24 hours in Lima, Peru

Crowded, grey and noisy, yet sophisticated, young and vibrant. This is Lima. One city,  two souls. A place where the elegant colonial architecture mixes with simple yet colorful houses on hills and where modern skyscrapers hide the sea of brick houses of working-class neighborhoods.

If you are in Lima and only have 24 hours, here are a few tourist attractions you cannot miss out on:

 

1. Downtown Lima

Lima’s historic center was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco and the main attractions are within walking distance from each other.

You can start from Plaza San Martin, a beautiful Neocolonial public square and one of Lima’s most iconic sites. From there you can walk along Jirón de la Union, a commercial pedestrian street that still bears the signs of its aristocratic past. This street will lead you to Plaza de Armas, Lima’s colorful central square, home of the Cathedral and the Government Palace, among other prominent institutions.

Also, three blocks away from the main plaza, there is the Government and Inquisition Museum, where you can delight your eyes with skulls, human bones and replicas of torture devices.

Don’t miss Alameda Chabuca Granda, a small park along the Rimac river, that offers a panoramic view of part of the city and of Cerro San Cristobal.

plaza de armas
Plaza de Armas
san martin
Plaza San Martin

 

2. Park Kennedy and Costa Verde

If you love cats, you have to visit Park Kennedy, a beautiful small green area in the modern neighborhood of Miraflores, where countless cats tag along locals and visitors.

Go seven blocks East and you will get to Costa Verde (Green Coast). Enjoy the ocean breeze, go for a stroll around Parque del Amor (Park of Love) and have an ice-cream at Larcomar, Lima’s fanciest mall.

costa verde
Costa Verde

 

3. Barranco

This is Lima’s bohemian neighborhood, located on Costa Verde, just South of Miraflores. Barranco features elegant casonas (Colonial and Republican-style houses), a wide variety of bars and restaurants and many street artists ready to entertain you.

barranco
Barranco

 

24 hours in La Paz, Bolivia

La Paz is breathtaking! Literally.

The city is located at almost 4.000m (13.000 feet) above sea level and it’s all ups and downs, so if you fly in from sea level expect to feel dizzy, tired and out of breath, at least for the first day.  Also, your face might swell, so you will probably get rid of a few wrinkles (at least temporarily).

There are a few ways you can cope with high altitude sickness:

  • drink a lot of water
  • drink coca leaves tea (mate de coca)*
  • chew coca leaves*
  • take Sorochipil (pills you can buy at any pharmacy)

*though coca leaves are not drugs and you won’t get high, consuming them might result in a positive drug test for cocaine for at least 24h.

 

Paceño Landmarks

 

If your time in La Paz is limited, here are a few things you must see:

  1. Plaza Murillo

Located in the old town, the plaza features some of the most prominent buildings in Bolivia: the Presidential Palace, National Congress and the Cathedral. Also, just behind the Presidential Palace you will see the People’s House, a modern skyscraper that sticks out like a sore thumb, and which you won’t be able to ignore as much as you try.

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Plaza Murillo

2. Calle Jaen

A colorful and picturesque street just a few blocks uphill from the plaza, Calle Jaen is home to numerous museums and souvenir shops. For only 20 Bs (~$3) you can get a ticket for four museums: Museo Costumbrista, Museo del Litoral, Museo de los Metales Preciosos and Casa Murillo. Though they are very interesting, there is only a limited number of explanation cards in English, so if you don’t speak Spanish you will miss out.

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Calle Jaen

3. San Francisco church and the Witch Market

Located at a walking distance downhill from Plaza Murillo, San Francisco church is probably the most iconic building in La Paz. Close to it, on Melchor Jimenez street, there is the Witch Market, where you can buy natural herbs and remedies. Llama foetuses are also sold here for ceremonial purposes.

 

4. Sopocachi

This is La Paz’s bohemian neighborhood. Enjoy a coffee in one of the many cafés you will find here and go for a walk amongst the modern skyscrapers and old buildings typical of this part of the city. Also, don’t miss El Monticulo de Sopocachi – the city’s love park – where you can get a charge out of an amazing panoramic view over La Paz.

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View from El Montículo de Sopocachi

 

5. Telefericos (Cable cars)

Though they have only been around for just a few years, the cable cars are now a common sight in La Paz and a symbol of the city. They are also a great way to explore the city from above and rides only cost 3Bs (~ $0.5). Teleferico

Santa Cruz: from the airport to the city center

Here is how you can get to downtown Santa Cruz from Viru Viru Int’l Airport, without spending too much money:

Viru-Viru-International-Airport-Santa-Cruz-Bolivia-02

 Take a trufi

There is a trufi (public bus) running between Viru Viru Int’l Airport and downtown Santa Ctuz (Ex-terminal – 1st ring, close to La Ramada market).

Hours: 5 am to 9 pm
Where you can take it: as you exit the airport,  going to the right
Cost: 6 Bs by day, 10 Bs by night
Duration: 30-45 min, depending on the traffic

You can ask the driver to drop you off anywhere on the way.

micro

 

 Taxi / Uber

You can also take the blue&white taxis from the airport to the city. At the exit door you will find a map that includes the price for the ride, depending on the area where you go. Expect to pay somewhere between 40 Bs (for the North of Santa Cruz) to 100 Bs (for the extreme South).

There is not much difference between taxis and Uber – and taxis might even be a cheaper option.

taxi

 

24 hours in Santa Cruz, Bolivia

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.

plaza-24-de-septiembre-_ogd-santa-cruz_0.jpg_1775534641

 

2. Zoo

Enjoy a variety of mostly Amazonian animals for only 10 Bs.
A visit to the zoo will take you about 1.5 hours.

zoo

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.

botanical

 

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.

ventura

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.

artecampo
artecampo.org