It’s the world’s highest capital and a destination known for numerous extremes; La Paz, Bolivia is a captivating travel destination that far too few visitors experience. Offering countless ways to experience Bolivia’s rich and layered history, La Paz is often a hidden gem that ends up being a highlight of a trip to South America.
More than just a layover on the way to popular destinations in Bolivia like the Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats or Lake Titicaca, La Paz is an incredible hidden gem among cities in South America. Looking for the best way to enjoy a visit? These are the 24+ best things to do in La Paz, Bolivia for the trip of a lifetime.
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Best Things To Do in La Paz, Bolivia
Don’t have time to read this full article and just need a few quick tips about the very best things to do in La Paz, Bolivia? Even with just a day or two spent in La Paz, you can enjoy the best the city has to offer.
These are the things that you absolutely must do when visiting La Paz, and our recommendations for where to travel after your stay in the capital city:
- Ride the La Paz Cable Car – Mi Teleférico
- Visit the Mercado de Las Brujas (the Witches Market)
- Explore the Historic Center of La Paz
- Embark on excursions to Lake Titicaca and Salar de Uyuni
There are plenty of attractions in La Paz and destinations worth your time, but these are the best! Keep reading for more on all the best activities and things to do in this incredible city, which we consider one of the best cities for travelers in Latin America.
Things To Do in La Paz, Bolivia
1. Ride the Cable Cars
Crisscrossing mountainous La Paz, the Teleférico La Paz–El Alto, also known as Mi Teleférico is one of the city’s most important features. Riding the cable cars for a bird’s eye view of the city skyline and dramatic mountain surroundings is easily one of the best things to do in La Paz, Bolivia.
While riding cable cars is one of the best ways to take in the city, they serve a much more important purpose than just offering an incredible view: they’re an important part of the city’s public transportation network and a much-awarded sustainable urban planning feature. With twenty-six stations across ten lines, it’s considered the world’s longest aerial cable car system.
They’re quite straightforward and easy to use, but if you’re looking for some guidance along the way, you can also book a cable car tour of the city with a guide to take you along the way. They’re incredibly affordable and help you spot the most important features of the city from above.
Taking the La Paz cable cars is also a feature of many La Paz city tours you’ll find, which are the perfect way to experience the best of the city in just one day.
Reviews and Bookings: La Paz Cable Car Tours
2. Try Salteñas on a Street Food Tour
Bolivian food isn’t nearly as well known as the cuisine of neighboring countries like Peru, Argentina, or Brazil, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have plenty of delicious flavors and unique traditions. Among the best dishes to try are salteñas, the Bolivian version of empanadas usually stuffed with beef, pork, or chicken. They’re a popular and quick breakfast treat, but you’ll find them at street stalls, cafes, and restaurants throughout the day.
Other favorite Bolivian dishes to try during your visit include anticuchos – skewered grilled meats usually served with potatoes and peanut sauce, and thick locros – stews packed with rich ingredients like meat, cheese, and vegetables.
Looking for a street food tour to introduce you to salteñas and all the rest? Check out this evening food tour of La Paz – it’s a favorite with travelers and includes multiple stops along the way with a local guide.
3. Visit the Mercado de las Brujas
There are few more fascinating things to do in La Paz Bolivia than exploring the city’s famous Mercado de las Brujas, also known as the Witches Market, for its importance with local indigenous cultural and religious practices.
Yatiri “witch doctors” found throughout the market sell everything from amulets to potions, figures, powders, and other objects of importance to indigenous traditions – you’ll spot them by their noticeable black hats and pouches containing coca leaves.
While some of the market has been commercialized, as it is now a must-visit destination for every traveler passing through the city, it maintains its original character throughout. The most famous item for sale in the market is dried llama fetuses, which are traditionally buried in the foundation of homes and buildings as an offering for good luck and prosperity.
Read More: 7 Unmissable Markets in Latin America
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4. Try Bolivia’s (Brand New!) Craft Beers
The craft beer revolution has swept even South America, with numerous craft breweries popping up in Latin American capitals like Quito, mountain towns like Otavalo, and even La Paz, Bolivia. Want to check out some of the coolest new breweries in La Paz? These are the spots we recommend:
- DT Brew House or DT Brew House Sur: One of La Paz’s most popular spots and a craft beer leader in La Paz, now with two locations in the city.
- Oktober Craft Beer: A laidback and unassuming pub in Sopocachi with a great variety of beers and some of the best burgers in La Paz.
