There are dozens of great reasons to visit Sucre Bolivia. Nicknamed “The White City” thanks to its stunning white buildings in the city centre, it’s one of the most dazzlingly beautiful cities in all of South America.
And don’t just take our word for it. The gorgeous architecture led to it being designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
But more than just a picturesque, Insta worthy destination, it’s one of the most important cities in Latin America.
With a past that features Incas, Spanish colonisation, unimaginable wealth, plus multiple rebellions, Sucre is somewhere not to miss.
Here are 13 reasons to visit Sucre Bolivia on your travels around South America.
To Discover Sucre’s Incredible History
In its heyday, Sucre was the crown jewel in the Spanish empire. It was the most lavish and refined city on the entire continent, and it’s not difficult to discern why.
While Potosi, and more precisely the mines of Cerro Rico, is where the money originated, most of the beneficiaries preferred to live elsewhere.
Perhaps it was because of the stench of death and destruction that emanated from the mines. Or maybe it was simply the crap weather. Whatever the reason, the good and the great chose to set up camp in the area known today as Sucre.
It’s inhabitants were truly filthy rich. So rich, it’s said that after holding extravagant banquets they would simply chuck the silver cutlery and gold crockery out of the window rather than wash up.
Anyone fortunate enough to be walking by at that moment could probably have made their fortune in one fell swoop.
But of course there’s a rich history that stretches back to way before the Spanish arrived to plunder and loot.
Indigenous groups had called the area home for many thousands of years prior to the Spanish invasion. It was also colonised by the Incas for around 200 years shortly before that.
Sucre was the birthplace of the first uprising against the Spanish empire. Though for what should now be rather obvious reasons, Bolivia was one of the very last countries to gain its independence.
This city wears its history on its sleeve and it’s impossible not to feel moved by it. There are numerous fantastic museums charting its course over time, but in a way the city itself is a living museum.
It’s a Great Place to Learn Spanish
Whether it’s to get to grips with the basics, or brush up on their existing Spanish speaking skills, many people choose to stay here for an extended period of time.
In fact, Sucre Bolivia is one of the most popular places in the whole of South America to learn Spanish. There are many good reasons for this.
One of the main reasons people favour Sucre is that it’s relatively extremely cheap to learn Spanish here. Lessons start at around $35BOB ($5USD, £4GBP) per hour.
Not only are they cheap, but the quality of the tuition is fantastic, with many highly qualified teachers.
Unlike some of its neighbouring countries, Bolivia is renowned for speaking an easily understood brand of Spanish. And within Bolivia, Sucre has a reputation for having the most neutral accent, something that’s hugely important when learning.
There are numerous well-regarded schools in the city as well as a high concentration of private tutors. Alternatively, you can book into a homestay with a Bolivian family to really immerse yourself in Sucre’s culture.
Combined with a low cost of living overall, this all makes Sucre an extremely attractive place to do some lessons. Regardless of what level you’re at, if you want to improve your Spanish speaking skills, there’s no better choice.
Check out this post on learning Spanish in Sucre for more details. It covers everything from why it’s a great idea to the best Spanish schools and private tutors.
Sucre is One of the Safest Cities in Bolivia
Bolivia has something of a reputation for being a bit dodgy. However, in our experience, that’s hugely unfair.
Sure, as with anywhere, you should keep your wits about you, particularly when in the big cities like La Paz.
But in Sucre, you’re very unlikely to experience any problems whatsoever.
The city centre is always well lit, and well frequented at most times of the day and night. It’s completely safe to walk around in general, though take the usual precautions after dark.
There is very little crime in general here and tourists are very rarely, if ever, targeted. We’ve never heard of things like petty thefts, pickpocketing or anything of the like taking place.
Another great thing about Sucre is that it doesn’t feel sketchy or unsafe in any way. This is in part thanks to the laid back vibes, but also because the city centre is extremely well manicured.
There also aren’t really any dark alleys or nooks and crannies that you can wander into by accident.
The Architecture is Amazing
Nicknamed “The White City” owing to its beautiful arrangement of picturesque colonial buildings, Sucre is quite simply gorgeous.
