Top 5 Things to do in La Paz, Bolivia
(by Vincent)

This Bolivian city is almost hidden under cloud cover

La Paz is a visually striking city.  One of the highest cities in the world, this metropolis is situated in a stunning valley, it's buildings starting on the valley's edge and gradually descending inward.  It's a chilly place and the weather can be brutal.  Summer is rainy, winter is cool, and all year long temperatures drop below freezing at night so be sure to dress warm.  All in all, however, this unique South American city is jam packed with quirky, interesting things to do.  So you don't miss out on anything be sure to check out this list of top things to do here.

Palace of Congress of Bolivia

  • Meander through the Mercado de Hechiceria.  This unusual local market is well worth a visit.  It's locally known as a kind of witches market, where vendors sell herbs, folk remedies, and other kinds of unorthodox ingredients designed to manipulate the spirits worshipped by the local Aymara people.  The yatiri (witch doctors) wandering through the market can even read your fortune.
  • Try traditional Bolivian Cuisine at Casa de Los Pacenos.  If you're looking for traditional Bolivian cuisine, Casa de los Pacenos is the place to find it.  With dishes like saice (meat stew), chairo (beef soup) and fritanga (spicy pork), this place is a mecca of unique, Bolivian flavors.  If you're feeling truly adventurous try the ranga (boiled cow tongue.

La Valle de la Luna

  • Explore La Valle de la Luna.  Situated about 10 kilometers south of the city, a visit to this unique landscape is well worth it.  Extreme erosion has worn down the clay rock, creating bizarre patterns and formations that give the area an extraterrestrial feel.

  • Eat a meal at the Mercado Lanza.  One of the city's largest markets, Mercado Lanza has it all, from fruits, vegetables, fresh breads, cheeses, and meats.  With fresh products from local vendors it's a great place to pick up some groceries.  The market also has a number of different stalls that sell pre-made food, including sandwiches, soups, empanadas, or saltena, a traditional Bolivian dish made from filled pastry shells.

  • Tour through La Iglesia de San Francisco (photo above).  A storied 16th century colonial church at La Paz's center, a tour through La Iglesia de San Francisco is a lovely way to pass a free afternoon in La Paz.  An impressive stone structure, the church is a unique blend of Spanish and mestizo architecture.  Stone carvings honor Bolivia's three great cultures - Tiahuanaco civilization, the Inca Empire, and the modern Bolivia state.  The adjacent museum is also worth a visit, home to religious paintings and historical artifacts.

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