A Surprisingly Fun Weekend in La Paz, Bolivia!

Dan and I spent ten days in Bolivia earlier this year visiting the Uyuni Salt Flats and Bolivia’s wine region, Tarija. We ended the trip with a couple days in La Paz and, while not expecting to love La Paz, we ended up having a grand time.  This post details what we did on our few days in La Paz, Bolivia.


La Paz as most travelers see it, is actually made up of two adjacent cities high in the Andes mountains: La Paz and El Alto. El Alto is home to the La Paz airport, where many travelers fly in (including us!), and is located at over 13,000 feet above sea level. La Paz abuts El Alto, but is located at a lower altitude, with the lowest parts being around 10,000 feet. The difference in altitude is wild! The two cities are connected by cable car but, for most casual tourists on a short visit, there’s not a noticeable difference between the two. Most tourist attractions, besides the airport, are located in the city of La Paz. La Paz is one of two capitals of Bolivia (the other being Sucre).  In terms of tourist attractions, La Paz does not have many “bucket list” sites IMHO, but I listed some of the things we enjoyed below. On a quick trip, I probably wouldn’t spend more than 2 or 3 days in La Paz, unless you have something planned.

La Paz, Bolivia.

El Alto, Bolivia.  La Paz is below in the background.


As I mentioned, there are not a ton of must see sites, but here are some things we enjoyed.

Vallee de la Luna: Located on the outskirts of La Paz near “the highest golf course in the world,” Vallee de la Luna (or “Moon Valley”) is a natural park comprised of an eroded mountain left with really cool clay spires jutting out of the Earth.  There are clearly marked trails and the views and photo opportunities are really cool. Tourists can go on their own, but our guide gave some additional context. Note that the altitude will making walking around here much harder than you think.

Valle de la Luna.

Really cool.

Some of the trails.

The trails are clearly marked.

Me and Dan at Vallee de la Luna.

Cable Cars: One of greatest fears prior to visiting La Paz ended up being my favorite activity. Yes, this girl who is terrified of heights LOVED La Paz’s cable cars, and so did Dan! For those unfamiliar, La Paz set up a public transportation system of cable cars around 2014 and they are so fun to just ride around and see the city. Also, they are super cheap, less than 75 US cents a ride. We rode all over and saw La Paz and El Alito from above. Definitely set aside an hour or so for riding the cable cars on any trip. The cable car system is color based and is pretty easy to use.

The Yellow line. The cars never stop and you just walk on….

Departing on the Yellow line.

Dan matched the cable cars. This is the Red line. The red line goes up to El Alto and over some colorful homes.

Dan and I were on the Yellow line here. Yes, they still required face masks on the cable cars from COVID… Hopefully this ends soon.

Calle Jaén or “Spanish La Paz”: While much of La Paz looks like its from the 70s or 80s (i.e. not super beautiful), the area around Calle Jaén resembles the old Spanish colonial towns that are so gorgeous in South America. Colorful and packed with shops, cafes, hostels and museums, Calle Jaén is definitely worth a stop on any itinerary. Very Instagrammable. Side note – many things are closed on Sunday, so other days are preferable to visit.

Old La Paz, Bolivia.

Witches’ Market: Of course, we had to hit the infamous Witches’ Market in La Paz. Located on a small street up the hill from the Basilica of San Francisco, the Witch’s Market was smaller than expected and more Instagrammable than expected. It was also more touristy than I expected. We took some pictures but left after about 15 minutes.

Dan and me at the Witches’ Market. La Paz, Bolivia.

Looking up at the Witches’ Market.

Cholitas: La Paz is home to the famous Bolivian cholitas! Cholitas are indigenous women from Bolivia who historically have been discriminated against and seen as inferior members of society.  However, in the recent past cholitas have over come this adversity and now are highly regarded.  Many of these women are now business women and have made a lot of money, especially the ones dressed very nicely. And on that note, cholitas wear traditional clothing, and the outfits are gorgeous. There is also cholita wrestling on Sunday nights, but we skipped this.  I snapped this photo of a beautifully dressed cholita on our last day.

A stunning cholita.

El Alto and the Sunday Market: As mentioned, El Alto is home to the airport and given where our hotel was located, the airport is about the only time we spent in El Alto. That being said, El Alto hosts a HUGE market on Sunday that we saw from the cable cars. It is apparently also home to some really wealthy Bolivians with quite eclectic taste. Worth a walk if you are in town on a Sunday.

El Alto’s Sunday market.

Approaching El Alto. You can see how much higher it is than La Paz.

You can see one of the odd homes here – the one with the dragon head on top….


I was definitely not expecting La Paz to have great food, but I was wrong! We definitely left La Paz well fed and willing to come back for more. La Paz is huge and I am no expert, but here are some of the restaurants we enjoyed in La Paz!