Spreading out from the central square, Plaza 25 de Mayo, Sucre’s narrow streets are a treasure trove of enchanting architecture.
Charming churches, stunning squares, huge time-weathered wooden doors, intricately carved bay windows and terracotta roofs are par for the course.
It has some awesome vantage points as well where you can enjoy incredible views from above. Many of the churches have accessible rooftops, while La Recoleta’s arches frame perhaps the best aerial view of the city.
The architecture is one of the main draws and there are plenty of fantastic buildings to visit. Key examples include Casa de la Libertad, Catedral Metropolitana, Convento de San Felipe Neri, and Universidad San Francisco Xavier.
And not to be missed is La Glorieta Castle. Once owned by Bolivia’s only Prince and Princess, this huge opulent pink building would perhaps look more in place in a kids fairytale book.
To say that Sucre is picturesque is an understatement, it’s one of the most attractive cities in South America.
You Have Fantastic Accommodation Options
Bolivia on the whole doesn’t have the greatest rep for fantastic accommodation options.
But Sucre is one of the most popular places to visit in Bolivia, so there are plenty of great places to stay.
However, this also means that the very best accommodation gets booked up quickly. We’d suggest booking well in advance to avoid missing out on your first choice.
Here’s our pick of the best places to stay in Sucre for every budget.
Affordable Luxury: Hotel Boutique La Posada
Just 200m from the main square, staying in this gorgeous colonial building is a real treat. The rooms are spacious and all have private bathrooms and WiFi. There’s a cracking restaurant and bar on site, with room service also provided.
Reviews consistently point out how helpful and friendly the staff are. Breakfast is included, there’s parking available and a lovely terrace to chill out on. Choose from single, double, king and family rooms.
Mid Range: Casa Verde B&B
This popular place to stay in Sucre is a rare find. Why? Because along with it’s beautiful patio, it also has a swimming pool. All rooms have private bathrooms and hot showers.
A good breakfast of fresh fruit and eggs is included and there is a large shared kitchen for use at lunch and evening times. Plus it has a great central location, just a few blocks from the main square.
Cheap and Cheerful: KulturBerlin
This is the hostel that all backpackers passing through Sucre gravitate to. The tastefully renovated huge old house has a well equipped shared kitchen and also a courtyard and terrace garden.
There’s usually something going on most nights of the week so it’s a great place to meet people. And there are a variety of rooms to choose from whether you’re after a dorm, a private room, a family room or even a loft studio.
There’s a Great Restaurant and Bar Scene in Sucre Bolivia
Bolivia doesn’t enjoy the best reputation when it comes to food or nightlife. In fact we’ve heard many people first hand completely dismiss the food as being really bad. And unlike some of its neighbouring countries, it’s not famous as being a party hotspot.
Happily, Sucre is a city that bucks the trend on both fronts.
Sucre has some of the best restaurants in the country with a great mixture of local and international food on offer. You can dine out on Bolivian favourites like pique macho or saltenas, to pizza, sushi, steak and everything in between.
In addition, there are brilliant options for vegetarians and vegans – in fact whatever your dietary requirements you’ll be happy. And there’s awesome food to suit all budgets.
Whether you’re after a fancy 8 course set menu or quick and tasty Venezuelan arepa, it’s all here.
On top of the fantastic selection of restaurants there’s a stellar collection of pubs, bars and clubs in Sucre.
If you’re a fan of excellent beer, Brewcraft is definitely not to be missed. Its on-site brewery pumps out a selection of some of the most delicious ales in Bolivia.
Local institutions like Cafe Florin and Joy Ride are a reliable bet for a fun night out. And if you want to keep the party going into the wee hours head to Imaynalla or Kultur Berlin.
Check out this post for a full rundown of all of the best bars in Sucre.
Sucre Enjoys Fantastic Weather Year-Round
The weather in Sucre is pleasant all year round meaning it’s great to visit at any time. Generally you’ll find blue skies and sunshine, while the altitude ensures it doesn’t get too hot.
