Always wanted to go to Bolivia, but not entirely sure where to start? Browse through the various attractions Bolivia has to offer and start planning your dream itinerary!
The variety and sheer number of places to see in Bolivia is absolutely staggering. From the arid salt flats in Uyuni, the lush Amazon rainforest filled with beautiful wildlife or the far lesser-known chaotic carnival celebrations in Oruro, even the most avid traveler is sure to find his kicks.
This guide combines the must-see tourist attractions in Bolivia, with a few places that are well and truly off the main tourist track to ensure you get to see the very best this wonderful country has to offer.
15 Tourist attractions in Bolivia
There are so many beautiful places in Bolivia to visit, picking just 15 was a bit of a herculean task. To keep things easy to read the attractions have been split into various groups starting with the most popular and ending with the so-called “hidden gems”.
Further reading: Is Bolivia worth visiting?
Main Attractions in Bolivia
1. SALAR DE UYUNI
READ | How & when to see the mirror effect on the Salar
Why visit: The biggest tourist attraction in Bolivia is hands-down the Salt Flats of Uyuni or Salar. It is not hard to see why! Located in the southwestern part of Bolivia, the vast expanse of the Salar stretches out over 8,000 km (4,970 mi). At a staggering altitude of 3,656 meters (11,995 feet high) it will quite literally take your breath away. Be mindful of potential altitude sickness.
When to go: We went in Dec-March to for the reflections
How to visit: You can opt to rent a car in Uyuni (4×4) and explore the Salt Flats without a tour. However, the Salar is one of the most beautiful places to see in Bolivia and really merits splurging to take a tour with a knowledgeable guide to learn all about the legends of the Salar, find the many colorful lagoons and have help creating awesome videos/pictures involving dinosaurs or pringle jars.
Top-rated tours: If you are short on time opt for the top-rated one-day tour (incl. lunch), make sure to ask them to include watching the sunset in the Salar. Alternatively, take the 3-day tour which includes 2 nights and 3 days exploring the Salar and the surrounding mirror lagoons with flamingoes.
2. LA PAZ
READ | 13 Unmissable things to do in La Paz
Why visit: Exploring the vibrant capital city La Paz should be a non-negotiable when traveling to Bolivia. Get a birdseye over the city from the cable cars, take in the street art around the Chualluma neighborhood and try eating the famous Salteña without making a mess! There is always the option for a private tour of the city to learn about its history and – more important – where to get the best food.
When to visit: La Paz can be visited year-round though personally, I loved visiting around Carnival as the city really comes alive with festivities. One of the top things to see in Bolivia is
Safety tip: It is noteworthy to mention that La Paz is one of the tourist spots in Bolivia which can get a bit hairy at nighttime. Be mindful of your valuables and double-check with your accommodation which areas of the city are best to avoid at night.
Why visit: Sucre is known as the white city, the reason for which becomes clear within minutes of reaching the whitewashed city center. This beautiful colonial architecture is best viewed from the Recoleta Monastery, or by strolling down the historical center. Visiting the Mercado Central and the Mercado de la Ciudad are none of the unmissable things to do in Bolivia if like me you love people-watching!
When to visit: March to October (dry season)
Additional information: Sucre might one of the most famous landmarks in Bolivia, but it has a very compelling additional reason to visit: Cal Orck’o, 5 kilometers from Sucre. The park has the world’s largest collection of Dinosaur footprints!
Bolivian Cuisine: Oddly enough, the highest-rated cooking class in all of Bolivia can be found right here in Sucre. Learn how to traditional Bolivian cuisine with accompanying cocktails. Delish!
4. MADIDI NATIONAL PARK
Why visit: The Madidi National Park located in the Amazon Rainforest is the best place to see wildlife when visiting Bolivia. Book an eco-tour, taking you into the heart of the rainforest via the Rio Beni, take a jungle trek with a local guide and spend the night in a local indigenous community where you can learn about their way of life.
Though it might not be one of the most popular places in Bolivia to visit, it was an absolute highlight for me personally. Experiencing the wild rainforest through the eyes of locals, spotting monkeys while trekking and seeing the effects of eco-tourism first-hand, how it is helping entire communities to sustain their way of life, are much-cherished memories.
When to visit: Ideally from April to October (dry season) although we visited in February which, aside from a lot of mosquitos, was perfectly fine!
Additional information: Tours to visit the Madidi National Park all start from the town of Rurrenabaque which is serviced by 3 flights a week from La Paz. Book your 2 or 3-day eco-tour directly in Rurrenabaque, no need to book in advance. Make sure you bring a lot of mosquito repellent and lightweight clothing that covers your arms and legs as the mosquitos are no joke here.
