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26 BEST Things to do in La Paz, Bolivia

26 BEST Things to do in La Paz, Bolivia

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La Paz is one of those cities that surprised me while traveling around South America. Sure, it’s one of the major cities in Bolivia, but I really didn’t know what to expect when I arrived.

What I found is that it’s a truly unique place filled with the kinds of activities that should make any Bolivia Bucket List like visiting a Witches’ Market (yes, really!), going mountain biking on the most dangerous road in the world, or even ice climbing on a glacier. And if that all sounds a little extreme, the true charm of the city is on the quiet streets where you can enjoy a Coca Leaf tea with the locals.

La Paz is actually the highest major city in the world at a whopping 11,940 feet (3,640 meters) above sea level. So while you’ll be gasping at the sights from the cable cars that double as public transport around here, you might also be gasping for air!

The city itself can be overwhelming, to say the least. It’s one of the crazy places to visit in Bolivia, but if you have an adventurous spirit, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy. We’ll take you through the very best activities in La Paz that showcase the city’s vibrant culture, interesting past, and breathtaking surrounding landscape (sometimes literally … I’m looking at you high altitude hiking!).

To help you plan your own visit, these are the 26 best things to do in La Paz that you won’t want to miss!

Things to do in La Paz

1. Ride the Death Road

Bailey on a bike on the Death Road in Bolivia
Ready to go!
A thin path with waterfalls above on the Death Road in Bolivia
Some sections you need to be very careful!

The Death Road (or Yungas Road) is considered to be the most dangerous road in the world and you can actually ride a mountain bike down it (if you have the guts!).

Back in the day, this road was a commonly driven route that connects La Paz with the Yungas region in Bolivia. In fact, you could even call it a “highway.” But it was so dangerous that buses, trucks, and cars were falling over the edge with terrible results. A new, less dangerous road has now been created for the same route making the Death Road road pretty much unused for anything other than tourists who are crazy enough to ride down it.

The good thing is that because the Death Road is pretty much only used for mountain bike tours from La Paz, it is much safer. The only vehicles you need to worry about seeing are the tour companies’ safety trail vehicles. Other than that, it is a road for tourists to cycle and say they “conquered the world’s most dangerous road!”

With that said, it is still dangerous. In fact, tourists have lost their lives while mountain biking the Death Road with the most recent one happening in 2019.

Our personal experience was that it could be as dangerous or safe as you make it. Sure, there are sheer cliff edges dropping down hundreds of meters, but the road is wide enough for a car to drive, so it isn’t a hard path to stay on.

The Death Road winds its way along a cliff near La Paz, Bolivia
The Death Road winds its way along a cliff near La Paz, Bolivia

The biggest piece of advice we have is to book with a reputable company like this exact Death Road tour we took. It came highly recommended and while you can find cheaper tours available, I wouldn’t necessarily trust them. The last thing you want is your brakes failing you!

I (Bailey) was actually really nervous about this experience. I honestly didn’t even want to do it, but I also have a serious case of FOMO so when Daniel and our friend Liam signed up, I did too.

The tour we chose has great quality bikes and all the safety equipment included. The guides are also really experienced and help ease your nerves. There’s no pressure to speed down the road and in fact, because of my nerves, I took it slow.

I went slow pretty much the entire way (the track is entirely downhill) and was at the back of my group kilometers behind Daniel and Liam. They, on the other hand, raced down the road and said there were a few moments that “were a bit dicey.” Basically, what I’m saying is that you can make the experience as dangerous or as safe as you want. Be careful, take your time, avoid other crazy riders, and you should be just fine.

The full-day tour departs La Paz to drive to the start of the trail. What’s great is that pick-up is super early (6 am) so you make it to the trail before a lot of other tours which means the narrow road is less crowded, which is ideal if you’re a little nervous like me!

The first half of the trail is not dangerous and gives you the chance to practice on the bike and get comfortable. The last hour or so is a lot steeper and that’s where the craziness begins. Don’t worry though, when you complete the trail, lunch is included so you can relax and talk about the adventure and look at the photos the guides snapped along the way! There’s also a stop at a nearby hotel where you can shower and hang around the pool before heading back to the city.

For all this, the tour ranges from $114-$153 USD per person depending on the bike you choose when booking. This is one of those exhilarating experiences that La Paz is known for. My advice is to book this tour online and then just go for it!

Related Read: Another unforgettable place to explore is the Salt Flats in Bolivia and you can easily visit on one of the best tours available from La Paz!

