Santa Cruz
capital of the Santa Cruz department in eastern Bolivia
South America > Bolivia > Santa Cruz (department, Bolivia) > Santa Cruz (city, Bolivia)
Santa Cruz (or Santa Cruz de la Sierra) is the capital of the department of Santa Cruz.
Main square and cathedral
Santa Cruz is the most populous city and heart of the second most populous metropolitan area in Bolivia, and it is considered the most economically prosperous city in the country.
Santa Cruz is a boomtown whose population has increased tenfold in the last 25 years, it is almost in the center of Bolivia and is the capital city of the department of Santa Cruz. It lies at one end of the Death Train's line.
For its first 400 years Santa Cruz was very poor and far from potential markets to be able to grow at all. It shares this with the rest of eastern, northern and south eastern Bolivia for most of its history, up until some 50 years ago when a paved road was opened and the possibility of markets opened which summed with some royalties from oil production they also started receiving served as seed to one of the fastest growing cities and economies in the continent. Growth was slow to start but after some 20 years it was spectacular. Today it is difficult to imagine this city and provincial towns of the department for what they really were some 25 or 50 years ago.
In contrast to La Paz and the other major Bolivian cities located high in the Andes, Santa Cruz lies at an altitude of 416 meters, and its climate is distinctly tropical. Santa Cruz is furrowed by drainage ditches.
Although, the country´s official language and main language is Spanish, most places (stores specially) will be able to understand Portuguese and English. If they do not speak those languages, they will probably get someone that does. The people are really friendly, they will try their truly best to talk to you if you are a foreigner.
Map of Santa Cruz (city, Bolivia)
Get in
If you arrive during carnival (during February, sometimes March) it is almost impossible to change money as everything except markets, restaurants and internet cafes are closed. Traders will accept U.S. dollars but at half the going rate. Also be prepared to be pelted with ink filled water balloons, soaked with water bombs and covered in string spray. Wear clothes you don`t mind having permanently stained.
By bus
There are many bus companies from another cities, like Cochabamba, La Paz, Sucre, Trinidad, that go to Santa Cruz de la Sierra. You can arrive from La Paz in about 18 hours, and it takes about 10 hours from Cochabamba.
To and from the Brazilian border in Corumba/Puerto Quijarro is cheaper and faster (10 hr and tickets from Bs. 40) than the famous death train.
Asunción (Paraguay) – The bus is extremely slow (the Transchaco Highway is only paved as far as the Bolivian border), buses generally travel only at night - meaning that you miss out on any views of the Chaco, and roadblocks on the Bolivian side of the border can cause your journey time to double. There is at least one bus daily. The trip takes 21-24 hr, costs US$40-60 (bargain if you can), and flights might actually only be marginally more expensive, depending on the time of booking. Any intermediate exit or boarding (like Filadelfia or Villamontes) will likely cost the same as the complete trip. But if your nerves are strong, you will get the price down bargaining directly with the bus driver.
A taxi from the bus terminal to the center will cost about Bs. 12.
By train
The "death train" (so named because of its history in transporting Yellow Fever victims) runs on bumpy tracks from Puerto Quijarro, close to Corumbá on the Brazilian side. There is a variety of different trains offering different classes and prices. The journey takes 13-17 hr. The most comfortable option, with cama seats, is the "Ferrobus" (Tu Th Sa) which costs Bs. 235 per person (Jul 2019). Expreso Oriental needs longer, but only costs Bs. 70. Tickets can be purchased days in advance at the station (Terminal Bimodal) or online (, plus a US$7 fee). Biting insects are plentiful, so get repellent before you go. It's also a good idea to have blankets or a sleeping bag with you in the colder months of June-August.
The railway between Santa Cruz and Puerto Quijarro is operated by Ferroviaria Oriental S.A..
Ferrobus serving Santa Cruz - Puerto Quijarro
For crossing the border see Puerto Quijarro.
From Corumbá the bus-ride to Sao Paulo takes about another 24 hr.
By plane
Viru Viru International Airport (VVI IATA). Bolivia's largest and most modern airport, and a hub for BoA. International flights on BoA travel to Madrid, São Paulo, and Buenos Aires with other destinations on the horizon. AeroSur is no longer operational. American Airlines flies direct to Miami. Other options include a variety of destinations via Panama, and LATAM and Avianca also fly to Santa Cruz. Gol Airlines and Aerolineas Argentinas also offer flights to São Paulo and Buenos Aires, respectively. Air Europa also flies direct to Madrid.
