On a visit to Bolivia, most travelers opt for just TWO stops: La Paz, and Uyuni.
I mean, it makes sense.
Most people get to La Paz by default, not choice. It is home to the country’s largest international airport, and is also the arrival point for journeys overland from Peru. Unless they’re biking down the World’s Most Dangerous Road, rarely does anyone stick around to see any more of the city than enough to quickly purchase a bus ticket. (except for me, I loved La Paz so much I even went back for more, several days more)
Most people get the heck out of dodge and onto the next attraction.
Salar de Uyuni
Which is, of course, Uyuni. Home to the world’s largest salt flats, so, YEAH.
I almost jumped on two-stop Bolivian bandwagon as well, but I changed my plans and decided to tack on more time in Bolivia, and I’m SO glad I did.
I visited La Paz, made my way down to Uyuni to see the salt flats (of course), continued south into Chile, headed east in Argentina, and then north into Tupiza.
After a serious horse riding accident in Tupiza left me limping and too injured to attempt Rurrenbaque as planned, I went back to the drawing board (aka my Lonely Planet on Kindle). I couldn’t plan anything more strenuous than a walk around town (and even that was a stretch), so I settled on Sucre as my final Bolivian destination before heading back to La Paz to catch my flight home to Mexico.
pretty parks for sitting, wide sidewalks for wandering, and beautiful buildings for ogling. CHECKx3!
I had high hopes for Sucre (in addition to crushed Rurrenbaque dreams and an even more severely crushed foot), and I wasn’t disappointed.
It was the perfect place to heal from a stomped-on foot, if there is such a place. I spent my hours slowly wandering the streets, a pace that was more than acceptable in the laid back constitutional capital. I firmly believe that my long walks helped my foot heal back to normal much quicker and less malformed than if I had spent the time cooped up in bed.
frequent pauses to sit and read, yes
My slow strides gave me plenty of time to admire the beautiful, colonial style architecture. I spent a lot of time sitting as well, recovering when the pain got too much, and the ample park benches provided ample opportunities for hardcore people watching.
I met a lot of other travelers in town, and I learned that Sucre is a prime place for studying Spanish. Apparently, it’s not only the crazy-low prices that bring in language learners, but also the patient and slow local way of talking.
I experienced this myself, as I visited a pharmacy when I needed more supplies. I didn’t know how to say “Band-Aid” in Bolivian Spanish (and there’s no option for that in Google Translate), and after a lot of pantomiming (and eventually some drawing as well), the good-natured pharmacist finally figured out what I wanted.
There’s a strong traveler’s scene going on in Sucre, which means a few rowdy bar options, and lots of foreign-friendly food. At the same time, the town is big enough and not so over-run with tourists that it still maintains an authentic feel, and you can go days without seeing another foreigner (except maybe when you return to your hotel or hostel).
Thinking of going to Sucre? Here’s what you need to know.
HOW TO ARRIVE TO SUCRE, BOLIVIA
I’d bet you’ll arrive to Sucre by bus (though there is a little sketchy airport as well). The bus station is about 2km from the center of town. You’ll probably want to take a taxi to your hotel, especially if you arrive super early in the morning like I did. Almost anywhere you are staying should cost less than 10Bolivianos to get to in a taxi.
You can get to Sucre from the following destinations (clicking on any of these links will take you to SucreLife.com, much more knowledgeable than I about buses in Bolivia):
- La Paz – Sucre
- Potosi – Sucre
- Uyuni – Sucre
- Santa Cruz – Sucre
- Oruro – Sucre
- Cochabamba – Sucre
- Tarija – Sucre
WHAT TO PACK FOR SUCRE, BOLIVIA
everyone was pretty bundled up
I was surprised by how cold it got at night, and in the mornings. Definitely pack a sweater and long pants. I didn’t see ANYONE wearing shorts, so if you choose to, you’ll probably stick out like a sore thumb (along with freezing your ass off).
HOW TO GET AROUND SUCRE, BOLIVIA
There is a Sucre bus system, and lots of (cheap) taxis hanging around. Aside from getting to and from the bus station, though, I never needed anything other than my own two feet (and that’s even considering one of them was pretty broken).
Sucre is small enough, and the main attractions located near enough, you can really get by with walking. Save money, save the environment, save your health!
WHERE TO STAY IN SUCRE, BOLIVIA
Hotel Wasi Masi
This cheap and cheerful place has its pros and cons. For 65B, you can have a private room and shared bath. If they kept the shared bathroom cleaner, it’d be a pretty sweet deal. But while I was there, the floor was constantly wet, the trash container was teeny tiny and constantly overflowing with dirty toilet paper on the floor, and smelly. I’m still including it as a good place to stay, because the other perks made up for it.
The wifi is quite intermittent. It’s more than sufficient if you just want to check FB or IG every now and then, but if you work online like me it might be a little annoying. But EVERYWHERE in Bolivia has pretty sketch wifi.
The room is absolutely awesome, especially for the price. It is super comfortable and well equipped, coming with a nightstand, desk, and armoir. The provided blankets are thick and really comfortable, something I’d buy for home.
Most of the staff were super nice and friendly. On the day of my departure, all of the print shops were closed (it was Sunday), so the front desk attendant printed the bus pass for me for free.
If you arrive super early (like I did at 6am), and plan on sticking around after you check out (to catch a bus at 8pm like I did), the staff will provide you with lockers to store your stuff. There’s also a common area space, including a big courtyard with seating, a TV room, and a kitchen, to hang out in before you’ve checked in or after you’ve checked out. You could even grab a shower in one of the shared bathrooms before grabbing your bus.
WHAT TO DO IN SUCRE, BOLIVIA
Aside from walk around aimlessly and admire the beautiful, colorful buildings like I did? I don’t know, firsthand, because walking, eating, sleeping, and reading formed the entire extent of my activities.
What I heard from others: Sucre is super popular with tourists learning Spanish, and prices are rock bottom.
The folks at SucreLife.com have quite a few suggestions here, too.
WHERE TO EAT IN SUCRE, BOLIVIA
I visited Joy Ride a couple times because it was a convenient walk from the hostel and it was delicious. They’ve got a great selection of vegetarian food, and I needed some comfort as I was feeling pretty down about my squished foot (yes, I’m one of those eat-your-feelings people). Service was awesome, and with free appetizers, when I sat downstairs. I went upstairs just once to sit on the patio (which still kinda feels indoors), and the service was pretty bad, quite slow, negligent, and no free apps. Just do yourself a favor and sit downstairs. It feels more peaceful and quieter anyways.
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