The landscapes of southern Peru are really fascinating and one of the most exquisite postcards you can find in Puno and Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world and which legend attributes the origin of the Inca civilization.
The city of Puno is located on the shores of the lake and it proudly lives the traditions of its Quechua and Aymara roots, where the rites of the feast of Candelaria gives rise to spirituality once a year to venerate the Pachamama (Mother Earth). The place where it is located, the plateau of Collao, is privileged and is a must for travelers going from Cusco (Peru) to La Paz (Bolivia). You have to know this city! Are you coming?
From Taquile, one of the islands of Lake Titicaca
In this practical travel guide I tell you what you can see and do, both in the city and its idyllic surroundings, including the islands of Lake Titicaca.
♣ If you need information about visas, vaccination and other details to travel to Peru you can consult my Travel Guide to Peru.
Puno view from Lake Titicaca
📍 How to get to Puno
The city of Puno has a Central Terrestrial Terminal to which long and medium distance buses arrive, both national and international. The terminal is located at Av. Simón Bolivar s/n, which is just under 2km from the city’s Plaza de Armas (downtown area, where almost all hostels are located). There are authorized taxis in the “arrivals” zone of the terminal and the “official” price is 7 suns (divided by the number of passengers going). If you leave the terminal enclosure you can get a taxi for about 4 soles.
* From Lima The trip takes approximately 24 hours and some of the companies that cover this journey with: CIVA and Cruz del Sur (if you click on the name of the companies I’ll take you directly to their websites to see prices and schedules). The price range goes from 110 soles to 230 soles, depending on the service you choose.
* From Ica/Huacachina The trip lasts between 18 and 20 hours. Some of the companies that cover this journey with: CIVA and Cruz del Sur and the price range goes from 110 soles to 220 soles depending on the service you choose.
* From Cusco are about 8 or 9 hours of travel and some of the companies that cover this journey are: Cruz del Sur and Inka Express. The prices vary depending on the company and the service you choose and are around 95 and 200 soles.
* From Arequipa It takes about 6 or 7 hours to make the journey and some of the companies that cover the journey are: Civa and Cruz del Sur. The price is around 60 soles.
* From Copacabana (Bolivia) The journey takes about 3 hours to arrive, but as you have to cross the border Peru-Boliva the journey takes a little longer (what passengers take to go through migrations). There are several companies that make the journey such as Panamericano, TransTiticaca, Tour Peru or Colectur. The price is around 20 soles.
* From La Paz (Bolivia): The journey takes about 5 hours to arrive, but as you have to cross the border Peru-Boliva the journey takes a little longer (what passengers take to go through migrations). There are several companies that make the journey such as Panamericano, TransTiticaca, Tour Peru or Colectur. The price is around 75 soles.
–> Peru is very well connected by land so from virtually any town you can reach Puno, if not directly, with a combination. You can click on the links of the different bus companies mentioned above to find out routes, prices and timetables. You can also consult the website: Go2Peru or BusPortal that compares prices, services and timetables of all available bus companies and you can even book and buy online.
** There is a new exclusive company for tourists… and I encourage myself to say “gringos” or “guiris” which is called Peru Hop and which makes different tours and routes through Peru and this bus also takes you to Puno. I’m not a big fan of this kind of services, but if you’re interested you can check their page with routes, prices and dates.
You can get to Puno by train from the city of Cusco on PeruRail’s Andean Explorer train. The train leaves Cusco on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 8am and you arrive in Puno around 6.30pm. The approximate price is around 290us$ (US dollars). The train terminal in Puno is about 8 streets from the Plaza de Armas.
The city of Puno has no airport, but the closest is the “Inca Manco Capac” Airport belonging to the city of Juliaca, just 44km from Puno. There are daily buses that connect Juliaca with Puno in one hour, including buses that depart directly from the airport to Puno for about 20 soles. Another option is to go to the Fatima terminal, from where the buses leave for Puno for about 4 soles.
City of Puno – Photo: incalake.com
📍 How to get around Puno
The historic center of Puno is relatively small so I recommend you walk around it. In your walk you will be able to discover absolutely fantastic corners such as the Plaza de Armas or walk along part of the shore of the lake, as well as enjoy the leisurely rhythm of its inhabitants.
