You can pay for most, if not everything, with US Dollars. If you need to change money, note that during Carnival, it is almost impossible to change money as everything except markets, restaurants and internet cafes are closed. During Carnival, wear clothes you don't mind having permanently stained. Be prepared to be pelted with ink filled water balloons, soaked with water bombs, and covered in string spray.
The bus station listed in the Santa Cruz web site is no longer in use. The new one is a 15 Bs taxi fare from the centre of town.
The "death train" (so named because of its history in transporting Yellow Fever victims) runs on bumpy tracks from Quijarro, close to Corumbá on the Brazilian side. There is a variety of different trains offering different classes and prices. The journey takes either 17 hours (super pullmann) or 13 and a half (ferrocarril). The most comfortable option, with cama seats, is the "Ferrobus" (Quijarro-Santa Cruz on Mon, Wed, Fri) which at time of writing (October 2013) cost 235Bs per person, while the cheaper Expreso Oriental at 70Bs, departs Quijarro on Tue, Thurs, Sun. Contrary to what is written in many guidebooks, tickets can be purchased days in advance at the station (Terminal Bimodal). Biting insects are plentiful, so get repellent before you go.
From Corumbá the bus-ride to Sao Paulo takes about 24 hours more.
Viru Viru International Airport (IATA: VVI, ICAO: SLVR) is Bolivia's largest and most modern airport, and a hub for BOA. They offer direct flights from Madrid, Miami and Washington to Santa Cruz a few times a week. To get into downtown Santa Cruz from the airport you have two options. The first is to take a taxi that will charge you 60bs (~$8). This is probably the easiest and most comfortable way (and the only option at night) to get into town, but 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 until it fills up, the fare for the bus is only 6 BOB (about 1 USD); there are three buses per hour; the first one is at about 6:30 AM. It takes about 30 minutes to get to Terminal Antigua from the airport; ask the driver to point it to you as they continue further. From there it is about 1.4 km to Plaza Principal; no problem walking. As of July 2016, that airport tax is included in ticket prices at least on LAN. Even if you fly at 4 AM to the airport, everything is open including Left Luggage, which is 50 BOB per piece for longer than 2 hours, which is very expensive, but better than alternatives. Money exchange is at normal rates; in Sierra Cruz there are plenty of money exchanges; several at Plaza Principal on opposite corner than the Cathedral. Food prices at the airport are about three times what you pay in town. To get back to the airport, go to Terminal Antigua; the airport microbus stop is located about 50 yards from the round about on the right hand in the side street about 50 yards from the intersection opposite a green "policia" structure. Micro buses leave at full hour, 20 and 40 minutes past. Passport control is cumbersome; plus they dig into your luggage both flying in and out -- not very friendly.
El Trompillo Airport (IATA: SRZ, ICAO: SLET) is the city's older airport, and is used by military operated TAM airlines for internal flights (to Cochabamba and Sucre, for example) and Aerocon (to Tarija and Trinidad for example). Trompillo 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.
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 is also daily, (Sao Paulo, Brasil - Buenos Aires, Argentina - Lima, Peru - etc. there are daily flights). American Airlines has daily service to and from Miami.
About Bolivian airlines and flying within Bolivia: Bolivia#Get_around
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. There is a new road from Puerto Quijarro/Corumbá to Santa Cruz. A bus ride costs around 110Bs daytime (no AC) and around 140Bs nighttime (with AC). The bus ride takes 12 hours and is faster than the ferrobus that takes 16 hours. Buses at daytime leaves to Santa Cruz around ~11AM.
International buses run to Sao Paulo, Corumba and Campo Grande in Brazil; to Peru via La Paz and to Asuncion in Paraguay (with TransRosario - 60 USD one way 26 hours).
Flechabus has a daily service to Buenos Aires, it departs from Santa Cruz at 19:00.
If you don't like taxis, micros are the only public transport to get around. Micros 17 and 18 circulate the first ring, Micros 72 and 73 circualate 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. The fare for most micros is 2bs in 2014, but some of the ones that go further charge more, and the one that goes to the airport charges 6bs (in 2015). To figure your route, use Cruzero , who also have an App for Android.
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 2bs.
