Bolivia: The Perfect 10-Day Itinerary
Are you planning on visiting the often overlooked South American country, Bolivia? We've created this perfect 10-day travel itinerary which should give you an idea of what to see and do in this beautiful country. This ten days itinerary includes the sacred Lake Titicaca, La Paz, capital city Sucre, Tupiza and the ultimate jeep adventure in Salar de Uyuni. Get inspired.
Bolivia is a captivating country full of contrasts. It was the fourth country we visited in South America, and although we thought there is nothing that can take us by surprise in Bolivia, the opposite was true.
Jungles, bustling cities, indigenous communities, volcanoes, lakes, flamingos, snow-capped mountains, rushing rivers, salt flats, colonial architecture, rural villages, that and more you can see in Bolivia in a span of a couple of weeks. To understand the ethnically-diverse culture, you would have needed months or years though.
Bolivia is a perfect destination for holiday-makers, long-term travelers, adventure seekers or history and culture lovers.
It is also one of the poorest countries we've ever visited, so we think there is nothing better than to travel in Bolivia - it is enriching for your mind and body, and you will help the local economy as well.
A win-win situation.
We've created this itinerary to help you out with the planning of your Bolivia adventure.
You can follow it step by step (we actually traveled exactly the same route), or use it as an inspiration and a base for your own, shorter or longer, perfect itinerary.
We crossed borders to Bolivia from Peru and then traveled onwards to Chile across Salar de Uyuni, but you can use this itinerary even when your first destination will be La Paz. La Paz is the transportation hub of Bolivia, and it is easy to get from here to Lake Titicaca, spend here a couple of days and then travel via La Paz to Sucre.
DAY 1 - 2 LAKE TITICACA
Lake Titicaca is the mysterious lake located on the borders between Peru and Bolivia high on the South American Altiplano.
If you are traveling to Bolivia from Peru, either from Arequipa or Cusco, or you already spent a couple of days in La Paz, you should be well-acclimatized, but if Copacabana (the base for visiting Lake Titicaca) is your first destination, you should take it slowly, because the lake lies 3841 meters above sea level!
Lake Titicaca is an important water source for Bolivia as it is South America's largest lake and also the world's highest navigable lake. From the 19th century, Lake Titicaca substitutes sea which Bolivia lost in the war with Peru, and since then it is one of two unlucky countries on the continent without sea access.
In the whole Bolivia, you probably won't find a more important natural site than Lake Titicaca. In Andean belief, Lake Titicaca is the birthplace of the Sun and one of many theories about the famous Inca Empire says, that Inca's came from Bolivia and Lake Titicaca to be precise.
When staying in Copacabana, a town on Lake Titicaca's shore, you have several options on how to spend two days here.
The first day we arrived in Copacabana we hiked from the village to Yampupata - it was a picturesque trail with splendid views of the lake, and later in the afternoon, we climbed to Cerro Calvario for one of the best sunsets we'd seen in South America. The second day we took a boat to Isla del Sol alias Island of the Sun where we found several hiking trails leading to splendid viewpoints, Inca ruins, and local communities.
It is also possible to stay overnight right on the Isla del Sol, where you can find several guesthouses.
DAY 3 - 4 LA PAZ
La Paz is often considered the world's highest capital, but the right term for perfectionists would probably be the world's highest government seat. Either way, La Paz is another must-visit stop on your itinerary.
Travelers often say that La Paz is that kind of city you can either love or hate, but honestly, we did not develop any overly hearty relationship with La Paz, on the other hand, we for sure did not hate it. La Paz is an intense city, to say the least, and the atmosphere, traffic, and smells altogether with the altitude will attack all your senses, but you will get used to it after some time, and we believe you will start enjoying the chaos.
Although La Paz lacks the must-see attractions, there are still many places you can discover during one day in the city - ride the cable car to get bird's eye views over the city, visit famous Cholita wrestling show, go to the cemetery and wander around the city and its markets.
On the second day, you can either continue to explore less known parts of La Paz, or you can take a one day trip to either Tiwanaku Ruins, Valle de la Luna, or you can bike down the world's most dangerous road alias Death Road.
DAY 5 - 6 SUCRE
Sucre is the capital of Bolivia and thanks to whitewashed colonial buildings is nicknamed the White City.
Traveling in Bolivia can be quite challenging because of the altitude and long overnight buses, so you can take the first day in Sucre slowly, and simply enjoy the UNESCO-listed city's peaceful atmosphere where it is so easy to lose track of time.
Despite the fact, Sucre is one of Bolivia's largest cities the historic city center has a small town’s vibe, so it is a perfect place, to take a break. The main reason why to travel to Sucre is to admire white colonial buildings, white churches, high bell towers, romantic courtyards inviting to relax, red-tiled rooftop terraces, and picturesque hills surrounding the city.
If you feel more adventurous, you can hire a local guide who can take you outside the city to show you the countryside and hills surrounding Sucre, or you can take a short trip out of the city to visit Cal Orcko Parque Cretacico where it is possible to spot hundreds of dinosaur footprints.
