🇧🇴 La Paz: A Must-Visit Andean Gem – 10 Unforgettable Experiences

Written by Peter Lauffer
April 16, 2024

Many travelers overlook La Paz, Bolivia, but its unique blend of culture, adventure, and breathtaking scenery make it a destination that should top your South American bucket list. As the world's highest administrative capital, La Paz dazzles with its stunning Andean backdrop, vibrant markets, and fascinating attractions.

Here's why a stop in La Paz is unforgettable:

  • History & Politics: Explore grand plazas and historic churches.
  • Andean Landscapes: Marvel at lunar-like valleys and soaring peaks.
  • Cultural Immersion: Witness Cholita wrestling or delve into the Witches' Market.
  • Outdoor Adventures: Conquer a mountain, bike a thrilling road, or hike among otherworldly formations.

Top 10 Things to Do in La Paz

Plaza Murillo is the heart of La Paz, Bolivia. This historic square marks the center of the city and is an important symbol of Bolivia's political and cultural history.

1. Plaza Murillo: Heart of the City Immerse yourself in the lively heart of La Paz, a grand square teeming with history and energy. Admire the Presidential Palace, the majestic cathedral, and witness the pulse of the city. Watch pigeons take flight, observe locals on benches, and soak in the sights and sounds that make Plaza Murillo a true cultural hub.

The ornate facade of the San Francisco Church dominates the bustling square in La Paz.

2. Basilica of San Francisco: Where History Meets Art This historic church showcases a breathtaking blend of native Bolivian and Catholic motifs. Admire its baroque-style exterior adorned with  birds, dragons, and snakes. Ascend to the top for stunning city vistas, capturing the essence of La Paz from a unique vantage point.

Step back in time on La Paz's Jaén Street!  Cheerful colonial houses, bursting with color, invite you to explore cafes and galleries tucked within their historic walls.

3. Jaén Street: A Colonial Gem Step back in time on this charming, car-free cobblestone street, widely considered the best-preserved colonial street in La Paz. Explore colorful 16th-century houses, now transformed into museums like the Gold Museum and the Juan de Vargas Museum of Costumbrista. Browse quaint shops, sip coffee at inviting cafés, and lose yourself in the enchanting ambiance.

Llama fetuses, soapstone figurines, and bundles of unknown plants spill out of a shop at the Witches' Market.

4. Witches' Market: Mystical Potions and Rituals Delve into the fascinating world of Andean traditions at the Witches' Market. Browse dried llama fetuses (offerings to Pachamama), mysterious herbs said to harness supernatural powers, magical amulets, and a plethora of captivating remedies. Consider a guided tour to uncover the hidden meanings behind this mystical marketplace.

Moon Valley's lunar-like landscape. Wind-carved canyons and spires stretch across a barren expanse, resembling the surface of a desolate planet.pen_spark

5. Valley of the Moon: Lunar Landscapes on Earth Prepare to be transported to another world as you hike among the otherworldly formations of this natural wonder. Erosion sculpted these canyons and spires, creating a lunar-like landscape. Admire the kaleidoscope of colors from the mineral-rich soil and spot unique cacti dotting the unusual terrain.

From the Killi Killi lookout, La Paz unfolds in a detailed cityscape.  Dense neighborhoods, bustling streets, and iconic landmarks are visible from this elevated vantage point.

6. Mirador Killi Killi: Panoramic Perfection Ascend to this spectacular viewpoint and capture breathtaking panoramas of La Paz nestled within its stunning Andean setting.  At dusk, the city lights twinkle below, creating a magical scene perfect for photography enthusiasts.

A labyrinth of treasures awaits! Explore the sprawling El Alto market, where anything and everything can be found.

7. El Alto Market: A Sensory Feast Lose yourself in one of South America's largest open-air markets, a vibrant explosion of sights, sounds, and smells. Navigate the labyrinth of stalls offering everything imaginable, from clothing and electronics to traditional Andean crafts. Thursdays and Sundays promise the most extensive and immersive experience.

Two Aymara women in traditional attire grapple in a makeshift ring. Their vibrant polleras (layered skirts) swirl as they execute dramatic throws and holds.
  1. Cholitas Wrestling: Power & Culture Collide Witness a truly unique spectacle as indigenous Aymara women in full traditional dress (bowler hats and layered skirts) grapple in the wrestling ring. Immerse yourself in the cheers and the electrifying atmosphere as these strong women showcase their strength, agility, and a captivating display of cultural expression.
Ready for thrilling hikes and jungle adventures? The Yungas awaits!

9. Yungas Road: An Adrenaline-Fueled Bike Ride  Known as the "World's Most Dangerous Road," this route offers experienced cyclists an exhilarating 40-mile descent from the high Andes to the lush jungle region. While challenging, it rewards riders with breathtaking mountain scenery and a serious adrenaline rush.

Valle de las Ánimas, a landscape of weathered rock spires rising from a desert-like valley. Their elongated shapes cast mysterious shadows in the soft light.

10. Valle de las Ánimas: Where Nature Gets Eerie Hike through this intriguing natural area and discover haunting, ghost-like formations sculpted by wind and rain. Marvel at the otherworldly beauty of the clay spires and canyons, creating a landscape that feels truly out of this world.

Planning Your Next Adventure?

La Paz is a fantastic starting point for further South American exploration. Enhance your trip with our "Buenos Aires to Lima: High Andes & Machu Picchu" tour. Contact us for the perfect itinerary filled with unforgettable experiences!

Get inspired by some photos of this amazing trip:
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