Top 21 Things To Do in Bolivia

By on Published: May 14, 2020 | Last Updated: June 2, 2020 in BOLIVIA, Latin America, South America with 0 Comments

Top 21 Things To Do in Bolivia

Sandwiched between Brazil, Peru, Chile and Argentina, the South America country of Bolivia can sometimes struggle to get a look in with all those big neighbours around.

But get a look in it certainly should, as this smaller South American country doesn’t hold back when it comes to epic things to do here.

From the steamy amazon to the soaring Andes, colonial cities to salt flats so huge they’re visible from space, it’s definitely safe to say that Bolivia – despite its smaller size – is a veritable feast for travellers.

It’s also one of the cheapest South American countries too, making it ideal for backpackers.

Bolivia’s rich cultural heritage, bustling markets and good traveller safety all add to its appeal and make this country a must.

So if you’re planning a trip here soon, kick off your planning with a list of my 21 things to do in Bolivia.


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#1 Cable Car in La Paz

Bolivia, La Paz, Cable Car

I was thinking about saving this one, because I didn’t want to give you everything on a plate too early, but let me tell you that riding La Paz’s cable cars is absolutely on the best things to do in Bolivia!

Known as Mi Teleférico, this is essentially the capital’s metro system and is perfect for a city that’s not only very high, but also has a great many hills!

The super visionary system began with just 3 lines, but when I visited, there were 6 in operation and depending on when you make it there, there might be even more!

A super easy system to use, with each line coloured like in a Metro network, you can hop on and off these cable cars, switch between the lines at various interchange stations and generally get a great aerial view of the city for next to nothing!

Running for 17 hours a day, from 7 am to 11 pm, you pay for rides using a simple card system, which you can buy and top up at just about any station.

 

#2 Cycle Death Road

Bolivia, La Paz, Death Road

And now we move onto the best day trips Bolivia has to offer – this one from the city of La Paz.

Yup, top of the adrenaline day trip list is the famous Death Road – a mad cycling day adventure that sees you peddling one of the world’s most dangerous roads as part of a wild bicycle tour.

It’s certainly worth choosing a reputable operator for this dangerous undertaking, as well as reading reviews carefully, because accidents can happen.

However, being sensible and following the instructions of your guide can make it a really fun day.

Check out these Death Road tour options to book your adventure.

 

#3 See the Cars Being Blessed at Copacabana

Bolivia, Copacabana, Candles

Did I mention Bolivia is bonkers?

And all the better for it?

Well it is and as an example of why Bolivia seems mad to an outsider are some of the local customs.

One of my personal favs and absolutely one of the best things to see in Bolivia is the blessing of the cars aka the Bendiciones de Movilidades in Copacabana!

Yup, linked to the fact this lakeside town is a place of pilgrimage due a miracle having happened here (soz I’m hazy on the deets) this is a spectacle that, twice a day, involves people bringing their cars to the church to be blessed by the priest here.

Happening at 11am and 2pm (with more vehicles on Sundays) this is quite the custom to take in as vehicles of all shapes and sizes get sprayed with the holy Coca Cola.

It’s quite the sight to get your head around!

Learn more about what else you can enjoy in Copacabana in this travel guide I wrote about the town.

 

#4 Visit the Moon

Bolivia, La Paz, Valle De La Luna

While less popular than cycling the death road, heading to Valle De La Luna for a spot of hiking and snapping is definitely of Bolivia’s best day trips – again from La Paz.

Valle De La Luna (or Valley of the Moon as it translates) is an amazingly surreal landscape, with startling sandstone spires and rock formations.

Created by erosion in an arid area, this a lovely place to wander and has 2 well-marked trails that lead you to good lookout points.

Situated about 10km from downtown La Paz, taking a day tour to this beautiful part of Bolivia is a winner and usually very affordable!

 

#5 Snap the Salt Flats

Uyuni, Salt Flat, Tour

Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni is one of the world’s largest salt flats. Indeed Uyuni Salt Flats is visible from space!

A huge, high altitude landscape stretching as far as the eyes can see, all 11,000 sq km of this dried, flat, white lunar-like area used to be part of an ancient prehistoric lake.

Drying out over thousands of years, the result is an expansive, barren and seemingly never-ending territory that looks, quite frankly, like something from another planet!

No surprise therefore that this is one of Bolivia’s, if not South America’s most dazzling sights and one of its most visited too.

From comedy photoshoots that play with perspective to epic drives, jaw-dropping views and the chance to visit a cactus island, Salar de Uyuni is utterly unique.

