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Beauty, beauty everywhere! Sucre is the administrative capital city of Bolivia, though confusingly La Paz is also the capital city in terms of being the seat of government. Kinda odd. Sucre’s colonial grandeur of yesteryear still stands proud, making it the perfect place for a stroll with a homemade ice cream before heading to a park to relax near a fountain. We spent almost a week in Sucre, just relaxing, learning about the history and chatting to our homestay family (ok, mainly chatting to their 5-week-old pupper, Bobby). Although there are lots of things to do in Sucre, it’s testament to how relaxed we were that we have hardly any photos of Sucre; what you see in this post is pretty much all we took!
How to pronounce Sucre: SUE-cray
This guide will tell you have to get to Bolivia’s White City, where to eat and stay, and all the best things to do in Sucre. Let us know in the comments if there’s anything we’ve missed!
After this guide to the things to do in Sucre, Bolivia, you may also want to have a read of:
Sucre is a key stop on the tourism trail, and has good bus links to Potosí, La Paz and Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Direct bus routes to Uyuni for a Salt Flats tour are less regular, and we ended up having a layover evening in Potosí to be able to make the journey on our given day. We’re happy to report that you can now get a night bus from Uyuni directly to Sucre with the bus company Trans 6 de Octubre, which leaves at 10pm every evening and arrives at 5am.
Alternatively, Sucre does have an airport, and we always say that if you can afford to fly around Bolivia, you definitely should. While we’ve become pros at staying safe and comfortable on night buses in South America, Bolivia just takes the biscuit with old, rickety buses, dangerous half-built roads, reports of drunken drivers and missed stops (yes, that’s a sello-taped coffin being loaded into the bottom of a night bus at Sucre bus terminal down there). Flights are available to Sucre from La Paz, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Cochabamba and more, starting at around $45 USD. Highly recommend.
To get to Samaipata from Sucre, you’ll need to get the bus to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, then tell the driver to stop at Samaipata. No, really, you need to TELL THE DRIVER TO STOP. It’s the only stop on the route between the two cities, and apparently having a ticket to Samaipata and telling the driver’s assistant that you’re going to Samaipata is not enough. Our driver did not stop, and we woke up in Santa Cruz. Funsies.
8 things to do in Sucre
1. Study up on Sucre’s history
For those that love history and architecture, Sucre is gonna be greeeeat. Casa de la Libertad ‘Freedom House’ is a good first stop as the guided tour gives you a run-down of the history of Bolivia’s independence for 15Bs (you may have to wait a little longer for the English tour). It’s the very place where the Declaration of Bolivian Independence was signed in 1825.
You can also pick up a Sucre walking tour that will tell you more about the city’s history and present day society, and is often cited as one of the best things to do in Sucre. Condor Trekkers offer this 3-hour tips-based tour at 10am and 3pm every day, from their office at 102 Calle Calvo with Bolivar.
2. Drool over the architecture
Sucre isn’t a UNESCO world heritage site for nothing. There are heaps of churches, cathedrals and monasteries to wander around and explore within Sucre city centre, such as the Santa Clara Convent (15Bs entry), Convent of San Felipe Neri (climb the belltower for 10Bs), Iglesia La Merced (climb the domed roof for 10Bs!). Plus, being the constitutional capital, Sucre boasts some pretty insane government buildings, such as the Gobierno Autónomo Departamental de Chuquisaca below.
Just outside the city is the Castillo de la Glorieta of Bolivia’s only ever Prince & Princess (declared so by the Pope after he heard of their philanthropy). This pink castle is 5km out of the centre, about 15-18Bs in a taxi, and costs 20Bs to have a gander inside the architectural masterpiece.
3. Get lost in the markets
The Central Market in Sucre is an utter maze, and at times you feel like things are so piled up onto stalls that they’ll all come tumbling down with the breeze of you walking past. The best thing, hands down, about this market is the juice area. Pick a happy looking lady and ask for practically any combination of fruit in your juice. She will ask you ‘con agua o leche’ (with water or milk?) and then ‘azúcar?’ (added sugar?). Once blended up, she’ll give it to you in a smoothie glass with a straw for you to drink on her benches. And don’t forget to ask for your yapa!
If you’re not quite done with markets after Sucre Mercado Central, check out Mercado Negro for clothes and Mercado Campesino, a particularly overwhelming farmers’ market. A little further out but still walkable from Sucre’s centre!
