We spent two weeks in UNESCO World Heritage Site Sucre, learning Spanish, making friends and experiencing Bolivia for the first time. Sucre is the historical capital of Bolivia, a land-locked country in the centre of South America. It’s a vibrant, beautiful and safe university city where the people are relaxed, the weather is good and there always seems to be some kind of celebration going on. Here are my recommendations of some of the best things we have eaten, seen, drank, and done in Sucre.
Best Tour: Condor Trekkers
Condor Trekkers is based inside Condor Café, just a couple of blocks from the plaza. They run 2 walking tours every day at 10am and 3pm for 50 BOB (about £5.90). The tour is advertised as lasting around 3-3.5 hours, although ours actually ended up being about 4.
Our tour guide was Carla and she was fantastic! Carla studied English and French at university so is able to offer the tour in both languages. We visited lots of the most important buildings in Sucre and Carla told us about the history of the city. Amazingly she was able to answer all of our questions about the history and culture of the people of Sucre and Bolivia. A highlight of the tour was visiting a small museum where we saw some of the handmade textile crafts of some indigenous groups in Bolivia – my favourite was the Jalq’a which is unfortunately a dying art due to the women of the community where it is made becoming less interested in traditional custom. We also had the opportunity to try some local foods including at a chocolatier, the fruit market and a local bakery. At the end of the tour we headed up to the Recoleta which offers a viewpoint of the city for sunset. Then we finished at a local tavern with some traditional “chicha” (a fermented alcoholic drink made from maize which is, spoiler alert: horrible).
Best Restaurant : Secret Restaurant
We were confused, excited and curious when we discovered that the son of the woman whose house we are staying in actually runs a small restaurant in the courtyard behind the house. We asked if we would be welcome to eat there, and then after a evening of looking for the door to the restaurant were informed that it is actually a secret restaurant with no official or separate front door… To get into the restaurant you have to ring the doorbell of his family house and to get the address you need to follow @nicolastudor on Instagram or send him a WhatsApp.
The restaurant has a minimal menu consisting of three types of burgers; Mexicana, Barbacoa or Classico. All come with papas fritas, and you can order a side of the most delicious onion rings I have ever eaten. I actually don’t eat meat so ordered a mexicana without the patty (guacamole and cheese in a toasted bun) and it was so delicious. It is actually the best meal we had in Sucre, and at only around 25 BOB a meal (about £3) it’s pretty fantastic value too.
Best Vegetarian Food: Condor Café
Condor Café (the place we took the walking tour from) is very popular in the backpacking community of Sucre, and for good reason. It’s a vegetarian café/restaurant that serves delicious Bolivian food as well as some more typically western options such as pasta and sandwiches. The WiFi is good, the vibes are very relaxed and the food is great value, and tasty too. It’s located just one block away from the plaza in the centre of the city. Well worth a visit for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike!
Best Dessert : Tiramisu at Monterosso Italian Restaurant
For F’s birthday we went to a highly recommended Italian restaurant close to our Spanish school. It’s actually in an Italian man’s house. He’s converted his dining room and lounge into a quaint Italian themed restaurant. To get in you ring his doorbell and are warmly welcomed into his home for dinner.
The pasta was good but the real highlight was the homemade tiramisu we had for dessert. And I don’t even usually like Tiramisu! But oh wow it was delicious.
Best Ice-Cream : Vacafria Helados
Sometimes the best thing for a walk home after dinner is ice-cream. There are lots of options in Sucre but my favourite is Vacafria, which is located just one block away from the plaza. There are lots of options of flavours here, and you get to add your own sprinkles for free – bonus!
Best Evening : Salsa at Joyride
On Thursday evening we went along to Joyride Café for the free Salsa and Bachata workshop. It starts at 9pm in the Lounge (upstairs) and lasted just over an hour. The teacher was very good, she was enthusiastic and encouraging and made the experience very enjoyable for even those of us with two left feet. We learnt some steps individually and then paired up for some partner dancing, which mostly involved me stamping on F’s feet whilst the couple next to us repeatedly bumped into us. It wasn’t the start of a lucrative dancing career for us but it was good fun, and the bar had lots of drinks offers for people looking for a little liquid courage.
