Unveiling the fascinating story of La Paz, a city perched between history and modernity. Explore the best of this Bolivian gem in three days with our detailed itinerary. Learn how to get there, where to stay, what and where to eat, and uncover coworking opportunities.
Welcome to La Paz, the heart of Bolivia and a city that seamlessly blends its indigenous roots with the vibrancy of modern life. Nestled high in the Andes Mountains, La Paz is a city of contrasts, where history echoes through its cobbled streets and cutting-edge innovation thrives in its bustling markets. This article is your comprehensive guide to experiencing La Paz in all its glory, from its intriguing history to a three-day itinerary that covers its top attractions, practical travel tips, accommodation options, culinary delights, and even coworking opportunities for digital nomads. Let’s dive into the fascinating world of La Paz!
The History of the City
La Paz has a history that stretches back millennia. The area that is now La Paz was originally inhabited by the indigenous Aymara people, who founded a settlement known as Chuquiago Marka around 2,000 years ago. The Aymara’s influence is still palpable in the city’s culture, language, and traditions.
The Spanish conquistadors, led by Pedro de la Gasca, arrived in the region in the mid-16th century. They renamed the settlement Nuestra Señora de La Paz (Our Lady of Peace) and made it part of the Viceroyalty of Peru. The city grew as a hub for trade and administration in the Spanish colonial empire.
Independence and Growth
La Paz played a pivotal role in Bolivia’s struggle for independence from Spanish rule. The city was a hotbed of revolutionary activity, and it was here that the first cries for freedom were heard. On August 6, 1825, Bolivia declared its independence from Spain in a building that is now the Museo de la Casa de la Libertad.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, La Paz continued to grow and modernize. The city’s unique topography, with its central basin surrounded by steep hills, posed challenges for urban development. However, innovative engineering solutions, such as the iconic cable cars known as “teleféricos,” have made La Paz a model of urban planning.
What to Do If You Have 3 Days in the City – Full Itinerary
Day 1: Explore the Historic Center
Start your day at Plaza Murillo, the political heart of Bolivia. Here, you’ll find the impressive Presidential Palace and the Metropolitan Cathedral. Take a guided tour of these historic buildings to learn about Bolivia’s political and religious heritage.
Enjoy a traditional Bolivian meal at a local eatery. Try salteñas, savory pastries filled with meat or vegetables, or sample some llama stew for a taste of Andean cuisine.
Stroll through the colorful and bustling Mercado Rodríguez. This market offers a glimpse into everyday life in La Paz, with vendors selling everything from fresh produce to handmade crafts. Don’t forget to bargain for souvenirs!
Dine at one of the many restaurants in the Sopocachi neighborhood, known for its eclectic culinary scene. Afterward, take a cable car ride to El Alto to witness the city’s breathtaking night skyline.
Day 2: Immerse Yourself in Culture
Visit the Museo Nacional de Arte to admire Bolivia’s rich artistic heritage. The museum houses an impressive collection of colonial-era paintings, indigenous art, and contemporary works.
Savor a traditional Bolivian dish called salteña, a pastry filled with meat, potatoes, and spices. Pair it with api, a warm corn-based beverage.
Explore the Witches’ Market (Mercado de las Brujas), where you can find unique herbal remedies, potions, and handmade crafts. Don’t forget to pick up a good luck charm or two.
Experience a traditional folkloric dance show at one of the city’s theaters. This will give you a deeper understanding of Bolivia’s diverse culture.
Day 3: Nature and Adventure
Embark on an early morning trip to the Moon Valley (Valle de la Luna), a surreal landscape of eroded clay and sandstone formations. It’s just a short drive from the city and offers excellent hiking opportunities.
Head to the upscale neighborhood of Calacoto for a leisurely lunch at one of its trendy restaurants. Try some Bolivian quinoa dishes or fresh trout from Lake Titicaca.