2. La Paz free walking tour

Relaxing in a main square during a walking tour in La Paz, Bolivia
See La Paz with a local guide!
A lady at a market during a free walking tour in La Paz, Bolivia

Taking a free walking tour is one of the best ways to explore and immerse yourself in a new location, and we try to do them as much as possible during our travels! If you take one early in your trip, it’s also a great way to make friends and spot some places you might like to visit during your stay.  

The most popular walking tour in La Paz is run by Red Cap Walking Tours and while legally they can’t run it for free, at $3 USD per person, it’s basically free! 

The La Paz City Tour is run twice a day at 10 am and 2 pm and the meeting point is Plaza San Pedro. Thanks to their bright red hats and I Heart La Paz T-shirts, you can’t miss them!

From the Plaza, the tour takes you to the bustling Rodriguez Street Market, the incredible Witches Market, over to San Francisco Church, then to the center of the city Plaza Murrillo and finishes at a traditional Bolivian restaurant where you can have a drink and some food with the friends you’ve made along the way! 

We were lucky enough to have a great bunch of people on our tour and we all found the guides really helpful. We definitely wouldn’t have learned as much about and seen so much of La Paz without taking this tour! 

3. Explore the nightlife 

girl drinking wine in La Paz, Bolivia
Cheers!

The things to do in La Paz didn’t stop once the sun went down, and we were surprised by just how good the nightlife scene was. La Paz sure loves a fiesta! 

The best spots for the evening are around Plaza San Francisco, Sopocachi, and Avenida Montenegro. 

We usually find that hostel bars are a great place to find a good time and some like-minded people and Wild Rover Hostel is one we recommend, they always seem to have a party on as well as beer pong, happy hours, and a DJ on weekends! 

If you are wanting to make some friends and see some of La Paz’s best nightlife, this pub crawl and nightlife tour is a good option for only $30 USD per person (or even cheaper with a larger group). It has five different stops including some underground places that locals love and you may not find on your own! Plus a drink at each spot is included!

As for bars to check out, some that we recommend are La Costilla de Adán a fun museum bar mashup, Diesel Nacional, a steampunk cocktail bar, and Gold Classics, which is a nightclub that plays all the old school bangers! 

4. Take a cooking class

Enjoying a cooking class in La Paz, Bolivia
It’s simple food but delicious!

Bolivian food is very different from what we were used to at home but it was SO tasty. While I couldn’t take all the food back with me, I thought giving a cooking class a try was the next best thing!

This private cooking class pairs you with a Bolivian chef who will teach you how to make traditional Bolivian dishes and gives you a taste of the culture too. I really like that this class let us try new foods we might not have if we were just choosing from a menu in a restaurant.

Apthapi is a traditional practice in Bolivia where Andean communities come together bringing the food they had produced on their land, to share and eat with one another. Your guide tells you all about these traditions as you taste homemade food and some of the famous national drinks.

For only $30 USD per person (and cheaper for larger groups), you’ll get a home-cooked supper and drinks that you get to help prepare. Plus, it’s a private class, so you don’t have to share if you want seconds (or thirds!), no judgment here! You can book this cooking class online with Viator here.

5. Tiwanaku Archeological site

Tiwanaku Archeological site near La Paz, Bolivia
Most people miss these archeological sites in Bolivia!

You cannot visit Bolivia without exploring some of the incredible historic sites! Tiwanaku is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its role in Andean pre-Hispanic civilization which gave birth to the Incas. This was a thriving city between 400-900 AD and the remnants of structures like the Pyramid of Akapana and an ancient observatory really took me back in time.

A tour of the Tiwanaku Archaeological Ruins involves spending a few hours here wandering around. You’ll get to see both the main ruins along with the museums here which contain a lot of information and artifacts showing the importance of the temples and civilizations. 

While this archaeological site might not be as impressive as a lot of the others we have visited around the world, we did find the museums and learning from our guide absolutely fascinating! Because so much of this ancient site has yet to be uncovered, a guide really helps you learn more about the history and what you’re seeing.

The tour includes transportation from La Paz and a bilingual guide for $38 USD. You’ll still have to buy a ticket to the ruins on-site for about $15 USD. But overall, a pretty affordable way to see a piece of history! You can book the tour to Tiwanaku online here.

6. Explore the Witches’ Market

Dead animals on display at the Witches Market in La Paz, Bolivia
Dried llama fetuses on display at the Witches’ Market in La Paz, Bolivia

The Witches’ Market or “El Mercado de Las Brujas” is one of the most unique markets in the world. Instead of simply picking up some fruit, veggies, and meat, this market is all about magic!

