Central Bolivia

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Central Bolivia - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    In the 17th century, Jesuit priests settled in the Chiquitania region of Santa Cruz and constructed remarkable missionary villages based on...

    In the 17th century, Jesuit priests settled in the Chiquitania region of Santa Cruz and constructed remarkable missionary villages based on the utopian ideals that were popular at the time in Europe. They attracted and converted a large local following, and the constructions, particularly the churches, took on a unique mestizo architectural style. After the Spanish expelled the Jesuits from their colonies, their sites all over the continent fell into ruin, but here, six survived and have been restored and nominated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They are also the venue of an international festival of Baroque and Renaissance music. Ask about tours to the area in agencies in the city.

    Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
  • 2. Torotoro National Park

    Canyon

    This geological masterpiece is the highlight of any visit to Cochabamba but somehow is missed by many visitors to Bolivia. A high-altitude valley...

    This geological masterpiece is the highlight of any visit to Cochabamba but somehow is missed by many visitors to Bolivia. A high-altitude valley, it is filled with plunging canyon walls, caves and caverns shaped and eroded by rivers and winds, footprints embedded in the rock from some of the biggest dinosaurs ever to walk the earth, and an underground pool filled with blind silvery fish. The most-visited sights are the Umajalanta cave, Bolivia´s largest; the arched caverns of Ciudad Itas, sculpted over millennia by water erosion; and the El Vergel falls, which pour out of the rock and create a lush green oasis where you can refresh yourself. For the bird-inclined, a little persistence might reward you with sightings of condors and the endangered red-fronted macaw. The visit is best done in two or three days with a tour agency leaving from Cochabamba. Accommodation in the town of Torotoro is basic, but it's worth roughing it to spend the extra time in the area.

    Torotoro, Cochabamba, Cochabamba, Bolivia
  • 3. Amboro National Park

    Park (National/State/Provincial)

    An underrated treasure, easily accessible from both Santa Cruz and Samaipata, Amboro is filled with hikes through landscapes that range from...

    An underrated treasure, easily accessible from both Santa Cruz and Samaipata, Amboro is filled with hikes through landscapes that range from high cloud forest to lush subtropical lowlands. It is a particular treat for birders and orchid lovers. A great option for the more adventurous is to stay in the park at the Mataracu Tent Camp, on the northern side of the park near Buena Vista, or in cabins in the stunning El Refugio de los Volcanes. The tour operator, Ruta Verde (www.rutaverdebolivia.com), offers trips to both of these sites.

    Samaipata, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
  • 4. Basílica Menor de San Lorenzo

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Built between 1845 and 1915 on the ruins of a 17th-century cathedral, this imposing church holds a small museum displaying colonial-era religious...

    Built between 1845 and 1915 on the ruins of a 17th-century cathedral, this imposing church holds a small museum displaying colonial-era religious icons, paintings, and sculptures. Although the museum only opens on certain days, you can climb up to the mirador (tower) any weekday for (Bs)3.

    Plaza 24 de Septiembre, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
    03-332–7381

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: (Bs)10
  • 5. Casa de la Cultura

    Arts/Performance Venue

    Cultural exhibits, recitals, and concerts, in addition to a permanent exhibit of crafts made by indigenous people are all housed here. ...

    Cultural exhibits, recitals, and concerts, in addition to a permanent exhibit of crafts made by indigenous people are all housed here.

    Plaza 24 de Septiembre, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
    03-345–5000

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 6. El Cristo de la Concordia

    Public Art

    In Cochabamba, size matters, particularly when it comes to the gleaming white statue of Christ with open arms that stands watch on a hilltop...

    In Cochabamba, size matters, particularly when it comes to the gleaming white statue of Christ with open arms that stands watch on a hilltop overlooking the city. It is, you'll surely be reminded, currently the world's largest, and although this is debated elsewhere, it is definitely larger than The Statue of Christ in Rio de Janeiro. Comparisons aside, it does make for a great spot to get a perspective on the city, which has a population of more than half a million.

    Cochabamba, Cochabamba, Bolivia
  • 7. El Fuerte

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Lurking in the valleys 200 km (124 miles) from the city of Santa Cruz, El Fuerte (the fort) of Samaipata was once the center of a huge pre...

    Lurking in the valleys 200 km (124 miles) from the city of Santa Cruz, El Fuerte (the fort) of Samaipata was once the center of a huge pre-Columbian civilization and is estimated to have been started around 300 AD. There is now some doubt that it had any military purpose, but it still impresses. The massive sculptured rock at the heart of the site, best seen from a distance, is a unique monument to Andean culture and development, and one of the largest carved stones in the world. The best way to get to the site is by road from Santa Cruz to the town of Samaipata (about two hours), then hire a taxi to the fort itself, which is 9 km (5.5 miles) away. It is a worthwhile half-day trip if you are in Samaipata, or if you have more time, it makes for a pleasant walk in good weather. A bilingual guide at the site is worth it, and will cost around (Bs)75 for a group of 6 people.

    Samaipata, Santa Cruz, Bolivia

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: (Bs)50
  • 8. La Heroínas de la Coronilla

    Memorial/Monument/Tomb

    This monument honors women who died during Bolivia's protracted War of Independence. There are outstanding views of Cochabamba from La Coronilla...

    This monument honors women who died during Bolivia's protracted War of Independence. There are outstanding views of Cochabamba from La Coronilla, a hill on the outskirts of the city where the monument is located.

    Cochabamba, Cochabamba, Bolivia
  • 9. Museo Arqueológico

    Museum/Gallery

    This museum is one of the more comprehensive collections of artifacts—some 40,000 in all—outside of La Paz, offering a detailed look at pre...

    This museum is one of the more comprehensive collections of artifacts—some 40,000 in all—outside of La Paz, offering a detailed look at pre-Columbian cultures from the region and around Bolivia. There's also a section that narrates the fossil chronology of Bolivia, which provides some good background information if you plan to visit any of the dinosaur footprints scattered around Cochabamba and Sucre. The information is mostly in Spanish, but some English guides are available. Phone ahead to check.

    Jordán E 199, Cochabamba, Cochabamba, Bolivia
    04-425–0010

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: (Bs)25
  • 10. Palacio Portales

    Castle/Palace

    Across the Río Rocha, this palace was built but never occupied by Simón Patiño, a local tin baron who amassed one of the world's largest tin...

    Across the Río Rocha, this palace was built but never occupied by Simón Patiño, a local tin baron who amassed one of the world's largest tin fortunes. The mansion and 10-acre gardens reflect his predilection for French Renaissance style. One of the chambers on the upper floor mimics Italy's Sistine Chapel. The mansion, a five-minute taxi ride from the center of town, is now a cultural and educational center and is the most interesting place to visit in the city. The palace provides a glimpse into the Cochabamba of old, when the wealth of Potosí was flowing freely.

    Av. Potosí 1450, Cochabamba, Cochabamba, Bolivia
    04-448–9666

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: (Bs)15

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