Hidden in the heights of the Andes, the colourful city of La Paz, Bolivia will surprise you with its fascinating mix of tradition and modernism. With over 2.7 million inhabitants, it’s the largest city in Bolivia and the perfect place to indulge in the rich culture and history of this unique country. We’ve created a quick […]
Hidden in the heights of the Andes, the colourful city of La Paz, Bolivia will surprise you with its fascinating mix of tradition and modernism. With over 2.7 million inhabitants, it’s the largest city in Bolivia and the perfect place to indulge in the rich culture and history of this unique country. We’ve created a quick La Paz city guide to show you the best sights and travel tips, along with our top recommendations.
Once you’ve reached its dizzying heights and acclimatized to the altitude, you’ll find plenty to do in this vast metropolis. Spend at least 2-3 days to see the city’s main attractions, or if you enjoy the urban lifestyle, consider spending more time here to really soak up the ambience. Make sure you don’t miss these 6 top attractions:
The nearby city of El Alto, overlooking La Paz, is a great way to experience local Bolivian culture. Spend the day exploring Bolivia’s largest open-air market and discover the unique architecture of Freddy Mamani, which fuses together futuristic and indigenous design.
La Paz’s unique transportation system is not only a great way to get a birds-eye view of the city, but it is also designed to be more environmentally friendly and cheaper than the bus! The cable car is the longest and highest in the world at over 10 km long and 13,000 ft high.
|San Francisco Church
This church is one of La Paz’s most important historical landmarks with construction dating back to 1549. It was rebuilt in its current form in the 18th century and has remained a focal point in the city. Take a guided tour to learn more of its historical, religious and cultural significance throughout the centuries.
A visit to Bolivia’s largest cemetery is far from the sombre or mournful experience you may expect; rather it is a bustling place where locals walk, relax and even organise gatherings with their loved ones. If you’re here on 2nd November, make sure you visit to see the elaborate celebrations of the Día de Los Muertos.
|Bolivian Andean Textile Art Museum
Intricate and colourful textiles are ubiquitous throughout Bolivia and iconic of its unique culture; no doubt you will see or buy some during your travels! A visit to this museum will give you an insight into the weaving process, as well as the historical and cultural significance of this art form in indigenous culture.
Step back in time to La Paz’s colonial period by taking a stroll down Calle Jaen. This cobblestone street is lined with colourful, 18th-century buildings; home to five of the city’s most important museums and is also a buzzing bohemian hub of bars, restaurants and coffee shops.
While you’re visiting, you’ll undoubtedly want to try the delicious local cuisine. For cheap eats, head to Mercado Rodriguez, La Paz’s largest food market. Here you can buy all kinds of fresh vegetables, meats, seafood, and a number of small eateries serve delicious broths, meats, and local specialities; it’s said to be the best place to try the infamous bull penis soup! Other popular options include:
Besides street food, La Paz has a growing restaurant scene and a couple of fine-dining restaurants have opened in the city serving gourmet Bolivian dishes. We’d recommend heading to Restaurant 1700 which serves a fusion of Bolivian and international flavours within a beautiful baroque style interior. Along with the food, diners also get to sample local gin and native fruits. Alternatively, Gustu was ranked No.28 in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 and uses 100% Bolivian products. It was founded by the ex-chef of the two Michelin star Noma restaurant in Copenhagen. A 15-course tasting menu accompanied 8 wines will set you back around 120 USD.
Cycle the Death Road
La Paz’s infamous ‘Death Road’ made its name due to the countless accidents which occurred every year – in 1995 the Inter-American Development Bank estimated there to be between 200 and 300 deaths every month! In 2006, a safer and more modern road was completed so ‘Death Road’ is mainly used by thrill-seeking tourists. There are plenty of tours offering full-day cycling trips starting at La Cumbre Pass at 4700m and descending all the way down to Coroico at 1200m.
Shop at the Witches Market
You’ll be sure to find some unique souvenirs at this peculiar market. From llama foetuses and dried frogs to aphrodisiacs and armadillos, the weird and wonderful exists in an abundance here. Traditionally, these products are used in indigenous rituals, for example, llama foetuses are given as an offering to the Pachamama (mother earth) before the construction of new buildings.
Hike Huayna Potosí
Although it stands at 6088m high, Huayna Potosí is classified as a beginner-level hike; a rare chance for non-experienced climbers to make it over the 6000m mark. It takes 3 days to reach the summit and you’ll need to be fit and acclimatized to the altitude, but this once in a lifetime experience will reward with breathtaking views over La Paz and the Cordillera Real.
Watch Cholita Wrestling
This bizarre attraction originally started as an outlet for domestic violence victims to relieve their stress and regain a sense of empowerment. Juan Mamani, a promoter, tapped into the entertainment potential and it is now a professional sport in Bolivia. The theatrical performances are given by cholitas fully dressed in their traditional outfits, wrestling against a male villain.