Mar 12, 2013|
Last updated on November 12th, 2020 at 03:13 pm
Best Things to Do in La Paz Bolivia
Have you been thinking about planning a trip to Bolivia? If yes, La Paz must be on your itinerary. You may be asking, what does La Paz have to offer the discerning tourist? Our answer is… plenty! Read below for our Top 5 Things to do in La Paz, Bolivia.
1. Revisit the colonial past at Calle Jaen
Nuestra Señora de La Paz (Our Lady of Peace) was founded by the Spanish conquistadors in 1548 on the site of an indigenous settlement.
The architectural heritage from the Spanish is still very much present at Calle Jaen, preserved as a pedestrian-only thoroughfare in the heart of La Paz.
The narrow, cobblestone street is one of the top attractions for visitors on a tour of La Paz. Walk amongst colorful buildings, lanterns, and ironwork balconies.
There are also several museums that line the streets. Stop inside the Museo Nacional de Arte (see number 5) and the Museo de Litoral, which exhibits items from the war of the Pacific (1879 – 1884).
Bolivia came out of the war having lost its coastal territory to Chile, but keep an eye out for the defiant sign on the museum, which claims: ‘Bolivia has not lost and will never lose its right to the Pacific.
2. Hubble, bubble, toil, and trouble at the Witches Market
South America is famous for its indigenous markets, and few come as unique as the Witches Market in La Paz. The Mercado de Hechiceria or Mercado de las Brujas is not only a great shopping opportunity for some truly original souvenirs of a mystical persuasion, but it’s also an opportunity to learn more about the Aymara culture. The Aymara are the native people of Bolivia.
The current president, Evo Morales, is from an impoverished Aymara family and became Bolivia’s first indigenous leader. Here’s a cultural tidbit to whet your appetite: while here, pick up the dried llama dung! It’s an Aymara good luck charm, which laid the foundations of every new building.
3. Practice your bargaining skills at El Alto Market
El Alto, sometimes described as a city and sometimes as a suburb of the city is definitely on the list of things to do in La Paz. What is sure, though, is that El Alto has the largest concentration of indigenous peoples in Latin America. Among them are the Aymara, who make up 76%.
Every Thursday and Sunday, the area around Plaza Ballivián is transformed into a simply enormous market, with stalls selling such a wide range of goods.
It would be easier to list the things you can’t buy, rather than the things you can! The Aymara people of the Altiplano (‘high plain’) still speak their native language and wear traditional dress, making a visit to the market at El Alto an excellent cultural experience, as well as a brilliant shopping opportunity!
4. Take a trip to the Moon (Valley)
Next on our list of things to do in La Paz is Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley). A short 10 km hop from central La Paz is well worth the journey. Tour the region to view an extraordinary landscape caused by the natural process of erosion in the mountainous, desert area to the southwest of La Paz.
Over thousands of years, the elements have sculpted the clay into odd-shaped pillars of various colors. You can spend a lot of time here gazing at the crater-like formations that give the valley its name.
Bring some sturdy walking shoes and explore the trails to see the Valley from every angle. With some luck and a bright day, you will see fantastic views of La Paz.
5. Visit Intriguing Museums
As the capital of Bolivia, La Paz is where you’ll find many of the country’s top museums and galleries. For those with an interest in art, the National Museum of Art displays important works from the colonial period right up to those by contemporary Bolivian artists.
The sculptures, paintings, and photographs are in corridors open to the two-story central courtyard of this 17th-century lovely colonial building. As an additional bonus, the café here gets consistently good reviews. For something a little different, visit the controversial Museo de la Coca.
Discover the history of the coca plant, from its medicinal use and religious significance in ancient Andean cultures to the prohibition by the Catholic Church, to present-day concerns.
The museum is an interesting way to spend a free afternoon in La Paz. And as you travel to your next destination, you’ll have plenty to reminisce on.
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