La Paz is often overlooked by travelers, but it truly deserves more attention. Situated among the majestic Andes Mountains, it proudly claims the title of the highest capital in the world. As Bolivia’s largest city, La Paz offers a wealth of incredible experiences. Visitors can explore captivating museums that showcase the region’s rich history and vibrant culture. Additionally, the city’s breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains are a sight to behold.
One distinctive feature of La Paz is its innovative and efficient cable car system, providing a unique way to navigate the city while enjoying stunning aerial views. It’s important to note that due to the high altitude, warm clothing is necessary throughout most of the year, and acclimatization to the elevation is advisable before embarking on any intense sightseeing activities.
To ensure you make the most of your time in this extraordinary city, we have compiled a comprehensive list of the top things to do in La Paz. Prepare yourself for an immersive experience in the wonders of La Paz and create memories that will last a lifetime.
1 – Mi Teleferico
If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind and exciting way to get around La Paz, don’t miss the opportunity to experience Mi Teleferico, also known as My Cable Car. This innovative and advanced cable car system not only offers a convenient mode of transportation within the city but also provides breathtaking panoramic views from a bird’s-eye perspective. Since its launch in 2014, Mi Teleferico has become a popular choice for both locals and tourists.
With its initial three lines and 10 stations, this state-of-the-art cable car system has revolutionized transportation in La Paz. And the good news is, it continues to expand with plans for additional lines in the future, making it even more accessible and reaching more areas. When it first opened, Mi Teleferico held the title of the longest aerial cable car system in the world, spanning an impressive distance of 10 kilometers or 6.2 miles.
One of the major advantages of Mi Teleferico is its ability to connect La Paz with the neighboring city of El Alto. In the past, reaching El Alto by car could be time-consuming due to traffic congestion on the ground. However, with the Red and Yellow lines of the cable car system, travelers can now enjoy a seamless journey between these two cities, saving valuable time and avoiding frustrating delays.
Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast seeking a unique vantage point of La Paz or a traveler in search of efficient transportation options, Mi Teleferico is an excellent choice. So, hop on board this remarkable cable car system and immerse yourself in the beauty and grandeur of La Paz from above.
2 – Museo Nacional del Arte
The Museo Nacional del Arte, is a fascinating destination for art enthusiasts and cultural explorers. This renowned museum showcases an extensive collection of exquisite artworks that reflect the rich heritage and diverse artistic expressions of Bolivia. Stepping into this cultural haven, visitors are greeted with a mesmerizing array of paintings, sculptures, textiles, and ceramics, each telling its own captivating story.
One of the highlights of the Museo Nacional del Arte is its impressive collection of colonial art, which provides a glimpse into Bolivia’s history during the Spanish colonial period. Admire the intricate religious paintings that adorn the walls, marvel at the delicate craftsmanship of the colonial sculptures, and immerse yourself in the fascinating narratives depicted across the various exhibits. As you wander through the museum’s halls, you’ll also encounter contemporary artworks that offer a contemporary perspective on Bolivian culture and society. From thought-provoking installations to vibrant modern paintings, the Museo Nacional del Arte effortlessly blends tradition with innovation, inviting visitors to engage with art in an immersive and meaningful way.
Whether you appreciate classical art or contemporary masterpieces, this museum promises to captivate your senses and leave you with a deeper appreciation for Bolivia’s artistic heritage. Step into a world of creativity, be inspired by the talent of Bolivian artists, and let the Museo Nacional del Arte take you on a journey through time and culture.
3 – Basilica de San Francisco
Are you ready to embark on a journey through time and culture? Let me take you to the enchanting Basilica of San Francisco in La Paz, Bolivia. This remarkable church holds a rich history that predates even the founding of the city itself.
As you approach the Basilica, its Baroque exterior immediately catches your eye. The intricate designs and artistic details showcase a harmonious blend of Bolivian native and Catholic cultures. Native symbols, such as birds, snakes, and dragons, adorn the façade, intertwining with the religious motifs.
