La Paz 3 Day Itinerary

Itinerary

Flight to La Paz
Hotel Rosario
Dinner at The Carrot Tree
Day 1Iglesia de San Francisco
Museo de Arte Nacional
Plaza Murillo
Mi Teleférico
Mirador El Alto
Dinner at Cafe del Mundo
Day 2Calle Jaen Museums
(Museo Costumbrista, Museo de Metales Preciosos and Casa de Murillo)
Mi Teleférico
Mirador El Alto
Dinner at Rosario
Day 3Museo de la Coca
Cathedral
Urban Park
Shopping at Mercado de las Brujas

Attractions

1Iglesia de San Francisco
2Museo de Arte Nacional
3Plaza Murillo
4Mi Teleférico
5Mirador El Alto
6Calle Jaen Museums
7Museo de la Coca
8Cathedral
9Urban Park
10Shopping at Mercado de las Brujas

Flight to La Paz

Today, the high altitude portion of our trip begins. I’m not really looking forward to it – I’m not sure I’m designed for altitude. To make matters worse, I have a stinking cold. We reach the airport in Santiago two hours before our flight. The airline recommends a minimum of three, which seems excessive in the middle of the night. But we’ve left it very tight. After check in comes immigration. The queue is enormous and it takes 30 minutes to almost reach the front. Then the computers crash and what little action there was grinds to a halt. We finally reach our gate eight minutes before boarding commences.

Landing in La Paz
Landing in La Paz

We are flying to La Paz. The airport is 4080 metres above sea level. It’s crazy! I wouldn’t want to live 4080 metres from the sea horizontally, let alone vertically. My idea of an extreme deviation from sea level is the zigzag path from the beach to my house.

World's Highest Burger Joint
World’s Highest Burger Joint

We land at the aptly named El Alto Airport and get a taxi into town, which is mainly down, 500 metres down, past thousands of houses clinging to the hillside. The traffic is crazy; it reminds me of Lagos, where we used to live and do constant battle with the traffic, only colder.

Hotel Rosario
Hotel Rosario entrance

Hotel Rosario

We reach our hotel; Hotel Rosario, which is on a street so crowded with traders that the taxi can hardly squeeze through. It may be a busy urban street, but inside is like another world; calm and quiet. And the room is very nice inside, with the added bonus of a view of the city.

Hotel Rosario Courtyard
Hotel Rosario Courtyard
Rosario Hotel Bedroom
Hotel Rosario Bedroom

It’s early but we manage to check in by 10 am. While we’re waiting, we have breakfast and I manage to consume my body weight in water melon juice. Then we access our room and I go back to bed to counter the 3 am start, the altitude and the bug I picked up on Easter Island.

View from Rosario Hotel
View from Hotel Rosario

Dinner at The Carrot Tree

In the evening, we have arranged to meet my neighbour’s mother’s Bolivian cousin, to whom our new credit card (replacement for the one we had cloned in Argentina) has been forwarded. Happily reunited with the all important piece of plastic, we go for dinner with the aforementioned cousin and her Bristolian boyfriend at The Carrot Tree. The food, on the whole is very good, although do I order a Cajun salad so spicy it blisters my lips. The old man certainly enjoys working his way through the comprehensive fruit juice menu. Then it’s back for an early night to make up for the 3 am start.

Dinner at The Carrot Tree
Dinner at The Carrot Tree

La Paz Day 1

La Paz
La Paz

The combination of a cold and the altitude mean I didn’t sleep well and have a pounding headache. When we arrived in La Paz, some of my toiletries had leaked, the rest had inflated to almost bursting point. That’s pretty much how my head feels.

Rosario Breakfast Buffet
Rosario Breakfast Buffet

We head for the hotel breakfast buffet. It is large and beautifully laid out. You do need to time it right, however, and avoid the Chinese tour groups, who come armed with flasks and Tupperware and pick the entire area bare. Note; they do restock immediately after the tour group departs.

After breakfast, the old man sets off to explore the city and I take some painkillers and return to bed to regroup. By midday I feel ready to go exploring, the old man is recalled from his solo sightseeing and we head for historic La Paz together.

Iglesia de San Francisco

San Francisco Church
San Francisco Church

The secret to La Paz is to do everything slowly, which incidentally I’m rather good at. We start at the 18th century Church of San Francisco, where we take a guided tour. This includes the cloisters, the church, then up a tiny, dark staircase onto the roof.

San Francisco Church Cloisters
San Francisco Church Cloisters

Just as I poke my head through the door at the top, someone throws themselves off the tower block opposite. It takes a while for my eyes to adjust to the light. Then I spot the rope. It was a bungee jump – phew!

San Francisco Church Roof
San Francisco Church Roof

Once I have calmed down, and caught my breath from climbing onto a church roof at altitude, we can enjoy the wonderful views and see how each roof tile is different because men made them by shaping clay round their thighs.

Museo de Arte Nacional

On to the Museo de Arte Nacional, another 18th century building, this time, bright red. It’s quite dark inside, with only the paintings illuminated. Even so, the old man is the only person not to successfully negotiating himself round the room. He trips over a bench and sends it and himself flying.

Museo de Arte Nacional
Museo de Arte Nacional

The art is mostly religious, and sometimes weird, or even both.

Museo de Arte Nacional
Museo de Arte Nacional

In the basement, you can enter a large confetti filled room and create your own confetti moments.

Museo de Arte Nacional
Museo de Arte Nacional

Plaza Murillo

We Continue to the Plaza Murillo, which is surrounded by important buildings; the cathedral, the Palacio de Gobierno and the Palacio Legislativo. It is also surrounded by pigeons – kamikaze pigeons.

Plaza Murillo
Plaza Murillo
Plaza Murillo
Plaza Murillo

Mi Teleférico

Now for my first ride in what is to become a cable car (Teleférico) extravaganza. There are several lines, each a different colour, servicing the city. First we get on the Celeste line in the old town and head south east before changing to Blanca, which runs for miles hanging above the street.

Celeste Cable Car
Celeste Cable Car
Blanca Cable Car

We get off briefly at Plaza Villarroel for great views across the suburbs in the hills with the higher snow capped mountains behind. Then onto Naranja heading west again.

Naranja Cable Car

Mirador El Alto

Finally, Roja which starts dangling above the cemetery, then climbs 500 metres up to Mirador El Alto for spectacular views of the city. Although, to be honest, the best views are from the cablecar on the journey up.

Rojo Cable Car
Mirador El Alto
Mirador El Alto

The temperature difference at the top is substantial. And the air is noticeably thinner. It is a relief to descend on the cable car and walk back through the market to the hotel.

Market Vendors
Market Vendors

Dinner at Cafe del Mundo

In the evening we go for dinner at Cafe del Mundo, which has taken the travel theme for its decor and run with it. The old man orders a coca beer and seems genuinely surprised when he announces that it tastes like leaves. Then back to the hotel to plan another onslaught on the cable car system tomorrow.

Coca Beer at Cafe del Mundo
Coca Beer at Cafe del Mundo

La Paz Day 2

Today, we start with some culture; the Calle Jaen museums. One ticket gives you access to three museums on an old colonial street.

Calle Jaen Museums

Google Maps says that Calle Jaen an 11 minute ‘mostly flat’ walk from the hotel. Google Maps doesn’t mention the flights of stairs. I’d challenge anyone from Google Maps to walk 0.6 miles, including 100 stairs, at 4000m altitude in 11 minutes.

Calle Jaen

Somewhat more than 11 lung-bursting minutes later, we reach our first museum and they ask for ID. Someone is going to have to walk back to the hotel and get our passports. I’m not sure who. Neither of us can breathe. With a little bit of pleading, we convince the receptionist to accept a photo of our passports from my phone, which is a great relief.

Museo Costumbrista
Museo Costumbrista

Museo Costumbrista

We start with a visit the Museo Costumbrista, which tells the history of La Paz in costumes and dioramas. It’s actually really interesting although only in Spanish, so even getting a basic understanding involves plenty of referring to my handy dictionary App. Photography isn’t allowed inside, so here is one of the roof…

Museo Costumbrista
Museo Costumbrista

Museo de Metales Preciosos

Next comes the Museo de Metales Preciosos. This contains many gold and other items from Bolivia’s past. Inside it is very dark; black from floor to ceiling and has plenty of steps. That we both make it round without incident is an achievement.

