10 Awesome Attractions in La Paz

Clinging to every inch of a deep valley that dips down from the high altitude Andean plains, the Bolivian city of La Paz is famous for its panoramic views that will literally take your breath away. But it’s not just the views and extreme altitude that garner rave reviews, for the city boasts a plethora of worthwhile attractions to tempt the intrepid traveller as well. Here are the top 10.

Shop for magic spells at the Witches’ Market

Indigenous culture is alive and well in La Paz, and nowhere is this more evident than the spellbinding central Witches’ Market. Here, Bolivians from all walks of life come to shop for their daily witchcraft needs, from lucky charms to cursing concoctions and everything in-between. For the ultimate grisly souvenir, pick up a dried llama foetus to bury under your house as an offering to Pachamama.

Witches Market - Sagarnaga - La Paz - Bo by Roubicek, on Flickr
"Witches Market - Sagarnaga - La Paz - Bo" (CC BY-ND 2.0) by Roubicek

Watch feisty cholitas do battle in an extravagant wrestling bonanza

Move over W.W.E., for Bolivia’s cholitas know how to put on a real wrestling show. Immaculately dressed in their traditional garb, these hardy indigenous women suplex, body slam, and summersault their way into the hearts of their adoring fans. Held each Sunday and Thursday afternoon in nearby El Alto, it’s an unusual sporting spectacle that is not to be missed.

La Paz, Bolivia by hood.jonathan, on Flickr
"La Paz, Bolivia" (CC BY-ND 2.0) by hood.jonathan

Ride a cable car through the sky

Since it’s inauguration in 2013, La Paz’s beloved teleferico (cable car) has become symbolic of this rapidly modernizing city. Nowadays, six lines stretch across its unique topography, providing visitors and locals alike with a unique perspective as they soar through the air. At just 3 BOB (US$0.40) a pop, it’s also among the most affordable attractions in La Paz.

20170812_Bolivia_1769 crop La Paz sRGB by Dan Lundberg, on Flickr
"20170812_Bolivia_1769 crop La Paz sRGB" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Dan Lundberg

Abseil down a 17 story hotel in the middle of town

For a serious adrenaline hit, don a superhero costume – preferably Spiderman – and scale down the 17 floor façade of the central Hotel Presidente. Known as Urban Rush, these New Zealand based operators take safety seriously by exceeding all international standards, meaning you’ll be in good hands as you embark on the terrifying vertical descent.

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Marvel at the alienesque landscapes of the Valle de la Luna

Situated in sleepy Mallasa on the outskirts of the city lies a geological attraction that is out of this world. Dubbed the Moon Valley in English, this series of hiking trails winds its way through some seriously strange rock formations, the result of wind and rain erosion over the course of over a million years.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/98991891@N08/16910639350

Go Shopping Bolivian style at Mercado 16 de Julio

For an unabashedly authentic Bolivian shopping experience, make your way to El Alto’s Mercado 16 de Julio and spend the afternoon wandering through an endless labyrinth of everyday wares. Over a million dollars of merchandise gets moved here on market days, including car parts, dusty circuit boards, and even the kitchen sink! Just be wary, for pickpockets are known to ply these crowded streets. 

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Cycle down the Death Road

Hurtling a mountain bike down the World’s Most Dangerous Road has become a backpacker’s bucket list attraction in recent years, an adrenaline pumping descent that sees riders passing perilously close to countless deadly precipices. Sound dangerous? It undoubtedly is. But with a little common sense, traversing this spectacular route through the Yungas cloud forests needn’t end in tragedy.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/f-jauregui/631457320/

Hike the surrounding hills

Outdoor enthusiasts will be enchanted by the city’s surrounding landscapes, ranging from lush subtropical valleys to glacier strewn snow-capped peaks. For a multi-day escapade, the varying climatic zones of the Takesi and El Choro Trek are an obvious choice. Those with a little less time, however, would enjoy a day trip to the Tuni Condoriri high altitude lagoon or the impressive Palca Canyon.

https://pixabay.com/en/nevado-tunicondoriri-bolivia-2539355/

Climb a mammoth mountain

Budding mountaineers wouldn’t want to miss Huayna Potosi, an ominous 19,950 foot (6,080 meter) peak that affords spectacular views of the surrounding Cordillera Real. And despite its extreme altitude, it’s among the easiest 6,000 meter summits on Earth, making it the ideal spot for newbies to get some high altitude boasting rights.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/21160499@N04/11461465703/

Get your culture fix at the city’s museums

It may not compare to the likes of Paris or London, but humble La Paz does boast a multitude of informative museums to choose from. Those interested in indigenous culture should check out MUSEF and the Precious Metals Museum, while art lovers would be mad to miss the Mamani Mamani Gallery and the Musical Instruments Museum. Likewise, travellers intrigued by the country’s most nefarious export should drop by the small but informative Coca Museum.

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