La Paz is a festival of pedestrians, traffic, street vendors and crazy urban dynamism. It’s a city with thousands of attractions and possibilities, for example moving through a subway from the heights of El Alto to the depths of Zona Sur.
Among the must-see sights in the Bolivian capital are Calle Jaén, Plaza Murillo, the well-known Mercado de las Brujas, the Basilica of San Francisco, the Valle de la Luna and, of course, the Killi Killi lookout point, which offers almost 360-degree views of La Paz.
But, in addition to the city, this Latin American destination includes a privileged natural environment that combines sunshine with fresh corners. Lake Titikaka, about 70 kilometers away, the archaeological site of Tiwanaku, 72 kilometers away, and the Madidi National Park are good examples.
- Top 5 reasons to visit La Paz
- What to do in La Paz
- When to visit La Paz
- How to get to La Paz
- Where to stay in La Paz
- How to get around La Paz
- Cost of living in La Paz
- Where to eat in La Paz
Top 5 reasons to visit La Paz
The Basilica of St. Francis
The main religious temple of La Paz was built in 1758. Along with its balanced and spiritual beauty, it has a legend referring to the initiatory evangelization of the natives. Don’t come back without knowing it!
Colourful, colourful and very cheerful by day, Jaén street is full of enigmas, horrifying stories and disturbing mysteries when night falls. Do you dare to visit it under the disturbing presence of darkness?
The cable car
Many cities have this means of transport. In La Paz it was built recently. Cheap and with spectacular views, we recommend that you get on it at the Plaza de España. Once in El Alto, it would be a good idea to eat a typical fried chicken.
The Valley of the Moon
Located in the Southern Zone, this is a lunar scene that seems to be taken from a space movie. Armstrong, the first astronaut to set foot on the moon, has acknowledged that it’s the closest thing to the moon he’s ever seen.
Organizing an excursion to the Sorata Valley allows you to admire the mountain known as Nevado Illampu, to go on unforgettable trekking or hiking routes, to visit the colonial town and the caves of San Pedro.
What to do in La Paz
Fascination at the Witches’ Market
Its name anticipates that it’s not a conventional flea market. It is true that you can find various handicrafts and souvenirs, but also fertility potions, flaming fetuses, alpacas and other disturbing objects.
Scaring pigeons in Murillo Square
This popular square, the center of political power in La Paz, is a tourist area that is more frequented by doves than by visitors. Its name pays tribute to Pedro Domingo Murillo, a beloved leader of independence.
Visiting Lake Titikaka
Lake Titikaka is a beautiful setting 70 kilometers west of La Paz. Considered sacred in Inca times, it is the highest navigable surface in the world. Archaeology, boat trips, trout farms, fishing areas, good services and pre-Hispanic spaces guarantee unforgettable emotions and experiences.
La Paz is also an exotic destination because of its different museums. The National Museum of Art, the Museum of Ethnography and Folklore, the Museum of Bolivian Andean Textiles and the museums on Jaén Street constitute a wonderful cultural universe and source of knowledge that allows one to get into the historical-cultural peculiarities of this city.
Photographing the San Pedro prison
It’s certainly not a place to spend the night. But if you like bizarre tourist experiences, the San Pedro prison will allow you to take good pictures. It is a very curious prison, because it is located in the center of the city, the inmates pay rent for the cells and they can receive many visitors from the outside. The inmates’ self-management cannot be seen from the outside, nor will it show up in your photographs, but it is extremely surprising.
When to visit La Paz
It is best to do so during the dry and cold season, which takes place between April and October, when the sky is clear and the sun shines almost permanently. The average annual temperature in the center of La Paz is 11 ºC and, in the highest area, 7 ºC. November is the hottest month and July the coldest.
How to get to La Paz
El Alto International Airport is located 14.5 kilometers northwest of the center and is one of the most important airports in the country. The best way to get to the capital is to take a taxi for about Bs 30. Another possibility is to use public transportation (combie or minan) for Bs 4, although the trip is limited to certain areas of the city.
Bolivia’s railway network has to adapt to the complexity of the terrain, so there are other more interesting mobility options. The Panamericana and Expreso Tupiza companies offer non-stop trips between Villazón and La Paz starting at Bs 117.50.
Travelling by road to La Paz is not a recommended option: besides the difficulties of traffic and roads, altitude sickness can play tricks on drivers. The road from Copacabana is, like almost all roads, a demanding and dangerous one.
La Paz has three bus terminals: the one in the Central Zone (between Plaza Murillo and Plaza Mayor), the provisional terminal in Minasa and the one in El Alto, which is quite dangerous and inadvisable. In all of them it is possible to take a taxi or a public transport vehicle, in this case for between Bs 1 and 2.50. The trip from the Bolivian town of Copacabana, where Lake Titikaka is located, takes about 3 and a half hours and costs about Bs 30, plus a small boat ride worth Bs 2.
Where to stay in La Paz
In La Paz there are many hostels where sleeping is comfortable and cheap. The center, for example, is a good area to stay. The Atix Hotel is a good choice of high level: it offers double rooms from Bs 974,56 per night.
Interesting neighborhoods in La Paz
Sopocachi is the most modern, coolest and cultural neighborhood in La Paz. It has many attractive restaurants and nightclubs, such as Diesel, Rendezvous and Ciclik. However, it is more expensive than the rest.
Plaza Murillo, in the center of the city, houses the political power of the country. The statue of Pedro Domingo Murillo, the fountain of the god Neptune and different female figures are its attractions.
El Alto is a fascinating but dangerous neighborhood, only suitable for reckless tourists. It is one of the youngest areas of La Paz.
How to get around La Paz
There is a wide variety of transportation options in La Paz, such as mini-vans or 12-seat vans, whose destinations are listed at the front and travelers can get off whenever they want, as long as they shout it out in time. The trip costs Bs 2. In addition, the micros are old buses that offer fixed routes for Bs 1.5. It is also possible to use the cable car, for Bs 3, and the so-called PumaKatari, new buses with seven regular lines.
Trufis (Micros) are private cars owned by strangers that will take you from one end of La Paz to the other for about Bs 20, although the price is negotiable. Radio taxis are the safest, while illegal taxis carry a rudimentary sign that identifies them, but they are even more unsafe than trufis.
The best thing you can do is forget about the car in La Paz. The danger of a collision is obvious and it is very difficult to find parking. In any case, Avis, Europcar and Budget are some of the car rental companies available in the city and offer vehicles from Bs 89,85 per day.
Cost of living in La Paz
The Mercado de las Brujas is an unforgettable shopping experience, both for handicrafts and unclassifiable objects. Uyustus has a popular market and a street with galleries and modern shops, so it is also an interesting commercial destination, as are Graneros and Tumusla streets.
Groceries and others
Among the most established supermarkets in La Paz are Hipermaxi, Fidalga and Ketal Supermarkets. To get your bearings on prices, consider that a beer in a bar will cost you about Bs 20.73; and a coffee or soft drink in a vending machine, about Bs 10.
Where to eat in La Paz
Dining in a medium-priced restaurant in this city costs about Bs 160. The Sopocachi neighborhood is ideal for eating well. In addition to the restaurants already mentioned, we recommend places like the traditional and very typical Alaya Restaurant, in the same center, where the pique macho is delicious. Gustu and Ona Restaurant are other good options.
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