Located right in downtown La Paz, the Witches’ Market is typical of Bolivia and other similar markets can be found in most Bolivian cities. However, the one in La Paz is massive and easily the most famous!

Here you can find herbal remedies and potions or spells to buy and take with you along with all sorts of weird trinkets and dried animals like snakes, frogs, and llama fetuses. Yes, dried llama fetuses are everywhere! I learned that apparently these are bought and then buried under new construction builds to ask Pachamama (Mother Earth) to bless the workers and the home.

Bolivian traditions include ceremonies connecting them to Pachamama and are often centered around white magic, or asking for good things such as health or good fortune. However, there’s also the “black magic” of curses, which you can also buy here!

To be honest, the first time I visited, I didn’t really know what I was looking at and it wasn’t until I left the market and started researching, that I understood what was going on. I’d highly recommend a guided tour of La Paz that includes a stop at the Witches’ Market. I had so many questions and a local guide would have really helped me get more from the experience! This particular tour is a private tour so you’ll have the knowledgeable guide to yourself as you see La Paz’s highlights over 6 hours for $97 USD.

Nonetheless, a visit to La Paz’s Witches Market is an interesting thing to do and as long as the sight of dried llama fetuses doesn’t make you queasy, it’ll be something you’ll enjoy (or at least remember forever!).

Related Read: It definitely helps to know some Spanish if you’re touring local markets. This is our guide to learning Spanish in Sucre, Bolivia!

7. Ride the Gondola (Mi Teleférico)

Daniel on the Gondola (Mi Teleférico) in La Paz, Bolivia
It’s the best way to see the city
Bailey on the Gondola (Mi Teleférico) in La Paz, Bolivia

This might seem like a very normal thing to do, I mean, in many cities around the world (especially those with mountains) riding a gondola up to a viewpoint is common.

The gondolas in La Paz, Bolivia known as Mi Teleférico are different though. They make up the biggest network of public transit cable cars in the entire world! Yup, these gondolas that were built in 2014 are the longest and highest cable car system transporting hundreds of thousands of people every day.

Since the city is built in a valley and the majority of the population lives on the surrounding hills, the gondolas are critical for people to get around. But it’s not just the locals who love it, we found that it’s a great way to get around and see the city from above!

For only 3 BOB (less than $0.50 USD), you can jump on the light blue line in the city center and ride a gondola all the way to the top station. Here, you should switch onto the green line and ride it to the top. Expect the entire ride to take about 15 minutes. Along the way, you’ll get insane views of the city!

At the top, you can get out of the station and go for a little walk to enjoy the view. This area isn’t super safe (and you shouldn’t visit after dark) but it is okay to go for a little wander during the daytime.

Two Cable cars travel above the city in La Paz, Bolivia
What a view!

Remember, this gondola is public transport, so if you don’t want to be squished into a car or waiting in line to get on, don’t go during peak hours in the morning or afternoon. Anytime after 11 am and before 4 pm is the ideal time to ride the gondola.

If you want help navigating the cable car system, this 2-hour gondola tour in La Paz is your best bet. It’s under $10 USD (including your gondola ticket) and you’ll get to see the best viewpoints in the city. It starts on the ground in La Paz where you’ll tour some of the main sights like the Witches’ Market and San Franciso Church before hopping on the cable cars to visit the El Alto district.

Some tourists actually ride the gondola all day long since you can ride various lines to get to different viewpoints around the city. To me, the one viewpoint at the top of the green line was enough, but the choice is totally yours.

Riding the gondola is one of the best things to do in La Paz, and also one of the coolest. The views are incredible and the sheer size of the city is epic to see with your own eyes from up above.

8. Day trip to Lake Titicaca

A floating village in Lake Titicaca, Peru
The floating villages are so cool to see!

Taking a trip to the largest freshwater lake in South America, Lake Titicaca has to be one of the best day trips from La Paz! This lake that sits on the border between Bolivia and Peru is around 3 million years old, making it one of the last remaining ancient lakes on Earth.

One of the highlights of our time in La Paz was taking this tour to Titicaca Lake. We floated on the lake in a typical Bolivian weaved boat and learned from a local family about their culture and their incredible art of weaving! 

This half-day tour will pick you up from your hotel at 9 am and drive you two hours to Lake Titicaca. From here you hop in your boat and sail across the majestic lake where you will meet with an Aymara family. You’ll taste some amazing traditional Bolivian food and hear about the “Legend of the White God” or Viracocha who is believed to have created the sun and the moon on this lake.

