Where to Stay in Santa Cruz, Bolivia | The A-Z Guide
Curious where to stay in Santa Cruz, Bolivia these days?
If so, then you’re in the perfect place. Below you’ll find everything you need to know about living in Santa de la Sierra — including things like best neighborhoods, things to do, and hotels in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
After spending nearly a month in this wild city near the Brazilian border, I’m here to share everything I know about Santa Cruz, Bolivia with you today.
But before we dive too deep here, I know you might be looking for some quick recommendations and reviews. So here’s just that…
The Best Neighborhood in Santa Cruz de la Sierra...
Scattered around Centro Histórico, you've got regal old monuments, stately government buildings, leafy green plazas, grandiose colonial churches, and captivating galleries and museums. The area is safe. Plus, it's got a cool cosmopolitan vibe too -- with no shortage of trendy restaurants, bars, and cafes to choose from.
Things to Do:
- Party All Night Long - You'll find some of the best nightlife in all of Bolivia around here -- if you know where to look 😉
- Santa Cruz Cathedral - The best way to get your bearings and admire the colonial splendor of the old town is to hike up the clock tower of the city's main cathedral.
- Visit 'Lomas de Arena' - Just outside of town, you'll be able to sandboard here. One of the best things to do while in Bolivia.
That’s the absolute best neighborhood in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, along with a few great hotels and things to do. Highly recommended.
For a general overview of this unique city in Bolivia, keep on reading this bad boy.
Inside this in-depth guide on hotels in Santa Cruz, Bolivia and exactly what neighborhoods are best here, you’ll find some more information like:
Where to Stay in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia| Best Locations + Hotels
Let’s cut to the chase, shall we?
If you’ve read any of my destination guides before — and you should because they’re the best on the net — then you’d know what I look for in a neighborhood:
I want a nice lookin’ hood that’s not packed full of trash. Somewhere I can easily strut around on foot. A place that’s right in the guts of the traveler scene.
And in Santa Cruz, that barrio is downtown.
So what’s the best spot within the downtown area, then?
Right here near the leafy Plaza 24 de Septiembre. As close to the Catedral de Santa Cruz as you can afford.
In this area, you’ll find a lovely plaza filled with people day and night, great restaurants around every turn, and there’s a number of bars and clubs within walking distant:
If you’re coming to Santa Cruz de la Sierra for less than 10 days, this is where you want to be! For longer term stays, make sure to check out the other neighborhoods below.
With that in mind, this is my #1 HOTEL recommendation in Santa Cruz, Bolivia:
Best Neighborhoods in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia
When you think of Bolivia, what’s the first city that comes to mind? La Paz, right?
Most people mistakenly believe La Paz is the capital — it ain’t, Sucre is. Others wrongly assume it’s the biggest city or the main financial hub.
Nope and nope.
While La Paz is undoubtedly the tourist center of the country and the most important urban zone of the Bolivian Andes, it ain’t got sh*t on Santa Cruz in terms of population size, development growth, or economic opportunity.
Oh, and the chicks are waaaaaay better looking in Santa Cruz as well! Just saying 😉
Situated smack bang in the geographical heart of Bolivia, Santa Cruz is the capital of the departamento of the same name. The people who reside in the city and the state–and the whole of eastern Bolivia, for that matter–are distinctly different from the folks that inhabit the western highlands.
First up, eastern Bolivians, who are better known as cambas, are racially different from western Bolivians, who are better known as collas. Cambas, on the whole, are much more European in terms of their genetics. It’s not uncommon to come across tall pale skinned locals, some of whom sport long golden locks.
Cambas are much more European in terms of their culture as well, not that unlike the folks in neighboring Brazil. On the whole, cambas are outwardly friendly, overly extroverted, hot-headed, easy to befriend, and fiercely proud of their heritage. In fact, there’s a strong independence movement among the local populace who feel those collas de mierda are siphoning all their wealth.
And speaking of wealth, there’s one other big difference between west and east:
There’s quite a lot of money floating around Santa Cruz, most of which comes from the agriculture, oil, and natural gas industries. Of course, it’s no secret there are fat stacks coming in from the drug trade as well.
It ain’t exactly Switzerland, but Santa Cruz is noticeably better off than other Bolivian cities, and a little bit more expensive to boot. But don’t worry, it’s still fookin’ cheap.
Not all cambas are rich AF, though. There’s plenty of poverty in the city and the local delinquents aren’t shy about extracting a gringo’s cash by force. So it pays to know your neighborhoods in Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
Stick to where the money is to avoid getting rolled, although you’ll be far safer here than almost anywhere in Brazil.
