Sucre, Bolivia is the third place I’ve called home over the past two and a half years of living in South America. While the lifestyle here is much different from the bustling Buenos Aires and seductive Medellin, it has been an amazing place to experience life like a local.
Sucre is Bolivia’s judicial capital and is nicknamed la blanca (the white) because of all the beautiful Spanish-style, whitewashed buildings that canvas the city skyline. It’s home to just over a quarter of a million people, which makes Sucre feel more like a small town than a major metropolis.
The weather is beautiful all year round, the people are humble and friendly and your money goes a long way. The food is basic, the streets are hilly and travelers don’t venture far from the main square.
There isn’t much tourist hype or famous attractions in Sucre – it’s just a peaceful, family-oriented life.
I’ve been so fortunate to live in Sucre over the past 4 months, I’ve developed favorite spots and discovered great experiences around the city that helped me travel deeper in Bolivia.
If you ever have the opportunity to travel through Sucre, I highly recommend checking out some of these great food joints, hidden gems and memorable hangouts.
The Best of Sucre, Bolivia
Best People Watching: Plaza 25 de Mayo
Sucre’s central plaza is the epicenter of all happenings downtown. It’s where news reports track down government officials, local college kids gather after class and Argentine hippies sit to drink their mate. Grab an empty bench and a fresh squeezed OJ from one of the passing street carts and call it an afternoon.
Best Tourist Hangouts: Florin & Joyride Cafe
To get the best Internet in Sucre you have to deal with the backpacker crowd at both Florin and Joyride Café. I have to admit, they each boast a pretty solid menu with a variety of food you won’t find elsewhere around Sucre. While I like Joyride’s food better, the bar and dance floor at Florin gets rocking with tourists and gringo hunters alike come Friday night.
Best Shopping: Mercado Negro & Mercado Campasino
If you want decent clothes at ridiculously low prices you go to Mercado Negro or the black market. For everything else you go to Mercado Campasino. From figs to futons, this market is where all the locals go to do their shopping. While the Mercado central (central market) is popular and closer to the city’s center, it’s smaller, more expensive and has a limited variety of goods comparatively.
Best Sporting Event: El Club Universitario Soccer Match
It’s Latin America, you have to witness a professional soccer match if you’re in town. It’s probably one of the safest places to watch a game in South America, so take advantage of the cheap seats and quality play.
Best Cheesy Tourist Attraction: Parque Cretacico
Parque Cretacico aka Jurassic Park is small and cheesy but the dinosaur tracks on the cliff across from the park are supposedly real. Turns out Bolivia was a dino hotspot back in the day and there has been a number of artifact discoveries in and around Sucre. Parque Cretacico is a good place to spend a half hour if you have nothing else to do and you also get some great views of the city from the park.
Best Saltañas: The Patio
Saltañas are a Bolivian staple and nobody makes them better than The Patio. These delicious little empanadas with their stew-like filling are great with some spicy salsa and a fresh Tumbo juice. Come early to get a table on the beautiful outdoor patio as locals pack the place all morning long.
Best Afternoon Snack: Deliciosa
Delicious is the best afternoon tea spot I’ve found since living in Buenos Aires. They have good coffee, tea and juices but the real attraction is all the kick-ass cakes, humitas and empanadas. It’s only open a few hours a day so you´ll have to plan your afternoon snack accordingly.
Best Pizza: Napoli
A large, fresh, brick-oven pizza with tons of toppings that is ready in minutes for less than $10 US. I tried a bunch of pizza joints before I found Napoli, but I’ve been loyal ever since.
Best Lunch: Mercado Central
Go to the second level in Sucre’s central market and you’ll find a complete lunch for less than the cost of a Gatorade. You have to fight through all the heckling lunch-ladies to find the table that is serving what you want, but it’s a hearty meal for locals. Head down to the famous fruit juice stands after lunch for a fresh juice or fruit salad.
*Also, don’t miss the chorizo sandwiches at 7 Lunares on the first level.
Best Locals Bar: Menfis
This is THE place for local college kids and young professionals in Sucre because the drinks are cheap and the co-eds are friendly. You won’t find any tourists in this tavern, but you will find lots mixed drink pitchers and loud dance music. This is the best spot in the city to go before the dance floor heats up elsewhere.
Best Nightclub: Mooy
Everyone in Sucre knows about one dance club in particular and Mooy is NOT it. The most famous place to get your groove on in the city is called Mitos and it’s where all the locals (and well informed tourists) spend their Friday and Saturday nights. However, Mitos isn’t the best dance club in Sucre, in my opinion. That prize goes to the classier, bigger Mooy that is hidden above the Saas grocery store. It’s a beautiful rooftop bar where all the ∫best-looking Bolivians drink and dance. You won’t find any tourists at this spot, but if you can dance you won’t be on your own.
This is what life is like in the city of Sucre, however life is a lot different outside the city.
Read all about it here – “The Village You’ll Never Visit”