Sitting at an average of 11,483 ft (3500 m) above sea level in the Andes Mountains, La Paz, Bolivia is the world’s highest national capital. With a population of around 790,000 people, La Paz is a beautiful and bustling metropolis nestled among stunning nature. The city lies in a valley surrounded by mountain peaks, making it a great spot to experience cosmopolitan Bolivian life, while also being a hub to explore the outdoors. There are many wonderful streets to explore, lined with ageing, yet beautiful colonial buildings, street vendors, and markets. Visit the Witches’ Market, where locals sell everything from traditional instruments to dried frogs for rituals. Or head to El Alto, just east of central La Paz to the fortnightly well-stocked market – one of the world’s largest. There are a number of wonderful museums throughout the city as well. Museum San Francisco is housed in an old religious complex and contains some of the key monuments of Bolivian history, while also providing great views of the city. For a look at the ethnic history and makeup of the country, visit the National Ethnographic and Folk Museum, which provides a great perspective on the history of the country’s various ethnic groups, as well as their current circumstances. Brand new cable cars run silently from out of the bustle of central La Paz up to El Alto, offering breathtaking views and a respite from the noisy traffic of the capital. Those that love the outdoors can follow the ancient Incan trail along the El Choro Trek, which runs down for 37 miles (60 km) to the jungle.
Because of its varying altitude, La Paz experiences rather drastic temperature difference throughout the year. The best time to go is from April to October, where the temperatures might not be at their highest, but the precipitation is at its lowest. Be prepared for cold nights, but nice days. The shoulder months will be a bit cheaper, excluding the time around Carnaval (the days leading up to Lent) and during the winter holiday season in December.
There are several options for getting around the city. There are regular buses, mini buses, and shared taxis, which display their routes on the windshield. Simply hail one of these and let them know where you would like to get off. Regular taxis are also cheap and convenient. Fares should be negotiated prior to boarding.