Itineraries for Your Trip to La Paz

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3 Days in La Paz for First Timers

Curated by Jen Rose SmithVermont travel writer Jen Rose Smith covers adventure, remote places, and traditional cuisine from a home base in the Green Mountains. Her articles have appeared in National Geographic Adventure, American Way, Nexos, Condé Nast Traveler, Backpacker, AFAR, Rolling Stone, USA Today, and Outside Online.

A high-altitude perch between the Andes mountains and lush jungle makes La Paz a perfect base camp. Come here to ride the Death Road, see Tiwanaku’s ancient adobes, hike Palca Canyon, and cruise Lake Titicaca, but save time for the city’s colorful markets and historic landmarks. Here’s how to spend three days in La Paz.

Day 1

While La Paz sprawls across a long valley and beyond, most key sites are packed into the walkable heart of the city. Start the day by exploring these landmarks, from San Francisco Church to the Witches Market and the National Museum of Archeology. Here in the city center, crooked streets lead into maze-like markets, so it’s a great place to opt for a guided tour that can unlock the stories and characters that make La Paz so fascinating.

 After a morning of sightseeing, linger in the historic center for the city’s best souvenir shopping; check out stores with cozy alpaca sweaters, bright fabrics from Andean communities, and other treasures. Warm light and mild temperatures make the late afternoon a wonderful time to explore the city, so choose between two top activities for your sunset excursion: Ride a cable car to El Alto, or head to the southern zone for a tour of the Moon Valley (Valle de la Luna), an eroded labyrinth of spires and canyons.

Day 2

Now that you’ve had 24 hours to acclimatize, make the most of your easy access to jungles, mountains, and the altiplano with an active day. Cyclists can take on the relentless descent on the Death Road—a surprisingly safe trip now that traffic is routed onto a newer highway—and see the dramatic transitions between ecosystems on your way down into the lush Yungas jungle.

 You can spot native vicuñas, alpacas, and llamas among the peaks of Sajama National Park, or head to the frozen slopes of Huayna Potosi for a vertical day of ice climbing. For a full-day hiking trip that doesn’t require a long drive, discover the rock formations and hidden caverns of Palca Canyon, a wild, eroded landscape just east of the city

Day 3

With one more day in La Paz, step back in time into Bolivia’s ancient past. Visit a pre-Hispanic empire on a day-trip to Tiwanaku, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s full of adobe architecture and mysterious artwork.

For a trip into the Inca heartland, Lake Titicaca combines deep history with a unique landscape, and amazing views on the road to the lake. The most fascinating sights are clustered on Sun Island (Isla del Sol), so be sure to save some time for a cruise into the center of the lake, where you’ll find Inca ruins, ancient farming terraces, and views of the snowy Andean peaks. If you’re up for a long day of sightseeing, you can even visit Tiwanaku and Lake Titicaca on a single excursion.

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