Are you in Sucre and are looking for things to do? Do you have a cycle tourist or backpacker’s budget but want to see the best of Sucre?Then read on and we’ll give you a list of the best things to do in Sucre on a budget.
Sucre is one of Bolivia’s real gems. Less chaotic than La Paz, smaller than Cochabamba and fewer tourists than Uyuni, Sucre is a breath of fresh air for anyone visiting Bolivia. If you are planning to spend a night or two here you might find yourself inexplicably drawn to the white city and end up staying for a week or more, it has that effect on people. We were in Sucre for six weeks in total but still found it really hard to leave and it is a place we are looking forward to returning to one day. For a city of 250,000 people it has a remarkably relaxed vibe, lots of great food options and is cheap even by Bolivian standards.
We have come up with a list of our top five things to do in Sucre on a budget and how to make the most of your time there. Even if you aren’t looking to do very much and want to relax, that’s fine. All of the buildings in Sucre’s centre are beautiful and the UNESCO historic centre can easily be explored on foot.
1. Recoleta Mirador – free
A 15 minute walk (uphill) from the Plaza 25 de Mayo, Recoleta has great views over the city. You can relax at the mirador with its arches and columns or have a drink at the mirador cafe with panoramic views. There is also the nearby ‘Indigenous Art Museum’ which is worth a visit and a touristy market for your alpaca leg warmers or colourful jumper.
2. San Felipe Neri – 15Bs
An old convent, now school, San Felipe Neri is a beautiful building around a pretty courtyard with fountain but the main attraction is the rooftop terrace. San Felipe has amazing panoramic views of the city which are different to the Recoletta mirador because you are seeing it from a rooftop down in the city. We’d recommend being there by 5pm at the latest to wander around the building and rooftop before watching the sun set.
Address: #165 Ortiz, Look for the big brown doors and find the sign saying “Maria Auxiliadora”. There is a bell if the door is closed) Open 2.30pm-6pm Monday-Saturday.
3. Drink a juice at Mercado Central – 5-15Bs
…and then buy your fresh fruit, veg, bread, meat etc. for cheaper (and fresher) than the supermarket. The juice ladies are good fun! They will all be vying for your attention and will make you a fresh juice that will leave you wanting more, much needed after days on the bike, bus or plane. Choose the one with the nicest looking fruit or the lady who smiles the most, they are all the same price. (Top tip: Usually there is some left over in the jug so wait and they’ll give you a free top up)
The market is also a good option for cheap lunch menus serving typical Bolivian food. Almuerzo (lunch) menus from 10Bs including soup, main and either a drink or dessert, and evening meals are around 14Bs. Sucre’s main market is the best place to go for a budget meal, to eat like the locals and practise your Spanish. Don’t speak Spanish? Not a problem, keep reading…
4. Parque Cretacico – 30Bs
Discovered when building the neighbouring cement factory, at Parque Cretacico (basically Jurassic Park) you can see the largest collection of dinosaur footprints in the world. Tours, included in the admission cost, in both Spanish and English. If you want the best light for photos we’d recommend to go for the 12pm or 1pm tours when the sun hits the wall and the footprints aren’t in shadow.
Address: Carretera de Cochabamba 5km. Website HERE
5. Take Spanish lessons – 30Bs+ per hour
Okay so this one isn’t exactly a budget option but it is much cheaper to study spanish in Sucre than in other South American cities so it makes for a good investment and is better for the budget overall. Some of the most popular schools are Open Spanish (where we studied), Sucre Spanish School and MeGusta Spanish, offering group, semi-private (ideal for a couple or two friends at similar levels and it works out cheaper) or private lessons.
The best thing to do is walk around and chat to a number of schools, then see which one feels right for you. They all teach the same content but how they teach it varies per school and depending on how you learn, one may be a better fit than another. We wanted the technical grammar side of the language, rather than just travel Spanish as we already had the basics and good vocabulary, so Open Spanish worked well for us.
