A Week In La Paz – 15 Things To Do In And Around The City

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La Paz, Bolivia, By Dan Lundberg via Wikimedia Commons

La Paz is often a city where travelers stop briefly coming from Macchu Pichu and heading to the Salar of Uyuni (or vice versa). A necessary stop, it’s can also be too short considering all the attractions the city and its surroundings have to offer. Here we’ll look at some of the popular activities and some of the less-known ones that one can do in and around the city of La Paz.

1 – Walk around the city – 1 to 2 days

La Paz is relatively easy to navigate by foot due to its size, most places can be walked to but the steep streets and altitude can make it hard to catch your breath. It is however, well worth it to see the city by foot and to get lost in winding alleyways and colonial streets. One of the most charming colonial streets in La Paz is Calle Jaen. The narrow cobblestone street has several colorful buildings dating back to the 18th century, and is home to many small museums, shops and restaurants. You can also walk to one of the many lookouts around the city: the Mirador Killi Killi and Mirador Laikakota are the most popular ones offering panoramic views of the city.

To get a real feel of the city and historic center, including its museums and lookouts, it’s good to count 2 days to explore the whole city while adjusting to the altitude.

2 – Mi Teleférico: La Paz’s Cable Car System – A couple of hours

For the best views of La Paz, and an original and more relaxing way to discover the city, hop on the teleférico. The cable car system is La Paz’s new transport system and counts now 8 lines with 2 more planned. Views are spectacular and give you an idea how never-ending and growing the city is.

To circle around the city in cable-car, count a couple of hours. You can also take the teleferico to El Alto in the blue line and see from above the second largest city in Bolivia.

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Death Road, By GilCahana via Wikimedia Commons

3 – Cycle Death Road – 1 day

One of the most popular activities for those spending some time in La Paz, and who are looking for a thrilling adventure, is the bike ride along what used to be one of the world’s most dangerous roads. The ride starts up in the mountain and takes you down into the Yungas, a semi-tropical area offering a vibrant contrast to the cold and snowy peaks.

Riding down the Death Road takes the whole day and can be strenuous. Make sure to book with a safe and reputable company.

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Tiwanaku

4 – Tiwanaku – 1 day

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, Tiwanaku is an ancient archaeological site named after one of the most important civilizations prior to the Inca Empire. Tiwanaku is about 2 hours from La Paz and makes for a pleasant short day-trip crossing the Altiplano. You can book a bus to Tiwanaku with Tickets Bolivia or take a public transport from the General Cemetery.

5 – Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) – Half a day

The Moon Valley is just a short ride out of La Paz on the way to Mallasa. The landscape has  been formed as a result of erosion and has a surreal, unique feel. The walk around the rugged landscape can take up to an hour. You can reach Mallasa by public transport or taxi from the center of La Paz.

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Valle de la Luna, La Paz

6 – Huayna Potosi – 2 to 3 days

Huayna Potosi is the most popular mountain to climb in Bolivia, it is only 25 km north of La Paz in the Cordillera Real, and can be climbed by (acclimatized) beginners. The climb can be done in two or three days. The peak is at 6,088 meters above sea level.

It is highly recommendable to spend at least 3-6 days adjusting to the altitude in La Paz prior to climbing Huayna Potosi. People attempting the climb should also be healthy and physically fit. Whilst experience is not required to climb Huayna Potosi, underestimating the mountain by not properly acclimatizing or skipping the training day when you’re not an experienced climber, can not only prevent you from reaching the summit but can be life threatening.

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Walk up to Huayna Potosi, By Princiar, from Wikimedia Commons

7 – Cementerio General La Paz – 1 to 2 hours

Spread over the equivalent of 15 city blocks, the predominant sites are rows of individual concrete compartments, each set in structures over four stories high with building facades painted with colorful murals. For an authentic cultural experience visit on November 2, the Day of the Dead, when the whole city goes to the cemetery to celebrate the lives of those who are no longer around. Relatives organize parties, lunches, and family gatherings in front of their loved ones, and even play songs to the dead.

8 – El Alto – Half a day

One of the fastest growing cities in Bolivia and the second largest city in Bolivia, El Alto is popular for it’s open air market, the Feria 16 de Julio which takes place on Thursdays and Sundays. There you can find everything from furniture to clothes and car parts. You can easily access the feria by teleférico. On these days, you can also attend there a Cholita wrestling match.

9 – Watch a football match at Estadio Hernando Siles – A few hours

One of the highest professional stadiums in the world, Estadio Hernando Siles is worth a visit. Situated at an impressive altitude 3,637 meters above sea level, the premier football venue has a capacity of 41,143 seats. The best way to catch a game is to head to Estadio Hernando Siles on match day (Wednesdays at 7pm or Sundays at 3pm) and purchase a ticket. Nights get very cold and there is not much cover, so make sure to wear warm clothes and bring a waterproof jacket.

10 – Chacaltaya – Half a day

The glacier on Chacaltaya served as Bolivia’s only ski resort. It was the world’s highest lift-served ski area and the northernmost in South America. The mountain is also popular with amateur mountaineers, as the road stops only 200 meters from the summit.

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Chacaltaya, Via Wikimedia Commons

11 – Lake Titicaca – 2 to 3 days

The town of Copacabana, on the shore of Lake Titicaca, is only 3-4 hours away from La Paz and is an easy weekend trip. From Copacabana you can access the Isla del Sol and Isla de la Luna. You can book a bus to and from Copacabana with Tickets Bolivia.

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View of Lake Titicaca

12 – Muela del Diablo – 4 to 8 hours

An iconic feature of the La Paz landscape, Muela del Diablo (or Devil’s Molar), situated at 3,852 meters above sea level, is a great tourist attraction ideal for hiking and soaking in spectacular views of La Paz and the valley.

The walk up to the Muela from the Pedregal neighborhood south of La Paz can take up to 2 hours, you can also access the Muela from Mallasa and Jupapina on the other side of the valley. If you do choose the later option be aware that it is a full day hike, taking around 6 hours to walk between Pedregal and Mallasa. Make sure to bring plenty of water, snacks and sun/wind protection.

13 – Valle de las Animas/Palca Canyon – 1 day

Just a short distance to the east of the largest city of Bolivia La Paz is another natural wonder – the Palca canyon. Here you can admire the imposing rock towers and enjoy the stunning scenery and views of the Illimani.

You can access the valley with public transport from the city or organize a tour with a travel company. Entrance to the area is free and you can easily hike from the Valle de las Animas to the Palca Canyon in 2-3 hours.

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View from the Choro Trail, By Hmorisse , from Wikimedia Commons

14 – El Choro – 3 days

The pre-Columbian El Choro trek begins an hour outside of La Paz, at La Cumbre, and ends in the tropical Yungas. It’s a fairly easy trek, although you’ll want to refrain if you have knee problems. With a exception of some flat and steeply inclined segments, it’s mainly downhill, descending from 4,900 to 1,350 meters above sea level. It can be done in two or three days and you don’t have to book it through a travel agency.

15 – Takesi – 2 days

One of the most impressive Inca trails in the Andes, Takesi is a 40 kilometer road linking the vast Altiplano plateau with the sub-tropical Yungas. Used by the Incas as a communication and transport link, Takesi remains one of the finest remaining paved roads in the region. Starting in the town of Ventilla at a height of 3,200 meters, the road rises to 4,640 meters before descending to 2,200 meters. One of the easiest Inca treks in Bolivia, the Takesi trail, while still demanding, is mostly downhill, and can be done in 2 days.

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