5. DEATH ROAD
Why visit: Get a little out of your comfort zone and embrace your inner daredevil by taking on one of La Paz’s most exciting experiences. It could be described as either exhilarating, terrifying or a whole lot of fun, but there’s no doubt that biking the Death Road (aka Camino de la Muerte) is one of the top tourist attractions in Bolivia.
Starting atop the Andes Mountains and descending 1200m down to the Yungas Valley on the edge of the Amazon rainforest, this 60 km (37 mi) ride not only gets the adrenaline pumping but it lets you take in incredible views of really diverse landscapes too.
When to visit: April to October
Can anyone partake? Whilst the road did earn its reputation, these days it’s luckily a lot safer with only the odd local driver and other cyclists using the road. It is one of the more physical activities to do in Bolivia, therefore an average fitness level and familiarity with riding a bike are required.
Before you book a tour: Starting from approximately US$120, tours can be arranged from La Paz and should include transport to and from the road, along with all the gear required. Just be sure to choose a reputable provider that has excellent safety reviews – as reliable, effective brakes and good suspension will be essential!
Additional popular attractions in Bolivia
6. AMAZON BASIN (PAMPAS)
Why visit: The Amazon Basin or “Pampas” was a true highlight of my Bolivia trip thanks to the large variety of wildlife we spotted. It is known to have capybaras, monkeys, caimans, sloths, river turtles, pink dolphins and tons of exotic birds.
When to visit: If your aim is to see the pink dolphins then make sure to visit outside of the rainy season. The rains make the river swell causing the dolphins to retreat deeper into the Amazon Basin making them harder to spot.
How to see the Pampas: Visiting the Pampas entails taking a tour from Rurrenabaque as it is one of the tourist places in Bolivia that is harder to access. From Rurrenabaque a 3-hour bumpy ride taking you past hundreds of grazing capybara, a handful of sloths and finally to the Santa Rosa Protected Park where the Pampas start. All tours of the wetlands are conducted on the water in small boats.
Good to know: The boats are not covered. This mean be it blistering sun or pouring rain, you are open to the elements. Bring enough sunscreen, lightweight clothing and (if applicable) rain gear. If you are traveling with expensive camera gear, make sure to foresee protection against the rain (if needed).
Which tour do I take: The most common tour is the 3-days, 2 nights package which costs around US$190. This includes overnight stays in an ecolodge, meals, and transport. The park fee is usually not included in tours (US$22) and needs to be paid in cash at the entrance.
7. VALLEY OF THE CONDORS
Why visit: The Valley of the Condors is a mountainous hiking area located just south of the Bolivian city of Tarija, one of the best places in Bolivia for world travelers. Set near the Argentine border, this hiking area is home to plenty of wildlife and natural spaces, offering fabulous views of mountaintops for miles. As the name suggests, the Andean condor is often seen soaring around the valley.
Andean condors are the world’s largest flying birds by both weight and wingspan. With wingspans reaching reach up to 10’10” or about 3.3 meters! These scavengers live among the rough cliff in the Andean mountains, feeding mostly on the cattle and deer that roam the area.
How to hike: Because the landscape is unforgiving and difficult to navigate, it’s strongly recommended that visitors join a tour if they’d like to see the condors in their natural habitat. Valle de los condores is a family-run tour company that offers 1-4 day tours through the mountains with experienced local guides.
The tour begins at a mountain farm, where you’ll enjoy a delicious dinner, wine, and friendly company. Then, you’ll hike into the mountains for the duration of your tour, utilizing the gear that the tour company has stashed away in the various campsites along the route. You’ll want to be reasonably fit for this experience, as the route can be steep at times.
8. COPACABANA & LAKE TITICACA
Why visit: Copacabana is a hippie town-turned-city nestled on the shores of the famous Lake Titicaca. There is a multitude of things to do in Copacabana itself: Watching the Blessing of the Automobiles, stopping by the local mercado and hiking up Cerro Calvario. However, this tiny bolthole is most often used as a starting point to explore the Lake
How to visit Lake Titicaca: Unless you are taking a day tour from La Paz to Lake Titicaca you will need to stop in Copacabana to book a tour. Make a stop on the Isla del Sol and hike between Challapampa in the north to Yumani in the south. This 3-hour hike gives you the very best views over the island and takes you around the mythical Inca Ruins. Be aware that along the hike there are various points where a small local tax has to be paid (5 Bs) to support the local economy.
Things to keep in mind: Copacabana is located at 3,810 m (12,500 feet). If you do want to visit the town and/or hike around the islands on the Lake it is wise to plan an acclimatization day or scout around for some coca leaves to help combat altitude sickness.