Restaurant Gustu: Restaurant is a top restaurant that even the most discerning palates will enjoy. On the 50 Best of Latin America, currently occupying spot 45, Gustu is the product of a one of the co-founders of Noma (of Copenhagen fame). Gustu has been open since 2013 and even won Best Restaurant in Bolivia in 2022. The menu is a tasting menu of vegetarian or not, and the menu uses Bolivian foods in creative ways. I LOVED our meal at Gustu and would 100% come back to La Paz just to eat here again. Separate posting coming because our meal was that good!

Alligator from the Amazon in “animal milk.” I did not expect to like this, and it was amazing.

Orange cookie s’more with Acai ice cream. Another big winner in my book.

This one was not my favorite taste, but it won in the looks department.

Lambo Shisha Lounge: Honestly, Lambo Shisha Lounge was a surprise find. Dan looooves shisha, and I saw this place on a map near our hotel. We paid Lambo a visit on our first day in La Paz, despite Dan’s altitude sickness… We ended up staying for shisha and lunch and the food was, very surprisingly, really, really good. It was also  inexpensive. Over two visits we tried the lomo saltado empanadas, which were SO good, the breaded chicken, also prepared surprisingly well, and the Snickers pie, that was just fabulous. Lambo is not anywhere close to Gustu, but its a solid casual spot in Calacoto (7 minute walk from our hotel and 10 minute walk from Gustu). Outdoor and indoor seating.

Shisha at Lambo Shisha with Uyuni beer.

Lomo saltado empanada.

The breaded chicken dish. The chicken and salad were 100%. The fries were not my favorite.

Dan ordered anticuchos. Another great presentation.

The snickers pie at Lambo. While clearly frozen, this was so delicious. A+ for presentation, too.

Imilla Alzada: Our last meal in La Paz was at one of my favorite dishes – pizza! And yes, that is an odd choice in Bolivia, but it was a Sunday night and many restaurants are closed for Sunday dinner service in Bolivia. I found Imilla Alzada on the “Worlds 50 Best Discovery” sites, which features up and coming delicious spots, so I figured it was worth a meal. I also assumed pizza would be welcomed after a week eating Bolivian food (not true). In any case, Imilla Alzada is a hip pizza, beer and wine restaurant in the Cota Cota neighborhood. The pizza is done Napoli style with local toppings. I found it very good, and would definitely return if looking for pizza in La Paz.

Entrance to Imilla Alzada. No sign.

The interior of Imilla Alzada.

My pepperoni pizza. The pepperoni were actually good. A rare find outside the US.

Dan ordered the Jamon Serrano. I think he liked mine better though!

La Paz Food Tour: Per our usual travel style, Dan and I also took a food tour of La Paz with Red Cap Tours for $35 USD per person. This tour was interesting, but not the best food tour we have ever taken. We made four stops on the tour and tried a fresh juice and a cheese empanada in Lanza Market, potatoes and pork at a local restaurant, and peanut soup and Pique Macho at Sol y Luna bar. We went with a group of around 12 people, about half of which had ties to Richmond, VA (wild!). I would suggest this tour for an entree into La Paz and to meet other travelers. I think you can find better food in La Paz, but everything looked clean and was edible.

My fruit juice mixture. And yes, that is a puff cereal on top.

A cheese filled empanada topped with powdered sugar. Very interesting.

Jawitas: While not a restaurant, I have to mention these little snacks popular all over La Paz.  Jawitas are inexpensive soft bread pockets filled with cheese or meat or both. I tried the Picante Jawitas and it was great. A good snack if you are on the go. You can find these in any cable car station.

A pretty common menu.

The picante jawitas.


We stayed at the very nice Atix Hotel in La Paz, located in the upscale Calacoto neighborhood, not far from Restaurant Gustu, which is located around 10,000 feet above sea level (so significantly lower than the airport).  The neighborhood around Atix felt safe and there are some restaurants, coffee shops and bars within a 5 – 10 minute walk away.  We made this walk a few times during the day without any issues.

I enjoyed the area surrounding Atix.

I would describe Atix as a boutique hotel; it’s small and focuses much on design. You will definitely feel cool here. While I didn’t take pictures of the hotel room, it was very nice by Bolivian standards. We understand that oxygen is pumped into the hotel rooms and when our air conditioning stopped working, they promptly brought in a mobile unit. I would note that there is not ATM in the hotel or within a very quick walk. The hotel would change up to about $20 USD for us, but not more. FYI.

In the lobby of the hotel.