The tour costs $66 USD per person and includes your transfers, lunch, and a bilingual guide. It’s a bargain if you ask me! You can book this particular tour with Viator which gives you a reserve now, pay later option.

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

9. Laguna Esmeralda 

Laguna Esmaralda tour with Feel Bolivia in La Paz, Bolivia
Photo credit: Feel Bolivia

If finding hidden gems while traveling in Bolivia is high on your priority list, you won’t want to miss Laguna Esmeralda! It’s only a couple of hours from the city of La Paz – so don’t get it confused with the Laguna Esmeralda in Patagonia

Getting here is a bit of a journey, so it’s best to hop on a tour of the area so you don’t get lost! On this private tour, you’ll start with a two-hour drive out of La Paz with some epic stops along the way including the Laguna Colorada with its famous red waters!

After arriving on the slopes of the Glacier Charquini, it’s time for a 1-hour hike to one of the most beautiful lagoons I’ve seen in this area. The hike isn’t too strenuous and the picturesque views everywhere you look are worth the tired feet!

Once you arrive, Laguna Esmeralda is quite the sight with its bright emerald color and glacier backdrop. It’s far too cold to swim in (some of it even freezes over in the winter months) but is truly a beautiful stop. You’ll spend an hour here to soak in the views and eat some snacks before the hike back.

The tour includes all the transportation from your hotel in La Paz, trekking poles for the hike (these come in handy!), a guide, and snacks/drinks. It’s only $30 USD for this full-day private tour to a remote lagoon, which is one of the best deals I’ve found for a private tour!! Make sure you book a spot in advance here.

10. Rappel down a building

Urban Rush tour repelling down a building in Bolivia
Photo credit: Urban Rush
Repelling down a building with Urban Rush in La Paz, Bolivia
Photo credit: Urban Rush

Move over Tom Cruise! If you’re looking for something fun to do in La Paz, what could be better than rappelling down a 17-story building dressed like a superhero?

This building rappel experience in La Paz lets you descend 164 feet (50 meters) out the window of the Hotel Presidente! You can choose to rappel backward (my go-to) or take it up a notch and go head-first down the building. To make the experience even more thrilling, you’ll let go of the rope around the 6th floor of the building and freefall the rest of the way!

I was a little hesitant, but this whole experience ends up being way more fun than scary. Starting with the costume – you can choose a superhero, characters like Mario, or even dress like a giant piece of bacon or Santa Claus! It’s hard not to have a good time when you’re laughing at the costumes!

Plus, there’s an indoor wall to practice on as many times as you want before trying out the real thing. You’ll have your own brake along with the two sets of brakes the guides have, so the safety standards are top-notch.

This experience is only offered on the weekends and it’s really affordable at $30 USD. In fact, a lot of people do it twice! Not only will you see awesome views over the city, but it’s a chance to test your limits and try something you’ve probably never done before! 

So if you’re ready to feel like a star in your own action movie, book your La Paz building rappel online now!

11. See Cholitas wrestling

Cholitas wrestling in La Paz, Bolivia
Photo credit: jkraft5 Depositphotos

Cholitas wrestling is probably one of the most unique things to do in La Paz. While wrestling has been popular in Bolivia for a long time, cholitas wrestling is a newer phenomenon. 

The word cholitas was commonly a derogatory term toward Indigenous women but in recent years they have taken back the phrase and empowered it. Bolivian women started getting into wrestling in the early 2000s as a way for domestic violence victims to relieve stress and make friends.

Now attending a cholitas wrestling show is super popular for locals and tourists! The shows kind of remind me of WWE or Lucha Libre in Mexico City because they are very theatrical and full of action. The show typically starts with a scene of a man attacking a woman, but you’ll watch the woman gain her stretch and fight back!

While you can attend on your own, opting for these tickets also includes transportation from La Paz, snacks, and photos with the wrestlers after the show! At $25 USD, it’s really not that much more expensive than arranging it all on your own and it’s nice to have everything planned out. Also, since the area the wrestling show happens in isn’t the safest after dark, having return transportation already arranged is a huge plus.

12. Go on a food, beer, and wine tour

On a food tour in La Paz, Bolivia
Fresh juice!

In my opinion, the only way to improve a regular city tour is to throw in food, wine, and beer! This gourmet food tour is a fantastic way to discover the vibrant food scene in La Paz – so arrive hungry!

You’ll meet up at San Francisco Church before exploring the local market of Mercado Lanza with your guide. This is where I love having a local guide – they know all the best spots to try yummy treats and won’t get lost in the market!