- Diesel Nacional: Just around the corner from Oktober Craft Beer, Diesel Nacional is one of our favorite evening spots in La Paz, with great beer and beer. An industrial vibe makes the entrance a bit confusing, but it’s worth hunting for it.
Most of the city’s craft beer spots are located in upscale neighborhoods like Zona Sur or Sopocachi, but the trend is growing quickly, and you’ll now find spots around the city.
5. Explore the Historic Center of La Paz
La Paz has a small but mighty historic center with an impressive array of historic buildings you’ll certainly want to check out as you explore the city. Part of the experience comes from simply wandering the historic streets, but make sure to stop at these spots along the way:
The square is home to some of the city’s most important and historic buildings. On the south side of the plaza sits La Paz’s impressive Cathedral, known as Nuestra Señora de la Paz.
Just next door, you’ll find the famous Palacio Quemado, or Burned Palace, the cheeky but lasting name for Bolivia’s Presidential Palace that was burned to the ground and rebuilt after a violent revolution in 1875. The square is also home to Bolivia’s legislative buildings.
Basilica de San Francisco
Cut across the historic center to visit the Basilica de San Francisco, one of the city’s most important religious institutions. Part of the adjacent convent was turned into a museum, which is worth a visit if you’re curious about the city’s past.
A must-visit is the rooftop of the basilica for impressive views of the dome and bell tower with mountains and cityscape beyond; it is one of the best things to do in La Paz, though it is overlooked by many visitors!
The historic center is relatively compact, with everything within a ten-minute walking distance, making it an easy destination for a self-guided walking tour. Or, opt for a small group walking tour that visits these sights and more – Red Cap Tours offers excellent tours with local guides for just $3 per person, so there’s really no better way to experience the neighborhood.
6. Try Bolivian Chocolate
Much of the world’s best chocolate originates from the cacao plants that grow in warm, wet environments like the Amazon Rainforest. With a large portion of its northern and western territory occupied by the Amazon, Bolivia is home to an impressive chocolate industry.
Try some of the best local chocolates in Bolivia on your trip to La Paz – it’s not only one of the best things to do in La Paz but a must for any visitor to Bolivia! Check out El Ceibo Chocolates to give some of the best local artisan chocolates a try. If you can’t make it out to their location, pick up some Chocolates Para Ti, which is another Bolivian brand worth trying.
7. Visit Lake Titicaca
There are a number of great day trips from La Paz to choose from as you explore the city, but there are few that I recommend as strongly as Lake Titicaca.
This stunning lake – located less than two hours northwest of La Paz, is an impressive destination that offers both natural beauty and loads of fascinating historical and cultural insight into Bolivia. Visiting is one of the best things to do in La Paz, Bolivia (and one of the best things to do in South America overall).
One must when visiting the lake includes making a trip out onto the water to visit the floating islands. These floating islands are constructed from reeds found growing in the lake and have long been home to a small local indigenous population known as the Uros. You can even spend the night on them!
Visitors can easily plan a day trip using public transportation (buses leave several times a day from the main bus terminal in La Paz), though travelers looking to really make the most of their time usually plan on taking a small-group excursion from La Paz to Lake Titicaca, as they’re quite affordable options. You can also find excursions from La Paz that include overnights at the lake, which are even better.
8. Take a Walking Tour of La Paz
If there’s a city in Latin America that I most recommend travelers explore with the help of a local guide, it’s La Paz! With such a rich and layered history and such a strong indigenous influence, La Paz is really best explored with the help of a local who can help give context to what you’re seeing and experiencing.
Thankfully, there are numerous tour options in La Paz that we love and are incredibly cheap, almost shockingly so, making this an affordable option even for backpackers. Our top recommendation is the Red Cap small group walking tour of La Paz, which costs just $3 per person for a 3-hour walking tour with a local, including a visit to the Mercado de las Brujas. Or, go for a private, customizable tour of La Paz for even more insight.
9. Embark on a Trip to the Salt Flats
Bolivia’s most well-known destination is its world-famous Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats, known as the world’s largest mirror for how they perfectly reflect the sky when flooded during the rainy season. The world’s largest salt flats, this unending landscape is unlike any you’ll see anywhere else and merits its spot at the top of any traveler’s bucket list.
The Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats are located too far from La Paz to allow for a true day trip. At over twelve hours by bus, they’re much better left for a three-day trip, minimum, though frequent flights between La Paz and Uyuni do make shorter visits possible.