Museo de Metales Preciocos
Museo de Metales Preciocos

Casa de Murillo

Lastly, Casa de Murillo (Pedro Murillo is a local hero, who led an uprising against Spanish rule). Murillo’s former home is filled with interesting artefacts from his life. We accidentally stray into a room that isn’t open to the public and are thrown out of the museum by a guard. It’s a long time since I got removed by security from anywhere.

Casa de Murillo
Casa de Murillo

Mi Teleférico (Again)

La Paz
La Paz

We decide that’s enough culture for one day, depart Calle Jaen and make for the cable cars again. It’s a great system; nine lines (with several more about to open) covering a total of 28 km criss-crossing the city. Very clean and efficient and 30p a ride. Honestly, I could have happily spent several days in La Paz just randomly riding cablecars.

Calle Jaen

Today we start on the Naranja line, which heads west from the centre of town, then on to Blanca, which dangles above the high street, then Celeste, which follows the river.

Celeste following the river
Celeste

Then Amarilla, to the end of the line high up in the hills at a station called Parque Mirador. It’s a disappointment as there’s neither a park nor a viewpoint, just slums. But it’s an interesting journey hovering first above a Military Academy with recruits doing drills, then a football stadium mid match.

Amarilla over the Military Academy
Amarilla over the Football Stadium
Amarilla over the Football Stadium

Back along Amarilla, and up Verde, which passes over very fancy houses to the suburb of Irpavi. We had hoped to visit the military museum, but it’s shut for 2½ hours for lunch.

Verde departing

Then back along Verde, Celeste and Blanca to visit the Botanical Garden. It costs 10p each to get in. It’s overpriced.

La Paz Botanical Garden
Botanical Garden

So it’s back onto Blanca (my favourite which hangs above the street) back into town, then Naranja to the hotel.

Blanca into town

I’m hoping a dozen journeys has satisfied the old man’s need to aimlessly wander the urban transport system.

A fun day out
A fun day out

Dinner at Rosario

We have a quiet evening with dinner at the hotel (the old man chooses the llama!?). The dinner at the hotel restaurant is very good. I’d recommend eating there even if you don’t stay. But I’d definitely recommend staying there.

Dinner at Rosario
Dinner at Rosario

La Paz Day 3

One last day in La Paz. We planned to have a lie-in but the police put paid to that idea when they arrive at our door at 8 am to check our passports.

La Paz Street
Last walk through La Paz

Museo de la Coca

This morning we start at the Coca Museum which charts the history of the coca leaf, its role in Bolivian culture and uses as a drug, both legal and illegal.

Coca Museum
Coca Museum

The museum is more interesting that I’d anticipated. They also have a café where you can buy coca cocktails and original recipe Coca Cola.

La Paz Cathedral

We continue to The Cathedral. It’s less ornate than San Francisco church, but does boast Jesus on a neon cross.

Jesus on a Neon Cross
Jesus on a Neon Cross

Like most buildings in La Paz, it’s built on a hillside, meaning that the entrance is 12 metres above its base.

Cathedral
Cathedral Steps

Urban Park

Next, we attempt to visit the Urban Park but we can’t find the entrance. After walking around the edge past locked gates for some considerable time, we give up and make do with admiring the park from the bridges around the edges, then catch a cable car back to the hotel.

La Paz Urban Park
Edge of the Urban Park

Shopping at Mercado de las Brujas

In the evening, one last outing to get dinner and souvenirs, including a wander along the famous Mercado de la Brujas (witches’ market) where they sell all manner of weird stuff to tourists. The street is crazy – it’s nearly carnival and there’s a never ending row of fat ladies in petticoats and bowler hats flogging steamers, fancy dress outfits and an array of gaudy plastic tat.

La Paz Market
Market

Dinner at ?

Tt the restaurant, some Japanese students with pan pipes sit at the next table. Luckily, I manage to finish dinner whilst suppressing the urge to shove those pan pipes somewhere. I didn’t taken any photos of the food or restaurant, so it obviously wasn’t that memorable. And that completes our time in Bolivia. Back to the hotel to pack for tomorrow’s flight to Peru.

Trip taken: February 2019

Updated: September 2022

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