Santa Cruz is the perfect hub for exploring eastern Bolivia, a land rife with quaint villages, UNESCO-protected Jesuit churches and an abundance of natural beauty. The city itself is also worthy of attention for its distinct lowland culture and cosmopolitan vibe.
Bus: Destinations served from the large and chaotic bus terminal include La Paz (18 hours, 100–200 BOB/US$15–30), Cochabamba (10 hours, 70–140 BOB/US$10–20), and Sucre (14 hours, 131 BOB/US$19).
Estacion Bimodal Terrestre y Ferroviaria, Av Intermodal, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, +591 77562335
Trufis: Shared taxis head to Samaipata when full and cost 30 BOB/US$4 each way for the scenic three-hour trip.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Train: The “death train” (it used to transport yellow fever victims – it’s not dangerous) travels from Santa Cruz to Puerto Quijarro on the Bolivia border with stops along the way. Places of interest include Robore (8 hours, 100 BOB/US$15) for Chiquitos and Puerto Quijarro (13 hours, 250 BOB/US$35) for Brazil.
Ferroviaria Oriental S.A, Av Intermodal, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, +591 33387000
Most overland tickets can be purchased online through ticketsbolivia.com.
Budget: An oldie but a goody, Jodanga has been hosting backpackers for over 10 years. Boasting a swimming pool, spotless rooms and a better-than-average breakfast buffet, this fun and sociable hostel is great value at 70 BOB/US$10.
Jodanga Backpackers Hostel, Calle El Fuerte, 1380, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, +591 33396542
Mid range: Right in the heart of the city, Hotel La Siesta is a great mid-range option. The rooms are a little cramped, but there is plenty of common space, including a huge pool to relax in.
High end: For something a little different, check in to the Inboccalupo Apart Boutique, a funky new place that is one of Bolivia’s most chic boutiques. Travelers rave about the modern stylish decor of these individually decorated apartments.
Sach’a Rest: This upscale Nikkei Mediterranean fusion restaurant has become a hit in Santa Cruz and is earning recognition as being among the best fine dining offerings in the country. Seafood lovers will rejoice upon sampling their exquisite ceviche, sushi and fish chicharrón.
Sach’a Rest, Avenida Noel Kempff Mercado, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, +591 33265777
La Casa del Camba: For the true camba (lowland) experience, try the excellent local dishes at Casa del Camba, our favorite of which is majadito. Thanks to its authentic atmosphere, friendly service and excellent home-style cuisine, Casa del Camba is the best bet for local food in the city.
Casa del Camba, Av. Cristobal de Mendoza 539, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, +591 33427864
Chalet La Suisse: La Suisse is a superb fine-dining option that whips up the tastiest European fare in Santa Cruz. Admittedly it’s pricey, but their chateaubriand steak with béarnaise sauce is to die for.
Chalet la Suisse, Los Gomeros, 98 Sirari, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, +591 33436070
See and Do
Manzana Uno: Artsy types won’t want to miss Manzana Uno, one of Bolivia’s most important exhibition spaces. Its halls are filled with wonderful contemporary Bolivian art, and best of all, entry is free.
Plaza 24 de Septiembre: Santa Cruz’ main plaza is a pleasant to spot to hang out and watch the world go by. There isn’t much to do here, though, other than lose to the locals in a game of chess, or the climb the bell tower of the adjacent cathedral for excellent views of the city center.
Plaza 24 de Septiembre, Centro, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia
Jardin Botanico: The best way to get close to nature without leaving the city is by paying a visit to the Botanical Gardens. These extensive and immaculately maintained grounds host a variety of plant and animal life, such as birds, sloths, turtles, and caimans. Entry is a bargain at just 10 BOB/US$1.50.
Biocentro Guembe: A cross between a water park and a wildlife reserve, Guembe is quiet during the week but packed on hot summer weekends. The places has dozens of swimming pools nestled between shady palm trees, and artificial waterfalls that offer the perfect respite from the summer heat. The highlight, however, is their huge atrium, which is home to a wealth of colorful native bird life.
Jardin de las Delicias: Those looking to escape the heat should consider a day trip to Jardin de las Delicias, a series of canyons centered around a stunning waterfall and lagoon. Private transport is required, as it’s a good two and a half hours from the city over some rough and bumpy roads.
Cascadas Espejillos: Similar to Jardin de las Delicias, Espejillos is a great place to go for a swim and to escape from the city on a hot day. It’s much closer to the city, so understandably much more popular with the locals. Private transport or a tour is required.
Parque Lomas de Arena: About 45 minutes from the city is a small desert with some massive sand dunes that look completely out of place in this humid tropical region. Something of a geological oddity, the dunes are the perfect place to try your hand at sand boarding, and there is plenty of interesting wildlife in the surrounding region too. It’s possible to reach by public transport, but it’s much easier to take a tour.
Parque Regional Lomas de Arena, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Amboro National Park: As one of Bolivia’s most impressive national parks, Amboro is a must for nature lovers exploring the region, thanks to its abundant bird life and incredible flora. From Santa Cruz, the park takes at least two days to visit, and tourists must be accompanied by a certified guide.
Parque Nacional Amboró, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Samaipata: A cool little village nestled in the hills some three hours’ drive from Santa Cruz, Samaipata is popular with expats and locals alike for its gorgeous surroundings and excellent hotels, restaurants, and bars.
Vallegrande: Follow the Che Trail to see where this famous revolutionary met his maker and learn a little about the history of the man who changed the face of Latin American politics forever.
Kaa Iya National Park: Go searching for jaguars in the country’s most remote national park, located deep in the arid Chaco region.
Parque Nacional del Gran Chaco Kaa-Iya, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
San Miguelito Jaguar Reserve: The best bet for spotting big cats without traveling too far from the city, San Miguelito is a former cattle ranch that has been converted into a nature reserve to protect these majestic felines.
The Chiquitos Circuit: This group of charming little towns to the east of Santa Cruz is home to some incredible Jesuit churches.
For the best tours around Santa Cruz, get in touch with Nick’s Adventures Bolivia, who are the experts in the region.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.