Temperatures during the day tend to hit around 21°C (69.8°F) whether it’s summer or winter.
The temperature does drop at night, again due to the altitude. After the sun sets expect it goes down to about 9°C (48.2°F) on average.
Sucre has just two seasons, summer and winter, the difference being that winter is dry while summer is wet.
Winter is from April to September, while summer goes from October through March.
Regardless of the season, it’s pretty dry and sunny most of the year with just a couple of months of rain.
Even calling it wet season is a bit of a misnomer because it doesn’t rain all day every day. Instead you can expect a couple of hours worth of huge, violent thunderstorms a week.
And these are pretty phenomenal in their own right. Lightning electrifies the skies while deafening claps of thunder fill the air.
June and July is mid winter and when Sucre is at its coldest. You’ll probably appreciate a warm coat at night, but the days are still generally sunny and balmy.
Overall the weather in Sucre is spring-like for most of the year. This means most people can enjoy it regardless of what time of year they’re here.
There are Tonnes of Things to Do
Sucre tends to be a stop off point for people heading either south to Uyuni or north onto La Paz. Most tourists allocate just a couple of days to explore it before quickly moving on.
But what a mistake they’re making! It’s a fascinating city with so much to offer and somewhere you can easily spend much longer getting to know.
Lots of visitors are attracted primarily by the gorgeous architecture, but there’s much more to do than stare at buildings.
The scarcely believable Parque Cretacico boasts a vertical wall of perfectly preserved dinosaur footprints. How, when and why they got there is all explained in a revealing tour.
Hit the markets for an authentic hit of local life, with the added bonus of being able to pick up virtually anything you might need, and plenty you definitely don’t.
For food, Mercado Central has a wonderful selection of colourful fruit and veg. If you’re after a formal suit or dress or any alterations to your clothes, Mercado Negro is full of tailors.
Campesino is a colossal rabbit warren of shops and markets that are easy to get lost in. There is virtually nothing you can’t buy here.
Tarabuco Market makes a great Sunday day trip from Sucre. More than just a market, it’s a cultural melting pot where people from various indigenous tribes come to hang out. Prepare to be amazed by the wide array of eye-catching traditional garms.
There are dozens of museums in Sucre documenting its improbable history as the richest city on earth. Don’t miss the Museo del Tesoro, Casa de la Libertad, and Museo Nacional de Etnografia y Folklore.
For nature lovers you can easily get out into the surrounding areas for some spectacular treks through the surrounding countryside. The most popular is the route to the Maragua Crater, with stunning scenery, dinosaur footprints and ancient cave drawings to look out for along the way.
You can do the Maragua Trek independently if you have campaign gear or arrange it easily through Condor Cafe.
To Enjoy the Outdoor Culture
Probably owing in part at least to the temperate weather, Sucre is a very outdoor-focussed city. The streets are always chock full of people and the outdoor spaces are extremely well loved and used.
Plaza 25 de Mayo is the vibrant, central hub of Sucre life. At all hours, it’s a buzzing hive of energy.
During the day there are kids running round enjoying the space, people taking selfies in front of the looming statue of Simon Bolivar.
By night there are break dancers practicing their craft while rap battles go on beside them drawing large crowds. When there are public events like concerts, dance performances, or marching bands, they generally take place here.
Parque Bolivar is just a few minutes walk from the square and its well kept gardens make it another favourite hangout spot in Sucre. There’s also a huge, dinosaur-themed park for children.
There’s an artificial boating lake, a replica of the Eiffel tower, and gorgeous water fountains to enjoy. Sundays it when it really fills up with the majority of the park being taken over by various attractions like horse riding, pop-up markets and fairground rides.
Probably the most romantic spot to hang out in Sucre is La Recoleta. Perched high above the city, it offers panoramic views of the city and the surrounding mountains, gloriously framed by its pretty white arches.
The main square in La Recoleta is often full of kids as there’s a high school directly next to it. Couples often sit under the arches soaking up the views.
If you enjoy spending time outdoors, people watching and generally chilling out, you’ll fit right in in Sucre.