General, we recommend that travelers book the full three-day or four-day jeep tour across the Salt Flats and the rest of this high-altitude region known for mind-blowingly beautiful landscapes, including technicolor lakes like Laguna Colorada, snow-capped volcanoes, and much more. It’s a destination unlike any other.
Take the overnight bus from La Paz directly to the small town of Uyuni, or book a flight to the Joya Andina Airport. Looking for an excursion from La Paz to the Salt Flats? These are the ones we recommend:
- One-Day Tours (By Bus) from La Paz: One-Day Salar de Uyuni Tour from La Paz by Bus
- One-Day Tours (By Air) from La Paz: One-Day Salar de Uyuni Tour from La Paz by Air
- 3-Day Salar de Uyuni Tour from La Paz: 3-Day Salar de Uyuni Tour from La Paz
- 4-Day Salar de Uyuni Tour from La Paz: 4-Day Salar de Uyuni Tour from La Paz
10. Repel in the Heart of La Paz
If you’re a thrill seeker, this one is for you. How does repelling down the side of one of the tallest buildings in La Paz sound?
Head to the center of La Paz for the popular urban repelling experience that will take you down the side of a seventeen-story building for a 165-foot (50-meter) descent. Don’t worry, a practice wall inside and trained instructors will help you get used to it before you set out on the adventure.
It’s certainly surprising, but this is actually one of the most popular activities in La Paz! One of the best things to do in La Paz, this certainly isn’t an activity for everyone, but for those looking to take in incredible city views while getting their adrenaline pumping, it’s a must.
Reviews and Bookings: Urban Repelling Experience in La Paz
11. Stay At Bolivia’s Nicest Hotel (On A Budget!)
Bolivia is most definitely an off-the-beaten-path travel destination, and there are very few true luxury hotels anywhere in the country. However, a few beautiful examples of places to stay in La Paz have cropped up recently – with MET Hotel being the most impressive of them all.
This gorgeous and modern boutique hotel has it all – stunning views from its expansive rooftop, a beautiful, light-filled spa and pool, and gorgeous, comfortable rooms.
The best part? A stay at MET Hotel costs just a fraction of what a similarly luxurious stay would cost anywhere else. Rooms usually cost less than $150 a night, even during the peak high season of travel. If you’re looking for an excuse to treat yourself on your trip to Bolivia, this is it!
Reviews and Bookings: MET Hotel
12. Bike Down Bolivia’s Death Road
Head about two hours northeast of La Paz, towards the misty Amazon Rainforest and you’ll pass along one of the world’s most famous highways. Bolivia’s North Yungas Road, more commonly known as the Death Road in Bolivia, is notoriously dangerous as it twists and turns around steep mountain passes – with not a railing in sight.
Despite its intimidating name, the Death Road is actually one of the most popular attractions in Bolivia, drawing plenty of day trippers from La Paz who look forward to flying along its curves and living to tell the tale.
One of the most popular ways to experience the Death Road is by biking along its curves. Transportation and mountain bikes are provided for groups traveling from La Paz, and guides lead the half-day excursion along the route.
As intimidating as the name of the destination can be, the incredible soaring mountains along the route and the lush green vegetation of the region make it a stunningly beautiful excursion.
Best Death Road Biking Excursions
13. Hit The Links at the World’s Highest Golf Course
Sitting at over 10,000 feet of elevation, the La Paz Golf Club is home to the world’s highest-elevation golf course. While this elite country club is generally reserved for just the wealthiest Bolivian golf enthusiasts, it is also a popular destination for travelers looking for a unique golf experience.
The original La Paz Golf Club was founded in 1912 by railway workers, though it has since been relocated from its original site. Its current location is a dramatic one, just a stone’s throw from La Paz’s famous Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley).
Playing on manicured, lush golf holes amidst the dramatic canyons of the area. It’s one of the most unique and memorable things to do in La Paz, Bolivia.
14. Stroll Down Calle Jaen
The most impressive and well-preserved street in La Paz is known as Calle Jaén, and wow, does it impress! Colorful buildings, historic balconies, and even the stunning barrio-covered mountains in the distance make just walking down this street one of the best things to do in La Paz.
In addition to shops and cafes, Calle Jaen is also home to a number of small but intriguing museums. The most fascinating is the Museo del Oro – the Gold Museum. Also known as the Museo de Metales Preciosos, this museum displays many of the precious treasures that were found at the ruins of Tiwanaku outside of La Paz. It’s a must-visit destination in La Paz if you’re planning a day trip to these ruins.