To visit the Peruvian islands in Lake Titicaca you can opt for a 1 day tour (Uros and Taquile) or a 2 day tour (Uros, Taquile and Amantani). Another option is to visit them for free in the “collective boat” and below I explain how. You can use public transport and even taxis to visit nearby towns.
🌟 What to do and what to see in Puno
✏️ What to see inside the city of Puno
Being a colonial city, its historic center has beautiful colonial buildings so to start exploring the city I recommend a stroll through its streets. You shouldn’t get lost on the tour:
√ Plaza de Armas: Located in the heart of the historic city of Puno, the square that is currently being visited was built in 1901 and in its center you can see the monument to Colonel Francisco Bolognesi, hero of the war with Chile. Around the square you can see rich architectural expressions of mestizo art, such as the Cathedral.
Puno Cathedral – Photo: wikipedia
√ Cathedral of Puno: This religious temple of mestizo baroque style was built in the seventeenth century and if facade was sculpted by the Peruvian alarife Simon de Asto.
Address: Plaza de Armas Hours: Monday to Friday from 8am to 12pm and from 3pm to 6pm. Saturdays from 8am to 1pm and from 3pm to 7pm. Sundays from 8am to 12pm and from 3pm to 7pm. Price: free
√ Balcony of the Count of Lemos: During a rebellion in the city, Viceroy Conde de Lemos stayed in this house, built during the first half of the 17th century. At present, in addition to housing the Decentralized Direction of Culture of Puno, has a small art gallery.
Address At the corner of Deustua and Conde de Lemos streets. Hours: Monday through Friday from 8.30am to 12.30pm and from 1.30pm to 5.30pmPrice: free.
√ Carlos Dreyer Municipal Museum: The museum has 8 exhibition halls where a large collection of ceramic pieces, gold, silver and textiles is shown, as well as pre-Incan and Inca lithic sculptures and objects from colonial and republican times. It also has a numismatic collection and documents of the Spanish foundation of the city of Puno. In addition, the building was declared Cultural Heritage of the Nation.
Address: Calle Conde de Lemos 289. Hours: Monday to Sunday from 9am to 7pm Price: free
Deustua Arch – Puno
√ Arco Deustua: This beautiful arch is built in stone carved by the people of Puno in memory of the patriots who fought for the Independence of Peru.
Address: Jr. Independencia block 2. Price: free
√ Mirador del Cerro Huajsapata: Just 450 meters from the Plaza de Armas is this natural viewpoint from where you can get a panoramic view of the city and the lake. At the top there is a monument to Manco Capac, founder of the Inca Empire. According to the legends, in the hill there are some caverns with subterranean roads that communicate Puno with the temple of Koricancha, in Cusco. Access is free.
✏️ What to see around the city and on Lake Titicaca
Floating Islands of Los Uros
√ The floating islands of the Uros
The Uros Islands are more than 80 and each one is inhabited by Uro-Aimaras families, who nowadays maintain their ancestral customs such as fishing in totora rafts or the construction of islands, houses and boats with totora mats. The tours take you to an island that is created only for tourists, since the Uros live more “hidden” and more protected by the archipelago.
How to get to the floating islands of the Uros?
⇒ In tour: At present the agencies offer different tours to know the islands, among the most popular tours are: the half day tour to the Uros islands (Approximate price of 30 soles. Tour lasts about 3.5 hours), the tour of 1 day that includes islands Uros and Taquile (Approximate price of 40 soles without lunch and 70 soles with lunch. The tour lasts about 11 hours – from 7am to 6pm approx.) and the 2 day tour that includes Uros, Taquile and Amantani islands (Approximate price of 85 or 90 soles. The tour leaves at 8am and returns the next day around 4pm). The prices include transport to the port, boat, guide and entrance to the islands. Some will include food and, in the case of an overnight stay, accommodation. Before booking a tour check all services included.
