The Top Things to Do and See in La Paz, Bolivia
Whether Sopocachi, El Centro, San Pedro, Zona Sur or Miraflores, the neighborhoods of La Paz may be close in proximity but they’re as distinctive as siblings. Bold surrounding mountains, a rich history of gold, silver and conflict, a huge melting pot of traditions and proud people mean discovering the city all in one trip is impossible. With so much to see and do, we’ve put together a list of the essential activities in La Paz, with the expert help of our local insiders.
Museo de Textiles Andinos Bolivianos
Bolivian textiles are traditionally made with sheep, alpaca, vicuna or llama wool. Each animal is carefully sheared, its wool cleaned, dyed and woven to a yarn. The bright colours typical of Bolivian Andean fabrics are chosen with meaning and represent dignity and identity to the wearer. The Museo de Textiles Andinos Bolivianos is an absolute treasure trove of textiles, clothing and history of production. Buy yourself a snippet of Bolivian history in the gift shop.
Try a local specialty at Paceña la Salteña
A salteña is similar to an empanada, but this typically Bolivian pastry is baked instead of fried and has a stew-like filling, as opposed to just meat or vegetables. Salteñas are a must-eat for anyone looking to sample local food, and the best place to try them is at Paceña la Salteña, an award-winning salteñería. With its peach walls and gold trimmings, this local joint literally glows. Vegetarian salteñas can be found here on the weekends, otherwise, they’re usually filled with meat.
Visit the Catedral Basílica Nuestra Señora de La Paz
The star of La Paz, this elegant cathedral sits proudly on the main plaza offering a glimpse into the religion of many Bolivians. Started in 1835, the building is Neoclassical in style with a nod to the Baroque, and took a whopping 90 years to complete. The cathedral is open every day of the week for visitors seeking a brief respite from the busy La Paz streets.
Shop at Calle Sagárnaga
Head to Calle Sagárnaga if you’re looking for the perfect present to take back home. Here you’ll find stalls piled high with Andean textiles, alpaca ponchos and handcrafted talismans as well as enough fridge magnets and keyrings to last many a lifetime. Packed with other tourists looking for that perfect something, it makes for great people-watching too.
Explore Bolivian history at the Museo Nacional de Etnografía y Folklore
Conveniently close to Plaza Murillo and packed to the rafters with textiles, masks, basketry and crafts typical of Bolivia for you to browse, this spot also has exhibitions on folklore and nature. A visit here will leave you armed with knowledge on the birth of Bolivia and its development through the ages. Tours are available, but get there early if you want to nab a spot.
Hike Sendero del Águila (Eagle’s Path)
Natural Feature, Hiking Trail
If you’re ready to stretch your legs in La Paz, the Eagle’s Path is close to the city and offers staggering views. The walk itself isn’t too difficult, but you’ll still feel a satisfying weariness afterward that calls for a sit-down and a cold beer. Bouldering and mountain biking is popular too, so your route is shared with other outdoor fanatics. Views of eagles are not guaranteed, but it got its name for a reason, so keep your eyes peeled.
Bravely trek the Valle de las Ànimas
Natural Feature, Hiking Trail
The Valle de las Ànimas, meaning Valley for the Souls, isn’t for the fainthearted, with winding paths and steep, tricky bits – but the views and nature are tremendous and offer the perfect respite from the big city. Make sure to follow path guidance, as it’s quite easy to lose your way here, and it’s best to carry a stick to ward off over-friendly street dogs. Lookout spots are placed along the route for picnics, and photos of the stunning cityscape in the distance.
Catch an independent movie at Cinemateca Boliviana
Bolivian, Latin American and avant-garde films are shown at this independent cinema in the heart of La Paz. Expect the unusual – they don’t show the blockbusters here, and most movies are shown without subtitles. With a film library and gallery space usually exhibiting photography or art, this is a pleasant stop off for culture cats in the city.