Located in the south of Bolivia, Tarija is the capital city of the Tarija department, and the largest city there. The city was founded by the Spanish in 1574, but prior to this the valley of Tarija was home to many local tribes. Tarija is very much a localized city inside the Valley of Tarija, with about 234,442 people.
With a mild climate and a beautiful city plaza, this city makes for a relaxing trip. The main attractions here are within walking distance, but if you want to venture further afield, you can easily travel to the nearby vineyards. The conditions here are ideal for wine-production, and in fact there is an annual wine festival held in Tarija in March. There are many great and interesting things to do in Tarija, including visiting the Casa Dorada Tarija or the Mirador Loma de San Juan. Below is our Tarija travel guide with information on all the best things to do, places to go and what not to miss.
MUSEO DE ARQUEOLOGICA Y PALEONTOLOGIA - This museum provides information and examples of some of the prehistoric life that was once living in the Tarija Valley. The downstairs contains fossils of prehistoric animals such as a sloth, a giant armadillo and a fossil of an aardvark. Upstairs you can see the mummified remains of a man from the Pampagrande area, which has shrunk over time to just 35cm.
CASA DORADA TARIJA – Originally built in 1930, and one of the many properties owned by Moises Navajas and his wife, this house now belongs to the university and contains a museum. From a distance, the house is beautiful-looking, with a coat of silver and gold paint. Entry is only by guided tours, which leave on the hour. The museum upstairs contains family furniture - as well as other items - that were brought over from Europe, the most fascinating being a type of piano that is called a Funola.
BASILICA DE SAN FRANCISCO – The 16th century library and archives can only be used by researchers who have been granted permission. The museum inside the Basilica has paintings, sculptures and artifacts on display.
*** WHAT NOT TO MISS ***
Tarija has wine tours offered daily that take you to the beautiful vineyards in the area.
There is also a sightseeing tour available that gives you a great chance to see the condor.
Right within a few blocks of the central plaza of the town you can find plenty of restaurants. El Fogon de Gringo (La Madrid 1051) is a popular steakhouse, and the food is so delicious, it’s worth every boliviano. With very friendly staff and a great atmosphere, what’s not to love? Aside from the meat dishes, the salads are also very good.
Another option, located further down the same street and in the main square is Taverna Gattopardo (La Madrid), which has an international menu, and is in the very heart of Tarija.
Located at the central plaza of the city is one of the more attractive places, Xoxo (15 de Abril 357), which offers outside seating and serves drinks from around the world. This place usually attracts younger crowds, has a cool décor, and is a good place to go for an enjoyable time. If you want to dance, go to Disco Perros y Gatos (Av. Jaime Paz), for great music and a party atmosphere.
The temperature year-round is fairly consistent, with highs averaging 27 degrees Celsius and lows at about 14 degrees Celsius. The rainy season runs from November to March and the dry season from April to October.
Tarija has an airport that operates daily flights to and from Santa Cruz de la Sierra, taking 50 minutes. It’s just a 7-minute drive from the airport to the city centre.
By bus from La Paz it takes 18 hours (B$100), from Sucre it takes 10 hours (B$140), and from Santa Cruz it takes 14 hours (B$90). There is also the possibility to take a bus from Argentina.
Tarija has everything, ranging from low price hostels to nicer hotels that offer private rooms with T.V and internet. Many places can be found around the central plaza of the city. One option is Hostal Carmen (Ingavi 784), which is centrally located, comfy, and clean. The staff are very attentive, and breakfast is included. Another good choice is Hostel Casa Blanca (Ingavi 645), just three blocks from the main square.
Make sure when taking tours outside the of city that the operators are safe and well known.
Always be careful when walking around after dark.