15. Enjoy Experimental Bolivian Cuisine at Gustu
A small but mighty culinary scene has emerged in La Paz in recent years, offering travelers looking to experience Bolivian cuisine even more varied options than ever.
Widely considered one of the best restaurants in South America, the award-winning Gustu is a must for fine dining in La Paz. Head chef Marsia Taha has a policy of only using the freshest local ingredients, making her menu a love story to Bolivian cuisine and ingredients you’ll find nowhere else.
Looking for even more recommendations? Here are some other favorite places to try the best of new Bolivian cuisine during your stay in La Paz:
- Ali Pacha: Plant-based fine dining. Go for the nine-course tasting menu.
- La Suisse: European-inspired cuisine with a Bolivian twist
- Mi Chola: Traditional Bolivian street foods and local favorites, elevated. The $15 four-course tasting menu is among the best deals in La Paz.
16. Experience Local Traditions
Bolivia is a fascinating country with an incredibly layered history. The evidence of globalization, the mixed history of colonization, and more sit beside age-old indigenous traditions everywhere you look.
For travelers looking to get a better taste of Bolivian culture, there’s no better way to do it than to attend one of La Paz’s many annual festivals or regular cultural events. Here are some of the biggest and best to spark your inspiration.
Fiesta del Gran Poder
The most important religious and cultural festival in La Paz is the Fiesta del Gran Poder. While it nominally is a Catholic holiday, it’s a fascinating example of religious syncretism in Bolivia, as it is deeply indigenous in tradition as well. This celebration falls every year in late May or early June and sees the streets of La Paz fill with parades and street parties that feature traditional dress, music, and dance.
Feria de Alasitas
The annual Feria de Alasitas falls on January 24th and is one of the biggest celebrations in La Paz. This festival is designed to start the year off well as Bolivians visit the Alasitas market to purchase miniature figures representing what they seek in the new year – new work, love, wealth, or pretty much anything.
The annual “Sun Festival” is a long-held Incan tradition in honor of the Sun god. While Cusco, Peru – the former Incan capital city – is home to the most impressive Inti Raymi celebrations in South America, the celebration in La Paz is nothing to scoff at. It falls annually on June 24th, on the winter solstice.
17. Visit the Coca Museum
Spend any amount of time in Bolivia, and you’re sure to see or try coca leaves, considered a sacred plant among many of the indigenous populations in the country.
While coca leaves are the origin of cocaine and have been outlawed in many places for this connection, they’ve been used for generations in the high-altitude regions of Bolivia. Coca is known for its medicinal powers, particularly for how it helps alleviate altitude sickness.
Learn more about this polarizing plant at the Museo de Coca (Coca Museum) in the heart of La Paz. Located just around the corner from the Mercado de las Brujas, it’s a must-visit destination to learn more about the fascinating and layered history of this native plant.
Can’t make it to the coca museum? Give coca tea a try during your stay in Bolivia. If nothing else, it will help you adjust to the altitude.
18. Visit Valle de la Luna
The dramatic Valle de la Luna – Moon Valley – was formed after thousands of years of erosion wore away most of a mountain, leaving little more than dramatic rock spires as far as the eye can see. Named for its impressive landscape, which looks almost lunar with its numerous crags and peaks, Valle de la Luna is a totally unique landscape among so many others in Bolivia.
Located just outside of La Paz, the Valle de la Luna is arguably the most popular day trip from La Paz. Many city tours in La Paz also include a stop at Valle de la Luna, given its proximity to the city. Spend a few hours walking through the valley and taking in the beautiful landscape
You’ll also find day trips and excursions that make visits to both Valle de la Luna and nearby Chacaltaya. Once covered in a glacier, Chacaltaya is a mountain located several miles outside of La Paz; it is now a popular hiking destination offering stunning views over the rest of Bolivia’s Cordillera Real mountain range.
Reviews and Bookings: La Paz City Tour + Valle de la Luna Excursion // Valle de la Luna + Chacaltaya Excursion from La Paz
19. Hike Muela del Diablo
The mountainous surroundings of La Paz make this city a trekking destination to rival the best of them. While there are plenty of great hiking paths and trails to choose from near La Paz, hiking at Muela del Diablo is a particular highlight.
Take either a taxi or public transportation to Muela del Diablo, located close to the Valle de la Luna, for impressive views over the valley and mountains surrounding this viewpoint. A taxi can take you up to the top just for the views, though the two-hour or three-hour hike is totally manageable – just make sure to pace yourself, especially given the elevation here!