Supermarkets 5 main supermarket chain service the population. Prices are genrally higher than in the Europe since a a great part of the available groceries is imported. Same applies for cosmetics and accessories. IC Norte, Fidalga, Hipermaxi, HiperPlaza and SLAN basically offer the same range of producuts and none is significantly better or cheaper than the other. The Hipermaxi in Av. Banzer has usually freshly baked goods , the Fidalga on the other side of the street is pretty new and has a nice food court.
Clothes,Furniture etc. In this section as well a great deal of the products is imported resulting in a higher price than usual in western countries. Cheaper, second hand articles can be found in the markets of La Ramada or Los Pozos. There are no big stores such as BestBuy or IKEA that offer this kind of secondary need products in a large scale environment.
Souvenirs Although typical Bolivian Souvenirs can be found cheaper and in better quality and variety in the Andean region, Santa Cruz offers those as well mainly around the main Plaza 24 de Septiembre. Typically Oriental Bolivian products can be found there as well. A nice alternative is the handicrafts market on Sundays behind the main church in the so called Manzana 1. Recently opened accessories store Hevea Bolivia Accessories offers stylish handbags and accessories ( you guessed it) in its own shop /workshop made from recycled tire inner tubes. Direction is Calle Nuflo de Chavez #715 , almost first ring.
Places to visit
In Santa Cruz you can book some great excursions, like a trekking in the spectacular Amboro National Park,visiting the beautiful waterfalls of Espejillos Waterfalls and Jardin De Las Delicas Waterfalls,looking for Jaguars in Kaa Iya National Park, Sand boarding and Sloth viewing in the natural desert of Lomas de Arena, Jesuit Mission Churches, Dorado fishing in Los Cajones,exploring the Inter Andean Town of Samaipata which has beautiful waterfalls, Condor Viewing, Pre Incan Ruins, Mountain Treks etc, Ruta de Che , Bolivian Pantanal , Noel Kempff National Park and exploring the beautiful and non touristic Chiquitania Region.
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.
Yvaga Guazú Tel. 3527971. Nature park, where you can see different plants and animals, which you'd encounter if you went to national parks like Amboró or Noel Kempff Mercado. If you don't have time for these national parks, Yvaga Guazú is a place to go. It's out of the city, at the 12,5 km mark on the double way to La Guardia. To go there, go to the Bus Termianl "Terminal Bimodal" or to the intersection first ring (primero nillo) with the "Doble via a la Guardia". There catch a micro (2-4 Bs) with a red front that should have a sign "El Torno" . To return, catch the same micro going to the bus terminal (Sign : Terminal Bimodal or Santa Cruz). 70 Bs for a guided (Spanish) excursion.
Piraí river - means much to the people of Santa Cruz. The water is muddy. In the dry season the river is sunken so you can easily cross it by foot or motorbike. A lot of people are gathering here to socialize, cool of and picnic. Nearby Cabañas Río Piraí offer some very typical camba food.
Nicks Adventures Bolivia is a well trusted Australian/ Bolivian Owned Tour Operator who specializes in Santa Cruz and beyond. They are located at Equipetrol Calle La Plata 8 Este Casa 11
La Rinconada, Buen Retiro, km 7 Camino a Porongo, ☎ +59170899708, . A beautifully designed Eco Park which has swimming pools, beautiful gardens, a lake filled with fish and their claim to fame is having the worlds largest Queen Victoria Water Lilly which was confirmed by the Guniness World Records. 50b.
San Miguelito Jaguar Conservation Reserve, Km 100 a cuatro Canadas y 90km a San Antonio de Lomeiro, ☎ +59178458046. San Miguelito Jaguar Conservation Ranch is a cattle farm which has been developed for Eco Tourisim, this property is the only one in the área which has kept its forests intact and in turn has become a reserve for a huge variety of wildlife, This property is famous for its populations of Jaguars and other cats and also has Tapirs, Peccaries, Monkeys, Anacondas, Ocelots and more here. Activities include night drives, canoe trips, trekking , fishing and much more. Money raised from visiting the ranch goes directly towards Jaguar conservation projects in Bolivia.
Do and events
CineCenter, (on the 2nd Ring). A movie theater complex with a variety of film offerings, a food court, shopping mall, and some high-end cafes and restaurants. It also has a 3D movie theater, a video arcade, and an indoor playground for small children.
