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Discovering the Magic of La Paz, Bolivia: A Essential Travel Guide



L A P A Z - a vibrant and bustling city located high in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia, is a unique and exotic destination offering many unique experiences and attractions. From strolling through the colorful streets and tasting the local delicacies to visiting the famous Witch Market and taking a breathtaking cable car ride, the city offers something for all kinds of travelers. In this blog post, we'll guide you through some of the top things you must do and eat when visiting La Paz in Bolivia.




Interesting facts about

La Paz:

  • La Paz is one of the two capital cities of Bolivia.

  • La Paz is the world's highest capital city (altitude downtown is 3,650 meters and 11,975 feet).

  • Coca leaves are legal and widely used in La Paz.

  • Cholita Wrestling (indigenous women engage in theatrical wrestling matches).

  • Entry Visa for Americans costs $160

  • No Visa requirements for German passport holders ;)




The Witch Market

One of the most unique experiences that La Paz has to offer is its infamous Witch Market, also known as Mercado de las Brujas. Here, you can find an incredible variation of traditional herbs, potions, remedies, and even dried llama fetuses that are said to bring good luck and ward off bad spirits.

In Bolivia, it is a traditional belief to bury a llama fetus as an offering to Pachamama, which is the Andean Earth Mother. This ritual is often performed when constructing a new home or building and during other important life events, such as marriages or agricultural activities.



Traditional Dances and Events

You can also witness some incredible traditional dances and ceremonies, such as the Tarqueada or Pujllay, performed by the Bolivian Cholitas, the proud and colorful indigenous women who are an integral part of Bolivian culture.


If you are searching for a quirky local activity, check out Cholita Westling. La Paz is famous for its unique form of professional wrestling known as "Cholita wrestling." It involves indigenous Quechua and Aymara women engaging in theatrical wrestling matches, showcasing athleticism and cultural pride.



Iglesia de San Francisco

Experience the hustle and bustle of local life at Iglesia de San Francisco in La Paz, Bolivia. Whether you're searching for street food or enjoy watching locals hang out and chat, this square in front of the historical Roman Catholic Church is the place to be. Located in downtown La Paz, getting lost amongst the charming cobblestone streets is easy while making your way to the church.



Indulge in Local Delicacies

Foodies will love La Paz's unique and diverse cuisine. One of the must-try dishes is Anticuchos (see picture above), a popular street food made with grilled cow hearts. Other local delicacies include Salteñas (see image below), a spicy empanada filled with chicken or beef, and Api con Pastel, a sweet and thick drink made with purple corn. We highly recommend Helado de Canelo, a bright red cinnamon ice cream (see picture below).




Food Hall and Restaurant Recommendations

Hb Bronze Coffeebar in La Paz, Bolivia
Hb Bronze Coffeebar in La Paz, Bolivia

Hb Bronze Coffeebar - is a stylish and cozy café known for its exceptional coffee, delicious charcuterie boards, and a fine selection of red wines. With its high-class service, it's a favorite among locals and tourists alike, offering a welcoming ambiance to enjoy delicious coffee and gourmet treats in the heart of the city.


Another place we highly recommend is Gustu. Gusto is a popular restaurant in La Paz, offering innovative fusion cuisine with a blend of traditional Bolivian flavors and international influences. With its chic ambiance and creative menu, Gusto is celebrated as one of the city's culinary gems.



Manq'a restaurant is a must-try when visiting La Paz. Manq'a is located inside a big hall next to other restaurants and shops that sell locally handcrafted items.

Manq'a Restaurant is a culinary gem that stands out for its commitment to social impact and gastronomic excellence. This restaurant is part of a bigger initiative providing culinary training and employment opportunities to underprivileged youth, offering a diverse menu that showcases Bolivian cuisine with a modern approach. You get to enjoy not only delicious dishes but also support a meaningful cause. The menu consists of a three-course menu in which you can pick between a salad or soup, a main dish, and a dessert for less than $15.




Shop for Colorful Souvenirs

La Paz's bustling markets and vibrant streets are a shopper's paradise, offering various colorful handicrafts, woven textiles, and locally made products. In Calle Sagarnaga, you find everything from alpaca wool sweaters and shawls to pottery, jewelry, and artwork that reflects the rich Bolivian culture. If you want to buy 100% alpaca products, go to specialty stores since the markets often offer cheaper items mixed with synthetics or basic wool.


PS: Towards the end of our trip, I started feeling sick. While I was sleeping, Jake sneaked out for a few hours and secretly bought the souvenirs I wanted to buy the previous days. He surprised me with an alpaca coffee cup and my favorite green color pouch for Christmas. (see picture below)



Take a Breathtaking Cable Car ride

Cable Cars in La Paz, Bolivia
Cable Cars in La Paz, Bolivia

La Paz's cable car system, Mi Teleférico, is an incredible way to see the city's stunning landscape and breathtaking views of the Andes Mountains. The ride takes you above the city's chaotic traffic and offers a unique perspective of the city and its surroundings. Be sure to take in the view of the iconic Illimani Mountain, which towers over the city.



Hiking in the Glaciers

Huayna Potosi in Bolivia
Huayna Potosi in Bolivia

For adventure seekers, La Paz offers a range of outdoor activities, from hiking to mountain biking. One of the most popular attractions is the Huayna Potosí, a snow-covered mountain situated just outside the city, rising to over 6,000 meters in elevation. Experienced hikers can take a half-day excursion to the El Choro trek to witness the stunning glacier landscape and breathtaking valley views.



Summary

La Paz is a city filled with color, culture, and adventure waiting to be discovered. Whether you're a lover of food, culture, or the great outdoors, La Paz has something to offer every kind of traveler. Most travelers stay short-term in La Paz, often using it as a hub to explore other remarkable destinations nearby, such as the Death Road, the vast salt desert of Uyuni, or the serene beauty of Lake Titicaca. Don't hesitate to make La Paz your next travel destination - it truly offers a unique and unforgettable experience.


Downtown La Paz, Bolivia
Downtown La Paz, Bolivia

Have you been to Bolivia? What where your favourite things to do and see there? Let us know in the comments below!



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