The best feature of the Atix Hotel is, by far, its roof top pool. Heated and indoors, the Atix pool offers stellar views of the surrounding mountains and is particularly nice as the sun sets. There is also a hot tub next to to the pool, but the pool was warmer on my visit. I understand the pool area turns into a bit of a lounge/club at night, but that did not happen during our stay.

A truly lovely pool.

View from the pool at the Atix Hotel.

And the “not so hot” hot tub.

Another cool feature of the Atix hotel is its artist in residence, Gastón Ugalde. According to his bio, Ugalde was born in La Paz in 1944 and is a famous artist in the region, creating art rooted in Bolivian traditions and frequently spotlighting socio-political issues. His art was really cool at the Atix Hotel and certainly gave Atix a special local feel.

A colorful piece by Gastón Ugalde.

Another piece of local art.

Finally, our room came with a pretty tasty breakfast, including some of the best coffee I had in Bolivia (not know for its coffee) and made to order eggs. This was the best breakfast we had the whole trip.

Cereals, etc.

Meat and cheeses. Bad picture but very tasty.

Bread selection. The sweet bread types were delicious.

Jams, etc.

Always a hot option, French Toast this day!

Lots of juice.

Tea for those with altitude issues.


Personally, we took taxi or Uber everywhere.  Uber worked well (as long as you have wifi) and we had 0 issues with Uber. Prices were reasonable for taxies and uber, although most taxis only accepted cash. Aside from taxi/uber, the cable cars are a very cool way to get around, and there are also local bus/vans that drive all over the city. We avoided the bus because we don’t speak Spanish and we were not familiar enough with the city to follow where we were going. We also walked short areas, but La Paz is so large and high its difficult to walk between far-apart neighborhoods.

A public bus in La Paz. The colors were amazing.


  1. Altitude sickness is very real in La Paz. We took Diamox (the generic is Acetazolamide) and did not exert ourselves too much. Be sure to speak to a medical provider in advance if you are coming from a low altitude area.  In a pinch, oxygen is sold in cans at pharmacies, including the one at the airport.
  2. On that note, La Paz is really, really high and most people will experience some altitude issues.  Avoid exerting your self, avoid alcohol and drink tons of water.  And, if you are in El Alto or a high part of La Paz, going down to the Calcoto (home of the Atix Hotel) may provide a  bit of relief. I cannot stress how serious one should take the altitude issue.
  3. Many restaurants (and other things) are closed for on Sunday, especially at dinner time. If there is somewhere you want to eat, be sure its open on Sunday at dinner.  Both Lambo Shisha and Imilla Alzada were open on Sunday evening for dinner.
  4. Uber works well in La Paz as of April 2023. We found Uber a bit easier than hailing a taxi, as we do not speak Spanish and La Paz is so large, it’s not certain that every taxi driver will know where you are trying to go, especially if it’s not famous.
  5. La Paz is huge, and it can take a while to get from place to place. For example, during the day it took a solid hour to get from our hotel to the airport.
  6. While some people do speak English in La Paz (especially in connection with touristy things), it is not super common. You will get by best if you speak some Spanish.
  7. La Paz is a pretty casual city. Even at fancier restaurants, diners dressed casual. However, bring layers. Our guide joked that La Paz has four seasons in one day, and we honestly found that to be true.
  8. If you are flying within Bolivia, you can take liquid in your carry-on (including up to 6 bottles of wine per person). There is no 311 liquid requirements.
  9. Drink bottled water all over Bolivia, even locals do this. We stuck to this throughout our trip, however we did have ice with drinks and brushed our teeth with tap water. We had no issues with this.
  10. This should go without saying, but cocaine, while seemingly readily available, is illegal in Bolivia, including for tourists.  It’s also illegal to bring back to the USA (and some other countries), including candies and teas made with coca leaves.

Canned oxygen at the La Paz airport.


Atix Hotel: Calle 16 8052 Calacoto Between, Julio Patiño, La Paz, Bolivia.

Restaurant Gustu: Calle 10 de Calacoto #300, Bolivia. Open 12 – 3, 6 – 8:30.  Closed Sunday and Monday. Reservations highly recommended.

Lambo Shisha: Gabriel René Moreno 1283, La Paz, Bolivia. Reservations not required. Casual. I could not find an official listing of hours, but during our visit, Lambo was open for lunch and dinner Saturday and Sunday.

Imilla Alzada: Calle Alvares Plata, 50, Cota Cota, La Paz. Open 6 – 10 Tuesday – Friday, 6 – 9 Sunday. Closed Monday. Cash only when we visited. Super casual with all outdoor seating. Dogs welcome.

La Paz Food Tour: I booked this “Food, Wine and Beer Tour” through Trip Advisor, although Red Cap Tours was the company that ran the tour. We did have a bit of beer, but no wine. The cost was only $35 USD/person so that seemed fine.



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