A Traveler’s Guide to La Paz: the World’s Highest Capital
La Paz City in Bolivia is the highest capital in the world—it literally and figuratively takes your breath away!
When you visit La Paz City, explore the capital of Bolivia at your own pace and choose the landmarks that are most alluring to you, from the famous teleférico (suspended cable cars) to visiting the mercado de las brujas (witches’ market).
Currently, passengers who arrive in Bolivia require a PCR test taken up to 72 hours before arrival. They must show a vaccination certificate dated at least 14 days before arriving in Bolivia. And passengers who have not been vaccinated need to self-isolate for 10 days after arriving in Bolivia. Here’s more information to be aware of before planning your trip to Bolivia.
Keep reading for the La Paz City travel guide and find out why so many are looking to visit this enchanting, high-altitude city.
Ways to Practice Spanish While Traveling
There are many ways to practice Spanish while you travel. First and foremost, I recommend learning Spanish before your trip and being ready to immerse yourself when you go to Bolivia. Locals are happy to help you practice but it’s best to be as prepared as possible.
Try to listen to podcasts in Spanish, take Spanish classes online here at Homeschool Spanish Academy, or read a book in Spanish.
Depending on your level, choose what you find enjoyable and immerse yourself in the Hispanic culture as much as possible.
If you’re looking to learn Spanish fast, check out Travel Spanish Guide: Get it Done in 5 Months.
La Paz City’s High Altitude
La Paz City’s elevation is 11,942 ft (3,640 m) above sea level. La Paz’s extreme altitude affects most visitors because the air is so thin and has less oxygen than we’re used to.
This could make you feel nauseated, breathless, or headachy. Don’t worry—it takes your body a day or two to get used to the altitude. Take it easy after your arrival before you start sightseeing in La Paz City.
Ideally, it is best to travel to La Paz making several stops at lower altitude spots along the way., such as Cochabamba (8,392 ft; 2,558 m) or Sucre (9,214 ft; 2,810 m) to get acclimatized before making your way to La Paz.
If you’re prone to altitude sickness, stay in a hotel in La Paz’s Zona sur (southern zone) since it’s 985 ft (300 m) lower than the city center of La Paz.
To help you get acclimatized quickly, drink coca tea or chew coca leaves. It’s a remedy for altitude sickness that dates back to Spanish colonization times. Most travelers enjoy adding it to a hot cup of cocoa in Bolivia. Coca tea is available in supermarkets, restaurants, and cafés.
Visiting La Paz City – Things to Do
The city has many incredible attractions. Plan your trip so that you have time to see everything La Paz City has to offer!
1. El Teleférico
The enchanting city of La Paz has a cable car that’s a must. Mi Teleferico isn’t technically a tourist attraction, but it allows you to travel to the valley and see La Paz City from above. The teleférico connects people living on the outskirts to central La Paz.
Hand-picked for you: Bolivia: A Country of Extraordinary Culture and Geography
2. Take a Walking Tour
During your stay in La Paz city, take free La Paz walking tours around the city. Local guides explain the traditions and history of this beautiful Bolivian capital city. The tours take about three hours and are a great way to connect with the locals.
3. El Mercado de las Brujas
El Mercado de las Brujas (The Witches’ Market) is an unusual market. Learn about the herbal magic that the local indigenous people live by. This market is full of natural remedies that locals use in their everyday lives and strange artifacts to bring home as souvenirs.
4. La Paz Cemetery
La Paz Cemetery is the biggest in Bolivia. Colonial churches and streets surround this fascinating site
5. Valle de la Luna
Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) is a 15-minute drive from La Paz City and gets its name from the stunning rock formations. Take a walking trail that makes you feel like you’re walking on the moon! It’s one of the most incredible landscapes in La Paz.
6. Calle Jean and Plaza Murillo
One of the most beautiful cobblestone streets in La Paz City is Calle Jean. The narrow street is full of colorful houses from the 16th century, as well as shops, restaurants, and museums.
The short street leads to Plaza Murillo, the main square in La Paz with La Paz Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, and other government buildings. It’s the perfect spot to take a break and observe everyday life in La Paz City.
La Paz City – Where to Stay
There are many accommodations to choose from in La Paz City depending on what you like and your budget.
If you’re visiting La Paz for just a few days, stay in el centro (downtown). It’s the colonial area of the city with many nearby attractions. There are hostels, high end hotels, and mid-range lodging.
Zona sur is a residential area in La Paz City. It’s a clean and safe area to stay in with mostly high-end hotels. Many people who travel for business stay in Zona sur. It’s a quiet area if you’re looking to unwind during your stay in La Paz City.
Sopocachi is the hip area of La Paz City. It’s perfect for expats and young travelers. It’s full of coffee shops and bars, making it ideal for those looking to socialize and get to know the locals.
La Paz City – What to Eat
La Paz is full of restaurants and delicious street food to try out. Below, I mention three delicious dishes to sample when you’re there.
Tucumanas are a deep fried pastry accompanied with sauces. This ingenious pastry is the Bolivian empanada.
Salteñas are a Bolivian breakfast pastry filled with carrots, potatoes, peas, and meat. It’s topped with a sweet sauce and baked. The best salteñas are at Paceña La Salteña.
Sandwich de Chola
This traditional Bolivian sandwich is served by a cholita, an indigenous Bolivian woman. This sandwich has pulled pork, onions, carrots, tomatoes, and garlic. Enjoy one at Parque de las Cholas on a sunny day with a refreshing drink.
La Paz City – What to Pack
La Paz Bolivia’s weather features warm sunny days and chilly nights. The rainy season is from December to March, so depending on when you decide to visit, pack accordingly.
Be sure to pack good sneakers, a fleece jacket, and a steri pen that purifies water so that you’re sure it’s safe to drink. If you visit during rainy season, pack a raincoat and warm clothes.
La Paz City Map
Check out this map of La Paz City, and visit all the wonderful landmarks when you’re there!
Practice Your Spanish in La Paz City
Bolivia is a fascinating South American country with a rich culture. By learning Spanish before and during your trip, you’re making a great investment in your education. When you learn Spanish, you’ll have the capability to travel to many fascinating places in Latin America and connect with the locals and their culture and customs. By learning Spanish, you’re unlocking the door to adventure, architecture, culture, and cuisine.
Sign up for a free trial class at Homeschool Spanish Academy before your trip to Bolivia and advance your language skills today! Check out our flexible programs and affordable prices to choose which one is best for you.
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