After you’re done at the market, you’ll head to some of La Paz’s best restaurants to try some Bolivian classics, mix up your own custom cocktail, and try some South American wines and beers. By the end of the evening, you’ll be totally stuffed!

The tour is only $31 USD including all the food and drinks. It’s a small group with a maximum of eight people, so you’re not lost in a crowd and you might even come away with a couple new friends! So if eating your way through La Paz is in your plans, make sure to book a spot on this food tour.

13. Go high-altitude hiking

Huayna Potosi in Bolivia
Huayna Potosi in Bolivia

La Paz is the world’s highest major city sitting at about 3,650 meters (11,975 feet) above sea level. While that is already very high, if you want to get even higher you can explore the nearby mountains with some high-altitude hiking.

The Cordillera Real is an Andean mountain range not far from La Paz. Here, you can find some of the best hikes in South America! I laced up my hiking boots to tackle Austria Peak which is at a height of 5,300 meters (17,400 feet). This is one of the most popular hikes in the area since it’s not too far from La Paz and can be completed in one day.

We took a tour to reach Austria Peak because you’ll really want a guide for this hike! I have to admit that while it’s one of the best things to do in La Paz, climbing Austria Peak is tough. The high altitude makes it a struggle even for experienced hikers. If you struggle with altitude sickness, I wouldn’t recommend it.

However, if you do decide to conquer Austria Peak, guided tours like this one include transportation in the $71 USD cost so you won’t risk getting lost. Your guide should also have safety equipment like canned oxygen, which can be used in case of emergency. Also, be sure to get a good night’s rest before you go, drink plenty of water before and during the hike (even if you don’t feel thirsty), and keep snacking!

For a real challenge, you can summit Huayna Potosi on a 3-day hiking adventure. Huayna Potosi summit sits at over 6,000 meters (nearly 20,000 feet) above sea level. I didn’t do this hike, but I heard it is incredible from a friend.

Climbing to such high altitudes is really a unique experience, and the incredible views make this activity from La Paz one of the best! Sure, it might seem a little crazy to knowingly put yourself through this struggle, but once it’s over you’ll feel accomplished and will have earned a beer that evening.

You can book the Austria Peak tour online in advance. Otherwise, this tour to Chacaltaya Mountain and the Valley of the Moon is another great day-hike option!

14. Day trip to Sun Island 

Ruins on Sun Island, Bolivia
Ruins on Sun Island, Bolivia

The beautiful Sun Island, also known as Isla del Sol, is one of the sacred Bolivian Islands in Lake Titicaca. It is thought to be the birthplace of the sun and the Inca empire.  

The Island of the Sun has Inca ruins to explore as well as a fountain believed to offer eternal youth! We loved hiking around the island and meeting the roaming llamas along the way. Don’t forget your comfy shoes as there are no vehicles on the island and there are over 200 stone steps to reach the fountain! 

As the Island of the Sun is located on Lake Titicaca, you can visit both in one trip! This day tour includes hotel pickup, a boat ride across the lake, and a bilingual tour guide to take you around the island and then transport you back to La Paz. It’s a long day, but totally worth it to escape to this unique place in Bolivia. You can book the one-day tour online for $105 USD.

If you want to spend a bit longer exploring the island and the town of Copacabana, this two-day tour is our pick. You’ll leave La Paz in the morning and arrive at Lake Titicaca in time for a traditional Bolivian lunch. Then a ferry takes you across to Isla del Sol where you’ll hike to the top of the island and visit the fountain of eternal youth. This tour includes an overnight stay on the island and more sightseeing and breakfast the next morning all for $233 USD per person for a private double room.

Related Read: If your travels are taking you further from Bolivia, this guide on getting to Brazil from Bolivia by land will come in handy!

15. El Alto and Aymara Mansions

El Alto, La Paz, Bolivia
El Alto, La Paz, Bolivia

Located about an hour’s drive from La Paz, El Alto was originally considered quite a boring and depressing city with endless grey and boring architecture, so much so, that the locals took it upon themselves to liven up the city! 

And that they definitely have as it is now home to some of the most beautiful and interesting-looking buildings and street art we have ever seen! 

Freddy Mamani Silvestre is the architect responsible for the now more than 70 “cholets” (buildings) scattered over the city with extravagant designs and bold contrasting colors. While some critics find the buildings garish, they have definitely brightened and added some pizazz to the city! 

El Alto is well worth a day trip from La Paz and if you haven’t rented your own vehicle, it is easily accessible by public transport. The cheapest option is likely by taxi but it’s a great chance to have a go on the world’s largest system of cable cars and see the city via gondola! 

