As you’re planning a Bolivia itinerary, you’ve probably read that Sucre is one of the most popular places (in all of South America) to learn Spanish. If you like the idea of taking a Spanish course while getting to know the culture and history of Bolivia, but you’re not sure what to expect – this article is for you.
After visiting the Uyuni Salt Flats and Potosi, we arrived in Sucre wanting to spend a week resting and to experience something different. I’m a native Spanish speaker and my husband has been learning the language here and there but had never taken proper lessons before.
- Read more: Our Uyuni Salt Flats Tour with Cruz Andina
We settled on a plan to enroll him into private lessons in the morning and explore Sucre together in the afternoon. It turned out to be an awesome experience that left us both fulfilled and rejuvenated.
Keep on reading to learn all about studying Spanish in Sucre as well as the best things to see and do that you shouldn’t miss during your stay.
A Guide to Traveling and Learning Spanish in Sucre Bolivia
Before we continue, some facts about why Sucre became one of the most popular destinations for travelers interested in learning Spanish:
- Sucre is a historic gem. It is the constitutional capital of Bolivia and where some of the most important South American revolutionaries signed the country’s declaration of independence in 1825. You will find plenty of interesting museums and landmarks to visit.
- Sucre has long been a student city as it’s home to the continent’s second-oldest and most prestigious university, San Francisco Xavier University, which dates to 1624. As any other student city, there’s no shortage of cafes and bars to keep you entertained after school.
- Sucre has dozens of language schools all throughout the city center. All offer flexible, affordable and high-quality Spanish courses. Whether you’re visiting for a couple of days or a month, you will find an option that works for your needs.
- Sucre is small enough to navigate on foot, has a mild climate and boasts some of the most beautiful colonial architecture in Bolivia. It is a breath of fresh air if you’re coming from exhausting nature activities in high altitude (e.g. Uyuni Salt Flats)
- Bolivia has one of the most neutral and clear accents in South America which makes a it a perfect starting point for foreigners learning the language.
Learning Spanish in Sucre – All you need to know
How to choose your Spanish School
Truth be told, we didn’t do any school research prior to arriving to Sucre. I remember we grabbed a couple of pamphlets at a local cafe, checked some reviews and settled on Sucre Spanish School.
This was possible because all the Spanish schools in Sucre cater to travelers like ourselves and provide the flexibility to start lessons the following day. My advice is always to do prior research online but know that it is possible to make your final decision while in Sucre.
To help you get started, here are some of the most popular Spanish schools in Sucre:
- Sucre Spanish School (this is the one my husband attended)
- Me Gusta School
- Continental Spanish School
- Open Spanish Lessons
Types of lessons available & costs
There are several options for travelers seeking short-term Spanish lessons: group lessons, one-on-one lessons, half-day lessons, full-day lessons… basically, it is flexible.
My husband went for one-on-one lessons of 4 hours during the morning so that we could meet again at lunch time and explore the city together in the afternoon. The cost of the classes was 7 USD per hour.
What to expect
Before you decide to take Spanish lessons in Sucre, it is helpful to be clear on your learning goals and communicate them to your teacher so you can manage your expectations. Do you want to learn some phrases to help you get by, do you want to just practice conversation, do you want to refine and broaden your vocabulary?
Even though it was only a total of 20 hours of study, my husband was happy with the outcome because he was able to practice conversational Spanish and clear some grammar questions that books had not been able to answer for. It was so fun to see him interact with the friendly locals and use all the phrases he had learned in the morning. I think that’s where the true value of taking lessons in Sucre is, regardless of your proficiency level.
Things to See & Do in Sucre
Sucre is a relatively small city but it is packed with interesting and fun things to see and do. Here are some the places we enjoyed the most during our week-long stay.
Plaza 25 de Mayo
Beautiful historic square surrounded by impressive colonial buildings and jacaranda trees. Perfect for people-watching.
Templo de San Felipe Neri
One of the oldest churches in Sucre. The highlight: sweeping views of the city from the rooftop.
Address: Nicolás Ortiz 165
A colonial square with beautiful arches. Perfect spot for photography. From here, you can visit the Recoleta Museum, check out the handicraft stalls or grab a drink at Cafe Gourmet Mirador.
