About La Paz
La Paz is the largest and most important city of the South American Republic of Bolivia. With its approximately 1.8 million inhabitants, the city extends into the highland plateau of Bolivia, the vast flatland called the Altiplano lying at 3800-4100 m. La Paz is an interesting city that combines ancient tradition and modern elements. Ever since the Spanish rule in the 19th century, it has been a major trading centre of the country.
La Paz is the starting point for many tourists in Peru who want to explore the legendary Lake Titicaca or the famous salt flats of Uyuni in the southwest. The city of La Paz offers many options for travelers and those interested in the history and culture of Bolivia: important tourist attractions in La Paz are landmarks such as churches, ancient streets and squares, museums (over 15), colorful Indian markets, gardens in the lower neighbourhoods and much more. Above all, Bolivia´s culture with the old traditional dances plays an important role in the lifestyle of the local population in La Paz.
Attractions in La Paz
The traditional Bolivian culture is of great importance in La Paz. Many interesting events take place in the Teatro Municipal or in the Casa de la Cultura. The folklore of the country, the Bolivian dances, are of particular importance. Visit one of the many traditional dance-shows when you are in La Paz or participate in a colorful folklore-procession in the streets of the city.
In downtown La Paz you will find many shops, cafes and restaurants. Many modern office buildings in this part of the city mark La Paz`s status as the economic centre of the country. The city centre and the southern part of the metropolis offer most of the touristic attractions and cultural sights. One of the most visited places in La Paz is the Casco Viejo, the old town, which offers many museums and dining options. The most beautiful buildings in La Paz can be found at the central Plaza Morillo, including the Government Palace, the Parliament building and the Cathedral. The San Francisco Church is a magnificent colonial style church, which first started construction in the 16th century. Today, the San Francisco church is used as a cultural centre. Don´t miss the beautiful view of the city from this museum!
Another attraction near La Paz is the prehistoric Inca site Tiwanaku. The mystical ruins are located about 70 kilometres from La Paz and have been declared a World Heritage Site in the year 2000. The Sun-Gate or figure of "El Fraile" are among the attractions of the Inca site that have still not been explored in their entirety to this day. It is also worth taking a trip to Lake Titicaca, located in the plateau of the Andes. Titicaca is the largest lake in South America and the highest navigable lake on earth. La Paz is also the starting point to visit the salt flats Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flats with a total of 10,582 square kilometres.
Museums in La Paz
La Paz features a great number of museums that exhibit the culture, history and people of Bolivia. The Mueseo Arqueologico de Tiwinaku is among the most important museums of the city. Learn about the Tiwanaku, Chiripa, Mollo and other different eastern cultures of Bolivia. The collection of exhibits, the oldest of La Paz, also display history from the Inca period. Furthermore, the Coca Museum features all the interesting stories about the coca leaf, coca and magic, and the importance of Coca in the different epochs of Bolivia.
The Museo Nacional de Arte, the National Art Museum of La Paz, is one of the most prestigious museums in Latin America. Among other art treasures, the museum displays artwork by the most well-known painters from all across Bolivia. Another cultural attraction is the collection of the Museo Casa, one of the largest museums in all of the Central Latin American region.
Shopping in La Paz
For those interested in shopping, Zona Central, specifically the streets Calle Comercio and Calle Sagárnaga (many craft shops), are the places to go. There are also lots of shopping opportunities in the north of the city on Calle Potosí. Here you will find many souvenir shops that offer handmade alpaca textiles, ceramics or jewellery. Don’t forget to visit the legendary Mercado de las Brujas (the "Witches Market"), where you can pick your own lucky charm among the numerous amulets and jewelleries offered by the vendors.
Nightlife in La Paz
In the center of La Paz is Zona Central, where many international embassies are located. This part of La Paz is the place to go for a nice evening meal and a drink. Here you will find a variety of bars and pubs for clubbing opportunities. For those of you who are party animals, Zona Central also features clubs and so-called “party hostels,” where you can test out your salsa skills or break it down to the latest top 40.
Restaurants in La Paz
In La Paz you will find a large number of restaurants that offer the traditional Bolivian cuisine, consisting of quinoa, potatoes, corn and alpaca meat. La Espinita is half a block off of the Plaza España in the center and serves delicious Andean dishes as well as seafood. This restaurant is equally popular among both tourists and locals. Many restaurants in the center of La Paz also specialize in Western cuisine. Pronto is an Italian restaurant in the center of La Paz (Sopocachi), which is well known and usually very crowded on the weekends. If you really want to enjoy the local Bolivian dishes, head to Sumaq Mikhuy. The name of the restaurant says it all, as it means "delicious food" in Quechua. Additionally, in Café del Mundo on 324 Calle Sagarnaga, you can enjoy a cup of coffee with all kinds of international sweets and snacks.
Travel Information for La Paz
With the airport in El Alto at nearly 4100 m above sea-level, the city has the highest civil airport in the world. Furthermore, there is an altitude difference of more than 1000 m between the lowest and the highest points of the city. But don´t worry, you won´t have to cover this enormous difference by foot; countless buses, taxis and collectivos (taxi-vans) are constantly circulating within La Paz.