Destination guide: La Paz, Bolivia

La Paz is the capital of Bolivia and is located in the heart of the altiplano and in the foothills of the snowcapped Illimani Mountain. Here, you can see how the Aymaran race greatly influenced the growth of this multi-racial country in South America. La Paz has a rich architectural legacy inherited from the colonial era, combined with archaeology in Tiwanaku and the art and folklore of its villages. From here, you can visit Moon Valley, the snowcapped Chacaltaya Mountain and famous Lake Titicaca.

  • La Paz - Things to do

    Sights

    Calle Jaén Museums

    These four, small, interesting museums are clustered together along Calle Jaén, La Paz’s finest colonial street, and can easily be bundled into one visit. Buy tickets at the Museo Costumbrista.

    Latitude: -16.4918442500000 / Longitude: -68.1357059500000
    Telephone Number: +591 2 228 0758
    Opening Hours: 9:30am-12:30pm & 3-7pm Tue-Fri, 9am-1pm Sat & Sun.
    Pricing: combo admission B$4.

    Museo Tambo Quirquincho off Evaristo Valle

    This intriguing museum - Museo Tambo Quirquincho off Evaristo Valle at Plaza Alonzo de Mendoza, is a former tambo (wayside market and inn). It houses temporary exhibitions (past ones have included cultural photos of Mexico and Peruvian art).

    Telephone Number: +591 2 239 0969
    Opening Hours: 9:30am-12:30pm & 3-7pm Tue-Fri, 9am-1pm Sat & Sun.
    Pricing: admission B$3.

    Museo de la Revolución Nacional

    The first question to ask when approaching this museum is ‘Which Revolution?’ (Bolivia has had more than 100 of them). The answer is that of April 1952, the popular revolt of armed miners that resulted in the nationalization of Bolivian mining interests. It displays photos and paintings from the era. Located at the end of Av Busch.

    Latitude: -16.4844214600000 / Longitude: -68.1217912800000
    Alternative Name: Museum of the National Revolution.
    Sub-Type: Modernista mansion
    Opening Hours: 9:30am-12:30pm & 3-7pm Tue-Fri, 10am-noon Sat & Sun.
    Pricing: admission B$2.
    Address: Plaza Villarroel

    Museo de Etnografía y Folklore

    This free museum is for anthropology buffs. The building, itself a real treasure, was constructed between 1776 and 1790, and was once the home of the Marqués de Villaverde. The highlight is the Tres Milenios de Tejidos exhibition of stunning weavings from around the country – ask a guide for a look inside the drawers beneath the wall hangings. It also has a fine collection of Chipaya artifacts from western Oruro department, a group whose language, rites and customs have led some experts to suggest that they are descendants of the vanished Tiwanaku culture, and the Tarabucos, from near Sucre.

    Latitude: -16.4944944200000 / Longitude: -68.1351534200000
    Alternative Name: Ethnography & Folklore Museum.
    Telephone Number: +591 2 240 8640
    Opening Hours: 9am-12:30pm & 3-7pm Mon-Sat, 9am-12:30pm Sun.
    Address: Address: cnr Ingavi & Sanjinés.
    Website: www.musef.org.bo

    Arte al Aire Libre

    Review La Paz’s mayor, Juan del Granado, has created Arte al Aire Libre This wonderful open-air art gallery features around 15 giant artworks that focus on La Paz and surrounds, from images of Illimani to notable painters of La Paz. Works change every three months.

    Address: on the Kantutani, Obrajes.
    Extras: btwn Calles 16 & 14 , along the river, Zona Sur.

    Eat

    Restaurant Paladar

    This cavernous place serves recommended Brazilian fare, including feijoada (a bean and meat casserole, typical of Portugal and Brazil). Heavy drapes, bow-tied waiters and smartly dressed locals would have you think it’s a pricey joint. And you’d be fooled – all this for a mere B$20. À la carte dishes are served at weekend lunches.

    Latitude: -16.5079944700000 / Longitude: -68.1281624800000
    Telephone Number: +591 2 244 4929
    Opening Hours: lunch Tue-Sun.
    Pricing: mains B$40-60, almuerzo Tue-Fri B$20.
    Price Range: Moderate
    Address: Guachalla 359.

    Star of India

    Worthy of a London curry-house (the owner is British), this place is hot. It receives rave reviews by foreign residents and travelers for its broad menu of tasty Indian foods. Also serves lassi breakfasts and snacks.

    Latitude: -16.4978294600000 / Longitude: -68.1368148800000
    Sub-Type: Tapa
    Telephone Number: +591 2 211 4409
    Opening Hours: 9am-11pm Mon-Fri, 4-11pm Sat & Sun.
    Pricing: mains B$30-40.
    Price Range: Moderate
    Address: Calle Cochabamba 170.

    Cafe El Consulado

    A stylish cafe-restaurant, housed in a stunning, refurbished colonial building (formerly the Consulate of Panama), surrounded by green lawns and gardens. You can enjoy a range of contemporary-style international and local dishes sitting in a delightful glasshouse-cum-terrace or inside, in a choice of cozy spaces. Not surprisingly, given its Danish ownership, it has an all-round European influence.

    Latitude: -16.5027900100000 / Longitude: -68.1310297500000
    Telephone Number:+591 2 211 7706
    Opening Hours: 9am-10:30pm Tue-Sun.
    Pricing: mains B$35-55.
    Price Range: Moderate
    Address
    : Bravo 299.

    Entertainment

    Antique-Chop

    Opposite the Mormon church, the rustic interior, retro photographs from the ’20s and ’30s, Western pop music and pitchers/jugs of beer make La Choperia a favorite with middle-class locals.

    Address: Pichincha off Ingavi.

    Shop

    Irupana

    Don’t miss this shop, which sells locally made organic produce including sugar-free muesli and some of the most delicious chocolate in Bolivia. There is another branch near the corner of Fernando Guachalla and Av Sanchez Lima.

    Address: Murillo 1014, cnr Tarija.

    El Ceibo

    Chocoholics mustn’t miss El Ceibo, an ecologically friendly producer of fantastic local chocolates (all natural ingredients).

    Address: Potosí 1147, Cañada Strongest 1784.
    Website: www.elceibo.org

    Events Overview

    Bolivians love to party, and celebrations and rituals are integral to their culture. Fiestas are invariably of religious or political origin, and typically include lots of music, drinking, eating, dancing, processions and rituals. Sometimes water balloons and fireworks figure prominently. On major holidays and festive occasions, banks, offices and other services are closed, and public transportation is often bursting at the seams; book ahead.
    August and February are important months for Pachamama, the Earth Mother, especially in traditional communities, with ceremonies and rituals taking place in her honor. Occasionally, you might witness a cha’lla (ritual blessing), including the burning of mesa blanca (literally ‘white table’) offerings and incense.