No question, it’s an absolute bucket-list must when you visit this country!

Learn how to travel from La Paz to Uyuni here.

 

#6 Chill out in Coroico

A wonderful town situated at the end of the Death Road (as luck should have it) Coroico is one of this country’s most peaceful spots.

If you’re been on a hectic travel schedule up into this point, heading to Coroico for a few days to swing in a hammock and gaze at the views is a great idea for weary travellers.

And top of the places to stay is EcoLodge Sol y Luna – the dream spot to relax at.

 

#7 Visit the Ruins of Tiwanaku

Bolivia, La Paz, Tiwanaku

One of the largest pre-Colombian archaeological sites in South America, Tiwanaku is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Located 75km from La Paz, on the way to or from Lake Titicaca, this site was once the centre of a major agricultural empire.

Older than Machu Picchu, it’s estimated that 50,000 people lived in this settlement during its height and the level of preservation you can find in the stone sculptures and buildings is absolutely astounding.

Having been abandoned since around 1000 AD, the site was rediscovered in 1549 and is home to an amazing array of stone monoliths as well as palaces, temples and tours.

You can visit this place either via a tour from La Paz or using public transport.

 

#8 Go Underground in Potosi

Famous for its mining of silver, Potosi is a town in the south of Bolivia.

Rich in natural resources and located at over 4000m above sea level makes this one of the highest places in this country.

So it might come as a surprise that one of the most popular things to do here is to actually go deep underground.

Yup in Potosi you can take a half day trip to a functioning mine to see the conditions in which the miners work and chat to them about their lives.

 

#9 Get Your Fortune Told at the Witch Market

Bolivia, La Paz, Witches Market

And moving on with this list of the best things to do in Bolivia, we come to the famous Witches Market – another bizarre stroke of brilliance.

Essentially a collection of narrow streets that move steeply up and down the hills of La Paz, the centre of the action in this crowded marketplace is around Melchor Jimenez street.

Translated in Spanish as El Mercado de las Brujas (literally Market of the Witches) you may have to search this name on Google Maps if you’re trying to find it.

But try to find it you should because this busy, bustling place is alive with hocus pocus, cures, spells and potions that will delight and amaze you.

Once a place of traditional healing remedies, this has now become something of a tourist trap however and so while I do still recommend visiting here, checking out the alternative and more local Mercado de las Brujas in El Alto (another part of La Paz) is a must-do as well!

 

#10 Wander Historic Sucre

Bolivia, La Paz, Church

Another of Bolivia’s capitals, yes it’s got a few, Sucre sits at the opposite end of the country to La Paz and has a very different feel to it as well.

For starters, it’s lower – which can be a godsend to those suffering from altitude sickness – and it’s also a lot more chilled.

Filled with colonial buildings, museums and cultural attractions, Sucre likes to think itself the more refined city.

And it’s UNESCO-listed colonial centre, dating back to the 16th century goes a long way to explaining why.

From churches to cemeteries, parks to palaces, this city boasts it all and its delightful whitewashed appearance only adds to the pleasure.

 

#11 Take Some Spanish Lessons

Bolivia, Copacabana, Women

And sticking Sucre, one of the most popular destinations to take Spanish lessons in Bolivia is this very city.

Yup, the language of the continent (except for Brazil, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana – soz guys), picking up a bit of Spanish while you are in Bolivia is a great way to get more from your time here as you can converse easier with locals and learn more about what life is like.

The fact that Spanish lessons also tend to be cheaper in Bolivia than anywhere else in South America is also a great motivator too.

If you’ve always wanted to learn another language, now is your chance and heading to one of the many Spanish schools in Sucre is certainly one of the best things to do in Bolivia.

 

#12 Sail on Lake Titicaca

Bolivia, Copacabana, Boats

And finally, we get to number 12 on this list of the best things to do Bolivia and it’s another winner – albeit it a height!

Lake Titicaca, which forms part of the border between Peru and Bolivia is absolutely incredible and taking a trip here to sail on her waters is something you’ll never forget.

The highest navigable lake in the world, you can either spend your time in the Bolivian town of Copacabana on the lake’s edge and day trip onto the water, or head to the islands in the middle if you’re looking for a few nights of isolation and tranquillity.

Learn more in the post I wrote about the experience here.

 

#13 Enjoy an Amazon Adventure

Central America, Jungle, Waterfall

Not a hiking spot (due to the insane humidity) but definitely up there on the unbelievable natural beauty, the Amazon is one of the big jewels in Bolivia’s crown.