⇒ For free: It is possible to make the visit independently to the floating islands of the Uros. Amantani and Taquile. From the lake port of Puno there are collective boats for the floating island of the Uros every day, which perform the round trip service. The cost is 10-15 soles and income to the islands is approximately 10 soles.
Taquile Island – Titicaca Lake
√ Taquile Island
This island is located about 35km from the port of Puno and is characterized by its social and friendly inhabitants who today retain the traditional customs and clothing. You can admire the Andean habits and beliefs through its textiles with strong colors and symbolic decorations made by the men of the island. In addition you will be able to appreciate vestiges of pre-Incan times.
How to get to Taquile Island?
⇒ In tour: At present the agencies offer different tours to know the islands, between the most popular tours they are: the tour of 1 day that includes islands Uros and Taquile (Approximate price of 40 soles without lunch and 70 soles with lunch. The tour lasts about 11 hours – from 7am to 6pm approx.) and the 2 day tour that includes Uros, Taquile and Amantani islands (Approximate price of 85 or 90 soles. The tour leaves at 8am and returns the next day around 4pm). The prices include transport to the port, boat, guide and entrance to the islands. Some will include food and, in the case of an overnight stay, accommodation. Before booking a tour check all services included.
⇒ For free: It is possible to make the visit independently to the island of Taquile but with forced passage through Uros and Amantani. The collective boat leaves the lake port of Puno at 8:20am, and returns the next day at 3:30pm approximately. It makes a stop in the floating island of the Uros, then it continues until Amantaní, place of overnight, the following day it passes by Taquile and finally it arrives at the lacustrine port of Puno. The cost of the collective boat is of 30-35 soles, the cost of entrance to each island is of 10 soles and the overnight stay in rural houses in Amantaní, is from the 30 soles, depending on the service that they offer you. You can also consult the port for collective boats that go only to Taquile and return the same day. There may be some other options or you may be able to negotiate with them.
Amantani Island – Photo wikipedia
√ Amantani Island
The island is divided into ten communities that are especially dedicated to the cultivation of potatoes, corn, oca, quinoa, beans and peas; the most representative crafts are textiles and stone carving. Among its natural attractions, two viewpoints stand out in the highest part, from where the lake is appreciated in all its extension; as well as, pre-Hispanic sites and ceremonial centers.
How to get to Amantani Island?
⇒ In tour: At present the agencies offer different tours to know the islands and to know Amantaní there is one of 2 days that includes islands Uros, Taquile and Amantaní (Approximate price of 75 or 80 soles. The tour leaves at 8am and returns the next day around 4pm). The prices include transport to the port, boat, guide and entrance to the islands. Some will include food and, in the case of an overnight stay, accommodation. Before booking a tour check all services included.
⇒ For free: It is possible to make the visit independently to the island of Amantani but with obligatory passage through Uros and Taquile. The collective boat leaves the lake port of Puno at 8:20am, and returns the next day at 3:30pm approximately. It makes a stop in the floating island of the Uros, then it continues until Amantaní, place of overnight, the following day it passes by Taquile and finally it arrives at the lacustrine port of Puno. The cost of the collective boat is of 30-35 soles, the cost of entrance to each island is of 10 soles and the overnight stay in rural houses in Amantaní, is from the 30 soles, depending on the service that they offer you.
Una Chullpa – Photo: wikipedia
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This is one of the most important necropolis in the world located on top of a hill (at 4000 meters above sea level) in an area surrounded by the Umayo lagoon. In this archaeological site are about 90 “Chullpas”, which are gigantic funerary monuments built by the Collas in the form of circular stone towers, where they buried the authorities of the town of Collao.
How to get to Sillustani?
The archaeological complex is about 35km from Puno and can be reached by public transport. In Puno you should take a combie or minivan in the direction of Juliaca and ask the driver to drop you off at the “Sillustani detour”. There will be several cars leaving for Sillustani for about 5 soles. Entrance fee to Sillustani: 10 soles.
💡Si you do not want to mess with buses, transfers and so on, the best option is to make a tour to Sillustani, with pick up at your hotel. All the information here.