Getting there/away: To get into downtown Santa Cruz from the airport you have two options. The first is to take a taxi that will charge you approximately Bs. 60. This is probably the easiest and most comfortable way to get into town. Make sure to ask the driver the fare since there is not a sign with prices to different parts of the city. If you are on a tight budget the second option is a "micro" or mini-bus that waits outside the front doors of the airport that leaves every 20 min, the fare for the bus is Bs. 6. There is an additional surcharge of Bs. 4 for the buses that depart after 22:00. This bus follows the Cristo Redentor Avenue and then along the First Ring where it stops near the former bus terminal. To get to the main plaza, ask the driver to let you off at Libertad and Primer Anillo (First Ring). From there, it is about a seven-block walk.
El Trompillo Airport (SRZ IATA). It is the city's older airport. Major airlines have daily flights to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, mainly from La Paz (about 4 flights per day: early in the morning, in the afternoon, early in the evening, and late in the night). From Cochabamba (about 2 flights per day). Flights to international cities are also daily, (Sao Paulo, Brasil - Buenos Aires, Argentina - Lima, Peru - there are daily flights). American Airlines has daily service to and from Miami.
Getting there/away: Trompillo is very close to the city center, and is thus a cheaper taxi ride. Micros also pass by the airport, exit the departure hall and walk down the road to the right until you reach an intersection. Cross the street and wait for Micro 40 or 42. The information counter in the airport provides helpful information and distributes free maps.
About Bolivian airlines and flying within Bolivia: Bolivia#Get_around
Get around
Streets in central Santa Cruz
By bus
Micros 17 and 18 travel the first ring, Micros 72 and 73 travel the second ring. To get to the center from Parque Urbano take Micro 69 or 100. You can pick up a map of all the bus routes from many "librerias" or bookstores downtown. There is also a great mobile app called Cruzero (both for iOS and Android) which contains route maps of all micros. It can also find you an optimal route if you just select the source and the destination on the city map. There is a website with the same content as well:
The fare for most micros is Bs. 2, but some of the ones that go further charge more, and the one that goes to the airport charges Bs. 6.
Shared taxis circulate the rings as well, they are called "trufis". Look for the signs on the roof. Faster than Micros and more comfortable because you can actually sit down. The fare for most trufis is Bs. 2.
By taxi
Taxis in Santa Cruz are relatively expensive to other Bolivian cities. Make sure to settle on a price with a driver before heading to your destination. Fares may be anywhere between Bs. 20-40. Prices to the airport may be between Bs. 60-90.
Uber has been operating in Santa Cruz. Fares are very competitive with radio taxis or taxis hailed from the street with cars generally in good condition with air conditioning. Option to pay in cash also available. Easy Taxi is another app-based service.
Piraí river (close to Cabañas)
Beyond the city
In Santa Cruz you can book some great excursions, like a trekking in Park Amboro, Noel Kempff, a river boat trip in the Amazon region, cultural excursions to the Jesuit Missions etc.
Around the city
Yvaga Guazu park
Santa Cruz hosts one of the most famous soccer academy in the world. "Academia de Futbol Tahuichi Aguilera". Their unique and original way of training young soccer players to become professionals in the future. They train in rivers and ran through mountains of sand. Young players from all over the world come to this academy to experience its training method.
There are several good restaurants in the north of the city. One of the main clusters of restaurants is spread around Avenida Monseñor Rivero.
There are some hotels close to the bus terminal which is a bit further away from the center. A large Bolivia hotels and hostels directory is​, they offer accommodation all over the country and you can make reservations for free.
If you have a layover in Viru Viru, you can rent a room in the airport if you want to take a nap or if you get in late and have an early flight the next morning. It's called en-kma and is a small dorm style room with wi-fi, bed, mini-fridge, tv, and air conditioning. It's US$10/hour but if you stay longer, they will give you a discount. It's surprisingly very clean and more comfortable than expected.
Stay safe
United States (Consular Agency), Avenida Roque Aguilera #146 (3er Anillo), ☏ +591-2-216-8000, fax: +591-3-351-3478. 
Most hostels and upper hotels have proper WiFi.
A good internet cafe is at the corner of Avenida Cañoto and Buenos Aires. Its hyperfast, air conditioned and cheap.
Cheap call centers can be found everywhere in the city. Tel Viva use communication over the internet and charge Bs. 0.50/minute.
Go next
Samaipata – A small town in the mountains 2 hr away, old and beautiful. It has El Fuerte ruins and other attractions. Shared taxis leave from:

This city travel guide to Santa Cruz is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.

Last edited on 3 December 2020, at 21:05
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