24 Hours In: Sucre

Follow in the footsteps of the dinosaurs...Wander around the elegant, whitewashed colonial buildings...In this city, it's easy to step back in time...
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The Independent Travel

Breakfast on the terrace

08.00: Wake up in El Hostal de Su Merced (00 591 4 644 2706; desumerced.com), Azurduy Street 16, right in the heart of the city. Sucre is mercifully free of chain hotels and this is one of its most charming places to stay. Set around a courtyard, in a characterful 18th-century building, it has plenty of shady, flower-filled terraces, and its handful of simple but comfortable rooms are decorated with antique furniture. Doubles start at $45 (£26) per night with breakfast.

Walk with dinosaurs

09.30: Catch one of the regular tours with the Abbey Path Tour Agency (00 591 4 645 1863) from outside the cathedral for Cal Orcko - the largest collection of dinosaur footprints anywhere in the world. This is, in fact, a mile or so outside town and rather incongruously forms part of the Fanseca cement factory. The area is believed to contain more than 5,000 footprints from 100 or so different species of dinosaur, including the Sauropdos and the Teropodos.

Watch the world go by

12.00: Bolivians love their coffee and cakes, so once you have arrived back in town head for Penco Penquitoes (00 591 4 064 43946) at Calle Estudiantes 54, one of several cafés and bakeries around the city where you can linger over a steaming cup of coffee.

Eat lunch with the locals

13.00: Make sure you book a table at El Huerto (00 591 4 645 1583), Ladislao Cabrera 86, one of the city's best restaurants, set in a pretty garden. It's only open for lunch and hence is a popular spot for local business people. Make sure you have plenty of time to enjoy the food, which is a mixture of international dishes as well as Bolivian fare, and wash it down with a glass of malbec from Bolivia's wine-producing neighbour Argentina. Afterwards, do as the locals do and slope off for that very Latin of pursuits, a siesta.

Stroll through colonial times

15.30: Sucre's considerable charms are best discovered with an afternoon wandering through its whitewashed colonial and 19th-century streets. These are so well preserved that the city enjoys Unesco World Heritage status and the moniker "La Ciudad Blanca", the white city. Start at the centre of local life, the elegant Plaza 25 de Mayo, which is lined with cafes, bars and distinguished buildings such as the 17th-century cathedral, home to the jewel-encrusted Virgen de Guadelupe, which dates from 1601. Amid the city's easy to navigate grid system - a legacy of its Spanish colonists - you will find numerous beautiful churches to peer into, such as the Church of San Miguel, impromptu street markets tucked down alleyways, and some of the best museums in Bolivia.

Pick up a souvenir

16.00: Devote part of your afternoon for a visit to The Museum of Indigenous Art (00 591 4 645 3841; bolivianet.com/asur) at San Alberto 413. Here you can see some of the finest examples of textiles and weaving from the country's many indigenous people, who live in the surrounding mountains and valleys. In the shop you can also buy weaving and textiles from Tarabuco and the Jalg'a - these textiles are considered to be some of the best available. Sucre also happens to be the chocolate capital of Bolivia; pop in and sample some from the handmade selection at Chocolates Para Ti, San Alberto (00 591 4 645 5689; chocolates-para-ti.com). More shopping for local handicrafts can be found at the Mercado Central, which also offers a shuttle-bus service to the slightly more chaotic Mercado Campesino on the outskirts of town.

Prop up the bar with the bohos

20.00: If your thoughts are turning to a pre-dinner aperitif, pull up a chair at Tertulia, which overlooks the Plaza 25 de Mayo. This bar is a favourite of local artists and has a boho feel.

Save dinner till later

21.00: Most Bolivians tend to eat later in the evening, so when the time is right, pop around the square to La Plaza (00 591 4 645 5843). It's a bit of a bun fight trying to secure a table here, but your efforts will be rewarded with a buzzing atmosphere and some great food, including good steaks and fish dishes.

Get into the groove

23.00: This being a university town (there are two), you can always find some late-night action in Sucre. One of the most popular haunts is the Dutch-run Joy Ride Café (00 591 4 642 5544; joyridebol.com), just off the central plaza at Calle Nicolas Ortiz 14. By night this transforms into a cocktail bar and you can dance until the early hours.

Additional research by Ambur Beg

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