20. Take in the View at Mirador Killa Killa
La Paz, Bolivia is all about those mountain views. Everywhere you look, you’ll spot soaring hillsides and even snow-capped mountains in the distance, with neighborhoods climbing perilously higher and higher up mountainsides everywhere you look.
You’ll have an easy time finding the best viewpoints in La Paz, especially if you spend time riding the city’s cable cars and climbing to the rooftop of the Basilica de San Francisco in the heart of the historic center of the city. However, if you’re looking for a particularly famous viewpoint, Mirador Killi Killi is a must-visit spot. The views from this famous lookout are expansive, with the gorgeous Mt. Illimani in the background.
Climb up or take a taxi. Remember, given the elevation of La Paz, even a relatively straightforward walk up to the viewpoint will feel like a true workout – I’d recommend taking a taxi unless you’re already well-adjusted to the elevation.
21. Explore Valle de las Animas
La Paz’s Valle de la Animas – the Valley of the Souls – may be less well-known than nearby Valle de la Luna, but it is arguably the more dramatic of the landscapes located in close proximity to the city. Less visited trails and more area to explore also make it, in our opinion, a much more impressive destination near La Paz.
Why is it called Valley of the Souls, you ask? The wind whipping around the dramatic erosion-formed stone spires in the valley is said to sound like souls crying out.
Visitors can explore Valle de las Animas on their own by paying a small entry fee or visit as part of a small group excursion to Valle de las Animas. Many of the day trips and excursions in the area include a stop at the Palca Canyon, a dramatic if little-visited canyon located on the outskirts of La Paz. Overall, this is the perfect excursion for travelers looking for a bit of exercise and fresh air away from the beaten path.
Reviews and Bookings: Valle de las Animas + Palca Canyon Excursion
22. Summit Huayna Potosi
Looking for a true adventure to add to your Bolivia itinerary? Consider summiting Huayna Potosi, an impressive snowcapped mountain about an hour and a half north of La Paz.
Summiting Huayna Potosi is a feat and shouldn’t be taken lightly, though it is certainly achievable for those who are relatively physically fit, determined, and already well-adjusted to the altitude in Bolivia. In fact, it’s considered one of the world’s most beginner-friendly high-altitude summits. Winter gear and climbing gear like ropes and crampons are required but provided on this multi-day guided excursion.
Summiting Huayna Potosi is usually a three-day endeavor. The first day is dedicated to transport to the mountain and training, the second day includes a major portion of the hike before an overnight at the refuge to help with elevation acclimatization, and the final day involves an early morning push to the summit and return to La Paz.
23. Visit Ancient Ruins at Tinawaku
Located near the southern shores of Lake Titicaca, the ruins at Tinawaku are some of the most important non-Incan ruins in all of South America, testifying to a pre-Columbian empire that inhabited the region between 400 and 900 AD. The site is now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its importance as the capital city of a lost civilization.
Just a two-hour drive from La Paz, Tinawaku is an easy day trip from La Paz, and a popular addition to Lake Titicaca day trips that depart from the capital. History buffs will love exploring the ancient city’s portals, ceremonial and religious sites, temples, and other civic buildings, many of which contain impressive original sculptures, statues, and carvings.
24. Take in a Cholitas Wrestling Match
Last on our list of the best things to do in La Paz is, in fact, one of the ultimate things to do in La Paz. For many travelers, it’s an unforgettable highlight of the trip!
Mexico is famous for its lucha libre wrestling matching, but Bolivia is famous for its cholitas (a name for indigenous women) wrestling matches, where indigenous women wrestle in the ring while wearing their traditional indigenous clothing including skirts, shawls, and the characteristic bowler hat.
While cholita wrestling wasn’t common until the mid-2000s, it is now a staple in La Paz. Most travelers enjoy the experience as part of an excursion, which includes transportation to the wrestling ring, snacks, drinks, and more. It’s the ideal way to enjoy one of La Paz’s most unique spectacles.
Reviews and Bookings: Cholita Wrestling Match Excursion in La Paz
Exploring La Paz
Don’t make the same mistake that many travelers make, skipping through La Paz on their way to explore other destinations. Whether the next step of your travels includes heading to Salar de Uyuni, into the depths of the Amazon, or even onward to one of the other amazing cities in South America, La Paz is sure to be a highlight on your journey.
Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.