Archbishop’s Palace and the City Hall. Visit this spot during the festival of St James and witness a spectacle of singing, dancing, colored ribbons flying and salsa in the street, as Caracas locals pay homage to the Spanish influences which are so starkly evident in their heritage.

Plaza Bolivar, Caracas

Bolívar Family Crypt

In the Catedral de Caracas visitors can see the Bolivar family crypt, a site which houses the tombs of Simon Bolívar’s father, who died when he was only two and a half, his mother, who died when he was only nine, and his bride of Spanish origin, who died of yellow fever when he was 18. These marble tombs beautifully commemorate those closest to the important political leader, and it is believed that they all significantly influenced and inspired him on his anti-colonial quest to liberate South America.

Catedral de Caracas, Caracas

Walking the Ávila Mountains

Parque Nacional Ávila is home to a mountain range reaching 2,765m at its highest peak, Pico Naiguatá. Strolls through this area offer some of the best views of the Caribbean sea and the surrounding cityscape, and the range is also home to 200 varieties of birds as well as 130 types of reptile and mammal. Walkers here are likely to see the famous electric-blue hummingbirds, or many a vivid, pretty parrot. Be sure to use the well-marked trails, shelters and ranger stations here, and with the trails offering a wealth of different difficulty levels, there is something to suit walkers of all abilities here.

Visit the Casa de Rómulo Gallegos – CELARG

The ultra-trendy Casa de Rómulo Gallegos is a modern and contemporary art exhibition center, featuring a bookstore, a cute cafe and an impressive eatery called Vizios. It also hosts a number of art-house movies in the evening, as well as regular concerts spanning all music genres. Popular among the locals, head here if you don’t want a typical travel-book experience.

Casa de Rómulo Gallegos, Av Luis Roche, Altamira, Caracas, Venezuela 0212 285 2644

The Village of El Hatillo

Just 20km outside of Caracas, this pretty village, El Hatillo, maintains a quaint, countryside charm despite recent spurts of modern development. Expect to see houses painted in a variety of colors here as well as a stunningly whitewashed church. The village boasts an array of picturesque restaurants and pizzerias in which to dine, and exudes a rustic and warm atmosphere. The best day to venture here is on Sunday, when you can purchase souvenirs at the Hannsi, a huge barn brimming with Venezuelan handicrafts from all over the country.

El Hatillo, Venezuela

Visit a Monument of Independence, the Santa Rosa Chapel

Regarded by the people of Caracas as the cradle of independence, the Santa Rosa Chapel is more than just a remnant of the colonial period. The structure was situated in the same spot when congress declared independence on 5 July 1811. Located in the Concejo Municipal, the colonial building, it has since then also served as the seminary, and as the University of Caracas. The ground floor here houses the Museo Caracas (Caracas Museum), which contains works by Venezuela’s most celebrated painters, as well as many other historic artifacts. This site was declared a National Historic Landmark on 16 February 1979.

Concejo Municipal © Wiki Commons

The Archives; A Hidden Retreat

The Hemeroteca, the archives of Caracas, is the best place in the country to explore the city’s past. It is home to the national archive of newspapers and magazines, and is equipped with vast reading rooms allowing visitors to delve into a rich and varied history dating back hundreds of years, a story comprised of significant historical, cultural and political chapters. A must-see here is the edition of Venezuela’s first ever printed newspaper, made in 1808.

Hermeroteca, Caracas, Venezuela 0212 564 1215