Estadio Ramón Tahuichi Aguilera (Main Stadium), (inside the 1st Ring). Hosts football games and the occasional high-profile concert. Can get crowded during The Clasico when Santa Cruz's two main football teams, Oriente Petrolero and Blooming, play against each other. Use caution when at the stadium due to often drunk and rowdy fans.
Bowling, (downtown). Bowling alley. Bowling shoes can be rented there, which is not included in the price per hour. There is a food and beverage kiosk inside. Expensive.
Plaza 24 de Septiembre (Principal Plaza). The city's main plaza, where locals and tourists alike gather to hang out and observe each other. There are benches and small tables to play chess at, there are numerous pidgeons to feed, and several cafes/restaurants surrounding it. The city's main cathedral is here and is quite beautiful. During the day you can pay to enter the cathedral's small museum and climb to the top of the belltower, where you can get a nice view of the plaza from above.
7 calles market market near downtown
Ventura Mall, Cuarto Anillo (4th ring). Full-service shopping mall with Starbucks, Cinnabon, Hard Rock Cafe, and more. Also features a movie theatre where you can fully recline and order food directly to your seats.
Food and drinks
There are several good restaurants in the north of the city. One of the main clusters of restaurants is spread around Avenida Monseñor Rivero.
El Aljibe 4 blocks from the central square, on the corner between Potosí and Ñuflo de Chavez, Tel (591-3) 335 2277, Mon-Sat 11:30-15:00 and 18:00-23:30, Sundays and holidays 11:30-16:00. Very good place to try delicious Camba food in a beautiful setting. The restaurant is named for the traditional style well it has in its central courtyard (aljibe in Spanish). Costs about 35 bolivianos per main dish. The Majao del Pato (spicy rice dish with duck, egg and bananas) is very tasty, as is the Locro de Gallina (hearty chicken soup). Popular with locals.
Capri many locations including Avenida Monseñor Rivero and Avenida Melchor Pinto. Excellent pizzeria with Italian style pizza. Owned by an Argentinian of Italian descent. Pizzas cost around 50 bolivianos each and are large enough to share between two people.
Empanaderia Las Charcas on Avenida Melchor Pinto. One of the best empanaderias in the centre. They are fried while you wait and cost 6 or 7 bolivianos each depending on the filling (the Lechón, or suckling pig, filling is one of the richest).
Papa Jack is very impressive and new (2011) restaurant located in an ally near Avenida Monseñor Rivero. It is very clean and modern, and has many types of food in it (their definition -casual resturant). The prices around 50 Bolivianos per person.
Picolo's is one of the local favorites. There, you can get some of the best ice cream in Santa Cruz. Look for the small Jesus statute on your tourist maps, most of them are in the Avenida Monseñór Rivero.
Casa del Camba on the second ring (somewhere between av. Beni and av. Alemana), Tel: 342-7864. Excellent outdoor style restaurant with option to eat indoors as well. Has live music and dance floor with a traditional Santa Cruz atmosphere. Very good service, clean and reasonably priced. Friday and Saturdays are busy it can handle a lot of people.
Michelango's, Calle Warnes and Chuquisaca. Serves excellent Italian style food in a great atmosphere.
The Irish Pub in the main plaza is a great place for meeting other tourists, locals, watching sports on TV and enjoying good food, beer, music and a cozy atmosphere. Service is slow but there is a pleasant terrace that has a good view of the main plaza. Does not have Guinness or any beer other than the usual lagers.
Cabañas Río Piraí (thatch-roofed restaurants at the Piraí river) offer very authentic clay oven-baked camba food (i.e. banana leaf-wrapped empanadas, zonzo). Live music. Locals like the place very much. Ask people around the main square, how to get there.
There are two vegetarian restaurants to be found in Calle Cochabamba which is 4 blocks east of the Plaza . Vegetarian Center Cuerpomente has been around forever, they can apparently afford to not be the friendliest. You pay by weight there and the food is deliciou. The other place has seconds at 12Bs.
Another good tip for small snacks and eating are the Cafeterias, Cake and Ice stores in the Avenida Ayacucho (more or less the corner España) - Dumbo is quite good.