Without further ado, let’s dig into the best neighborhoods in Santa Cruz de la Sierra:
#1. Downtown – the best spot for sightseeing and culture in Santa Cruz
Downtown, A.K.A el centro or casco viejo, refers to everything that lies within the first ring – cambas use the city’s ring roads to draw geographical divisions.
Shady sh*t doesn’t tend to go down in downtown, at least not while it’s early enough for normal people to be hanging out in the streets. As a blatant gringo with zero street smarts, you can waltz around here during the day and early evening without a care in the world.
And not only is it safe, but it’s a way more pleasant place to be than the rest of the city, most of which is depressingly dirty and dull — outside of a couple nice barrios.
In a nutshell, el centro’s colonial buildings and laidback plazas keep things pretty.
And speaking of pretty… ¡las mujeres cruceñas, aye dios mio!
But I digress…
Scattered within the first ring, you’ve got regal old monuments, stately government buildings, leafy green plazas, grandiose colonial churches, and captivating galleries and museums. It might not be Arequipa, but central Santa Cruz’ earthy-hued edifices make it the most attractive section of the city hands down — certainly more than the haphazard urban sprawl outside.
It’s got a cool cosmopolitan vibe too, with no shortage of trendy restaurants and cafes to choose from.
Fancy a night out?
There are a few bopping bars around and a smattering of solid clubs within a few blocks too.
Best Hotel in Downtown Santa Cruz: Cosmopolitano Hotel Boutique
This place is classy as can be, the definition of a chic boutique.
You’ve got sleek contemporary design, a refreshing little plunge pool, well-appointed rooms, and a bad-ass breakfast. What else could you need? A stylish laptop-friendly workspace, of course — the perfect place to get your online hustle on. Cosmopolitano is only like four blocks from the Plaza de Armas, so you’re about 2-3 minutes walking from one of the best spots in the city.
#2. Equipetrol – best for high-end living and long term stays
While the old town is the obvious choice for the everyday traveler in Santa Cruz, well-heeled expats and locals flock to Equipetrol and the nearby Sirari and San Carlos neighborhoods like moths to a flame.
These ritzy northern suburbs are where the rich cruceños come to live, work, and play. And that stark influx of wealth can be seen in the people, the businesses, and the residences that inhabit the glam zone.
Fine dining and the city’s best cafe culture lie along the pedestrian-friendly boulevard of Avenida Monseñor Rivero, while the most boppin’ after-dark action takes place on the decadent Avenida San Martin.
If you’ve got money ,and you don’t need much in Bolivia, you’re staying here long term, and you want a glitzy barrio with a kick-ass social scene — then Equipetrol is the ideal spot for you.
This area is also exceptionally safe.
Best Hotel in Equipetrol, Santa Cruz: Inboccalupo The Hotel Boutique
Honestly, it’s worth staying in Equipetrol just to sleep a few nights in this funky ass boutique. Bolivian lodgings don’t get much more stylish than this ultra-modern offering, where exposed brick and concrete walls create an eye-catching contrast with its chic contemporary decor.
Most rooms are studios or lofts, so you’ll get plenty of space — and there’s an awesome on-site gym and pool for those after an active stay.
#3. Urubó – best for wealthy expat families
If you’re young and restless and want to have fun, then Equipetrol is your ‘hood.
But if you’re a bit older and/or obscenely wealthy , by Bolivian standards, then the elite suburbs of Urubó are your Holy Grail.
Located west of the Pirai River and well away from the kerfuffle of the city, this semi-rural zone is brimming with over-sized and ostentatious residences. I’m talking outrageous country estates and obscene multistory “McMansions” for all. Pobres need not apply.
Most of the properties here lie within gated communities, with a clientele largely consisting of diplomats, oil executives, and a few narcos thrown in for good measure.
If you want a safe place to raise a family, Urubó is prime real estate in Santa Cruz.
And while having just one bridge into town does make traffic a chore, that’s something for your chauffeur to worry about.
I recommend only staying in this zone if you’re going to Santa Cruz de la Sierra with a family or on business. The average traveler or digital nomad will prefer the barrios listed above.
Best Hotel in Urubó, Santa Cruz: Radisson Hotel Santa Cruz
Urubó doesn’t have a whole lot of hotels to choose from, which makes the Radisson a clear winner.
The hotel has everything you’d expect from a global five-star chain: comfortable contemporary rooms, a swanky infinity pool, a functional business space, and an awesome in-house gym.
Top 3 Budget Hotels in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia
Not everyone is out there livin’ the high-rollin’ lifestyle. Some of y’all just want a clean and economic lodge to lay your weary head. Ideally, that lodging would be in a safe area with some cool sh*t within walking distance.
