La Paz Holidays

Discover the customs of the Aymara people, see Bolivia’s colonial-era government buildings and learn area history in a modern museum in this old Andean city.

The historic city of La Paz feels like a piece of an older world preserved in a mountaintop shelter. A large part of the indigenous population still walks around the streets in traditional garb, markets sell spiritual talismans and colonial-era architecture abounds. However, the city also has its modern perks, like high-rise hotels in the city centre, a great assortment of museums and the seat of Bolivia’s national government.

Plaza Murillo is a good starting point. Two stately government buildings, the Presidential Palace and the Palacio Legislativo, stand on the historic square. Visit the nearby National Museum of Art to see the art and culture of Bolivia from the pre-Hispanic era up until today.

Further museums can be found on the Calle Jaén, an old street paved in cobblestones. The Museo de Instrumentos Musicales presents the long history of music in the region, while the Museo de Metales Preciosos showcases the gold and silver trinkets resulting from Bolivia’s rich mining history. Also, stop by the Museo de la Coca, an informative exhibition on the many uses that area cultures have found for the coca leaf.

Stop by some La Paz street markets while you tour the city. Plaza San Francisco features a handicraft market. Climb up into the bell tower of the San Francisco Church abutting the square to look over the city centre and the Calle Sagárnaga. The nearby Witches’ Market is one of the city’s most unique experiences, where indigenous Aymara residents sell mystical wares. Learn your fortune from a witch doctor, or buy a mummified llama foetus.

With an airport situated at an elevation of 4,058 metres (13,313 feet), La Paz has thin air that can fatigue travellers who are not acclimated to it. Get around the city via taxi or shared “mini buses.” Rent a car to explore the varied region around the city, which includes some of the highest peaks of the Andes, South America’s largest lake and one of the strangest sights you’ll see—the reflective Uyuni salt flats.

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