Design Center, Second Ring between René Moreno St. and Monseñor Santiestevan St.. There is a big food court with a lot of fast-food options: from vegetarian salads to Argentine-style grilled steaks. Inside the mall, you can also found several stores of famous brands: Calvin Klein, Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch...
Los Lomitos:. A delicious steakhouse offering a mix of traditional Argentine and Bolivian cuisine for a good price.
Fridolin. is a lovely pastry and coffee bistro that has excellent desserts. The savory food is however not-that-great and very expensive (30Bs. for a very small pizza).
Alexander's Cafe:, (2 locations: on Junín, 1 block West of central Plaza; and on Avenida Monseñor Rivero.). A slightly pricey but delicious café that offers good food (including vegetarian options) and fair trade coffee. Like Starbucks, it's a great place to hang out for a few hours with their WiFi. Service is sometimes slow.
Yogenfruz, (Located in the Cine Center food court and also on the Monseñor...). Sells wonderful frozen yogurt that rivals all the other ice cream shops in the city! You can choose your fruit and watch them make it for you.
yogurberry, Ayacucho 181 (A block west of the main square), . Another good place for frozen yogurt.
Bits and Cream, (Canoto, inside Cine Center, near the central Plaza). Similar to Cold Stone Creamery in America, you pick you flavors of ice cream, toppings and they will mix it up for you. Sometimes they even throw your ice cream across the room and catch it for you!
Pollo Moderno. Don't miss out on the chance to eat what most Bolivian families go out to eat for! Though restaurants selling pollo a la broasted abound, this is just one particularly good one. Chicken comes with rice, platano, and French fries.
El Mandarin, (Avenida Irala). Delicious Chinese food, offering excellent service and a clean, pleasing atmosphere. Other great choices include Shanghai (Avenida 26 de febrero #27) and Palacio del Dragón (Avenida Irala 679, tel. (591) 3-3335340.
Café 24, (On SE corner of main plaza). Breakfast (mediocre, 22Bs.), juices, sandwiches, salads, wine, espresso, etc. Has good Argentinian style empanadas. Nice atmosphere to while away the hours with their WiFi. Can get smoky but has a separate non-smoking room.
Kiwi's Coffee, Calle Potosi #395 (downtown, between Calle Warnes and Calle Republiquteas), ☎ 3227748. M-F 7AM-9PM, Sa 9AM-9PM, Su 3PM-9PM. Offers quality hot and cold beverages, including great iced cappuccinos, accompanied by fresh pastries for a moderate price. English-speaking environment. Has a New Zealand theme, and is cozy and comfortable with sofa seating available. The only smoking permitted indoors are shishas or hookahs (arabic water pipes) which can be rented. Also has WiFi internet available. Moderate.
Plaza Rock Cafe, (upstairs by the Principal Plaza). Open late and often hosting live rock music, this little bar is great at night. It offers light food, coffee, and lots of alcohol. It is decorated with rock-memorabelia and has footage from rock concerts projected onto the walls, making it a nice place for rock afficionados. Expensive.
Pizzeria Margarita, Plaza 24 de Septiembre. Located right on the main Plaza this excellent Pizza restaurant/Bar is a great place for drinks , pizza and meeting other travellers.
Avenida Busch is a good place to start a longer night. There are several Pubs there and you are still close to the center. If you want some classic italian cappuccino, espresso, frappuccino or croissant there is the "Espresso del Oriente" Cafe-Pub on Bolivar Street 272 located two and a half blocks far from the main Plaza. A during-the-week runner is the Irish Pub at the main Plaza.
Equipetrol is the party place, try any club or disco there.
Av. Monseñor Rivero is a popular boulevard if you want a coffee or a drink.
La Tuja SCZ, (Between Ballivian y Sucre in front of the cathedral), . 22:00 - 03:00. A a very old house in downtown Santa Cruz. The walls decoration is unique, made by a Bolivian artist. From the entrance, to the patio in the backside of the house you will be really amazed of what you will see on the walls. It is for sure a must see.
Bar Lorca, (On the corner of the main Plaza, next to the cathedral and Cafe 24). Very beautiful bar with a large courtyard and Moorish tiles. Has a stage and live music on most nights. Good selection of cocktails and also has a food menu. Free WiFi.
Café 24, (On SE corner of main plaza). As well as being a cafe/bistro during the day this turns into quite a nice little bar during the night. Good selection of drinks and there is frequently live music.
