Potosí, Bolivia is a mining town home to Cerro Rico, one of the richest silver deposits in the world. At its peak, Potosí was the second biggest city in the world and it produced nearly 60% of the world’s silver. The main reason to visit is for a tour of the mine where you learn about the life of the miners and their traditions.
Many travelers arrive in the night from the Uyuni Salt Flats, visit the mine the next morning, and then leave for Sucre at night. But, there are a few other attractions in town that are definitely worth a visit. When visiting Potosí, it’s not recommended to do the mine tour on Sundays because this is the miners’ day off.
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How to Get There
Potosí has a very convenient location between two of the top destinations in Bolivia. From Sucre, the bus ride is 3.5 hours and from Uyuni, it’s 4 hours.
Bookaway is a great resource that allows you to compare the prices of both buses and flights, and secure your seat in advance!
What to Do
Mine tour – The mine tour was an interesting experience to learn about the life of the miners, the history of Potosí, and life in Bolivia under Spanish rule. I went with Marco Polo Tours and I highly recommend you do the same. Their guide started working in the mines when he was 12, and he does a fantastic job telling about the average day of a miner, the dangers of the job, and the miners’ traditions. The cost is 80 bolivianos (BOB) and you’ll also buy 20 BOB worth of gifts to bring to the miners.
Templo y Convento de Santa Teresa – A convent with a fantastic collection of religious art and a beautiful temple inside. The entrance is 30 BOB which includes a guided tour in Spanish. You can get an English-speaking guide for an extra 30 BOB.
Casa de Moneda – Bolivians refer to this as the country’s most important museum and it covers more than just currency. There are rooms full of beautiful art, minerals from Cerro Rico, and a chapel inside. The entrance is 40 BOB which includes a guided tour that’s only in Spanish.
Mercado Vicuñas – The inside of the market is nothing special, but on the surrounding streets it gets a bit exotic. There are lots of stalls selling alternative medicines and dead llamas which are used as an offering to the Pachamama.
Where to Eat
El Fogón – The best option near the center for a variety of traditional Bolivian cuisine.
Where to Stay
Potosí doesn’t have any backpacker hostels which means you’ll have to spend a bit extra for accommodation.
Los Faroles Hostal – The best budget option in town has a nice courtyard and a convenient location next to the plaza.
Hotel Santa Teresa – Great views and friendly staff at this budget hotel in a colonial house.
Where to Next
Sucre (3.5 hours by bus) – A UNESCO city with beautiful white architecture, fascinating museums, and an unmissable folklore dance show.
Uyuni Salt Flats (4 hours) – These 12,000 square kilometer salt flats are undoubtedly one of the top attractions in South America.
La Paz (10 hours) – This unique and chaotic city has lively markets, cable cars, and adventure activities.