As you step inside, prepare to be mesmerized by the opulence that lies within. The interior of the Basilica boasts small cedar chapels, each lovingly adorned with delicate gold leaf decorations. These chapels serve as intimate spaces for reflection and prayer, transporting you to a realm where time seems to stand still.
But the real treat awaits those who venture to the rooftop. Ascend to new heights and witness breathtaking views of La Paz sprawling beneath you. The city’s vibrant energy, nestled between towering mountains, unfolds like a painting before your eyes. It’s a moment that captures the essence of this unique destination.
4 – Plaza Murillo
Located in the heart of La Paz, Plaza Murillo is a vibrant and historically significant central square. It is surrounded by prominent government buildings, including the Presidential Palace and a majestic cathedral. The square, which was originally known as Plaza Mayor from the 16th century onwards, underwent a name change in 1902 to honor Pedro Murillo, a revered Bolivian leader who played a pivotal role in the 1810 independence from Spain.
Beyond its picturesque appeal, Plaza Murillo serves as a significant cultural hub and gathering place for various city celebrations. Throughout the year, this vibrant square becomes a focal point for festivities, showcasing the rich heritage and vibrant spirit of La Paz. Whether it is a national holiday, a cultural event, or an important civic occasion, Plaza Murillo stands as a testament to the city’s history and its ongoing commitment to celebrating its past while embracing its future.
Plaza Murillo is not just a square brimming with historical significance and architectural grandeur, but also a place where locals and visitors can immerse themselves in the vibrant traditions and cultural celebrations that define La Paz. It is a space where the past and present seamlessly intertwine, inviting all to appreciate and experience the unique charm of this remarkable city.
5 – Calle Jaen
Located near Plaza Murillo, Calle Jaen is a charming cobblestone street renowned as the finest colonial street in La Paz, the capital city of Bolivia. This narrow thoroughfare, with its picturesque setting, is adorned with brightly colored houses that have stood the test of time, dating back to the 16th century. Walking along Calle Jaen is like taking a step back in time, as the colonial architecture transports visitors to a bygone era.
In addition to its architectural beauty, Calle Jaen is a vibrant area that offers a variety of boutiques, cafes, and entertainment venues. The street buzzes with activity, creating an energetic atmosphere that captivates both locals and tourists alike. Each boutique showcases unique handicrafts and traditional Bolivian artwork, providing visitors with an opportunity to take a piece of La Paz’s rich culture home with them. The cafes lining the street offer a perfect spot to relax and people-watch, while savoring a cup of freshly brewed Bolivian coffee or indulging in delicious local cuisine.
Calle Jaen is not just a cobblestone street; it is a living testament to La Paz’s rich history and cultural heritage. Its architectural beauty, vibrant atmosphere, and significant museums make it a must-visit destination for anyone exploring this captivating city. Whether you are strolling along the charming cobblestones, immersing yourself in the bustling energy of the area, or delving into the fascinating exhibits of the museums, Calle Jaen offers a truly unforgettable experience.
6 – Jardín Botánico
Situated in the Miraflores area, the Botanical Garden can be found at 2073 Nicaragua and Lucas Jaimes streets. This delightful space serves as a recreational haven, showcasing the rich diversity of flora found in the country. Spanning across 16,000 square meters, it boasts an impressive collection of 96,414 plant species, as reported by Emaverde. The garden is currently in the process of establishing a herbarium and a specialized library dedicated to botany and the environment. Visitors can marvel at a wide variety of plants, including palm trees, roses, cacti, orchids, and more, sourced from various regions of Bolivia such as Chapare, Valle Grande, Chaco, and the subtropical areas. Adding to its charm are two magnificent shields of La Paz and Bolivia, crafted using seedlings. Additionally, the garden features greenhouses and an aquarium for further exploration and enjoyment.
