Santa Cruz de la Sierra, or more commonly Santa Cruz, is the capital of the Santa Cruz department in Eastern Bolivia. It is located on the Pirai River in the east section of the country, and has a population of almost 1.5 million people.
The city was first founded in 1561 by Spanish explorer Nuflo de Chavez about 200 kilometres east of its current location. It was moved several times until it was finally established on the Pirai River in the late 16th century. For most of its history, it was mostly a small outpost town, and even after Bolivia gained its independence in 1825, there was little attention to the region until after the second World War. From then, the city grew to its current status of being Bolivia's most populous city, a huge contributing factor to Bolivia's gross domestic product. The city also receives over 40% of all foreign direct investment in the country. Moreover, the city is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, catapulting Santa Cruz as one of the most important business centres in Bolivia and the preferred destination of migrants from all over the country.
What to see & do
Tourism wise, the city is invested on its culture and gastronomy as its primary attractions. The richness of the Latina culture and the uniqueness of Bolivian cuisine in Santa Cruz is intriguing – one that draws in domestic and international tourists. Moreover, the city also offers an interesting circle of cultural and art spaces, covering various topics from natural history, religious art, up to the newest contemporary art. The young locals are invested to the craft too – creating another dimension and a new take on the local art scene. Some of the notable places to visit are the Casa de la Cultura Raul Otero Reiche, the Noel Kempff Mercado Natural History Museum, the Teniente General German Busch Becerra National History Museum, the National and Regional Museum and Archive, and the Cathedral Museum of Sacred Art. Note that even if the city is gearing itself towards modernity and beyond, it preserves much of its traditions and culture which was mainly introduced by the Spaniards who occupied the country almost 400 years ago.
Food options from this side of Bolivia consist of local daily wraps, soups, and other sauce-based meats which are introduced to them by Spain. Mostly, food choices are served with rice or cassava, and sometimes, served with pasta.
Aside from the gastronomy and the historical landmarks, the city of Santa Cruz also has a handful of destinations boasting of its biodiversity. The Jardin Zoologico, Yvaga Guazu, and the Biocentro Guembe are some places to explore, but there are still hidden or unpopular destinations within the confines of the city waiting to be discovered.
How to get around Santa Cruz
Taxis and microbuses are the only travel options when going around the city. Taxis come in private and shared taxis, while microbuses go around the important ring-roads to bring tourists to their destinations.
How to get there
The Viru Viru International Airport is Bolivia's largest and most modern airport which offers direct flights to and from international destinations as well as domestic destinations including Santa Cruz. Airlines that fly to the destination include Condor, Boliviana de Aviacion, American Airlines, and LAN Airlines. Cheap flights can be booked using Skyscanner. Skyscanner is an online resource of the cheapest flights from over 600 airlines including the above-mentioned.
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Airports near Santa Cruz
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