16. Shamanic healing retreats in the Andes and Amazon

After all those adventurous activities, you might need some time to recoup! The Allkamari Boutique Eco-Resort & Spa is just the place. This resort is known for its healing retreats with special ceremonies led by a shaman.

As you’re surrounded by the Bolivian Andes and the Amazon rainforest, you’ll get to experience some of the nicest views in the La Paz area and take part in some Ayahuasca ceremonies, meditation sessions, spiritual traditions, and other activities led by the Sacha Runa Healing Community.

There are a few different length options to choose from with the shortest being a 3-day retreat, but you could stay up to a month. Reviews of the full stay claim that the experience is life-changing!

The shortest stay starts at $490 USD for three days and doesn’t include transportation from La Paz. If you’re ready to book your own healing retreat, bookings can be made online here.

17. Via Ferrata

Verticle Route, La Paz, Bolivia Via Ferrata
Photo credit: Verticle Route

If you are an adrenaline junkie, you’re going to absolutely love via ferrata! This is basically like a mountain obstacle course where you’ll be following metal rungs on a mountain – via ferrata translates to “Iron Path” in English.

This via ferrata course is the second-highest in the whole world at a staggering 3,000 meters (almost 10,000 feet) above sea level! It’s located in the Yungas Valley of La Paz and is the only place you can try via ferrata in Bolivia. It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience and was one of the best activities we did in Bolivia. 

The circuit here has six different activities, all perfect for thrill seekers. You’ll descend by abseiling down the cliff front, walk over the very wobbly Tibetan Bridge, climb up with help from metal steps and ropes, take a ride on the world’s highest zip line, and try out the free fall rope swing! 

The rope swing at the end was definitely the highlight for me, even though it was absolutely terrifying! Don’t worry though, everything feels very safe and their expert guides are there to help you every step of the way. 

This Verticle Route Via Ferrata tour is $90 USD per person including pick up from La Paz. It is a private tour, but you’ll need a minimum of four people to book, so grab some adrenaline-seeking friends and book your adventure online here!

18. Try ice climbing on Huayna Glacier

ice climbing on Huayna Glacier
This is so much harder than it looks!

You might think ice climbing is best left to the experts but in reality, everyone can have a go! The Huayna Glacier is located just 1.5 hours away from La Paz and you can climb it as part of this ice-climbing tour.

You’ll be picked up in La Paz and taken to base camp at the glacier for lunch and a briefing before making your way to the lower glacier for an ice-climbing demonstration. Once you’ve masted the basics, you get to start climbing Huayna Glacier. No previous experience is needed … although I don’t know many people who climb glaciers regularly!

All gear including ropes, harnesses, mountaineering equipment, and your waterproof coat, jacket, and shoes are included, so you won’t need to worry about being prepared yourself. Although, I do recommend bringing your own sunglasses as it can be very bright up there! 

The tour ends with an awesome photo shoot so you can show all your friends and family back home your climbing skills! For a cool (literally!) climbing experience, you can book your Huayna Glacier climb online for $100 USD.

19. Meet Crazy Dave

Bailey and Daniel pose for a photo with Crazy Dave in La Paz, Bolivia
Crazy Dave!

One of the most well-known characters in La Paz, Crazy Dave is a real person who actually refers to himself as “crazy.” Crazy Dave is an American who spent 14 years locked up in the San Pedro Prison in La Paz. He was arrested for drug trafficking and he really has some insane and interesting stories to tell about his time behind bars.

If you’ve read the popular book Marching Powder you will already know all about the San Pedro prison. Crazy Dave was actually locked up with the guy that the book is all about, Thomas McFadden.

In the book, Thomas reveals how unique San Pedro prison is as prisoners must pay for their own cells, buy food, and their families can live with them and come and go as they please. Thomas actually used to run tours within the prison and tourists paid him.

Tours inside the prison are no longer allowed. For that reason, Crazy Dave meets tourists in San Pedro Square directly outside of the prison. Here, he shows you around the outside of the prison and tells all his own crazy stories. You’ll learn about drugs that are made (still to this day) inside the prison, how prisoners make money, and how Crazy Dave managed to survive as an American in a Bolivian jail.

Crazy Dave is a talented storyteller which really makes the “tour” a worthwhile thing to do in La Paz. He is captivating and you’ll be sucked in right from the moment you meet him. But his attitude towards life seems very optimistic and he is a fun character to be around.

During the couple of hours the tour lasts, you’ll learn all about his life and San Pedro. While it seems too crazy to be true and a world away, it was amazing to know that we were right outside the prison doors.