I hear ya!
So without further ado, here are the top three budget crash pads in Santa Cruz:
Located on the outer edge of the first ring, this convenient downtown accommodation is half hostel/half hotel, providing backpackers and midrange travelers alike with a comfy place to sleep.
The mattresses are super soft, the bed linen is extra clean, and the 360-degree views from the rooftop are, well, 360 degrees.
Situated in the bopping Equipetrol district, this stylish boutique is ideal for folks looking for a sophisticated dig. Each room comes elegantly adorned in a cool minimalist style, while there’s a sunny patio and swimming pool out back to work on your tan.
Be sure to make use of the outdoor parrilla to cook up some juicy cruceño steaks accompanied by a bottle of fine Bolivian wine. And trust me, the local vino is better than you think 😉
Are apartment hotels more your thing? Then it’s hard to go past Pacifico, an outstanding midrange option on the edge of the first ring. Each apartment is spacious, stylish, and luxurious, and there’s a sweet rooftop swimming pool with sweeping city views. Most importantly, the free breakfast is badass.
Apartments in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia
If you’re planning to stay more than a few weeks, then Santa Cruz, Bolivia hotels may not be ideal. You may want to check out some of the great apartment options spread out throughout the city.
Most of my favorite apartments for rent in Santa Cruz de la Sierra can be found in the Equipetrol neighborhood. If you plan to stay here long-term, then this is the best place to search for apartments.
Personally, I found this apartment to be in the ideal location for longer-term living in Santa Cruz:
Featuring a stunning rooftop pool, modern decor, and solid kitchens — this is the apartment to look at when staying over the long haul in Bolivia.
The location is also absolutely idea, in the center of Equipetrol. You can walk to many restaurants, bars, and gyms from this apart hotel.
Overall, highly recommended.
Quick Trip vs. Living Full-Time?
I’ll level with you…Santa Cruz just isn’t that interesting to visit.
Sure, the old colonial buildings in the center are pleasant enough and there are cute mamacitas everywhere you turn.
But it’s hardly going to win any tourism awards. Get in, stay a couple of nights, and GTFO. Unless you want to base up here, get work done, and enjoy some crazy Bolivian nightlife.
Overall, the best sh*t lies outside of the city. If you’re into culture and nature, then Bolivia is ripe for exploration. The hilltop town of Samaipata is a sweet spot to chill, the forests of Amboró are ideal for hiking, and the churches of Las Chiquitos will leave you in awe.
Most long-termers, on the other hand, end up loving Santa Cruz. The climate is more agreeable than La Paz, although it does get fookin’ hot, and the traffic isn’t all that bad.
You’ve also got a great dining and entertainment scene, world-class international schools, and stacks of multinational corporations who offer high paying jobs.
It’s little wonder a strong contingent of gringos have decided to settle here.
Top 3 Things to Do in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia
Although Santa Cruz isn’t exactly the touristic highlight of South America, there are a couple of cool things to check out while in town.
- Biocentro & Resort Güembé: Half-nature reserve half waterpark, this fun-filled resort is a sweet spot to escape the punishing cruceñco heat. About a million separate swimming pools can be found scattered throughout the grounds, and there’s a massive walk-in bird sanctuary with all sorts of colorful tropical species. There’s also some zoo-style attractions and monkeys all around. The place is empty on weekdays and busy on weekends, so take your pick.
- Climb the Santa Cruz Cathedral: The best way to get your bearings and admire the colonial splendor of the old town is to hike up the clock tower of the city’s main cathedral. From there, you can plan your course for all the other old stuff you fancy sussing out.
- Lomas de Arena: Strangely, Santa Cruz has a weird desert-like landscape right outside the city–the ideal place to indulge in some adrenaline-pumping sandboarding action. The massive dunes are surrounded by wildlife-rich rainforest, so it’s a good spot to get in some animal spotting as well. Nick’s Adventure Tours will get you there with minimal fuss.
Where to Stay in Santa Cruz, Bolivia | Verdict
That was a whole lot of information on Santa Cruz, Bolivia hotels and best neighborhoods.
Legit everything you’d ever need to know about finding the perfect lodging for your stay in my favorite city in Bolivia.
While Santa Cruz is no tourism hotspot, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere in Bolivia that’s better for long-term living. If you plan to spend more than a week or two in the country, I can’t recommend this spot enough.
Just make sure you find the perfect hotel Santa Cruz de la Sierra…
My favorite? The Cosmopolitano Hotel Boutique in the center of the city.
Que te vaya bien,