It’s the Home of Bolivian Chocolate
Despite not being located anywhere near the Amazon where the cacao that forms the basis of one of Sucre’s most prized exports comes from, this city is the epicentre of Bolivian chocolate production. Choco-heads will be in their element.
There are two main chocolate producers in Sucre Bolivia, Taboada and Para Ti. They have competing shops, some virtually next door to each other and opinion is split on which is the best.
But the tradition of chocolate in Sucre goes back way beyond these relatively new businesses. In fact it dates all the way back to the 18th century and times of Spanish colonisation.
These days the chocolate from these two companies gets sold all over the country and beyond. But being able to taste it in its place of fabrication is a true joy.
Sucre is Nicer than Potosi
This might seem strange as a selling point for a city, to say that’s better than one of its closest counterparts. However, many people when planning their route through Bolivia make a choice whether to visit Potosi or Sucre.
At the very least it may be a decision over how to split their time between the two cities, if not skip one altogether.
While Potosi has a hugely significant history and we’d highly recommend a trip down the famous silver mines of Cerro Rico, it’s not a city we think is necessarily great for spending an extended period of time in.
Its altitude of almost 5,000 metres means people often suffer altitude sickness or symptoms of it. Shortness of breath and fatigue are pretty common.
The altitude also dictates the weather, which in general is pretty cold and grey.
Then there’s the city itself, a tight mass of colonial buildings, many of which are sadly crumbling. Bustling narrow pavements and tight walkways all overshadowed by the formidable Cerro Rico, both in stature and reputation.
Sucre, on the other hand, is laid back, has great weather, and is much lower in altitude. Sure, the histories of the two cities are inextricably linked. But while Potosi’s wealth and beauty are both rapidly fading, Sucre retains its looks and importance as Bolivia’s capital.
If you’re trying to decide whether to visit Sucre or Potosi, or where is best to spend more time, the choice is easy. Sucre is simply nicer than Potosi.
It’s the REAL Capital of Bolivia
People often mistakenly believe that La Paz is the capital of Bolivia. It’s even a popular piece of pub trivia that La Paz is the highest capital city in the world.
However, the real capital of Bolivia is in fact Sucre. While the seat of government resides in La Paz, Sucre is the constitutionally recognised capital.
Now if you’re wondering what on earth this all means, it’s quite simple really. The country’s parliament and most of its governmental functions are in La Paz. But officially, Sucre retains the prestige that comes with being the capital.
So next time it crops up in a pub quiz, be sure to reeducate the person posing the questions.
It’s actually something that has caused numerous disagreements in the past and continues to divide the two cities. Ask someone in either city which is the capital and you’ll get an invariably partisan answer.
But why does any of this matter to you? Well for many tourists it’s important to visit a country’s capital. It’s often full of history and the site of numerous significant events. The same goes for Sucre.
You wouldn’t visit France without going to Paris, or England without heading to London. So make sure you head to Sucre to get a deeper understanding of the country as a whole.
You’ll Love the Chilled Out Atmosphere
As already mentioned, the atmosphere in Sucre is completely different to a lot of the other popular tourist spots in Bolivia.
Some people put it down to the large student population which gives it a young feel. Others suggest it’s due to being quite small.
Whatever the reason, Sucre is tangibly chilled. Sure, some of the narrow streets get blocked up with beeping traffic at peak times of day. But generally the people are laid back and easygoing.
Sucre is a fantastic place to come and relax. Particularly if you’ve arrived from the far more hectic cities of La Paz, Potosi or Santa Cruz.
Its low key, tranquil nature makes it the perfect place to recuperate at a midway point in your Bolivia travels.
Don’t Forget Your Insurance
Sucre is one of the safest, most tranquil cities in Bolivia. But unexpected things do happen and it’s simply not worth risking it.
Our go to insurer is World Nomads, we like them for their no bullshit approach and awesome cover.
Get yourself a free, no obligation quote now:
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Travel lover, professional writer and football (soccer) obsessive, James loves nothing more than getting outside and exploring little known corners of the globe. He’s also very partial to a drop of Guinness.