La Bodeguita, (Calle Castelnau, off Monseñor Rivero). Based on Hemingway's favorite haunt in La Habana, this is a pleasant Cuban bar. Good place to drink mojitos and Cuba libres while listening to live Cuban music (varies depending on the night but they sometimes have Nueva Trova, as well as the ubiquitous Buena Vista Social Club Covers). Cheaper than most of the places actually on Monseñor Rivero
Duda Bar, Florida 228 (Between Spain St and 21 de Mayo St), ☎ 76025522, . A a very old beautiful house in downtown Santa Cruz. The decoration is eclectic, kitsch but very cute. The art collections is provided by local artists, it is always changing. “Cachivachero” also, but with taste.
Pallet Bar, Rupubliquetas 81, ☎ +591 70040040. An excellent new bar which is one of the best in Santa Cruz, Especially busy on weekends its a great meeting place of a locals and tourists alike. This is the place to be seen on weekends.
United States (Consular Agency), Avenida Roque Aguilera #146 (3er Anillo), ☎ +591-3-351-3477 (fax: +591-3-351-3478), .
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 carge therefore only 0.50 bolivianos/minute.
Santa Cruz (or Santa Cruz de la Sierra) is the most populous city and heart of the second most populous metropolitan area in Bolivia, and is the capital of the department of Santa Cruz. It is considered the most economically prosperous city in the country.
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 one of the fastest growing cities in the world, and has grown from being a small outpost town to today having over 2 million people. Santa Cruz is known for its exciting nightlife, and as a base to a wide range of exciting tourist attractions
Santa Cruz is expanding and growing rapidly , new high rise apartments are going up everywhere, high class restaurants, offices and new real estate developments are everywhere, such is the influx of money into this city that they are now building the worlds 2nd largest crystalized lake which is gong to be over 2km long.
However, be prepared that Santa Cruz is a very disorganized, disorderly and dirty city (some nice residential areas) with noxious fumes and trash everywhere, but it seems safe.
Another interesting fact about Santa Cruz is that it's the unofficial Sloth Capital of the World , these charming and iconic animals can still be seen frequently today climbing in trees on the outskirts of the city.
There are multiple buses to Cochabamba, takes 10 hours, for 30 or 40 Bolivianos. (Or pay a bit more, 60Bs - 100Bs for a nice (semi-)cama bus at night.)
Shared Taxis to Samaipata leave from :
Expresso Samaipata (Av. Omar Chavez Ortiz 1147 esquina Soliz de Olguin - Telf. 333-5067). From the terminal take the bus number 8 to get there. They leave with at least 4 passengers, 30Bs. Takes 3 hours.
El Fuerte (2do Anillo Av. Grgota esq. Aruma - Telf. 359-8958). 25 Bs.
Cheaper buses to Samaipata depart from the bus company office at Av Grigota & 3er anillo.
There are buses to Asunción, Paraguay. The trip takes around 26hrs. Daily departures in the evening from the Nuevo Terminal. Around $40-50 for a bus including food (bargain as much as you can). The travel agencies will not hesitate to lie to sell you a ticket and an old seat will become a "cama". Expect 15 to 18 police checks on the way, especially in Paraguay. The road throught the Chaco is quite good, but the trip is very long. Be very careful of Bolero agency or anyone else selling you tickets through Argentina toward Asuncion. Check the services from Yacuiba to other desinations on plataforma0 or otherwise to ensure that your bus connects. In June 2014 two travelers were stranded by this agency for 12 hours on the border and then another 3 hours in Formosa on route to Asuncion. That trip cost $80 USD, and was not cama and had no meals! December 2015 the bus with TransRosario cost 60 USD and took 26 hours. The company said it would take 22 hours. The bus had no A/C and semi-cama only meant a reclining chair (if you were lucky). A meal was provided at the start in Asuncion and 16 hours later near the border. With the meals (meat with rice) they offer a small bottle with sugar water (33ml). So bring lots of water and some extra food as the bus does not stop at restaurants or shops on the way; only at military checkpoints in the middle of nowhere. At the borders there are no facilities. The dirt road through the Chacos is in a terrible state with lots of holes. The bus will go slowly and it is very hot and dry.