9. BOLIVIAN INCA TRAIL
Why visit: The Inca Trail in Peru is widely known and very, very popular. However, Peru is not the only country through which the 30,000 km Inca road system runs. It traverses Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. The Bolivian portion of the trail is one of the more unknown landmarks in Bolivia and as such a great easy hike, without hordes of tourists.
When to go: April to October (dry season)
How to hike: Base yourself out of Sucre if you are looking to do this hike! The hike leaves from the nearby village of Chataquila and ends in Chaunaca. The cobblestoned path offers majestic views over the soaring Andes peaks, while you walk an easy 4,3 km (2,7 mi) downhill.
Read before you go: Practical guide to the Bolvian Inca Trail
10. LAGUNA COLORADA
Why visit: A striking red lake surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of the Andes, a bevy of flamingos foraging for food in the shallow water while a herd of fluffy vicuñas grazes nearby. Exploring Laguna Colorada, located within Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve in southwestern Bolivia, almost feels like being on a different planet.
When to go: Although most guides say to visit during dry season (April-November) we visited the Salar de Uyuni in February and loved it as this is the time to see the mirror effect.
How to get to Laguna Colorada: Laguna Colorada is one of the most remote places to go in Bolivia and as such requires a tour to get to. The easiest way to visit this incredibly remote location is by booking a three-day Salar de Uyuni tour departing from either Uyuni or Tupiza. You’ll also get to see natural volcanic hot springs and the impressive turquoise Laguna Verde along the way, as well as the rest of the stunning landscapes of this desolate but beautiful region.
Lesser-known PLACES TO SEE IN BOLIVIA
Why visit: The site was once the capital of the Tiwanaku culture, a pre-Incan culture which flourished from around 300 BC to 1150 AD. Inside visitors can marvel at the Akapana Pyramid, the Sunken Temple and a number of intricate stone carvings and sculptures. Tiwanaku is considered one of the most important pre-Columbian archaeological sites in South America.
When to go: Explore Tiwanaku when you are in La Paz, which can be visited yearlong.
How to explore Tiwanaku: The closest city to Tiwanaku is La Paz as such most travelers choose to take a day tour from La Paz to Tiwanaku. The ruins are reachable via public transportation from the La Paz Central Bus Terminal (one-way ticket 50 Bs).
Practical information: Opening hours: 09.00 am to 04.00 pm; Entrance fee 100 Bs
Short on time? There is an option to combine Tiwanaku with Lake Titicaca in a one-day tour from La Paz. If you itinerary is jam-packed this 12-hour tour might be worth looking into.
12. CARNIVAL IN ORURO
Why visit: Oruro is one of the best places to visit in Bolivia to partake in Carnival. This UNESCO World Heritage Festival is an interesting mixture of Andean rituals interlaced with Catholic traditions. The highlight of the Oruro Carnival is the day-long folkloric parade. Over 50 groups of dancers and musicians (roughly 70.000 people) decked out in opulent costumes depicting devils and other mythical characters dance their way through the streets of Oruro.
When to go: During Carnival – The parade takes place on the last Saturday before Lent.
Read before you go: Guide to attending the Carnival of Oruro.
13. EDUARDO AVAROA NATIONAL RESERVE
Why visit: The Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve is located in southwestern Bolivia. Home to some of the country’s most spectacular volcanoes, hot springs, geysers and colorful lakes (including the aforementioned Laguna Colorada). Take a dip in the tiny hot spring pools at Geysers Sol de Manana, snap a shot at the stone tree, or catch your breath while walking through the Valley of Rocks, watched over by the 5000-meter-high Volcano Tunupa in the background.
When to go: Many Bolivia travel guides will tell you to go between April and November, however, I highly recommend going in February to see the mirror effect on the Salar of Uyuni.
How to explore Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve: Due to its remoteness this popular tourist attraction in Bolivia is best visited as part of a three-day Salar de Uyuni tour departing from either Uyuni or Tupiza. If you are coming from Chile, consider booking a tour from Atacama to Uyuni
Why visit: The city of Potosí is a designated UNESCO world heritage site thanks to its beautifully preserved colonial architecture and the historical importance of Cerro de Potosi, to this day the richest deposit of silver in the world. Potosí is one of the best places to visit in Bolivia to learn about the country’s mining industry and the devastating effect it had on the indigenous population.
When to go: The warmest months are November, December and January
Additional info: The city is located at 4,090m (13,418ft) above sea level. Make sure to pack enough warm clothes as average temperatures in summer are 15°C (59°F) while in winter temperatures drop to -2°C (28°F).
