You could call it quirky, even chaotic, but there’s no doubt that La Paz is full of vibrancy and character. Where does this appeal come from? The city’s charm has plenty of origins, but its street markets are certainly a source that La Paz draws from. From souvenirs and handicrafts, to produce and food markets, it seems as if La Paz is lined with street markets and food stalls. These street markets in La Paz provide travelers more than they bargained for–no pun intended.
The Witches Market
The most well known street market in La Paz, and potentially Bolivia, the Mercado de Hechecería, known as the Witches Market is regarded as a must see in the city. Located on Calle Jiminez and Linares, this famously unique market should be at the top of your list and is considered one of our ten things to see in La Paz.
Another market on Calle Linares, the Mercado Artezanal is the perfect place to find some authentic ceramic handicrafts and hand painted souvenirs to take home. The variety is quite substantial and the vendors here do a great job of organizing and separating the items, making browsing simple.
Head down to the tourist strip on Sagarnaga Street to pick up some distinctly Bolivian merchandise. Here you’ll find plenty of handicrafts just like the previous market, but you’ll also be able to get your hands on the traditional llama wool products Bolivia is known for. Each stall overflows with bundles of hats, tapestries and textiles in traditional geometric designs of bright pinks, turquoises and purples. If you’re looking for that colorful alpaca scarf or a vibrant, crocheted jumper, the market on Sagarnaga is the place to find it. A nifty guide for finding out where items might be in the market, the photo mosaic near the entrance of the market is a good asset. It’s often easy for travelers to forget the importance of buying local.
You’ll quickly build up quite an appetite strolling the markets and wandering through the maze of streets in La Paz. Time to find yourself some Bolivian food. The food markets in La Paz are not only a great opportunity to fill your stomach on a budget, but the thousands of stalls lining the streets present a kaleidoscope of Bolivian cuisine. In the Lanza Market on Calle Llampu you’ll find huge displays of fresh fruits and veggies like the giant, oversized avocados and tasty sweet Chirmoya fruit. Stacks of fresh bread lay next to the trout and meat stalls, with about every type of potato you could imagine there for your choosing to be fried up with your meal.
In the mornings, the Mercado Camacho is a great spot to stimulate the taste buds with some warm empanadas and glass of the sweet, thick breakfast favorite Api. Usually purple or yellow, Api is a must-try.
Mercado Negro (Black Market)
On the corner of Calle Max Parede and Calle Graneros, the Mercado Negro is quite the scene. Basically every type of electronic, imitated designer clothing, and bootlegged DVD you can think of is sold in the narrow streets of Mercado Negro. Maybe not the best place to buy quality camera film per say, but the atmosphere is worth the gander. Keep your personals close, as this area can be notorious for pickpockets.
Mercado 16 de Julio
With many street markets throughout the city specializing in an individual product or trade (literally entire streets dedicated to bananas), presumably the most well rounded market experience is at the Mercado 16 de Julio. This mammoth of a market has everything under the sun. From used vehicles to fresh herbs and coca leafs to live animals, this sprawling market has it all. Whether you’re bargaining or just browsing, be prepared for the crowds and pickpockets here as well.
You’re bound to wander past plenty of street markets in La Paz, so don’t stress about hitting every single one, just make sure to grab some Api and enjoy the atmosphere.