If you only have time for one thing to do in La Paz, please go for the ride on the cable car around La Paz city!
The cable car system in La Paz called 'Mi Teleferico' is very easy and organized so you can do it on your own. It works exactly like the subway in any other big city. Locals use cable cars as public transport but tourists can enjoy amazing views and get the feel of the whole city in just 3 hours.
I did the cable car route (yes almost all the lines) on my own and I truly enjoyed it. I could go at my own pace, and get out wherever I wanted. So I have put together a very practical guide on how and where to go so you get out the most of your ride.
In the first section, I will explain the route I took and recommend, and then after I will cover some important things you need to know about the cable car system.
So no matter where is your starting point, I recommend going all the way around and including an extra ride to El Alto and Moon Valley.
Most probably you will stay in the downtown or Sopocachi area as those are the two most popular areas where to stay for first-time visitors.
If you are staying in Sopocachi then you need to start your journey at Sopocachi station, which is part of the yellow line (red dot on the map below).
If you are staying in the downtown area then I recommend you to start at the Prado station which is the start of the light blue line (another red dot on the map below).
So either you start on the light blue line and then continue to the yellow line or you start on the yellow line, your first main goal is to get to the end of the yellow line and reach 'Qhana Pata' viewpoint.
All cable car final stations are connected so you can move around without leaving the stations, but here at this stop, you might want to get out for a bit and enjoy the beautiful views.
Then you take the Silver line until the blue and red station. Here you have 2 options. You either continue your way with the red line, or you take an extra ride with the dark blue line. This way you will get to the final station, you will need to get out and come back. I say get out because you will need to buy a new separate ticket to get back. You can't go with one ticket there and back. But more about all the technical things I will cover in the next section.
El Alto is worth going to because it has a completely different dynamic. The area has a reputation for being slightly dangerous so if you do decide to get out at the final stop, be aware of your belongings and do not wander around there when it gets dark. In El Alto, you will find the biggest open market in La Paz. Each street is full of tents and sellers trying to do business. I say business because people not only sell goods but offer different services like shaman ceremonies and other unique stuff. The best days to visit Alto are on Thursday and Sunday when the market aka El Alto streets gets extra busy. Again those are 2 days you need to be extra cautious when visiting.
So either you did the extra ride with the dark blue line or not, you need to continue your way with the red line. Then from red, you change to orange. And from orange to white. During these 3 rides, you will enjoy the city from different perspectives.
After this circle, you are almost at your starting point and can take the light blue line back to the downtown or the light blue and then yellow line to get back to Sopocachi. But if you have time, I recommend you to make the one-stop of the light blue line to get to the green line and make your way to the end of the green line - Irpawi.
From Irpawi station you can get a taxi to the Moon Valley which is a group of incredible rock formations. Do not make this trip if it is late and getting dark. We were advised not to visit during late hours on our own.
Back you get the same way, just get the green line back and then the route to your starting point.
Things you need to know about the cable car system in La Paz
TICKETS: There are no good deals for tourists or even locals. You have to buy a ticket for each ride. So if you are planning to do several trips you can buy all tickets at the starting point station.
SAFETY: Cable car stations are very safe. There are security guards everywhere and also cameras. Also, all the stations were very clean.
You can't go wrong. If you will try to enter the wrong route, you will simply not get through, so do not worry about going somewhere wrong. It will not happen.
The working hours for all lines from Monday to Friday are from 06:00 a.m. to 09:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 07:00 a.m. to 07:00 p.m..