DAY 7 - TUPIZA
Tupiza is a small quiet town in the south of Bolivia, but in the past few years, it's been slowly gaining traveler's attention.
The scenery around Tupiza is incredible, and we had all the time feeling we were not in Bolivia but in a western movie.
The main reason we wanted to visit Tupiza was to hike among the unique red rock formations and cactus plants. The town is 3000 meters above sea level, so you won't have a chance to take a break from suffocating hights and heat.
You can either do a self-guided hike as we did from Tupiza via Canon del Duende, Valle de Los Machos, Puerta del Diablo and Canon del Inca - it is a loop which will take you several hours, and in the evening you can climb a small hill above the town to watch the sunset, or you can try another popular activity, horseback riding tour instead.
Tupiza is also a place from where you can visit Salar de Uyuni, but the classic tour is one day longer, and cost a bit more, so we decided to take the tour from Uyuni.
DAY 8 - 10 SALAR DE UYUNI
The insurmountable highlight of our time spent in Bolivia was unquestionably the three days jeep tour across the world's largest salt plain, around high volcanoes and colorful lakes with thousands of flamingos.
No matter for how long are you traveling to Bolivia, Salar de Uyuni must be on your travel itinerary, end of story.
The most popular three days tour will take you through one of the most unique landscapes we've ever seen, but if you cannot spend that much time here, there is also one-day or two-day option, or even sunset and sunrise tour.
Except for large Salt Flats where you can take those funny photos when playing with the perspective, you will during the next three days see Train Cemetery, salt harvesting village, Dakar Monument, Incahuasi Island, many photogenic lagoons and volcanoes or Geyser Sol de Manana.
We stayed the first night in a hotel made of salt, which was also an exceptional experience.
There is a large number of travel agencies in Uyuni town, so you can shop around and choose the one you like the best.
It is possible the last day of the tour return to Uyuni and from here travel overnight to La Paz, or the agency can arrange your transport to San Pedro de Atacama, in case you want to cross borders to Chile.
WHAT WE SKIPPED
Bolivia is a vast country, and it is impossible to see it all during one visit, we would have needed months in order to do so.
If you have more time than we did, you can try to fit the following places on your ultimate itinerary.
We were traveling long-term in South America, so that's why we did not go to Bolivia's part of Amazon because we already visited for a week Pacaya Samiria in Peru, but it is for sure an experience you should consider.
When looking for off the beaten path, try to explore Jesuit Mission Circuit - for a day we followed Jesuit Mission steps in Paraguay, so can say it is an interesting thing to do.
Among other places you can visit in Bolivia is the mining city of Potosi, you can climb more than 6 000 meters high Huayna Potosi, travel to Santa Cruz or Torotoro National Park.
As you can see, there are many destinations you can consider for your perfect Bolivia itinerary.
HOW TO GET AROUND BOLIVIA
The travel itinerary we outlined above is perfectly doable by public transport.
Buses in Bolivia were considerably worse than in other South American countries, but we never had a problem to get from one place to another.
We recommend you every time to buy a bus ticket at least one day in advance, and for the safety reasons choose the lower floor when traveling with double-decker.
When following this itinerary, you can take a day bus from Copacabana to La Paz, then overnight buses on route La Paz - Sucre - Tupiza, then a day bus from Tupiza to Uyuni, and again an overnight bus from Uyuni to La Paz, in case you have a flight from here.
HOW TO GET TO BOLIVIA
As we mentioned before, we traveled via land in Bolivia as we crossed borders first from Peru to Bolivia, and then we carried on to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, but you can also get to Bolivia by bus from Argentina.
When traveling by plane, chances are you will land at La Paz's international airport.
When looking for flight tickets you can search Skyscanner to find the best price.
ALTITUDE IN BOLIVIA
Altitude sickness is a real thing here in Bolivia as most of the places you will visit lie above 3 000 meters above sea level, so acclimatization is a necessary step in order to enjoy your vacation.
After your arrival, take exploration of the first destination slowly, drink a lot of water or coca tea, do not eat heavy meals, try to do some light physical activity, and avoid alcohol.
It is possible you will feel a bit dizzy and it will be harder to catch your breath, but these symptoms should hopefully subside soon.
WHAT TO PACK FOR BOLIVIA
Here are 5 essential things to pack for Bolivia.
Mummy Liner | Most of the time, the room were surprisingly clean and relatively warm, but we brought cocoons anyway.
Sunscreen | Use strong sunscreen, SPF 50+ is a must.
Camera | The landscape, nature, cities and the culture is amazing, and you will take a lot of pictures.
We've also written an in-depth South America packing list where you will find more useful tips and advice on what to pack.
TRAVEL INSURANCE - SIMPLE & FLEXIBLE
We never leave our home without travel insurance which is designed to help cover your expenses if something goes wrong on your trip. World Nomads Travel Insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers, to cover your trip essentials.
Travel smarter and safer!