I love checking out the local markets everywhere I go. At Mercado Central you can find the freshest, most beautiful fruits, vegetables and everything in between.
Address: Junin 366. Open hours 6am – 6pm.
Museo Casa de la Libertad
To get a good grasp of the history of Bolivia, a visit to Museo Casa de la Libertad is a must. Here you can sit in the exact room where the Bolivian declaration of independence was signed. There are other interesting items on display such as the first Argentine flag, portraits of the great liberators and paintings of the city of Sucre in the independence era. English tours available daily.
Address: Plaza 25 de Mayo 25. Admission 15Bs.
Museo del Convento de Santa Clara
An interesting museum/church where you get to see the cloisters, the recently restored wall paintings and the oldest beautiful old wooden organ inside the church.
Some things to bear in mind: you have to pay extra to take pictures with your camera (and only of the cloisters and garden); guided tours are only available in Spanish.
Address: Calvo 138
Museo de Arte Indigena ASUR (Textile Museum)
This museum does a good job of displaying some magnificent pieces of textile art that provide a real insight into the local cultures of Bolivia. It’s amazing to see the intense work that goes into creating these unique forms of art that are full of meaning and symbolism.
Address: San Alberto 413
Outside of Town
Castillo de la Glorieta (La Glorieta Castle)
If you fancy a break from the city, head to the castle of Castillo de la Glorieta. The castle was built during the late 19th century by a wealthy couple that received the honorary title of Prince and Princess from the Pope, making them the first and only royal couple in Bolivian history. The pink and eclectic appearance of the building provides lots of photo opportunities, although to our slight disappointment, the inside of the building is now largely empty. Free guided tours are only available in Spanish.
About 20 min outside of Sucre. Mini-Bus #4 from Mercado Central (Last Stop).
Parque Cretásico (Dinosaur Tracks)
A small park that features dinosaur footprints that date back millions of years. There are also life size replicas of dinosaurs. We didn’t make it here but heard good things about it.
About 20 min outside of Sucre.
Where To Eat in Sucre
We really enjoyed the food scene in Sucre, in particular all the affordable and delicious vegetarian restaurants! Here are my top recommendations:
Café Gourmet Mirador | This is hands-down the best place for a lunch or a coffee outside. Grab a seat under one of the lovely bamboo umbrellas with a terrific view of the city at your feet. Iturricha 297
El Germen | Homely vibe and great vegetarian options. We loved the lentil burger. San Alberto 231
Cóndor Café | The best vegetarian lunch menu in Sucre. For just $3.5 US, you get a soup, main dish, dessert, drink and bread. Delicious and healthy. Bolivar & Calvo
Doña Franca | If you’re looking for a simple and filling vegetarian meal, this local restaurant fits the bill. San Alberto 215
Santa Clara Convent | Looking for the best salteñas (empanadas) in Sucre? You’d be surprised to know that you can get them in this convent, made with love by nuns. Avaroa Street 290
Chocolates Para Ti | Best artisan chocolate you can find in Bolivia. Great assortment of chocolate flavors and products. Arenales 7
Where to stay in Sucre
We stayed on this studio-type Airbnb located near the city centre. For $10 USD a night, we had a private bathroom and a kitchenette – and that’s all we really cared about. If you’re on a tight budget, this Airbnb can be a good option.
New to Airbnb? Here’s $40 free credit to get you started!
If you’d rather stay at a hotel, here are some good options:
El Hostal de Su Merced | A small hotel that is housed in a magnificent converted mansion from the 18th century. Rooms have thick white adobe walls and antique furniture. Prices start at $60 USD/night. Check reviews and book here.
Find more Sucre hotels here.
Weather in Sucre
Sucre has a pleasant climate. The average temperature ranges from 18°C (64°F) to 21°C (70°F). June and July are the coldest months. The rest of the year tends to be dry and sunny, however nights can get chilly, dropping to just above 5 °C.
Best time to visit Sucre
While Sucre is beautiful to visit at any time of year, the ideal time to visit the city is during the dry season. Despite the cooler weather, this is the time when there are bluer skies and less rain.
Is Sucre safe?
We felt very safe in Sucre both during the day and evening. I’d recommend you take the basic precautions as you would in any other city.
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