Normally travellers access the world’s largest rainforest from the town of Rurrenabaque, where there’s plenty of options when it comes to how you want to experience this geographical marvel.

The best options include a boat ride, overnight stays in jungle lodges and wildlife-spotting galore!

If you fancy booking your excursion in advance, then check out Intrepid Travel’s 5 day option.

It leaves from La Paz, meaning you don’t even have to worry about transferring to Rurrenabaque, making life a lot more simple.

 

#14 Marvel at the Pampas

And also leaving from Rurrenabaque, are tours to the area in this country known as Las Pampas.

Pre-Amazon wetlands, this wonderful landscape is awash with wildlife and the 3 day tours you can enjoy here usually involve boat rides, monkey spotting, alligator snapping, piranha fishing and, best of all, the chance to get up close to the pink dolphins – the only species found in the rainforest.

 

#15 Walk on Isla Del Sol

Bolivia, Lake Titicaca, Islands

And now we come to #15 – hiking on Isla Del Sol.

We touched on this earlier when discussing Lake Titicaca, because Isla Del Sol is one of 2 islands that sit in the Bolivian side of this watery giant.

The other is the smaller Isla De La Luna.

To be honest, both are beautiful and are 2 of Bolivia’s prettiest, quaintest and most authentic places.

As such, spending a day (or a day and a night) on one of them is absolutely worth it, not least because they are central to Incan theology and seen as highly sacred places by first nation people.

Boats run to the islands every day from Copacabana, with a morning departure at 8:30am that costs 20 Bolivianos one way.

Things to do on the islands include visiting Inca ruins, walking, making friends with llamas and chilling out!

Supplies are pricier on the island, so take some food and water over with you from the mainland if you’re really watching those pennies and remember, take all your waste out back with you too – there’s no proper way to dispose of rubbish on the island.

 

#16 Get Off the Beaten Track at Tupiza

Argentina, Salta, Quebrada

Down in the south of Bolivia, situated between the town of Uyuni and the Argentinian border, Tupiza is a much more off the beaten track destination due to its remote location.

What it lacks in tourist number however, it more than makes up for in stunning desert scenery.

Taking trips out around the town will have you thinking you’ve landed in some sort of Wild West movie, as the landscape moves more into what you can expect to find in the Salta province in Argentina.

You can also enjoy tours of the Uyuni salt flats from Tupiza – learn more here – or use this town as nice stop on your way to crossing over the Argentina border from Bolivia.

 

#17 Watch the Cholita Wrestling

Bolivia, La Paz, Cholita Wrestling

Now it’s time to discuss one of La Paz’s most bizarre, but most loved spectacles and that is the Cholita Wrestling.

Featuring women in traditional dress, this entertainment is based on WWF and involves an amazing mix of stunts, great costumes and beer-fuelled crowds!

Matches are usually held on a Sunday at El Alto’s Multifunctional Centre and while you can take a tour here, it’s just as easy to enter the show, buy a ticket and join the madness yourself.

Expect lots of audience participation in this 3 hour drama, a custom which has developed from an act of protest against domestic violence against women, into one of South America’s most popular tourist attractions!

 

#18 Eat

Bolivia, Copacabana, Lady in Market

From cute local restaurants to markets and street stalls, trying as much local cuisine as you can is absolutely one of the best things to do in Bolivia.

Even as a vegetarian, I was happy to say there were plenty of choices for me with delicious, locally-grown avocadoes the order of the day!

It goes without saying the national delicacy of cuy, aka guinea pig, was not something I tried, but many do.

Instead, I was glad to find veggie restaurants in almost all parts of Bolivia on the tourist trail

Then there’s the food markets too, which exist in every town and are a feast for all the senses.

And if food is your travel thing, then this popular food tour in La Paz might also interest you!

 

#19 Spot Flamingos at Laguna Colarada

Laguna Colorado, also known as the Red Lagoon, is another of Bolivia’s spellbinding natural attractions.

Close to the border with Chile this place is home to the country’s population of flamingos and is a RAMSAR-listed wetland.

3 of the world’s 6 species of flamingo can be found here – they are attracted to the plankton that helps give the lake its distinctive colours – and photographers and wildlife enthusiasts alike will be delighted by the sight of them.

 

#20 Experience Cochabamba

Bolivia, City, Buildings

Possible Bolivia’s liveliest city, Cochabamba is also known as the City of Eternal Spring thanks to its pleasant climate.

With fewer tourists heading here than Sucre or La Paz, this is also a great place to get to know locals and test your Spanish skills!

With tons of active adventures on offer, from paragliding to mountaineering and even rafting, this city is also known to have the best food and nightlife in Bolivia – you have been warned!

