- South America
- Eve Bidmead
The Witches Market
In spite of its name, the witches market is nothing to be afraid of. A key tourist attraction, this market is found between Calles Jiménez and Linares, between Sagárnaga and Santa Cruz, and sells locally handcrafted items. There’s no scary witchcraft to be found here, and the spookiest things you’ll find are some herbal and folk remedies and a few people ready to read your fortune. You can find beautiful leather goods in the market – such as rucksacks and handbags –for incredibly low prices, and if you manage to get your bartering skills in check you can do a fair bit to get the prices down even more.
Address: Melchor Jimenez, La Paz, Bolivia
Calle Jaen – Museo del Oro
On the Calle Jaen, a beautiful colonial-style street, you will find four small but fascinating museums. You can easily visit them all in a day and learn about Bolivia’s rich history. A particular highlight is the Museo del Oro (Gold Museum) which displays beautiful old jewelry and home ware, all reminders of the country’s grand past.
Opening hours: 9am-12:30pm & 2:30-7pm Tue-Fri, 9am-1pm Sat & Sun
Address: Calle Jaén, Casco Viejo, La Paz, Bolivia.
Tupac Katari Mirador
Head to the Tupac Katari Mirador for some of the best views of the entire city. Grab a taxi to this viewpoint which was once – and still is – a sacred Inca site where Tupac Katari, one of the early independence activists, was conquered by colonialists. Close to the mirador you’ll find a line of houses which belong to curanderos (healers) who provide advice and healing. Their advice is to be taken seriously and not to be considered a mere tourist activity – something to bear in mind if you’re considering a visit.
Address: La Bandera, La Paz, Bolivia
La Paz Cemetery
At the famous La Paz cemetery you can visit the grave of some of the city’s most famous deceased residents while admiring the vast expanse of this landmark. All the bodies in this cemetery are cremated after 10 years and then placed in glass-fronted spaces in the cemetery walls. The cemetery is filled with these walls and each wall has over a hundred doors, meaning the place is constantly busy with the visits of family and friends to some of the many graves. For an authentic cultural experience try to visit on November 2, the Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead, when the whole city goes to the cemetery to celebrate the lives of those who are no longer around.
Address: Av.Baptista, La Paz, Bolivia
Museo Nacional de Arte
The former Palacio de Los Condes de Arana is now home to the Museo Nacional de Arte, and the building in itself is a work of art. Built in 1775, the exterior of pink Viacha granite was recently restored and is a stunning work of baroque style. Each floor in this museum represents a different time in history, while the ground floor hosts temporary exhibitions. There’s an emphasis on religious themes throughout the museum’s collections and a large area is dedicated to pre-Hispanic works.
Opening hours: 9:30am-12:30pm & 3-7pm Tue-Fri, 10am-5:30pm Sat, 10am-1:30pm Sun
Address: cnr Comercio & Socabaya, Casco Viejo, La Paz, Bolivia
Mercado 16 de Julio
For an authentic Bolivan market experience you must go to the Mercado 16 de Julio,which extends for many blocks along the main thoroughfare and across Plaza 16 de Julio. This shopaholic’s paradise sells absolutely everything, from food and electronics to vehicles and animals, all at reasonable prices. The market is always busy, so be prepared for a bit of push and shove and be aware of pickpockets.
Opening hours:6am-3pm Thu & Sun
Address: Plaza 16 de Julio, La Paz, Bolivia
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.
Opening hours: 8:30am-2pm Mon-Sun
Address: Av 20 de Octubre 2379, Sopocachi, La Paz, Bolivia, +591 2 2772937
Museo de la Coca
You can’t be in Bolivia long and not catch sight of the locals chewing coca, the leaf they cultivate and chew for taste and energy. Very much an acquired taste, the leaf has a great history and tradition about which you can learn at the Museo de la Coca. Displays are in Spanish with English translations, and the museum is a great place for learning about this habit which is an integral part of the indigenous identity.
Opening hours: 10am-7pm Mon-Fri
Address: Linares, La Paz, Bolivia, Bolivia, +591 2 2311998
An ideal place for food lovers, in between Plaza Pérez Velasco and Calle Figueroa lies Mercado Lanza. As one of the capitals main food markets, here you can find an incredible variety of products, from top quality local produce to perfectly cooked local dishes. Everything is good value and you can snap up a lunch for £1. Try some exotic juice or snack on a salteña while you marvel at all the new and exciting food on offer.
Opening hours: 6am-8pm
Address: Ingreso Callie Potosi, La Paz, Bolivia
La Paz’s Cathedral
Built in 1835, La Paz’s cathedral is an impressive building mainly due to its location on a steep hillside. Tall domes and large columns make up this enormous building, while beautiful stained glass artworks decorate the cathedral’s walls and contribute to the beauty of the interior. Next to the cathedral is the Presidential Palace right by Plaza Murillo, so get ready for a day of sightseeing and visit all three sights to learn a bit about the city’s rich history and culture.
Address: Plaza murillo, La Paz, Bolivia