His stories, although wild, are also very sad and Crazy Dave is a homeless person today. He does these tours as his job and makes money from the tips. He also has to pay the police a bribe to continue operating his tours, so it is very important that you tip him.

If you want to meet Crazy Dave for yourself and listen to his stories, he runs a tour every day at 1 pm. All you need to do is show up at San Pedro Square. Here, Crazy Dave will find you (he is known for doing this) and round you up with the tourists to begin his “tour”.

Also, don’t worry, although San Pedro Square is directly outside of the prison, it is actually a safe central square and if it wasn’t for Crazy Dave pointing out the prison, you’d probably never know it was there!

20. See the dancing zebras on the streets

I might have lied early when I said that cholitas wrestling was one of the most unique things to see in La Paz as the dancing zebras definitely take the cake! 

A take on the classic zebra crossing, the dancing zebras in La Paz aim to protect pedestrians and offer some handy advice to passers-by! It’s an initiative funded by the city to give troubled teenagers and young people public ambassador roles (while dressed as zebras) to help with traffic during rush hour times. 

They also really help morale with their dancing, funny advice, and signs. Due to the success of the initiative, zebras have become an accidental mascot of the city! 

21. Check out the Valley of the Moon

Valley of the Moon near La Paz, Bolivia
The formations are so cool!

Located 10 km (6 miles) away from the center of La Paz is the incredible geological formation named the Valley of the Moon or Valle de la Luna. It apparently gets its name from Neil Armstrong as he says the appearance resembles the kind of craters he saw on his trip to the moon. 

The interesting formations come from erosion on top of the mountain, mainly from winds and rain. Because of this, we did find it quite unsteady to walk around so do watch your step when you are wandering about! 

You can get to the Valley of the Moon pretty easily via bus or taxi and the valley itself costs 15 BOB (around $2 USD) to enter. Another option is to book this Moon Valley tour. You’ll get to see both the Chacaltaya mountain along with the Valley of the Moon on a full day of incredible hiking. Your transportation and guide are included for $24 USD, but you’ll need to bring cash for the admission fees.

Once you arrive, there are two different trails that lead to viewpoints of the valley. We found Devil’s Point to be by far the best of the two lookout points. It’s the longer of the trails, but as the trail winds in a circle, it only takes about 45 minutes to finish the entire loop.

22. Visit the Mercado 16 de Julio

For every shopping fan, Mercado 16 de Julio is a must-do activity in La Paz! Open every Thursday and Sunday from 6 am until 3 pm, this giant market takes up most of the La Ceja district selling pretty much everything you could think of. 

It’s vibrant and busy so be prepared for chaos and crowds but it’s a great time to immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of La Paz. You really can find anything at this market, from electricals, clothes, animals, and trinkets but it also has some incredible street food so we would recommend stopping by for lunch! 

Just take extra care when you’re at this busy market as pickpocketing is known to happen. We have lots of safety tips for traveling in South America if you want to read up before your visit!

23. Take a Coffee Tour

Coffee tour in la Paz, Bolivia
Coffee beans!

Bolivia grows a lot of coffee and the Yungas Valley is known to produce the best coffee in the country! In fact, around 95% of Bolivia’s coffee is grown in this region. We love a good cup of coffee and weren’t disappointed when we paid a visit to this spot.

To see the whole bean-to-cup experience, this tour from La Paz is our pick. It’s an in-depth look at what goes into the production of coffee and the different varieties made in Bolivia. 

Although it’s a longer day trip from La Paz, it is well worth the trip! Not only do you get to enjoy the coffee tour but you get to explore the town of Coroico, which is a popular vacation spot for locals, with lots of shops to walk around, and a great opportunity to grab some souvenirs. Once you’re at the plantations and greenhouses, you’ll get a full overview of the coffee process before my favorite part – sampling all the different coffees on offer!

We definitely had a caffeine buzz after this one! The tour price varies depending on how many people you’re booking for with a cost of $170 USD per person for two people or $95 USD each for a group of five or more.

24. La Paz Cemetery

Cemeteries in Latin America differ greatly from a lot of cemeteries you will find throughout the rest of the world. They are often places where life is celebrated, rather than death being mourned. While it may seem strange to put seeing a cemetery on the list of the best things to do in La Paz, I assure you it’s worth a stop!

What you’ll notice right away when visiting La Paz Cemetary are the walls around the cemetery with glass panels in front that almost look like hundreds of tiny apartments. Typically the dead are buried or put in a crypt, but then cremated and ashes are put in one of these spaces. Then families will decorate these spaces with plaques, flowers, quotes, and mementos to remember the deceased by, making the cemetery quite beautiful to walk around. 

