Tarija is a city to the south of Bolivia known for its amazing wines and Mediterranean climate. The city is also host to The Festival of Wines held in the town annually. Some of the finest wines are found in this area, which should come as no surprise, given Tarija’s proximity to Argentina and Chile, two countries famous for amazing wine production. Tarija has a population of 170,000 people and the local people call themselves Chapacos.
Tarija city has a relatively mild climate making it an interesting place to visit during most times of the year. November to March are the summer months in the city, and cooler temperatures can be experienced outside of this period. Although “cooler” should be taken lightly; temperatures will never be freezing.
If your reason for visiting the city is to get into the local culture, you can expect the local residents to take a siesta from around 12 noon to 3 p.m. Between these hours, most small businesses and shops close, and the streets are relatively empty. The locals have a reputation for being very laid-back; something most of them take pride in.
Tarija’s main plaza is a nice setting in which to take a break from exploring the city. It is where you will find restaurants, cafés and the city’s Paleontology Museum. You can expect this plaza and the surrounding area of the city to be relatively clean in comparison with other Bolivian cities of a similar size to Tarija. The city is situated along the Guadalquivir river, and the land and climate have many qualities that contribute to the city’s perfect environment for grape and wine production. There is a natural bathing resort 5 kilometers from the city, known as Tomatas – a relaxing location where you can catch some sun and some of the water provided by the Guadalquivir river.
If you’re after a nice weekend getaway from the city, Rincón de la Victoria is a popular tourist attraction 18 kilometers from Tarija offering beautiful views and a great way to experience nature.
The city also has a nightlife, and you can expect to see youthful high spirits out and about while you explore the night. Like most places in Bolivia, you can be sure of low prices. The city has straightforward options for accommodation. You can expect to find cheap, shared dorms or you may decide to check into a basic hotel. Comfortable hotels are on offer in the city, as are bed and breakfast establishments, and most staff will be friendly and point you in the right direction for city guides and things to do.
Tarija is a perfect place to experience a Bolivian city with a small-town feel and friendly locals who will happily show you their easy-going Bolivian culture and make your stay one to remember.
How would you say Tarija is as somewhere to spend a few months getting adjusted to the South American way of life? It sounds a bit like Argentina, but cheaper. By the way I’ve spend a lot of time in Argentina, Uruguay, Peru (especially Arequipa) and some in Chile, but I’ve never been to Bolivia.
Thanks and I like your blog!
Thank you for your question. It depends on what you’re after for those three months. The city is small and if you have things to do during your stay, such as internet work or similar, it’s a perfect place to sit hassle free. The cost of the city is low, as with most locations in Bolivia.
I have to say the city is not for everybody for an extended time. By this, I mean those who prefer larger cities. Tarija has a smaller population therefore the place is not oozing with energy during every moment of the week. I do know of people, expats, who move there to stay as retirees.
I think the age plays a role in the decision, what you normally look for in a city and what you plan to do with you time while your three also. If you like cities with a smaller feel, that are cost friendly and wine, Tarija city could be for you.
I hope this helps a little. It’s a difficult question to answer – everybody is different – you’ll know once you arrive and it’s 100% worth the visit.
Thank you very much Gaston. How expensive is it compared to other Bolivian cities and is the expat population very active? Also, how open are the people to befriending (and in the case of women, dating) expats who are there long term?
No problem. So, a liter of milk is around 80 cents, a can ok coke is US$1.50 and a kilo of steak is $6.90. Twelve eggs are about US$1.20. The cost of an apartment per month is anywhere between US$300 – $600 – depending on the quality you require. If you’re on a budget you could get by in Tarija on $650 per month. This would mean you would be in a cheaper apartment, obviously.
Re: Expat activity – there is activity in Tarija. There are forums dedicated to expats living in Tarija for current info on activities such as bar drinks for events such as Easter. There are language exchange groups also – intercambio de idiomas – which are often good to meet expats and locals. Some businesses in the city are run by expats, too.
Re: girls – I have a blog article regarding three cities in South America with beautiful women to see where my thoughts are regarding girls in South America. Unfortunately it doesn’t mention Tarija. I do find the locals in Tarija to be friendly. If you’re friendly enough I’d say you could find yourself sharing some of you milk, can of coke, kilo of steak and twelve eggs with one of the girls of Tarija.
Thank you very much indeed. Do you have a link for the expat forums by any chance. I’ve tried Googling and haven’t found much at all. Thank you again!
Perhaps you might try couchsurfing. This site has many activities for people who enjoy traveling and meeting new people. There are group discussions regarding Tarija. This suggestion is just a start and may not be for everybody, though. Once you’re signed into couching you will find a network of people in Tarija, those visiting and locals too.
I hope this helps. Good luck.
Thank you so much for the recommendation and all your advice!
You’re more than welcome.