Sucre – ‘La Ciudad Blanca’ or White City – is known throughout Bolivia for its beautiful architecture, pristine streets, and relaxed atmosphere. It has a way of captivating travelers, making it impossible to leave. In fact, those who venture here usually stay much longer than intended.
Whether you enjoy outdoor activities or immersing yourself in the Bolivian culture, Sucre has it all! And I’ve put together a list of the best things to do in Sucre, Bolivia.
A Brief History of Sucre
Sucre’s history goes back thousands of years to its early indigenous inhabitants. But, much of its recent history is closely tied to Potosi.
In fact, Sucre was originally called La Plata, a name it acquired from its Spanish conquers.
In the 16th century, the Spanish removed the Incas from power and took control of the region. They founded La Plata (aka silver) in 1540, which referred to the silver-rich mines in nearby Potosi.
The wealth incurred from the mines was used to transform Sucre into an elegant city. Much of the exquisite neo-classical architecture that was built is still seen today.
Given its wealth, La Plata ruled over a vast majority of South America. In fact, it was, at the time, one of the most important cities of the Spanish New World Empire.
Over time the wealth from the mines dwindled, and La Plata’s power gradually shifted to Buenos Aires.
As La Plata fell into economic decline, its citizens sought freedom from the Spanish. On May 25, 1809, an uprising called El Primer Grito de la Libertad (The First Cry of Liberty) ensued — marking the first step towards independence.
When independence was finally established in Bolivia, La Plata became the capital. The name was also changed to Sucre, in honor of the revolutionary leader Antonio José de Sucre.
But, after a fierce civil war, Sucre was stripped of its powers, and the government was moved to La Paz.
While Sucre is still recognized as the official capital, it only has control over the judicial branch. The majority of the power is, now, in La Paz.
The 10 Best Things To Do in Sucre
1. Admire the View from Recoleta
Recoleta is a cobblestoned, arch-lined courtyard overlooking the city. Here you will find a museum and a church that host various events throughout the year. But, its highlight is the Mirador Café. You can enjoy delicious food and coffee while looking out over the city.
Recoleta is an easy walk from downtown, and the plaza is a popular afternoon spot for locals.
2. Enjoy Delicious Vegetarian Cuisine at Condor Café
If you are looking for something tasty, then Condor Café is the place for you. The menu is 100% vegetarian, and, even if you’re not a vegetarian, it’s worth it!
Condor Café is, also the home to the Condor Trekkers tour agency. They offer a lot of great tourist information for Sucre and the surrounding area. If you are looking to do some hiking, this is the place to start!
3. Wander through the Cementerio General
While it might seem grim to visit a cemetery, Sucre’s cemetery is far from this. It’s uniquely beautiful and serene. Rather than headstones, shadow boxes are used to hold photos, toys, flowers, and candles.
The landscape is immaculate, and freshly cut bouquets are delicately laid on graves throughout the cemetery.
Cementerio General is not a place for mourning the loss of loved ones, but rather a place to celebrate life.
4. Enjoy the View from the San Felipe de Neri Convent
San Felipe de Neri Convent was built in the 17th century and served as a monastery before being converted into a school.
The courtyard is beautifully designed with flowers lining the walkways. And, the bell towers are decorated with silver from Potosi’s mines. It’s a reminder of the wealth that Sucre once possessed.
Most come here, however, to see the true beauty of Sucre’s colonial architecture. The views over the city are spectacular, and it’s clear why Sucre is dubbed the “White City.”
5. Hike to Maragua Crater
The Maragua Crater is one of my favorite Bolivian trekking destinations.
The route has spectacular panoramic views of multi-colored swirling rocks, and the fossilized dinosaur footprints are quite impressive.
There are a number of trekking agencies that offer this hike, but the best is Condor Trekkers. You can also hike without a guide, but the path is not marked, so make sure you take a GPS. (It’s also not labeled on Maps.me.)
For more details, check out my post on the hike to Maragua crater.
6. Enjoy an Ice Cream Cone in Plaza 25 de Mayo
Sucre’s main plaza is one of the most stunning in Bolivia.
Grab an ice cream from one of the many trendy cafes that line the perimeter and enjoy it in this beautifully decorated plaza.
Despite its central location, the plaza is enclosed by huge leafy trees. So, within a few steps, you can easily escape the busy streets.
7. Hike to Cerro Churuquella (The Sacred Heart)
While most flock to Recoleta to see Sucre from above, the best views can be seen from Cerro Churuquella. Here you will have encumbered views of Sucre’s white-walled, red-roofed city with the mountainous horizon beyond.
Locals come here throughout the day to make sacrifices and pray to the Virgin Mary. If you arrive during this time, be respectful and do not take pictures.
The path to Cerro Churuquella is easy to find, either with google maps or with maps.me.
8. Take a City Walking Tour
A walking tour is one of the best ways to visit Sucre. Condor Trekkers offers a fantastic tour. You will see all the main sites, learn the history of Sucre, and even try some delicious treats.
Of course, you can visit the city without a guide. But the in-depth description of the history and culture given by these guides is a great way to learn about Bolivia.
9. Visit Mercado Campesino
This is, without a doubt, Sucre’s biggest and most bustling market. It spans 10 blocks and has everything imaginable. While it may seem chaotic, there is some organization. It’s worth it to ask the vendors if you are looking for something specific.
I would recommend checking out the hand-made textiles. These are magnificent pieces of artwork!
There is also plenty of great street food. Stop by during lunch for a hearty meal, and then shop around!
10. Relax in the Garden of Sucre’s Best Guest House – Villa Oropeza
This guest house is one of the best places to stay in Sucre. The staff are friendly and helpful and the kitchen is clean and well-equipped.
Sit in one of the many hammocks in the garden, soak in the sun, and meet some fellow travelers!
My Overall Impression of Sucre
Sucre is a fantastic city. It has this unique relaxed vibe that’s so inviting it’s impossible to leave. Of all the cities in Bolivia, Sucre was my favorite. This list of the best things to do in Sucre will give you a complete overview of the city. You will be able to immerse yourself in the history and culture while taking in the stunning scenery.
Check Out My Other Articles About Bolivia
Hope you enjoyed my post on the best things to do in Sucre and found it useful. Here are some other articles about Bolivia that I think you might find interesting.