📍 Other interesting places in Puno
Luqina on the Capachica Peninsula – Photo: Wikipedia
In addition to all the attractions already mentioned, some other activities you can do in the city are: a walk to Pino Park, a visit to the Museum Library Pinacoteca, or a tour of the churches of Merced, San Antonio or the Temple San Juan Bautista (free admission). You can also visit the Naval Museum or the Casa del Corregidor.
Other activities you can do in the surroundings of Puno are: a visit to the pink city of Lampa (visit the Santiago Apostle Church where you will find an exact replica of La Piedad de Miguel Ángel) or the small town of Pucará and its famous “toritos”.
Do not miss the Capachica peninsula and its beautiful beaches (from where you can also take a 1 hour boat to the island of Amantaní) including Llachon beach – one of the best beaches of the lake as I have heard – or visit the peninsula of Chucuito where you can also appreciate the temple of the Falos. In both LLachon and Luqina Chico (Chucuito area) you can stay in the houses of the locals and participate in their activities.
Another option is to visit the picturesque town of Pomata (also known as the philosophical balcony of the altiplano) or Juli, known as “The Little Rome of America” for its temples.
You can consult the iPerú office in Puno for more information on timetables, prices and ways to get to these tourist destinations.
♣ From Puno, to visit Chucuito, Juli and Pomata you have to go in direction “Copacabana” in Bolivia, so if that is your next destination, you can go visiting these towns and then from Pomata take a public transport to reach the border with Bolivia and from there you are 8km from Copacabana.
Map of Lake Titicaca: Puno and its surroundings
💤 Where to sleep in Puno
Within the old town of Puno there is a wide variety of accommodation for all tastes and budgets, from hostels with shared rooms and bathrooms to high-end hotels. I stayed my first 2 nights in the Quechuas Backpakers Puno and on my return from the visit to the islands of Lake Titicaca I stayed one night, my last night in Peru, in the Lucky Your House hostel.
Quechuas Backpakers Puno: This is a cozy and family hotel with single, double and triple rooms from 25us$ per night and includes a delicious breakfast. The rooms are very comfortable, with TV, private bathroom, hot water and free wifi. The hotel is located next to Arco Deustua and 6 streets from the Plaza de Armas. It is a very quiet hotel and ideal for resting after. On its website you can check prices, availability and see pictures of the rooms. Highly recommended.
📍 Other tips and useful information
– For more information about the city go to the Tourist Office of Peru
– Puno has a cold and dry climate, but being located on the shores of Lake Titicaca the temperature rarely drops below 0 º C. The further away from the lake, the more intense the cold, especially at night. The ideal time to go is between the months of April and November as it is the dry season and very sunny days. Another time to visit Puno is the first fortnight of February, when the colourful feast in honour of the Virgin of Candelaria takes place.
* The ideal time of stay is 2 or 3 days to enjoy the city and dedicate time to the islands of Lake Titicaca.
– Police phone: 105
– The iPeru office is on the corner of Jr. Deústua and Jr. Lima -Plaza de Armas- and there they can provide you with a map of the city and information about the tourist attractions, as well as orient you in relation to the reputation of the travel agencies with which you want to contract the tours.
– Puno, like every city, has supermarkets and markets – both food and clothing and other objects, various stores as well as banks and ATMs to withdraw money and bureaux de change. Credit cards are accepted in many establishments and travel agencies.
Views of Lake Titicaca from the island of Taquile
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Then these guides can help you organize your trip:
☑ The most complete guide to go to MACHU PICCHU (how to get there, buy tickets, etc.).
☑ Everything you need to know to visit CUSCO and SACRED VALLEY
☑ Travel guide to AREQUIPA, the white city
☑ HUACACHINA and ICA, everything you need to know for your visit
☑ Do you know how to get to the heart of the Amazon? IQUITOS Travel Guide
☑ Complete guide to visit PUNO and THE ISLANDS OF LAKE TITICACA
☑ Travel guide to CHACHAPOYAS: visit Kuelap and Gocta!
☑ Everything you need to know to visit TRUJILLO detailed travel guide!
☑ Complete travel guide to visit MÁNCORA
☑ PERU: everything you need to know to travel to this country.
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