Cochabamba, also known as The city of eternal spring or The garden city, is a vibrant and friendly city in Bolivia conveniently located on the way from La Paz to Sucre. The city is the fourth biggest city in Bolivia, is surrounded by mountains and located around 240 km southeast of La Paz.
The main thoroughfare in Cochabamba is Avenida de las Heroinas, which runs east-west, with its north-south counterpart Avenida Ayacucho. The intersection of these two is known by its Correo, the city’s post office. Plaza 14 de Septiembre (usually referred to as Plaza Principal) is considered the center of the city. Avenida Ballivian (commonly called El Prado) is a tree-lined boulevard running north from Plaza Colon, with many of the city’s better restaurants and hotels nearby. Generally, neighborhoods get more affluent towards the north, and poorer to the south.
- La Cancha. One of the city’s biggest attractions is the city market on the south side of town, the largest open-air market in South America. Clothing, food, souvenirs, or books, La Cancha has it all against extremely competitive prices. The market district spills out along Av. San Martin, which runs north from the Cancha to the center. The best day to visit the market is on Saturday, on other days not all the shops are open. Leave your valuables home as pick pocketing in this area is fairly common.
- The Spitting Llama Bookstore & Outfitter, (Calle España y Equador), ☎ 79770312 Offers a wide range of trekking, camping equipment and gear. They sell sleeping bags, tents, backpacks, hiking boots and lots of handy little gadgets like headlamps, compasses, and batteries. They also rent gear like tents and sleeping bags. They offer maps of major Bolivian cities, popular Bolivian tourist destinations, topographical maps, trekking maps, maps of South American Countries and more. They also have thousands of books in English and many other languages and have Bolivia’s best book exchange. They are open M-F 9AM-1PM and 3PM-7PM, Sa 9AM-1PM and closed Sunday. They speak English.
Thanks to the city’s origin as an agricultural center for mining communities, Cochabamba claims to have the best food in Bolivia.
- Don Corleone, Calle España (Between Ecuador and Mayor Rocha), ☎ 4255255. Evenings. Probably the best pizza in town. Big pizza Bs 50.
- Casablanca, Calle 25 de Mayo (Half a block from Plaza Colon). Very happening place frequented by Bolivians and gringos alike. Large and varied reasonably-priced menu influenced by the Italian owner. Also good for snacks and a few drinks. Latté is 7B, ceviche 25B, sangria 12B, large servings of pasta for 28B, sandwiches 16B. Wi-Fi connection, though may be a little slow due to heavy usage by other customers. Main courses Bs. 30, pint of beer Bs. 9.
- Cristal, Av. de las Heroinas E-352 (Between 25 de Mayo and España). Very neat and clean. Good breakfasts 15-21 Bs, set lunch 16 Bs..
- Casa de Campo, Av. Uyuni 618, among other upscale restaurants in Recoleta. Large plates of food (even the half-plate was too much) and good pique macho and other local dishes. Price range is 37-50B. Probably one of the best restaurants in town. Highly recommended.
- Sucremanta, Several locations: Plaza 14 de Septiembre, and on the Prado. Small but filling menu, -somewhat spicey. The Plaza branch, with live piano music on Saturday noon is a modest place for a brunch. Try the hearty menudito.
- Dumbo, Av. Heroinas E-0354, also El Prado 55. Bolivia’s favorite family restaurant. The main joint on Heroinas is always packed, with four dining floors and enough dancers in animal suits to keep the entire juvenile population of Cochabamba entertained.
- Meihua, SW corner of Plaza Colon. Lunch, dinner and in between.. Standard chinese. A bit greasy but cheap. The entradas at around Bs 15 are full meals.
The best chicha, fermented corn (or peach) based beverage, is said to come from the Cochabamba region.
Most small bars are around Equador and España (close to Plaza Colon). Av. Ballivian (Prado) has bigger venues that feature louder music. The joints grow fancier and more expensive has you head north into Recoleta, centred on Calle Pando.
- Cafe Paris, NE corner of Plaza 14 de Septiembre (Corner of Bolivar and 25 de Mayo). Parisian style café with both filling and sweet crepes as well as a good coffee. Very reliable WiFi available. Sadly, this is about the only café worthy of the name in the whole town. The only other place to qualify is the Amanda next to the Metropolitan Cathedral on 14 September Square. Coffees Bs 8-17.
- Cocafe, Calle Venezuela (Between España and 25 de Mayo). Small, cozy, well decorated. Leaves on offer. 0,6 l beer 10 Bs.
- Cerebrito, Calle España (Betwenn Colombia and Ecuador). Evenings. After school hangout for 18-25s. Star Wars decor. Rock music. Cheap dinners. Probably the most colourful range of shots in the country. Bottoms up!
- Panchos, Calle Mayor Rocha (Between España and 25 de Mayo). Starts out as a bar, turns into a club. Mostly latin music. 1 l beer Bs 15..
- Picasso´s, Calle España (Between Equador and Mayro Rocha). Nice warm up venue. Tables, bar, play dice. 1 l beer Bs 15.
- Marka, Calle Ecuador (Between España and 25 de Mayo). Until late. A courtyard with electronic music and a very mixed crowd. 0.6 l beer 10 Bs..
- Lujos, Calle Beni (Almost on the corner of Santa Cruz). Until sunrise on weekends. Full dance floor, mostly classics ie. reggaeton. Entry 10-15 Bs, pint of beer 10 Bs..