8 Must Do Things In La Paz, Bolivia As A First Time Visitor

La Paz is the capital city of Bolivia and one of the highest cities in the world. If it’s your first time visiting, check out the list of 8 things to do in La Paz Bolivia for first-time visitors.
La Paz, Bolivia, Photo: Matthew Straubmuller I Flickr
La Paz, Bolivia, Photo: Matthew Straubmuller I Flickr

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Wedged between the snow-capped peaks of the Andes is the city of La Paz, Bolivia. La Paz is one of two Bolivian capitals and is a frenzied high-altitude one-of-a-kind city. It’s got all kinds of tourist activities to experience.

You can feel the uniqueness, beauty, and energy of La Paz as soon as you land at its international airport. If you’re a first-time visitor, there are 8 things you absolutely cannot miss. Check out the list below and make sure you don’t miss a thing during your trip.

1. Shop at El Mercado de las Brujas (Witches Market)

Witches Market, Bolivia, Photo: Chris Feser I Flickr

Located just one block from the San Francisco Church in the center of La Paz is the Witches Market – one of La Paz’s top attractions.

It’s on a small pedestrian street lined with tents and shops on both sides. These unique shops sell all kinds of things. From natural medicines and remedies to artisanal goods, you will be in awe of all the things to look at at the Witches Market.

Local witch doctors, known as Yatiri, will offer you might try to sell you a dried-up frog or a llama fetus that is believed to bring good fortune. Take in the local culture while perusing at 13,250 feet.

2. Hike Through the Valley of the Moon

It’s only a 10-kilometer drive from the center of La Paz and it´s said that Neil Armstrong himself named these unique rock formations the “Valley of the Moon” because of their resemblance to the craters that he observed on the moon. How cool is that?

Valley of the Moon, Bolivia, Photo: Phil Whitehouse I Flickr

The spires of the Valley of the Moon were formed over the centuries by the erosion of the mountain peaks. They are made up of clay and sandstone and you might just feel like you have been transported to the moon. Over the centuries it has become a spectacular and unusual landscape that is a must-see destination in La Paz.

There are a couple of light hiking trails that will take you around the site. They only last about an hour and are well worth it when you see the strange rock formations.

  • Cost: $2 USD entry fee
  • Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 4 PM
  • Directions: Take a taxi for around $4 USD

3. Take a Walk Down Calle Jaen

Calle Jaen is known as the most colonial street in the city and a stroll down this street should definitely be on your list of things to do.

Calle Jaen, Photo: Dvortygirl I Flickr

So what’s so special about it? It has the most preserved buildings and landmarks from when La Paz was founded during the Spanish conquest of Bolivia. The ancient cobblestone streets of Calle Jaen lead you through one of the best neighborhoods.

Visitors will walk past colorful houses, restaurants, and bars. Stop and have a drink will you take in this vibrant area, and then check out one or two of the five famous museums that are located on Calle Jean.

4. Enjoy Spectacular Views from the Mi Teleferico (Cable Cars)

For some of the most spectacular views of La Paz and the surrounding Cordillera Real mountains, you should take a ride on the Mi Teleferico cable cars. The cable car is made up of twenty-five cable car stations that reach all the way from on side of the city to the other.

Many of the locals use this to get to and from work so there might be crowds around rush hour, but there than that it’s a fast and easy way to get around the city and avoid waiting in traffic – but the best part is by far it’s incredible views of the city from above.

Cable cars, La Paz, Bolivia, Photo: Dan Lundberg I Flickr

5. Tour the Iglesia de San Francisco

The Basilica of San Francisco or the Church of San Francisco is another hot spot for tourists. It’s located in the city center in the Plaza San Francisco. It was built in the 1500s has stood the test of time.

The architecture displays the blend of the European and indigenous cultures that are defining parts of Bolivian history; its façade combines Catholic elements with indigenous symbols and flora and fauna native to Bolivia.

Iglesia de San Francisco, Photo: Dan Lundberg I Flickr

6. Walking Tour of the City

A guided walking tour is the perfect way to get oriented on your first day. There are so many nooks and crannies throughout this city that having a guide will give you the chance to see more hidden gems and interesting places that are off the beaten path

La Paz, Bolivia, Photo: Matthew Straubmuller I Flickr

La Paz has so much history, culture, and architecture that it’s imperative to learn about it all from a local guide so you will appreciate it more and get a locals perspective.

7. Glamp at Colibri Camping

On the outskirts of La Paz City is the quaint neighborhood called Jupapina. Here you will find an ecolodge called Colibri Camping. This family-run business offers a peaceful ambiance, clean facilities, and incredible views.

There are campsites if you want to pitch your own tent or adorable tipis and lodges for those who want to give glamping a try. It’s the perfect way to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city while not roughing it too much.

8. Hike to the Muela del Diablo

One of the most iconic rock formations in La Paz is the Muela del Diablo, or “Devil’s Tooth.” If you’re looking for an energetic La Paz day trip, hiking up to the Muela is a great option.

Muela del Diablo, Photo: Hernan Payrumani I Flickr

The hike is only about 2 hours to the top, but it is quite strenuous as you have to remember that you are hiking at a really high altitude of 3,825 m (or 12,549 ft.)

Be active, once you get to the top have a picnic and plenty of water. Once you make it to the summit, you will get to observe amazing views of the city. To get there ask a taxi to drop you off at the Cementerio El Pedregal.

To Sum Up

La Paz Bolivia is unlike any other city in the world. You could spend weeks exploring and still not see it all. With so much to see, the list of 8 best places to visit will hopefully help you narrow down a plan so that you can make sure to fit in the highlights of the highest city in the world.


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