With a stunning vertical topography and an illustrious colonial history, La Paz has, quite by surprise, become my favorite city in South America. There is a lot to see and do here than most visitors realize. Below are my top 9 picks for things to do in La Paz.
1. Ride Mi Teleferico to El Alto.
La Paz has the largest cable car network in the world, Mi Teleferico, which encompasses 6 transit lines with 2 more underway. Do Mi Teleferico first; there’s no better way to get a lay of the land than from above.
2. Explore the Valley of the Moon (El Valle de la Luna).
Named for its strange otherworldly landscape, the Valle de la Luna was formed by the gradual erosion of a clay mountain just 10 kilometers from downtown La Paz. Admission costs 15 pesos, and you may spot a jack rabbit or two if you are lucky. Take a micro bus from Plaza San Francisco to Mallasa and let your driver know you want to stop at the entrance of the valley.
3. Browse the Witches’ Market.
You’ll know you’re at the witches’ market when you see llama fetuses hanging in the doorway. Witchcraft is a potent force in contemporary Bolivia, and downtown La Paz’s witches’ market is the place to stock up on talismans, offerings, potions, and brews.
4. Hike through the Valley of the Spirits (La Valle de las Animas).
Like the Valle de la Luna, the Valle de las Animas was formed by the gradual erosion of clay mountains, but the landscapes here are even more dramatic and less visited. If you look closely, you may even notice faces carved into the clay pinnacles, a holdover of the region’s original inhabitants. There is no official entrance or admission fee to the Valle de las Animas.
5. Take in the view at Mirador Kili Kili.
Kili Kili is a look-out on a hill offering panoramic views of downtown La Paz. You can take Mi Teleferico up most of the way to Kili Kili. Don’t forget to bring your camera.
6. Lose Yourself in the largest market in Bolivia.
Stretching more than 5 square kilometers, El Alto’s enormous open-air market is the place to find ANYTHING. Open only on Thursdays and Sundays, the market can be reached by taking Mi Teleferrico from downtown La Paz to El Alto Station.
7. Feed pigeons and politicians at Plaza Murillo.
Perpetually pigeon-infested Plaza Murillo marks the civic center of La Paz and the political epicenter of Bolivia. Flanked by the Presidential palace, the National Congress of Bolivia, and the Cathedral of La Paz, Plaza Murillo was designed in the sixteenth century marking the oldest quarter of the city.
8. Celebrate life after death at Cemeterio General.
Occupying 3 square kilometers, Cemeterio General is a vast urban cemetery with vibrant street art and ornate sarcophagi. Due to the scarcity of space in La Paz, tomb after tomb in stacked one on top of the other in the cemetery giving it a uniquely vertical feel. to visit, take the red cable car line to Estación Teleferico Cemeterio.
9. Hazard a trip to Lake Titicaca.
Just 3 hours by bus from La Paz, Lake Titicaca is the spiritual heartland of Bolivia and the highest navigable lake in the world. The placid lake and its scenic islands are dotted with ancient ruins dating back to the earliest civilization to inhabit what is now Bolivia. Click here for a detailed guide on visiting the lake and its environs.