Santa Cruz is Bolivia’s biggest city and the country’s economic hub. It is very different from the cities in the highlands and it might not offer as much, in terms of architecture, history and culture. However, because it is so unique and different from any other big city in Bolivia, it is definitely worth spending a couple of days here. This will give you a more profound feel of the country’s diversity and, as a matter of fact, if you visit Santa Cruz after visiting the highlands, you might feel like you are in a completely different country.
If you only have 24 hours, here are a few things you should not miss out on:
1. Plaza 24 de Septiembre and Manzana 0
Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of this tropical plaza, visit the cathedral and have a 5 Bs milk coffee from the street vendors you’ll see roaming the plaza. You will recognize them from their white jacket.
South of the plaza, going on the street that goes along the right side of the cathedral, you will find a smaller plaza called Manzana 0, where you can buy souvenirs.
Enjoy a variety of mostly Amazonian animals for only 10 Bs.
A visit to the zoo will take you about 1.5 hours.
3. Botanical Garden
The garden, which is actually more like a park, is a great place to relax and enjoy nature, away from the city’s craziness.
Though far off the city center, it is easily accessible by taking the busses that go to Cotoca, from Los Pozos market, within the first ring. A trip there won’t cost you more than 3 Bs and the entrance fee is only 10 Bs.
Visiting the Botanical garden will take you at least 1 hour.
4. Ventura Mall
If you are into shopping centers, you can visit Ventura Mall on the 4th ring North-West.
The mall offers a wide range of shops, a movie theatre and a relatively big food court with Western, Asian and Bolivian options.
5. Artecampo Museum
Located between the 3rd ring internal and 3rd ring external on Av. Roca y Coronado, the museum displays a variety of Guarani, Guarayo, Ayoreo and Chiquitano handicrafts.
It is definitely worth visiting if you want to learn more about the Bolivian lowland indigenous groups.
The entrance fee is only 3 Bs.