Best Spanish Lessons : Sucre Spanish School
Saving one of the best for last, Sucre Spanish School has one of our biggest recommendations of all. We discovered Sucre Spanish School when doing some research online before we came to Bolivia. It had good reviews and seemed to be one of the biggest and most established language schools in Sucre.
When we arrived, Bettina the school administrator, welcomed us by name (we had been emailing) and made us feel welcome straight away. We were actually a day late having accidentally flown to the wrong city (doh) but the school were very accommodating and allowed us to start school the day we arrived.
We have been studying every morning from 8:30-12:30, with a 15 minute break at 10:30. We thought we would be having group lessons but it seems to be a preference of the school to teach one-to-one. Lessons were intense and fast-paced but enjoyable, plus we had lots of homework every day to help us make the most of our studying time in Sucre. My teacher, Virginia, enjoyed doing practical activities too such as going to the market, cooking a peanut soup and visiting a museum to improve my vocabulary and understanding in everyday situations. Lessons work out at about £4.75 per hour, as long as you do more than 20 which is a very reasonable price for the personalised teaching you receive. We wished we could have stayed for longer and continued our learning with Virginia and Nelson.
The school also offers a number of other extra-curricular activities such as wally-ball (no, this is not a typo or mispronunciation it is actually the national sport of Bolivia and quite good fun). We also took them up on their offer of a home stay which, despite providing some home comforts such as a comfy bed and the opportunity to make friends, was a little overpriced and meant we had to share a bathroom with the family that lives there which wasn’t quite as clean as I would have liked.
Best Museum : El Museo de Tesoro
This museum was incredible. Actually, the guide was incredible. Hebert showed us around the museum, explaining in perfect English each of the exhibitions and artefacts. The museum tells the story of Bolivia’s mining history and the impacts that it had on their economy and culture. You aren’t allowed to take photos, and actually the museum is all dark when you enter, with the guide turning on one case or exhibition at a time for maximum impact. It meant the tour was full of surprises and wow moments. I loved it. And at only 25 BOB (£2.95) per person it’s well worth a visit.
Best Day-trip : Parque Cretacico
Did you know Sucre is home to one of the largest collections of dinosaur footprints in the world? Due to shifting tectonic plates what was once a flat clay beach is now a near-vertical cliff which is around 1.2km and shows around 5000 footprints from 15 species of dinosaur. At 12pm and 1pm you have the opportunity to walk down to the foot of the cliff and see the footprints up close whilst the guide explains what it is you’re looking at.
I have to be honest here, the rest of the park is pretty much just life-sized plastic dinosaurs, some of which have speakers playing dinosaur sounds. So, basically, it’s very much for children. But I find dinosaurs fascinating so seeing the footprints was pretty amazing for me. If this sounds like your thing – you can get a special bus from the plaza for 15BOB, but we just caught the #4 public bus for 1.50BOB instead (the park is the final stop).
Best View : San Felipe Neri Convent Rooftop
Open to the public daily from 2:30-6pm you can find this rooftop at #165 Ortiz. Just ring the doorbell and pay 10BOB and they’ll direct you to the roof. We went late in the afternoon, just before sunset so it was truly beautiful.
Biggest Letdown : La Glorieta Castle
This is literally the worst castle I have ever visited in my life. It was a big, old building in quite the state of disrepair, with lots of empty rooms containing empty exhibit cases. The architecture was okay, and you are able to climb one of the towers. Other than this, not worth the bus journey or the admission fee. Also, it’s known as the pink castle but is more of a sun kissed salmon.
Have you been to Sucre? Do you have any other recommendations? Leave a comment below and share some of your favourite things to do/see/eat!
Alternatively, are you currently planning you trip to Sucre? Feel free to comment with any questions or queries!