Potosi, Bolivia is said to be the highest city in the world. Founded in 1546 after the discovery of vast silver deposits, the city was home to the most productive silver mines in the world, which made it- for a time- the richest city in the world by far. Today, Potosi’s silver is long gone but the city is still one of remarkable beauty. Colonial churches and intricately built mansions line the narrow sleepy streets of the city that once seemed to be the center of the universe. UNESCO has recognized the entire city as a World Heritage Site. A visit to Potosi is one of the highlights on any Bolivia itinerary.
Getting to Potosí From La Paz
Located in southern Bolivia, Potosi is nestled high up in the Bolivian altiplano. To get to the Silver City, you have a few options of travel but more likely than not, it will include taking a public bus. Potosi does claim to have the world’s highest airport, but with no scheduled flights in or out, the airport is of little use to travelers looking to visit the city.
Flying to Potsoí from La Paz
A popular option for those coming from La Paz who don’t want to spend all their time on the road is to fly to Sucre and take the bus or a shared taxi to Potosi from there. From Sucre, busses to Potosi run hourly and cost 17 Bs. and three hours to get there.
Getting to Potosí from La Paz by Public Transport
Collective cabs leave from the bus station in Sucre as well. Colectivos, as they are called, cost around 35 Bs. for the journey. These are a great option when the public bus company goes on strike, which is unfortunately not all that unusual.
Taking a Shared Taxi to Potosí from La Paz
Shared taxis are a little more comfortable and a little faster. The cost for a shared taxi from Sucre to Potosi is 50 Bs. An additional benefit of the shared taxi option is that they will pick you up directly at the airport or your hotel. Cielito Express, Infinito and Correcaminos all offer reliable transfer service between the cities.
Taking the Train from La Paz to Potosí
There is also a train service that connects Sucre with Potosi. Taking a taxi is actually faster, but the train is the only way other than hiking to see the beautiful views of backcountry. The trip covers 175 kilometers and takes about eight hours. Empresa Ferroviaria Andina runs the service and up to date schedules can be found on their website. The train from La Paz to Potosí runs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 08:00.
Getting to Potosí from Oruro
It is also possible to reach Potosi via bus from Oruro, Uyuni, Tupiza and Tarija. From Oruro to Potosi there are several busses daily from 07:00 to 22:30. Public transport between Oruro and Potosi costs about 20 Bs. and takes five to six hours depending on traffic and road conditions. Again, collective cabs between the two cities are available for 120 Bs. and leave whenever full from the traca just north of Plaza Uyuni.
Getting to Potosí from Uyuni
From Uyuni the ride to Potosi takes three hours on the new paved road but busses run rather irregularly. The trip costs 40 Bs. and the main advantage of this overland route is the breathtaking scenery you’ll pass along the way.
Getting to Potosí from Tupiza and Tarija
From Tupiza and Tarija there are morning and evening busses to Potosi daily. The trip from the former will take four to five hours and cost between 40- 50 Bs. From Tarija, the ride is almost ten hours long, but can sometimes take up to 15. It is recommended only to take the morning bus as the ride at night can be quite uncomfortable. Busses from Tarija to Potosi cost 60 Bs. and Expreso Tarija is the most widely recommended bus company.
Once you Get to Potosí
No matter where you come from, visitors to Potosi will most likely arrive at the new bus terminal located two kilometers north of the city. From the terminal it is roughly a 30 minute walk uphill to the city center. Alternatively, a bus between the terminal and the center costs just 1.20 Bs. and a shared cab 3.50 Bs. For those who can, traveling to Potosi by day is recommended. All roads leading to the city are incredibly scenic and many of the views cannot be seen any other way.