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Overview

La Paz literally gives you a high. This extraordinary city (the country's governmental capital) sits below the snow-covered peaks of the Cordillera Real at a lofty altitude of 11,800 feet. On approach, the land drops away from the high plain to reveal the city proper: ramshackle houses cling to the side of the canyon hiding narrow, winding alleys and grand colonial buildings. These radiate with color and vibrancy: in the lively markets cholitas (indigenous women) in their bright skirts and bowler hats sell their wares, businesspeople meet in upmarket cafes, while crowds and traffic compete for space along the hectic commercial strip. ...

La Paz literally gives you a high. This extraordinary city (the country's governmental capital) sits below the snow-covered peaks of the Cordillera Real at a lofty altitude of 11,800 feet. On approach, the land drops away from the high plain to reveal the city proper: ramshackle houses cling to the side of the canyon hiding narrow, winding alleys and grand colonial buildings. These radiate with color and vibrancy: in the lively markets cholitas (indigenous women) in their bright skirts and bowler hats sell their wares, businesspeople meet in upmarket cafes, while crowds and traffic compete for space along the hectic commercial strip. With a unique mix of local festivals, beautiful handicrafts, high-quality cuisine, a thumping nightlife and excellent museums — from folkloric to archaeological — this is one of the most stimulating cities in South America. The city is also a gateway to spectacular outdoor activities: trekking, climbing or mountain biking down the "world's most dangerous road."

Kate Armstrong
About the Expert

Kate Armstrong is coauthor of Lonely Planet's Bolivia, South America on a Shoestring, Mexico, Greece, and South Africa.

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Kate Armstrong for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    May to October, outside the rainy season