 

#21 Witness the Dinosaur Prints

And rounding off this list of the best things to do in Bolivia, is this amazing attraction which I’m totally surprised isn’t more famous.

A short bus ride outside of Sucre’s city centre is Parque Cretácico, a place home to something called the Dinosaur Wall.

Featuring the largest collection of dinosaur prints on earth, 5000 prints to be exact, a huge number of different species can be identified care of a fun tour you can take here that will do just that.

A great one for kids especially, tours run most days at around lunchtime, when the midday sun allows for the dino prints to be seen most clearly.

 

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Travel Safety in Bolivia

Bolivia, La Paz, Aerial View

I wouldn’t dream of travelling to a country like Bolivia without proper coverage and always recommend travel insurance from World Nomads which I’ve used throughout my time in South America and across the world.

World Nomads are actually one of the few companies that will insure you for hiking and camping at altitudes above 3000m – essential for a country like Bolivia where many destinations are situated above this height.

It’s quick and easy to take out, change, extend or claim on your policy whilst abroad with World Nomads and their customer service is excellent.

As a solo female traveller, safety when travelling alone (especially in remote areas) is also big on my radar.

Although I have heard and read reports about female travellers being harassed in Bolivia, I haven’t experienced any of that myself and can only say that I felt incredibly safe here the whole time.

That said, there’s a lot of common sense involved in safety too.

My advice is to stick with other travellers, don’t wander out alone at night and always be clear about your boundaries in all situations.

You’ll also want to ensure you drink enough water in Bolivia’s dry, Andean destinations as dehydration can be a problem here.

Travelling with a LifeStraw Go Water Bottle, which you can use to purify water from any fresh water source, is a top option to help you do this.

I bought one for my trip to South America – as it then allowed me to drink the tap water safely – and now wouldn’t be anywhere without it!

Sun protection is another thing to factor in for this country and packing clothes (like a cap or hat) and lotion that will protect you from the strong UV rays at that elevation is definitely recommended.

You’ll also want to make sure you pack plenty of warm clothes for the Andes – it gets freezing here at night – including a good coat, gloves, scarf and a hat is a must, we can’t have you catching a cold now!

And finally, when it comes to travel safety in Bolivia, it’s important to be aware of altitude sickness.

This can be a real danger, sometimes leading to hospitalisation, for travellers whose bodies aren’t used to the lower amounts of oxygen in the air over 2,500m – as much of Bolivia is!

Learn more about the symptoms, as well as how to prevent and treat altitude sickness, here.

 

Best Time to Visit Bolivia

Bolivia, Uyuni, Me Jumping

The best time to visit Bolivia, in my opinion, is during the dry season in the Andes aka winter in this country – a season which runs largely from the months of June through to October.

It is colder at this time of year, especially at altitude, but you can’t beat those blue skies if you want to enjoy the stunning mountain views to the max!

At this time of year, it’s also drier and slightly less humid in the Amazon, which is great to know if you’re heading to the jungle during your time in Bolivia too.

 

5 Essential Packing Items for Bolivia

Bolivia, Copacabana, Llama

#1 Good Camera – I would never even think of travelling to Bolivia without a camera good enough to capture the amazing landscape and people of this country. Both my Sony A6000 and GoPro were perfect for the job!

#2 Waterproof / Windproof Jackets – With so much of this country situated high in the Andes, taking a waterproof and windproof jacket is essential if you’re going to be hiking or sightseeing in the mountains. I highly recommend the Columbia’s Arcadia 2 for the job.

#3 Hiking Boots – You can’t come to Bolivia and not do some trekking, so make sure you come prepared with some good, supportive hiking boots… I’ve never worn mine so much in my life! Check out this article I wrote about women’s hiking footwear to help you find your perfect pair.

#4 Day Pack – Also for the hiking and sightseeing, a good daypack to carry water, snacks, camera, hat, gloves and other clothing layers is key in this country! This Anti-Theft Bobby Backpack is my pick.

#5 Travel Scarf – And finally, I’ve just discovered the amazing travel wraps from Sholdit and am so happy I took mine to South America. Acting both as a scarf to keep you warm and a place to store your valuables while you’re out and about, this great invention is perfect for travel in South America.

 

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And there it is!

My ultimate list of the 21 best things to do in Bolivia.

Have I included your favourite?

Let me know in the comments box below…

 

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About the Author

About the Author: Creator of Big World Small Pockets, Stephanie Parker is a budget travel addict! Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Stephanie backpacks the world collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile .

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