Bolivia is a country that I have always had mixed feelings about. One thing that I can say with absolute certainty about Bolivia is that there is no shortage of weird stuff. That makes for plenty of unique activities everywhere you go. From Cholitas wrestling in La Paz to the vast array of otherworldly scenery in Uyuni and the Altiplano, you will never get bored in Bolivia.
The same goes for Sucre, although admittedly to a lesser extent. Roaming through abandoned palaces, gaping at massive fossil walls, and taking a pleasant stroll through a cemetery are just some of the things Sucre has to offer. Sucre is a beautiful city, and by Bolivia’s standards, quite tranquil. There is a lot to do in this city of all-white, a city where I ended up extending my 2-night stay to a 2-week one, including a very memorable Christmas away from home.
La Recoleta Viewpoint
I visited La Recoleta several times during my stay in Sucre. Although there isn’t much to actually do to warrant my multiple visits, the vibe and the view at sunset is one of the best you can get. It is about a 15 to 20 minute walk from the center of Sucre and well-worth the short but exhausting hike up the cobbled paths.
Think it’s weird to hang out at a cemetery? Not in Sucre. The cemetery in Sucre is one of the nicest parts of the city. It feels more like a tranquil park than a cemetery, with lush greenery everywhere. If you haven’t seen a graveyard or cemetery like this before, then it can also be a cool way to experience a different cultural approach to burials.
Castillo de la Glorieta
The pink palace just outside of Sucre’s main city is one of the most beautiful buildings in the region. The palace has been long abandoned, so while it looks stunning on the outside, the inside is quite bare. It gives it a haunting atmosphere, with cracked mirrors and creaky steps everywhere. The Castillo de la Glorieta is good for a quick trip that you shouldn’t need more than two hours for. You can catch the local bus from Sucre to get to the castle for 2 Bolivianos.
Parque Cretacico and the Fossil Wall
One of the coolest things you can see in Sucre is the fossil wall just outside of town. It is covered with literally thousands of dinosaur footprints. In traditional Bolivian fashion, this incredible paleontological site is hardly preserved. People can literally go up and touch the footprints close to the bottom of the wall.
Parque Cretacico is definitely well worth the visit. You can take a bus for 1.5 BOB from the city all the way to Parque Cretacico. The entrance is 30 Bolivianos but it comes with a guided tour. While the rest of the park itself is quite tacky, the small museum and fossil wall are absolutely worth the entrance alone. I admittedly geeked out quite a bit while I was here, since I was a massive dinosaur nerd growing up.
Museum Hopping in Sucre
Sucre has no shortage of museums. Seriously, it feels there is a museum for anything and everything. You can dedicate an entire day or even two just to see all of the museums that Sucre has to offer. The many churches of Sucre and a few of the other historic buildings also allow you to walk through them, and most have their own little museums inside.
As far as South American mercado centrals go, the one in Sucre was one of my favorites. While most markets feel like pure chaos, Sucre’s at least felt like a more controlled kind of chaos. It wasn’t sprawling, although the craziness definitely leaked out onto the streets. I had to walk through the market area on my way to the doctor’s every day and each time, it felt like a unique experience. Come here for cheap meals, amazing fruit juices, or some knickknack shopping. My rag-tag backpacker gang did a Christmas Secret Santa sort of deal, and you’ll be amazed what kind of stuff you can find at the market. My favorite was a rip-off of the popular card game Uno. They called it Dos.
Learn Spanish in Sucre
Sucre is one of the cheapest places in the world to learn Spanish. Rates begin as low as 35 BOB per hour ($5) for a group class or 45 BOB for a private lesson. I don’t even want to remember how much I paid in university to graduate with Spanish as one of my majors. The majority of the friends I made in Sucre who were staying longer-term were there specifically for Spanish classes.
Plaza de Armas
Just like most Latin American plazes, the main square of Sucre is definitely the town hang out spot. The park itself is beautiful and surrounded by some of Sucre’s finest architecture. There is always something going on in the square, making it the best spot in the city to people watch. At Christmastime, the lights and decorations are something to behold, and the vibe is unmatched.
If the Mercado Central of Sucre is not chaotic enough for you, then maybe try your hand at the Mercado Campesino. This market is a bit further out from the city center but most city buses pass through the widespread area where you can get everything you want for dirt cheap. I’m talking like 14 mangos for $1. Cheap clothes, cheap fruits and vegetables, cheap everything. Most travelers don’t make it to this part of Sucre but the chaos of this area is definitely worth experiencing for yourself.
For a different type of market experience, take a visit to Tarabuco’s indigenous Sunday market. Although you won’t find much that you won’t be able to find in Sucre, it is a very cool cultural experience. Indigenous people from all over come to the small village and lay their items out in every alleyway and corner of the village. It is about as local as an experience as you could hope to find in Bolivia.
I was expecting a bit more from this park, since it seems to be the largest one in the main center of Sucre. Let’s just say I can see why more people to choose to hang out at the cemetery. The highlights of this park include the small but busy food court close to the large dinosaur playground. Oh yeah, did I mention the dinosaur playground? If you have no shame, then running around like a kid on the brontosaurus slides and more is a dream come true.
One of the most popular trips one can take from Sucre is to the Maragua Crater. It is a nice activity for people who love the outdoors and beautiful scenery. I didn’t get a chance to do this while I was in Sucre, but you can read more about this trek here.
Overall, Sucre is a city that you can find yourself spending a lot of time in. Most of the days I spent in Sucre were very chill and very relaxed. I never found myself forced to do too much, which is perfect for my slow and lazy style of travel. Sucre was a backpacker’s paradise for me, akin to Arequipa and Cusco in Peru or Cuenca in Ecuador.
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