Take a scenic cable car ride to the top of Mount Illimani. Enjoy panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains. If you’re feeling adventurous, consider hiking or mountain biking in the area.
End your day with a visit to the scenic Mirador Killi Killi, a viewpoint that offers breathtaking sunset views of La Paz. It’s the perfect way to bid farewell to this enchanting city.
How to Get There and How to Get Around
Getting to La Paz
La Paz is served by El Alto International Airport (LPB), which is the highest international airport in the world. It connects the city to major South American hubs like Lima, Santiago, and São Paulo, as well as a few direct flights to North America and Europe.
Getting Around the City
Once you arrive in La Paz, you’ll find several convenient ways to get around:
- Cable Cars: La Paz’s innovative cable car system is not just a mode of transportation but also a tourist attraction. It provides stunning aerial views of the city and is an efficient way to traverse the steep terrain.
- Public Buses: La Paz has an extensive network of public buses that can take you to different parts of the city. However, they can be crowded and challenging to navigate if you don’t speak Spanish.
- Taxis: Taxis are readily available and relatively affordable. Make sure to negotiate the fare before starting your journey.
- Walking: Exploring the city on foot is a great way to soak in the local culture and discover hidden gems in its winding streets.
Where to Stay – Examples
La Paz offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. Here are some examples:
- Casa Grande Hotel: This elegant hotel in the exclusive neighborhood of Calacoto offers luxurious rooms, a spa, and gourmet dining options.
- Camino Real Suites: Located in the heart of the city, this upscale hotel features modern amenities and beautiful views of La Paz.
- Hotel Rosario La Paz: A charming mid-range option with comfortable rooms and a central location, making it ideal for exploring the city.
- Hotel Europa: This well-located hotel offers a blend of comfort and affordability, making it a popular choice for travelers.
- Hostal Naira: A friendly and budget-friendly hostel in the historic center, perfect for backpackers and budget-conscious travelers.
- Bash and Crash Hostel: Known for its lively atmosphere and social events, this hostel is a favorite among young travelers.
Where and What to Eat
La Paz is a culinary hub where traditional Bolivian flavors blend with international influences. Here are some must-try dishes and dining options:
Traditional Bolivian Dishes
- Salteñas: These savory pastries are a Bolivian breakfast staple, filled with a delicious mixture of meat, potatoes, and spices.
- Llama Steak: Try this local delicacy, typically served grilled with flavorful herbs and spices.
- Quinoa: Bolivia is one of the world’s largest quinoa producers. Don’t miss the chance to savor quinoa-based dishes like quinoa soup or quinoa salad.
Restaurants and Markets
- Gustu: This Michelin-starred restaurant celebrates Bolivian ingredients and techniques, offering a tasting menu that showcases the country’s culinary diversity.
- Café del Mundo: A cozy café known for its artisanal coffee and freshly baked pastries. It’s a great spot for breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up.
- Mercado Lanza: La Paz’s largest food market, where you can sample a variety of traditional dishes like anticuchos (grilled skewers) and api (corn drink).
For digital nomads and remote workers, La Paz provides a growing number of coworking spaces with modern amenities and a collaborative atmosphere. Here are a few options:
- Selina La Paz: A global chain of coworking spaces, Selina offers a stylish and comfortable environment for work, complete with high-speed Wi-Fi and networking events.
- Impact Hub La Paz: This coworking space is part of the global Impact Hub network, known for its focus on social impact and innovation.
- Nexso Coworking: Located in the heart of La Paz, Nexso offers flexible workspace solutions and a vibrant community of entrepreneurs.
In conclusion, La Paz is a city of extraordinary contrasts, where history and modernity converge in a breathtaking Andean setting. From its ancient indigenous roots to its contemporary coworking spaces, La Paz offers a unique experience for every traveler. Use this guide to immerse yourself in the rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes of this Bolivian gem. Whether you have three days or more to explore, La Paz is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories of your journey through its enchanting streets and high-altitude wonders.