Whichever school you go with, make sure you practise your new found language skills in the real world. In the market, hostel or plaza are easy places to try out our new words and phrases. The people of Sucre are very used to Gringos coming to their city to learn Spanish, so won’t be offended by your funny accent or if you speak a bit slower. They might even try and practise their English with you in return!
There are obviously more than 5 things to do in Sucre but if we had to only do five on a budget, those would be our top picks. However if you’re around Sucre for longer and want to do more, here are some other places you should go.
Get a drink at ‘Time and Coffee’ overlooking Parque Bolivar then take a stroll under the Eiffel Tower in the park. Also visit at night when the fountains are lit up and they put on a light show with them. You will also find groups of people practising dancing in the park and it’s just a nice place to sit and watch the world go by.
Have an ice cream from ‘Sucre Heladeria Artesenal’ (Plaza 25 de Mayo) and sit in the main plaza people watching – 16Bs for two large scoops (Try the tratamontana, its lush!)
Eat at ‘Bienmesabe’ – around 20Bs (Amazing Venezuelan arepas and cachapas. Corner of Calles Grau and Potosi)
Book a table at ‘Cafe Monterosso’ for authentic Italian food and the best tiramisu of your life! – around 30Bs per main course (#70 Calle Padilla, look for a brown door which will be closed with a yellow light above and ring the bell. Open from 7pm)
Look around Museo de Tesoro – 20Bs (Treasure Museum, Plaza 25 de Mayo.) Tours in English and Spanish, very informative and gives a history of mining and use of precious jewels in Bolivia.
Hike Cerro Chiruquella – free. From the Recoletta mirador you keep walking up the hill and you can either follow the road or take he many steps to the top. Locals take candles and offerings to the Christ statue at the top so there is some litter around, but the views are worth it and it’s a nice walk through the trees to get there.
Maragua Crater (60km from Sucre) Maragua is an impressive geological formation and small, typical Bolivian village. Companies around the city sell tours there (we went by bicycle – if you are also cycle touring, or are interested in going, see more photos and read our blog here). Maragua is a sleepy village but with nice scenery and there’s some good hiking options (including a three day ‘Inca Trail’) and dinosaur footprints just out of town.
Finally, if you need somewhere to stay in Sucre we can’t recommend 7Patas Hostal highly enough. It is centrally located only one block from mercado central and two blocks from the main plaza. It is quiet enough to do your Spanish homework but social enough that you can have drinks with your new friends in the evening whilst cooking up a storm in the well equipped kitchen. The large secure courtyard is ideal if you are travelling by bicycle or moto and if not it’s still awesome because you can chill on the deckchairs soaking up the sun!
They also take volunteers so you can sign up on workaway here and for a few hours of work during the week (yes, weekends off!) you can get a free place to stay in Sucre while you take spanish lessons or enjoy all that the white city has to offer. If you haven’t already got a workaway account you can sign up by clicking HERE
Things to know:
- The water in Sucre is safe to drink. If unsure, ask the staff at your accommodation but in general Bolivia has safe and clean drinking water.
- Sucre is a safe city, even after dark. Just take the usual precautions you would at home.
- ATMs don’t charge you for using them and the maximum withdrawal is usually between 1500 – 2000Bs (around £200).
- The bus station is a 15 minute walk out of town or a 5 minute taxi ride. Buses regularly run to Potosi, Cochabamba, Uyuni and La Paz – book the day before at the bus station or turn up at least an hour before to buy a ticket for that day (cash only). The airport is an hour away by taxi. Traffic can be pretty bad in Sucre’s main centre so give yourself plenty of time if travelling in the morning or evening rush hours.
- The climate in Sucre is pretty much perfect with warm, sunny days in winter (June – August) and mostly dry. Summer is similar in temperature but it is much wetter, expect to have rain and bring waterproofs.
Sucre was the highlight of our time in Bolivia and one of the most memorable moments of our entire trip. We’re sure that if you take the time to visit Sucre, even on a budget, for at least a few days you’ll fall in love with the white city too. For more about our time in Sucre, read our blog posts HERE and HERE
Do you think that we have missed something or do you want to know more? Please let us know by commenting on this post or send us a message. We’d like to hear from you.