Sucre is one of the most beautiful cities in Bolivia. The city is small and located at an altitude of 2,800 m above sea level, in a valley of the Bolivian Andes mountains. Sucre is a city where you easily can spend days to enjoy the lovely atmosphere and colonial centre, with its many churches, white buildings, inner gardens and museums. And, also the beautiful surroundings, traditional markets and villages are worth visiting. In this article, I’m sharing a three-day itinerary to explore Sucre, its surroundings, things to do and tips to help you get the most out of your stay.
3 Days Itinerary of Sucre, Bolivia
Sucre is the official capital of Bolivia, instead of La Paz, what many people see as the capital, because of its size and political significance. Sucre is often called La Ciudad Blanca (the white city) and the City of Spring because of the many white buildings and pleasant climate, during the day. The colonial centre, built by the Spaniards, is listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site. As Sucre is located at an altitude of 2800 m, it is important to take it easy the first days. Make sure you spend a full day to get comfortable with the altitude, before travelling further.
Day 1 | Explore the colonial center
- Market and Plaza 25 De Mayo
Start your day with an early morning visit to the local market, next to the San Francisco church. You will find many local fruits and vegetables and it’s a nice way to observe daily life in Sucre. Afterwards head to the plaza 25 de Mayo, the main square, and visit the cathedral and San Francisco church. Both are important landmarks in Sucre.
- Recoleta viewpoint
Take your time, for this little hike up the hill to la plaza Pedro de Anzúrez. You might feel a bit dizzy and short of breath, because of the altitude. Once you’ve made it to the square, have a look in the 17th century Recoleta monastery and the local market. But especially take some time to enjoy the view of the city, in the Café El Mirador (viewpoint cafe), while enjoying a cup of coffee or juice.
- Traditional Museum
On the way back, visit the Museo de Arte Indígena Asur, a museum about handicraft and weaving art. This might not sound very fancy in the first place. But it’s really worth a visit. Bolivia is famous for its weaving art: Each village has its own pattern and use of colour. The museum found a way to display this traditional art in a very fashionable way, by using lights, music and video. You will see amazing pieces, learn about the process and local rituals and sacrifices.
There are two places I recommend for lunch: Hotel Casas Kolping is located in front of the museum and offers great views of the city. Another option is to have a quick lunch at Café Metro. This café serves all kind of easy dishes, such as salads, pastas and sandwiches.
- Learn about the Bolivian history in Casa de la Libertad – Freedom house
In the afternoon, dive into the history of the city and visit de Casa de la Libertad (Freedom house). This is the place were independence of Bolivia was declared in 1825 and the republic was founded. Different rooms take you through the history of Bolivia.
- Enjoy a sunset at Convento de San Felipe Neri
At the end of the day, make sure to visit the roof of the Convento de San Felipe Neri to enjoy a lovely sunset. Convento de San Felipe Neri is a 17th century monastery and houses a primary school nowadays. Take the stairs to the roof, walk around, take pictures and find a place to enjoy the view of the city.
- Join the Origenes show
In the evening, you want to join the Origenes show. This show will take you on a journey through Bolivia, by showing typical dances and songs from several regions. The dancers are well trained and the traditional costumes are outstanding to watch.
Day 2 | Tarabuco Market
Try to include a Sunday in your stay. Then the most famous market in Bolivia takes place: The market of Tabaruco, and you definitely want to visit this place. Tarabuco is a small mountain village, with cute houses, made of brick and red roof tiles. Every Sunday, people from the surroundings get together to sell and buy their goods. You will find everything on this little market: vegetables, fruits, cattle, electronics, cheap sportswear, souvenirs and coca leaves.
I personally love to stroll around, do some shopping, take pictures and have a chat with the local friendly people. Many people in Tarabuco are still wearing traditional clothes. Men wear black helmet-like headwear with ornaments, including striped ponchos and woman wide colorful skirts. Tarabuco is famous for its outstanding weaving techniques, what can be seen in the different designs. Some shops even have a small factory and are able to show you the process of coloring and weaving.
The main plaza of Tarabuco is the best place for souvenir shopping. You will find many typical Bolivian items, such as colorful bags, scarfs, alpaca/lama sweaters, ponchos and rugs. But to observe the real Bolivian local life you want to go to the fruit, vegetable market and livestock market. Cars with animals are coming and going, people negotiate, have lunch or just get together and hang around. There is so much going on and it’s very interesting to walk around.
Finish your day in Sucre, with a nice dinner at Café Condor. It’s a delicious vegetarian restaurant and is part of a foundation, supporting and educating local people from the surrounding villages about gastronomy
It is recommended to leave early from Sucre, around 8 AM, as the market finishes around 14/15H. It will take you more or less 1.5 hours to reach Tarabuco. Tarabuco is located at an altitude of 3200 meter above sea level and you will this notice immediately, when stepping out of your vehicle. The air is thin and you will be short of breath, so take it easy.
Day 3 | The Bolivian Inca Trail
This last day you want to use for exploring the beautiful Andes mountains.
Peru is famous for its Inca trail to the pre-Columbian city Machu Picchu. But Bolivia has an Inca trail as well. The ancient Inca road system runs through Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru and is almost 30,000 kilometers long. In Bolivia it is possible to make a day hike and walk on these ancient trails. It is the best way to enjoy the Andes.
You will start your day in Sucre and drive within 1.5 hours to the village of Chataquila. From here, it’s a 5.5 km trail, bringing you to the village of Chaunaca. The views are just magnificent. It’s an easy hike, as it’s all the way downhill. Just keep in mind that you are walking on ancient Inca paths with many boulders and stones. So you wanna put on good hiking shoes. Also, you will be hiking at an altitude of 3600 m above sea level, wich can be a bit challenging. Make sure you get used to the altitude in Sucre (2800 meters), before starting this adventure. Bring enough water and food and find a nice spot for a picnic along the trail. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and different layers of clothes, because it can be very cold in the morning and late afternoon, but sunny and hot during the day.
Finish your stay in Sucre, with a lovely dinner in La Taverne, near the plaza, a Bolivian restaurant, serving traditional dishes with French influences.
A Few more Pictures from Sucre
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Author: Deborah Durrfeld. Deborah is a reporter, producer, tour guide, host and content creator. As a TV reporter and producer, she has been travelling around the world for the last 15 years, looking for the most scenic places and stories that are worth sharing. Passport The World is the place where you can find her work. You can also find her on Instagram at @passporttheworld