One of the fastest growing cities in the world, Santa Cruz attracts thousands of people a year to move there. But still a lot of tourists seem to skip the biggest city in Bolivia. This makes your stay a really authentic experience. Culture, spirit and cuisine wise. Here is what you need to know about your visit to the city at the foot of the Andes.
Great flight hub
Flying to Santa Cruz is mostly cheaper than to other Bolivian cities, due to the lower altitude. The city is also a great location for domestic and international flights, leading to basically any country. Landing in Santa Cruz also gives you an advantage when it comes to adjusting your body to the Bolivian altitude. While most of the country lies on dizzy heights, Santa Cruz is situated only about 500 meters or 1400 feet above the sea level. If you prefer warm temperatures, then you will feel comfortable here as well.
Where to stay?
Santa Cruz offers stays from luxury hotels to extremely cheap hostels, something for everyone. The city centre has plenty of options in beautiful, old colonial buildings, close to all the main sights. The zone is pedestrian friendly and has a great connection with buses to every corner of Santa Cruz. Be prepared to pay a little bit more than a bit further outside, but more here, is probably still cheap for you. North of the city centre in the district of Equipetrol you will find a lot of luxury hotels and high class restaurants. San Carlos offers a lot of nightlife and plenty of food possibilities. Those districts are in general the safest of Santa Cruz.
What to see?
The Bolivian city has plenty activities to offer. Check out the unbelievably pretty colonial architecture, like the bell tower of Basilica Menor de San Lorenzo and the city centre rich in history. Stroll through the colorful streets and learn more about the region of Santa Cruz in one of the museums. Look out for street fests or events. Santa Cruz has a vibrant energy with heaps of reasons to celebrate life and offers an energetic nightscene. Or do the opposite and relax in a park like Plaza 24 de Septiembre and Parque El Arenal, enjoying the mixture of palm trees and impressive churches. Explore the incredible Botanic Garden, rich in flora and fauna only growing in this part of the world. Maybe you spot one of the sloths hanging on the trees.
Santa Cruz offers an unbelievable variety of mouth-watering delicacies and street food. Go to Monseñor Rivero, a street packed with hip cafes, bars and restaurants. Have some Salteñas for breakfast or try the Andean version of Stir Fry, Pique macho. Look out for tiny restaurants everywhere throughout the city, offering incredibly cheap lunch deals. For about US$ 2 you will be able to get a soup, a main dish and drinks. Explore the outdoor markets of Santa Cruz like Mercado 7 Calles or Mercado Nuevo, having a rich variety of typical Bolivian foods for peanuts.
What to take care about?
You are in Bolivia, so be aware of scammers and pickpockets. Leave your important stuff (including your passport) at your hotel and protect your personal belongings you have on you. Try to stay away from more dangerous zones, especially at night and only take licensed taxis. If you take care you will have a safe and great time in Santa Cruz!
Check out Nature and Wildlife
Santa Cruz is a gateway to amazing nature and wildlife close to the city. The Amboro National Park holds hundreds of colorful bird species and animals you would usually only encounter in a zoo, like bears and pumas. You will walk through dense tropical forests and beautiful paths leading to cascades and waterfalls. And archeological sites await to be discovered. The desert of Lomas de Arena is ideal for sandboarding. If you would rather look out for Jaguars instead, take a bus to Kaa-Iya National Park. Here about a thousand wild cats live.