There are some famous Bolivian people buried here as well – keep an eye out for QR codes to scan for more information.

The cemetery is usually quite busy with people visiting loved ones’ spaces and bringing flowers but as you can imagine, the cemeteries get especially busy during the Day of the Dead festivities which start on October 31 and last until November 2.

Related Read: You can also celebrate the Day of the Dead in Mexico! The festivities here are amazing to see in person.

25. Dine and people-watch in Sopocachi 

Sopocachi in La Paz, Bolivia
Sopocachi in La Paz, Bolivia

Sopocachi is probably the trendiest neighborhood in La Paz, known for its student population, art scene, large buildings, trendy cafes, and of course, incredible eateries. 

Being huge foodies and people-watching lovers ourselves, Sopocachi was one of our favorite areas in La Paz to spend an evening, having some great food and soaking up the atmosphere. 

The Carrot Tree Sopocachi is a very highly-rated restaurant with some nice outdoor seating options, perfect for people-watching. The food here is so yummy and really reasonable at about 50 BOB ($7 USD) for a meal. They serve a variety of traditional foods along with burgers, steaks, and veggie options. Plus there’s often live music which just adds perfectly to the ambience! 

26. Jardin Botanico La Paz

Whether you are a huge plant fan or just fancy a nice walk in La Paz, strolling through the Botanical Gardens is a great way to spend a couple hours. 

Located in the Miraflores area, Jardin Botanico La Paz is home to thousands of species including their cacti greenhouse, palm trees, and selection of orchids. It feels worlds away from the busy city, but the famous Hernando Siles Stadium is just down the street!

Admission is 1 BOB ($0.14 USD), so make sure to have exact change.

Where to Stay in La Paz, Bolivia

Hotel Europa Bolivia
Photo credit: Hotel Europa Bolivia

For exploring La Paz, Bolivia properly, you’ll need somewhere central and comfortable to stay. Below are my suggestions for where to stay in La Paz based on my own experience and what I’ve heard personally from others!

Low Budget – Selina La Paz

There are quite a few backpacker hostels around La Paz, but a lot of them aren’t very nice. Selina is a well-known name for hostels around the world and the Selina La Paz is a great option if you’re backpacking on a budget.

The rooms are nice and clean and most of the main attractions in La Paz are within walking distance. A huge plus for us was the great co-working space with reliable internet – something that can be harder to find in La Paz!

A bed in a dorm goes for about $15 USD or there are private rooms under $50 USD. You can check for the best rates on Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.

Mid-range Budget – Las Brisas

When it comes to location, Las Brisas is an excellent pick! This hotel is right in the center of La Paz, so you have easy access to the main sights. There’s a lovely rooftop patio area and the daily free breakfast is fabulous with great views of the city while you eat!

The rooms are basic, but clean and comfortable. It’s also really budget-friendly for the location at $30-$60 USD per night depending on the room you choose. You can secure your room at Las Brisas on Booking.com.

Luxury – Hotel Europa

Hotel Europa is easily the best place to stay in La Paz, Bolivia! You’ll find rooms with a sofa, fridge, balcony, and spa bathtubs. There is also a heated pool, dry sauna, and fitness center onsite.

They have impeccable reviews and to me, the hotel is really reasonably priced starting at $120 USD per night considering it’s a 5-star hotel! You can book Hotel Europa online in advance on Booking.com

You can compare the prices and availability of all hotels in La Paz online in advance!

Thanks for reading!

Dan and Bailey from Destinationless Travel take a selfie on San Pancho Beach, Mexico
Thanks for reading!

Hopefully, this blog has inspired your inner adventurer and you’ll cross a few of these activities off your La Paz bucket list. Honestly, La Paz is a unique, wild city, and once you visit for yourself you’ll understand exactly what I mean. To me, it is easily one of the best cities in Latin America!

Of course, if you have any questions or anything to add, be sure to comment below. If you found this blog helpful, I’m sure you’ll enjoy our other Bolivia travel blogs or even just a few related ones below:

11 BEST Things to do in Santa Cruz, Bolivia

ULTIMATE Guide to Potosí, Bolivia and the World’s Most Dangerous Mine

10 Reasons to Visit Samaipata, Bolivia

Judy Delaney

Thursday 16th of November 2023

Very informative and thorough, thank you.

John

Wednesday 27th of September 2023

Excellent article. The whole story about San Pedro Prison is unreal. I need to meet Crazy Dave now!