Bolivia is one of the most diverse countries in South America. Although the best known tourist destinations of the country outside their borders are those of the Altiplano, the truth is that there is much more to visit beyond the Salar de Uyuni. Tourism-review.com presents some of the best places to explore in Bolivia.
Among the many tourist destinations in Bolivia is Lake Titicaca: one of the most impressive and interesting lakes in the world. Lake Titicaca is often called the highest navigable lake on the planet; this is because it has more than 3,800 meters above sea level. Located in the Andean Altiplano, it belongs to both Bolivia and Peru.
In addition, one of the most attractive places to see in the country is Copacabana. It is a small city located next to Lake Titicaca where you will not see large buildings, but small whitewashed houses and cobblestone streets. Copacabana is not only a visually stunning place, but also an important center of pilgrimage because the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana (a colonial shrine) houses the image of the Virgen de Copacabana, known as the “Queen of the Nation”.
The city is also the place of departure of boats heading to Isla del Sol, one of the most mystical enclaves in South America. The most interesting thing about this island, besides discovering its rich history, is to follow the famous Willa Thaki trail, known as the “Sacred Route of the Eternal Sun”, which crosses it almost completely.
One of the essential places to visit in Bolivia is La Paz. Although this destination’s importance may lead to confusion, La Paz is not the country’s capital. La Paz is the city with the largest population in the country and holds some important government buildings, but Sucre is the actual capital. Even so, La Paz, officially known as Nuestra Señora de la Paz, boasts many tourist destinations of interest.
With elevations between 3,200 and 4,000 meters high, you could spend a few days discovering its corners. Do not miss the Basilica of San Francisco, the metropolitan cathedral and, above all, ‘El Mercado de las Brujas’ (The Witches’ Market), one of the most fantastic markets of the entire South American continent. Amulets and charms of all kinds (frogs, snakes, llama fetuses …) can be found, which the Aymaras and Quechuas use for ritual offerings to their god, and ask him for health, money, love, protection or wisdom.
Tiwanaku (or Tihuanaco) is known for being one of the most important pre-Inca cultures of South America, and the ancient archaeological city of the same name is located in Bolivia, 15 kilometers away from Lake Titicaca. The Tiwanaku civilization lived for more than 25 centuries and you can still see the remains of what was the center of it. Important places like Puerta del Sol, Puma Punku, Kalasasaya or the Pyramid of Akapana are still preserved. However, perhaps the most interesting aspect of visiting Tiwanaku is its monoliths, which share a resemblance to the Moai statues of Easter Island.
Tiwanaku leads the ranking of tourist destinations in Bolivia, not only for its historical importance, but also for its ease of access. You can easily reach the site from La Paz, since it is only 55 kilometers away from it.
Visiting the Salar de Uyuni (also known as Salar de Tunupa) not only tops the list of places to see in Bolivia, but it is also one of the main attractions of South America. Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat and offers a striking image at any time of the year. Whether completely dry, when you can see perfectly the crystals of salt, or in humid times, when the sky is completely reflected in the water, the Salar de Uyuni is simply stunning.
Although you can get to the salt flat from the town of Uyuni, your best option is to join a 3-day trip that takes you to the best spots of the Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve. If you have to choose a natural park on your trip, visiting this reserve is one of the best activities to do in Bolivia.
Right next to the Cerro Rico, and more than 4,800 meters high, Potosí is one of the most beautiful colonial cities to visit in Bolivia. In it you will find several baroque churches and the spectacular Casa Nacional de la Moneda, where millions of coins were minted using silver from the mines for which Potosí is known.
Thus, visiting the Pailaviri mine is one of the most fascinating things to do in Bolivia. Although the silver left is nowhere near the amount found during the time of the Spanish Colonial Period, you can still experience the hard conditions that miners used to face in here, which may reach temperatures above 45ºC.
Sucre is the capital of Bolivia and, of course, also has many tourist destinaions that you shouldn’t miss on your next trip. Sucre is a pleasant city, not only for its temperate climate, but for its quiet environment, its streets full of wonderful buildings, and the friendliness of its inhabitants. The historic center of Sucre was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO thanks to its good state of conservation, which takes us back to the days when Bolivia was a Spanish colony.
On the other hand, one of the most important places to see in Bolivia is located in Sucre: La Recoleta, a Franciscan monastery. It is a religious building established in the seventeenth century on the slopes of the Churuquella hill, so it offers incredible views of the city.
If you are looking for a different experience on your trip to Bolivia, we suggest a visit to the Madidi National Park. Located in one of the most important jungle regions of the planet, the variety of flora and fauna of the park is simply astonishing. In this jungle, different species like the puma, the jaguar, the macaw (‘guacamaya’) or the anaconda coexist.
The easiest way to access this region is reaching the small tourist town of Rurrenabaque. From here, you can choose to take daily trips or stay inside the park. This second option will allow you to reach more distant places and enjoy hiking. Besides, there are several alternatives for community ecotourism, since many of the park’s lodges are run by indigenous groups. Therefore, the National Park offers interesting activities to do in Bolivia if you want to combine both cultural and nature tourism.