How to visit the mines: The mines can only be visited as part of a half-day tour as they are currently still actively being mined. Tours start at US$35 and last 3,5 hours.
15. SANTA CRUZ
Why visit: The largest international airport in Bolivia is located in Santa Cruz (Viru Viru Internation Airport, VVI) as such many travelers transit through the city on their way in/out of the country. The city is an interesting mix of colonial architecture, highrise commercial buildings and lush vegetation resulting from its proximity to the Amazon Rainforest.
When to go: Santa Cruz has a tropical climate avoid the stifling heat and humidity from November to March and aim to visit anywhere between May to November.
How to explore Santa Cruz: We only had one evening in Santa Cruz unfortunately but would love to come back to walk around the historical center or take a sloth and wildlife tour as we read there is a ton of wildlife that can be spotted right in the city center itself!
Map of places to see in Bolivia
Have a look at the interactive Google Map to get an idea of where the various highlights of Bolivia are located.
How to get around the Bolivia tourist attractions
Traveling around the various famous places in Bolivia is a piece of cake thanks to the very well-developed network of public transportation.
Inside the cities, a seemingly endless supply of public transportation is available: radio taxis (white cars with an official taxi sign); Puma Katari (only in La Paz); micros (multi-colored busses) and trufis (shared taxis with fixed routes).
Traveling between cities will entail taking an overnight bus. Before you panic, buses in Bolivia are super comfortable and relatively safe.
- Which ticket should I book: Book a “cama”: These seats recline 180° are spacious and have a nice comfy footrest. Check schedules and buy tickets online via Busbud or head to the station directly
- Is there food: Cama-ticketholders will be served a meal – Vegetarian alternatives exist but need to be requested in advance at the ticket counter in the bus terminal.
- Safety: Do not pop your valuables in the luggage which goes into the luggage hold. Keep them on you at all times
- Terminal tax: Upon departing from a bus terminal, each traveler will be requested to pay a small fee on board (usually a few Bolivianos). This needs to be paid in cash.
Plan your trip to the various attractions in Bolivia
Can I pay with a credit card everywhere
Inside the big cities credit cards are widely accepted. That being said, I had a lot of issues with my Mastercard as it did not seem to work. Fellow travelers using a Visa card had no issues. Outside of the cities cash is still very much king. The maximum amount of money you can take out of an ATM at any given time is 3000 Bs.
Yellow Fever Vaccine for Bolivia
Before entering the country, travelers are required to show proof they have been vaccinated for Yellow Fever.
How long should I spend in Bolivia
There are a ton of beautiful places in Bolivia, spread out across a large area. I would consider spending at least 10 days to ensure you can see the highlights: Salar de Uyuni (3-days), La Paz (one day), Amazon Rainforest (3 days) and Sucre (1 day).
Make sure to factor in enough time to acclimatize to the altitude as well as travel time between the various places. Internal flights are generally speaking a lot more expensive than intercity buses, the latter being considerably more time-consuming.
What do I pack for a trip to Bolivia
That depends on which exciting places in Bolivia you will be visiting. As a rule of thumb pack mosquito repellent and lightweight clothing for the jungle (avoid black if possible as this attracts the mosquitos); warm clothing, sturdy shoes, sunscreen and sunglasses for the Salar de Uyuni; light jacket and comfortable walking shoes for the cities.
To conclude on what to see in Bolivia
I truly hope this guide has provided you with a comprehensive overview of what to do in Bolivia. The country has an immense natural and cultural wealth, which somehow has remained blissfully off the tourist radar, resulting in wonderfully authentic encounters with locals, folkloric markets and overall great value/money experiences.
The plethora of activities in Bolivia on offer will have you scrambling to extend your trip. We spent only 8 days, which was nowhere near enough time. Time permitting spend at least two weeks in Bolivia!
Make sure your vaccines are up to date, pack a pair of sturdy hiking boots and some warm clothes, and whatever you do, don’t forget to bring mosquito repellent if you are planning on heading into the Amazon Rainforest.
MORE TRAVEL RESOURCES FOR VISITING SOUTH AMERICA
Bolivia: Is Bolivia worth visiting?
Bolivia: Complete guide to Oruro Carnival
Bolivia: Complete guide to Salar de Uyuni in rainy season
Bolivia: Practical guide to Chualluma La Paz
Bolivia: 13 Things to do in La Paz – A local’s guide to the capital of Bolivia
South America: 10 Vibrant Carnivals in Latin America
Argentina: Everything you need to know before planning a trip to Argentina
Argentina: Things to know before planning a trip to Patagonia
Chile: Three day Easter Island Itinerary