7 – Pipiripi Children Museum
If you are traveling with kids, The Pipiripi Interactive Space in La Paz is a great choice. The museum has recently opened three new rooms to help children learn about biodiversity and nature. The rooms are called “The Children’s Forest,” “Planet Station,” and a creation and innovation laboratory. In the first room, visitors can explore the Amazon rainforest through plush replicas of over 40 wild animals. The second room focuses on the biodiversity of Lake Titicaca and the importance of protecting water resources. It also showcases a collection of photographs featuring Bolivian species. The creation and innovation laboratory is equipped with tools and materials to encourage the design of solutions to environmental problems. The space also offers educational resources such as games, books, stories, and audiovisual materials to promote understanding of ecology, biodiversity, and climate change. Additionally, CO2 detection sensors have been installed to measure air quality. The aim is to make Pipiripi the leading environmental education space in the city.
Pipiripi is open from Wednesday to Friday from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm and from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. On Saturdays and Sundays, it is open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. The entrance fee is Bs 3.50 (children aged three and above pay).
8 – Sopocachi
Sopocachi is a neighborhood that dates back to the republican era. Known for its bohemian and artistic atmosphere, Sopocachi is centrally located and falls under the Cotahuma district. It is primarily a residential area and one of the largest residential districts in the city, along with Calacoto. Many of the city’s prominent buildings can be found here.
Sopocachi is home to notable landmarks such as Plaza Abaroa, Plaza España, and Montículo, a large hill with monumental areas. The architectural styles range from modern to those from the 1800s. The neighborhood boasts a vibrant nightlife, with numerous bars, pubs, and discos scattered throughout. These venues offer a variety of musical genres for patrons to enjoy.
9 – Witches’ Market
This extraordinary marketplace offers an experience unlike any other, unless, of course, one has an interest in procuring fascinating curiosities such as dried frogs or llama fetuses, which serve as the market’s captivating specialty.
Beyond its intriguing assortment of mystical artifacts, the Witches Market also boasts an extensive array of herb and folk remedies. Here, you can discover an array of potent concoctions and traditional remedies that have been passed down through generations, offering holistic solutions for various ailments and afflictions. Additionally, the market is a treasure trove for those seeking products designed to manipulate and interact with the spirits that reside within the indigenous realm, providing a portal into the mystic world that lies beyond our everyday perception.
Cholitas Wrestling in La Paz
Witnessing a group of resilient and determined cholitas engage in intense battles within the ring is without a doubt one of the most remarkable and peculiar tourist attractions in La Paz. These formidable indigenous women, adorned in their traditional attire, showcase an impressive range of athletic maneuvers to assert their dominance over their male opponents, captivating the enthusiastic crowd. Here’s everything you need to know about this event.
Not too long ago, the term “cholita” was used exclusively in a derogatory manner to demean indigenous women for their clothing choices and cultural practices. However, thanks to the efforts of the Aymara president Evo Morales and the indigenous rights movement, a sense of pride has been restored among these previously marginalized individuals. Cholitas can now proudly don their traditional garments, including the pollera (skirt), shawl, and bowler hat, without fear of retaliation, both in the streets of La Paz and within the wrestling arena.
In conclusion, La Paz, Bolivia, is a hidden gem that offers a multitude of captivating experiences for travelers. From exploring the innovative cable car system of Mi Teleferico to immersing oneself in the rich artistic heritage at the Museo Nacional del Arte, La Paz has something for everyone. The enchanting Basilica de San Francisco and the historical Plaza Murillo provide glimpses into the city’s past, while the vibrant Calle Jaen showcases its colonial charm. Nature lovers can find solace in the Jardín Botánico, while families can enjoy educational fun at the Pipiripi Children Museum. Sopocachi offers a lively atmosphere and architectural wonders, and the Witches’ Market adds a touch of mysticism to the experience. Lastly, witnessing the Cholitas Wrestling is a unique and empowering cultural event. La Paz is truly a destination that deserves more attention, offering visitors an immersive and unforgettable journey through its wonders.