La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia and it is where all the governmental offices are located. La Paz is the third largest city in the country after Santa Cruz and the biggest if you combined the population of La Paz and El Alto, the fast grown adjacent city. In this guide we are sharing the top 10 things to do in La Paz.
The majority of the international flights to Bolivia arrive to La Paz and from here tourists can visit Lake Titicaca and the Uyuni Salt Flats. We recommend to at least stay one day in La Paz to explore all the amazing spots this gorgeous city has to offer its visitors.
It is important to remember that La Paz is at nearly 12,000 feet above sea level so it can take time to acclimate. Do not be surprised if you are out of breath by the time you leave the airport on the first day.
Walking map of the best things to do in La Paz in one day
Important information about Bolivia:
- Bolivia uses the Bolíviano (BOB) and 7 BOB equals 1 USD.
- La Paz is the highest capital city in the world with an elevation of roughly 3,650 m (11,975 ft) above sea level and because the high altitude in La Paz you must be prepared and acclimate on arrival.
When is the best time to visit La Paz?
The best time to visit La Paz is during the warmer months from October to December, where the average temperature is above 20 degrees celsius. From June to August it gets colder with a higher chance of rain storms. If you are visiting La Paz on your way to Uyuni Salt Flats the best time to visit is from December to February when the salt flats are wet and become a reflective mirror.
The 10 best things to see in La Paz in one day:
1. Witches’ Market (Mercado de las Brujas)
In the Witches’ Market, Mercado de las Brujas, you will find little shops with range of items from alpaca clothes, souvenirs to medical plants and spiritual items that are used by the ancient Aymaran beliefs such as the Llamas fetuses.
2. The Valley of the Moon
The Valley of the moon is located 10 Kilometers from downtown La Paz. It is well known for its bizarre geological formations formed by erosion that to transport you to the lunar landscape. Without a doubt visiting the Valle de La Luna is one of the best things to do in La Paz.
It is not a valley rather a maze of canyons that make you feel like you are walking on the moon. There are two walking circuits, one of 15 minutes and another of 45 minutes, both very easy to do on foot. Since the Valley of Moon is a bit outside of town, we recommend you enjoy both paths.
The entrance fee to to the Valley of the Moon costs 15 Bolivians ($2 USD).
3. Ride a cable car and explore the city
The best way to see La Paz is from the air, with Mi Teleférico. There are ten cable car lines that connect the city of La Paz, with more lines planned. We recommend to do a full loop around the city, which involves seven of the lines and takes about 2 hours to complete. We promise you will have the time of your life and the best photos of La Paz.
Mi Teleférico tickets costs 3 Bolivianos for the first line ($0.42 cents) and 2 Bolivianos for each additional line on your ticket. To do the whole loop it cost 11 Bolivians ($0.79) and you take the following lines: Gray, Red, Orange, White, Light Blue, Yellow and Purple. The best time to do the circuit is two hours before sunset so you can watch the sunset over La Paz with Mount Illimani glowing in the distance.
The paper tickets are only good for one hour from the first use, so plan wisely or split your trip into two segments. The cable cars run daily from 6 AM to 11 PM, except for Sundays when they stop at 9 PM.
Exploring La Paz from above is definitely one of the best things to do in La Paz.
4. San Francisco Church
The San Francisco Church is the most important catholic church in La Paz dating back to 1758. The beautifully decorated church, admired for its intricately carved facade and blending of catholic and native art, was built entirely by indigenous Aymara workers. Entrance to the San Francisco Church is free.
5. Explore the modern neighborhood of Sopocachi
The neighborhood of Sopocachi is a bohemian artistic center with an eclectic mix of 19th century and contemporary architecture. Here you will find a range of European inspired cafes, restaurants featuring international fusion cuisine, and plenty of embassies. We recommend eating at Beef and Beers, Casa Fusion Hotel Boutique, Diesel and Ciclic.
6. La Plaza Murillo
Plaza Murillo is the main square in La Paz, surrounded by some of the city’s most important political buildings. The plaza is located in the historic district in the Casco Viejo. The Murillo Square became the center of political power after a dispute that brought the administrative center to La Paz.
It is named in honor of Pedro Domingo Murillo, a martyr of the uprising of the early nineteenth century claiming independence and popular sovereignty.
7. The Mirador Killi Killi (Viewpoint)
The mount Killi Killi is undoubtedly the best 360 degree viewpoint of the entire city of La Paz. From above you can see the entire Sopocachi neighborhood, the cable cars and Mount Illimani.
8. Jaen Street (Calle Jaén)
Jaen Street is best described as a short, but bohemian cobblestone street. Here you will find a range of restaurants, bars, and artist shops. The colorful buildings make walking down this tranquil pedestrian streets a highlight of your visit to historic La Paz.
There is an old legend that Calle Jaen used to be full of drunk men and there was a woman dressed in mourning who cried because of her husband’s death. She begged to be heard and comforted and ultimately the drunk men who followed her disappeared.
Calle Jaen is also known as the street of the elves as there is a different legend that at night elves take over the street and bother whoever passes by.
9. Cholita Wrestling
One of La Paz’s most popular attractions and one of the most fun things to do in La Paz actually holds its roots from Mexico. Do not miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity to see dressed Bolivian women embarking on their own take on Mexico’s famous lucha libre, locally known as Cholita Wrestling. It is one of La Paz’s most popular attractions and a unique experience to enjoy in Bolivia. It cost about 80 Bs. per person.
10. The Death Road in Bolivia
One of the most dangerous yet fun things to do in La Paz is to cycle the 60 kilometres (50 miles) of Death Road or the North Yungas Road. It is considered to be the World’s Most Dangerous Road because of the steep slopes, the narrow single track, the lack of guardrails, rain, and fog.
Where to stay in La Paz: The coolest hotel in La Paz
As a major metropolitan city, La Paz many hotels and hostels for all tastes and prices. Our favorite place to stay is Selina in La Paz. The artistic hotel has a unique colorful vibe and offers both private room and shared community bunks. Selina is centrally located in the safe neighborhood of Sopocachi, just a short walk from the historic center.
Is La Paz Safe to Visit?
Even with all its hustle and bustle, La Paz is one of the safest cities to visit in South America. Use your common sense when moving about the city on where you feel comfortable keeping your smartphone or camera in hand.
When visiting the historic center of La Paz or exploring the lively markets, keep your valuables close by, as there are pickpockets, as in any tourist destination.
When it gets dark, it is recommended to avoid catching a taxi on the street, rather use Uber or a taxi app to get a trusted ride back to your hotel.