4. Look out over the whole city
If it’s panoramic views you’re after, Plaza de Anzurez provides beautiful cloistered viewpoints, up next to La Recoleta Monastery. It takes a steep 8-block walk to get up to La Recoleta from the city centre of Plaza 25 de Mayo, but you’ll be happy to know that there are a number of cafés at the top in which to relax and recover.
There are few more peaceful things to do in Sucre than to visit the Cementerio General. Bolivians prefer tombs to burials, so you can walk along rows and rows of stacked crypts, tombs and shrines in the cemetery, each with their own story. Entry to the cemetery is free, and is on the edge of the city, just a 20 minute walk from the centre.
6. Go dinosaur hunting!
One of the main attractions around Sucre is the Dinosaur Park, or Parque Cretácico. Buses leave from the top of Parque Simon Bolivar, or you can get a dino-bus that heads out at 9:30, 11:00, 12:00, 14:00 and 15:00 Tuesday-Sunday from Plaza 25 de Mayo. If you want to take the footprints tour (which you need involves some walking), you need to get to the park for the start of the tours at 12pm or 1pm. The main draw of this park is its dinosaur footprints and life-size models. Entry costs 30Bs. Although some people had a great time here, reviews of this place were fairly mixed, and in the end didn’t go because we were told that the dinosaur footprints in Torotoro are better, which we planned to go to in a few weeks’ time.
7. Trek into the countryside
Once you’ve ticked off all the things to do in Sucre city, you may want to consider some of the many things to do in Sucre’s surrounding countryside. Condor Trekking, the same company that offers the Sucre free walking tour (we promise this isn’t an ad!!), is a non-profit and does a lot of work in the indigenous communities surrounding Sucre. They take hikers on multi-day treks to see the epic landscapes, walk round the Maragua crater and spend time in some of the indigenous villages (such as Jatun Yampara to learn about traditional local life. On those tours, you can watch demonstrations by locals on things such as hand-weaving, animal rearing and food preparation. Although they say they offer some of the treks in English, some reviews have claimed that only Spanish was available for their particular tour.
8. Improve your Spanish
Sucre is known as one of the cheapest places in which to learn Spanish in South America. Where we were staying, at Bertha’s Homestay, there is a Spanish school in the same courtyard. While we were there one night, drinking wine with a French Canadian, Lozzy was convinced to do a couple of hours of private Spanish tutoring, just to get her confidence back up. Bertha was able to arrange a private tutor to come and meet her the next morning at only $5 per hour. Compared to $40+ for an hour in Madrid or the UK, let us tell you that this is truly a bargain! Bolivia is an especially great place to learn/improve your Spanish as they speak very slowly and clearly (in the major cities, at least). For lack of photos of this, here’s a completely unrelated picture of me near the main park, probably smiling about the great Spanish lesson I just had:
Where to eat and drink in Sucre, Bolivia
Sucre is home to a strangely large number of vegetarian restaurants, which is really quite unlike the rest of South America so far. Condor Café is one such restaurant, in the centre of the city. What we liked about this place is that it didn’t stray too far from typical Bolivian food, so we still got our soup + main with rice and a weird oat juice drink. We normally grimace at the thought of a whole meal without meat, but we were really impressed by this one; big thanks to our Lichtenstein-ien (?!) homestay-mate for dragging us out!
Make sure you sit in one of the central plazas long enough for a little ice cream cholita to sell you a homemade milk ice cream from a little cart. Delish!
Where to stay in Sucre, Bolivia
We stayed at a lovely little home called Bertha’s Homestay, home to Bertha, her husband, two young children, large dog Coco and THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PUPPY IN THE WORLD, Bobby. He’s probably not a pup by the time you’re reading this, but hey, enjoy what was:
It was a really great place to stay, with an authentic feel despite Bertha’s newly built, modern 3 storey Spanish school at the edge of the courtyard.
Our friends from the Uyuni Tour caught up with us in Sucre so we went to visit them in their hostel. They stayed at Villa Oropeza Guest House, and it really looked fantastic, with colonial style archways and a relaxed vibe in the gardens.
Recommended stay to enjoy the things to do in Sucre: 4 days
Now that you’ve reached the end of this guide to the things to do in Sucre, Bolivia, you may also want to have a read of: