Top 10 things to do in Santa Cruz de la Sierra

Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia

Visiting Santa Cruz de la Sierra: what are the best things to do and see in Bolivia’s largest city?

Planning a trip to Bolivia, one of Latin America’s most beautiful countries? Then Santa Cruz de la Sierra is a must! A small provincial town until the 1970s, Santa Cruz has undergone spectacular growth in recent decades. Located in the eastern plains of Bolivia, Santa Cruz de la Sierra is now the country’s largest city, with almost1.7 million inhabitants. It lies in Bolivia’s easternmost department, at the foot of the mountains, at an altitude of around 400 metres, and is covered by lush, tropical vegetation.

Renowned for its dynamism and culture, Santa Cruz de la Sierra is packed with activities and must-see sites, but it’s also the ideal base from which to embark on a tour of the whole country. The city’s tropical climate and joie de vivre will not leave you indifferent! Wondering what to do in Santa Cruz de la Sierra? We’ve got it covered!

Also read on the Santa Cruz guide :

1. La Plaza 24 de Septiembre

Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia

Photo credit: Flickr – Antoine 49

If you’re visiting Santa Cruz de la Sierra, a visit to the Plaza 24 de Septiembre, located in the city’s historic center, is a must. The former Plaza de Armas was renamed « Plaza 24 de Septiembre » in homage to the first independence movement launched in the city in 1810.

This is Santa Cruz’s main square, where most of the most important buildings are concentrated: The Metropolitan Cathedral, City Hall, stores, bars and restaurants occupying the old colonial two-storey mansions lined with galleries.

2. Metropolitan Cathedral

You’ll find it in a variety of styles, as a result of several alterations over the centuries. Today, it is part of Santa Cruz’s urban landscape, distinguished by its two imposing 40-metre towers built of ochre-coloured brick, one of which serves as a viewpoint for tourists to better appreciate the historic center.

Other noteworthy religious buildings include the churches of San Andrés and San Roque if you’re looking for something to do in Santa Cruz.

3. Noel Kempff Mercado Museum of Natural History

Created with the aim of studying the ecosystems of the Department of Santa Cruz in order to safeguard them, the fantastic Noel Kempff Mercado Natural History Museum boasts a collection of over 5,000 fossils, 50,000 plant species, 135,000 insects, 2,000 mammals and a large number of fish, reptiles and amphibians, showing visitors the incredible biodiversity of Santa Cruz and the surrounding area.

4. Biocentre Güembé

Visiting Santa Cruz de la Sierra? Don’t miss the sublime Pac de Loisir Biocentre Güembé! Located to the west of Sanat Cruz, this 24-hectare paradise surrounded by rainforest is home to a wide variety of plants and animals typical of the region.

And for total immersion in the midst of this incredible flora and fauna, the park offers accommodation in bungalows or campsites!

5. The Botanical Garden

The Jardín Botánico Amazónico, originally created by Noel Kempff Mercado, was flooded in 1983 and replaced by the New Botanical Garden, which covers an area of 186 hectares.

If you’re wondering what to do in Santa Cruz, don’t hesitate to take one of the 6 kilometers of trails through this dazzling garden, where you’ll discover many of the region’s plant species.

6. Lomas de Arena reserve

Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia

Photo credit: Flickr – Pattrön

Located 15 kilometers from Santa Cruz, you can stroll through immense sand dunes and observe many splendid varieties of birds. The Lomas de Arena reserve also boasts a number of superb lagoons in which to cool off!

7. El Arenal Park

Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia

Photo credit: Flickr – Antoine 49

If you’re looking for a little peace and quiet when visiting Santa Cruz, head to the Parque El Arenal, just off Plaza 24 de Septiembre. This popular spot for relaxation conceals a pleasant natural pond and a large fresco by Lorgio Vaca.

8. La Rinconada

A little paradise hidden 7 kilometers south of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, La Rinconada is a beautiful leisure park, perfect for relaxing amid magnificent tropical gardens.

Here you’ll discover a man-made lake populated by a variety of colorful fish and aquatic plants, including the impressive Victoria Regia, the world’s largest water lily native to the Amazon.

9. Amboró National Park

An ecological masterpiece covering over half a million hectares, Amboro National Park is a must-see if you’re visiting Santa Cruz de la Sierra and wondering what to do. Situated at the confluence of 3 different ecosystems – the Amazon Basin, the Northern Chaco and the Andes – this park is unique in both its geographical location and its rich biodiversity.

It is home to more than 800 types of birds and over 120 species of mammals!

10. South American wildlife zoo Noel Kempff Mercado

Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia

Photo credit: Flickr – Manuel Menal

If you’re still wondering what to do in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, don’t miss the South American Fauna Zoological Park! Founded by Noel Kempff Mercado, it is now one of the city’s main attractions. Here you can discover many endangered South American species, as well as the Zoo Aquarium with its 60 species of fish.

How to get to Santa Cruz de la Sierra

You’ll arrive by air atViru Viru International Airport, less than 18 km from the city center. From Paris, the journey takes at least 15 hours, as you’ll need to make one or more stopovers.

Travel time will therefore vary according to the airline chosen, the transit time between the two aircraft and the stopover location. You’ll need to pay close attention to the airport code for Viru Viru International Airport (VVI), not to be confused with the city’s domestic airport known as « El Trompillo » (SRZ) or other cities named Santa Cruz such as Tenerife in the Canary Islands.

You’ll find cheap flights on the website of our partner Ulysses. Upon arrival in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, microbuses or cabs will take you to the city center in about 30 minutes.

Once you’re here, you can also rent a car at Santa Cruz airport to take you into the city and make the most of your stay!

Where to stay in Santa Cruz de la Sierra?

If you choose to visit Santa Cruz de la Sierra, it’s essential to choose the right place to stay. You can read our article on where to stay in Santa Cruz de la Sierra: you’ll find the best advice on where to sleep and where to stay. You can also find a cheap hotel in Santa Cruz de la Sierra by searching on this hotel comparator, or opt for a more typical Airbnb accommodation.

Don’t delay, and discover this incredible city! Still wondering what to do in Santa Cruz de la Sierra?

Map of hotels and accommodation – Santa Cruz,bo