Sucre is the original capital of Bolivia. Whilst La Paz is home to the administrative branch of the government, Sucre manages judicial matters, and it is here that you’ll find the Supreme Court. Sucre is a city treasured by Bolivia: in 1991, it was declared a UNESCO world heritage site. You can see beautifully preserved buildings in the city centre which date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Thanks to the colonial architecture and whitewashed buildings, Bolivia's most picturesque city is a convenient and attractive stop gap between the Salar de Uyuni and La Paz. It is also an ideal place to acclimatize to the altitude, as it’s at lower elevation than many other popular destinations in Bolivia. It sits at 2,810 metres altitude – the difference can be felt in the thinner air.
Sucre is a very peaceful city, and one of the cheapest and safest places to visit in Bolivia. Scattered with historic buildings and indigenous culture, it’s hard to beat the chilled-out atmosphere that Sucre offers. Famous for its chocolates and tapestries, minimal hustle and bustle, and little traffic congestion, it is a very different Bolivian city that feels more like a town. Attracting young and older travelers, exploring the nearby sights, and learning Spanish, most people spend longer here than anticipated. Below is our Sucre travel guide with information on all the best things to do, places to go and what not to miss.
LEARN SPANISH – This is one of the cheapest places in South America to take classes and learn some of the local lingo. For just $5 an hour you can join a Spanish school and have one-on-one lessons. Not only do they teach the language, they teach about the local culture too. Any level is accommodated.
GO ROCK CLIMBING – On the edge of the city you can do a half or full day of challenging rock climbing, with routes available for all levels of climbers. This is one of the most adventurous and exciting things to do in Sucre, and you get great views of the city!
HIKE TO THE SEVEN WATERFALLS – Take a bus from the center of Sucre for 8km to Alegria, and from here you can start the easy walk to Las Siete Cascadas. A pleasant way to spend an afternoon is by taking a dip in some of the natural pools along the series of small waterfalls. Some have easier access than others, and can involve climbing up and over some rocks to get to the next one, with the last three being the most difficult. Take a picnic, your camera and sunscreen.
TREK TO THE MARAGUA CRATER AND SEE DINOSAUR FOOTPRINTS – Take part in a 2-day hike from Sucre to the nearby Maragua Crater. The crater is not volcanic, it was formed by erosion and you can stay the night in the village inside.
VISIT CASA DE LA LIBERTAD – The top choice for Museums in Sucre is where the Bolivian Independence declaration was signed in 1825. The Casa de la Libertad is now a national memorial.
WATCH THE SUNRISE FROM LA RECOLETA – Head uphill from the main square and you will reach the Plaza de Anzurez. With children playing here after school and panoramic viewpoints of the city, you can spend a few hours watching the sunset in a relaxing and pleasant atmosphere. This is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable things to do in Sucre.
*** WHAT NOT TO MISS ***
Grab a bargain in Tarabuco Market on a Sunday, as the souvenirs and fabrics are found here at cheap prices. It’s 2 hours by bus from Sucre.
Learn Spanish at one of the many Spanish schools.
Spend the night in the Maragua Crater.
Bolivian food is cheap and tasty. There are a few popular café bars that offer great value daily 3 course menus including a drink. If you are used to eating the local and street food, you can eat even cheaper on the second floor of the Mercado Central (Ravelo street,). Traditional cuisine is served by the local Bolivianos, and downstairs you can grab a fresh fruit juice for just a dollar from one of the Jugo ladies.
For vegetarian food, go to Condor Café (Calle Calvo 102) – here you can find something other than the typical meat-heavy dishes. Choose from delicious and filling salads, soups, or falafel, amongst other options. For more of a mixed menu, try Abis Café (Plaza 25 de Mayo 32), where international cuisine is available, and you’ll see a mix of locals and tourists enjoying the food. Save room for dessert!
There are many cool hostels, bars and nightclubs to enjoy in Sucre. Due to the big student population, there’s a great atmosphere. You can also watch the sunset from a rooftop bar or chill out at a shisha bar. Mix with the locals at Mitos nightclub (Francisco Cerro 60) and dance the night away to a mix of American and Latin music.
For a few pints, head to Goblin Cerveza Artesanal (Street Grau 246) – spend some time sampling the craft beers, each one as exceptional and enjoyable as the next. The atmosphere is really nice, and they play decent music. Note that it’s open Thursday through to Saturday, 8pm ‘til 2am.
A typical backpacker hangout is Kultur Café (Avaroa 334) – here you can grab a few drinks and relax in the courtyard. Get here for happy hour (9.30pm), and be sure to check out the different theme nights for promotions which vary depending on the day.
Most of the year tends to be dry and sunny - despite the official dry season being from May to September - with temperatures from 10 to 20 degrees Celsius. Nights can get very chilly, the coldest being in June and July.
There are flights in and out of Sucre from La Paz, but they are cancelled regularly last minute due to the foggy weather conditions.
From Uyuni, it takes 10 hours by bus. Be careful to check if the bus goes direct, and avoid overnight buses if you can as it’s more dangerous - changing buses in the middle of the night in Potosi is not the safest way to travel. You can also fly but you would have to change planes in La Paz.
From Potosi, it takes 6 hours by bus, and from La Paz, it takes 1 hour by plane and 12 hours by bus.
There are some really great, cheap hostels set in spacious colonial buildings. Try and stay somewhere within the safest area, close to Plaza 25 de Mayo. You can also find some options for a homestay if you want a true Bolivian experience.
For a memorable stay with never a dull moment, go to Kultur Berlin Hostal (Avaroa 334). There is a sociable, party atmosphere, and a downstairs club which packs out on Saturday nights. Breakfast is included and is very good, however there isn’t a kitchen, so you won’t be able to prepare your own meals.
If you fancy staying somewhere charming, try La Dolce Vita (Calle Urcullo, 342), a sweet hostel run by a Swiss/French couple. The rooms are very spacious, there’s a communal kitchen, and it’s just a 5-minute walk to the city centre. This place is ideal for couples or those looking for a relaxing, tranquil stay. There’s even a lovely terrace to sit out on.
Book a safe daytime bus to get to Sucre if coming from Uyuni or Potosi.