La Paz, Bolivia is home to the highest capital in the world so be prepared for altitude! It wasn’t my favorite place but if you visit Bolivia you will definitely be stopping by or through on your way to the rest of the country. La Paz takes a little getting used to. It took me a few days to slowly warm up to it.
Most everyone will pass through La Paz by bus or by plane in or out of the country.
I ended up in La Paz two times. The first time, just passing through on a flight from Sucre to La Paz on my way to Copacabana. And the second time, after I returned from Copacabana before I flew to Cusco, Peru. I later found out this was the backwards way to travel through Bolivia to Peru.
*The taxi to the airport from my hotel in Sopacachi was 70Bs and about 30 minutes with no traffic.
*When I arrived at the airport in La Paz the first time and tried to catch a cab, an unlicensed cab driver tried to take us to our destination before the airport police shooed them away so make sure to look out.
A very common bus route is a direct bus route to/from Uyuni (where the salt flat tours leave from). I personally didn’t take this route and chose to fly from nearby Sucre. I have heard mixed reviews, it is not a relaxing bus route and a little bit nerve racking as it’s on an older uneven road so keep that in mind.
SEE ALSO: 3 Days in the Desert: Uyuni, Bolivia
The other direction people come to/from is from Copacabana which sits on Lake Titicaca and borders Peru. If you are busing your way through South America, the main bus routes from La Paz to Peru go through Copacabana. I took a Titicaca bus from Copacabana to La Paz (More on that here). When you arrive at the bus terminal there are plenty of taxis and a taxi stand out front. Make sure you take a legit taxi with bubble on top with phone number. My taxi to my hotel in the Sopacachi neighborhood was 30Bs.
*Note: There are often strikes in Bolivia that will affect the roads, buses and traffic. Make sure you allow yourself time and/or contingency plans in case this happens. Online travel forums/facebook groups are good resources for finding out about them. They are not usually easily to Google.
SEE ALSO: A Quick Guide to Copacabana, Bolivia
I got around almost exclusively by taxi. Ask the price before you accept your ride. The drivers will usually call their dispatcher with the route so they can tell you the price. The cable cars are for public transportation but they don’t always go to the neighborhoods you will be visiting.
Currency: Bolivianos ($1 USD = approx 7 Bolivianos)
ATMs: Pretty widely available.
Hotels: Accept Bolivianos or USD, some accept credit cards.
Restaurants: Cash (Bolivianos)
Shops: Cash (Bolivianos)
Gustu: If you are a foodie this is a must-do but a splurge, founded by Noma Chef René Redzepi.
La Locanda Il Viandante: Italian comfort food in Sopacachi.
Vinapho: After traveling for awhile this satisfied my Asian food craving and was pretty good.
Kalakitas: I wasn’t able to go to this Mexican Restaurant right on Calle Sagarnaga. It was closed the days I was in town but while traveling through Bolivia many people recommended it.
Cafe del Mundo: Also on Calle Sagarnaga, a good place for a late breakfast or light lunch.
Sol y Luna: Nothing special but if you are wandering and desperate or in need of a rest stop it’s a good place to take a break.
I stayed in the more residential and quiet neighborhood of Sopacachi at The Casa Fusion Boutique Hotel which I booked with booking.com. There are also lots of hotels/hostals nearby Sagarnaga Road if you want to be more downtown and walking distance to many attractions.
Ride the trams: There are several different lines. While they were built for La Paz’s citizens to commute they have become a pretty popular tourist attraction. The Yellow line is 6Bs roundtrip which connects to the Green line which is 3Bs. The yellow tram will take you to the top for a view over the entire city. The Green line will take you down to pretty fancy neighborhood and you can see over the top of some of the nicer houses.
Sagarnaga Road and the Mercados Artesenales: A popular attraction in La Paz for tourists. Filled with souvenir shops and restaurants.
Mercado de las Brujas (Witches Market): Nearby to Sagarnaga Road on Santa Cruz Street. selling all sorts of local medicinal and spiritual goods. Read more about the history of the Mercado here.
Day Trips: Along Sagarnaga Road there are several tour agencies with different day trips out of the city. There wasn’t one that particularly sparked my interest but if you have extra days in La Paz it is worth checking out.
Plaza Murillo: The center of the “old town” of La Paz. Although while I was there it was covered in more pigeons than I had ever seen in my life there are lots of beautiful older buildings surround the plaza including the Presidential Palace and Cathedral.
Jaen Street: Nearby to the Plaza this street is famous for it’s many art shops and galleries.
If you happen to be stopping on Bolivia on your way to/from Peru I would definitely recommend stocking up on souvenirs in Bolivia. They are much cheaper than anything you will find in Peru.
They sell fabrics, scarves, table runners, bags, accessories, miniature llamas and more. Some are handmade, some machine woven, some alpaca, and some mixed with synthetics. Always ask and negotiate the price appropriately. They seem to be more open and honest about items being synthetic or machine versus handmade than they were in Peru. I purchased a small blanket (machine made) for 25Bs, a mixed synthetic/alpaca scarf for 40Bs.
*Note: The artisan goods for sale in La Paz were not the same as in other cities like Sucre so don’t think you’ll always have another chance to pick something up!