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What to Do in Puno: A Complete Guide

What to do in Puno including how to get there, where to stay, and what to eat. Discover Puno and Lake Titicaca with this all-in-one travel guide.
Two Quechua women walk down a path on Taquile Island with Lake Titicaca in the background. Photo by Peru For LessTwo Quechua women walk down a path on Taquile Island with Lake Titicaca in the background. Photo by Peru For Less

Puno is an enchanting city that overlooks Lake Titicaca and is sure to be a highlight of your trip to Peru. There’s plenty to see and do from the Uros Floating Islands to the ancient Sillustani Cemetery. Here you will find comfortable accommodations and delicious food. But what is the best way to get there? This travel guide will tell you just that, as well as what to do, where to stay, and what to eat.

Because Peru is not as easily accessible as say, the United States, you will first need to know how to quickly and safely get around. Let’s talk about getting to Puno:

Table of Contents

How to Get to Puno

The first thing to think about is how to get to Puno. There are three main ways to get to the lakeside city of Puno: Air, Train, and Bus. Because each traveler is different, there is no one-size-fits-all. Therefore, let’s talk about each option to see which is the best for you.

1. Air

Although you can’t fly directly to Puno, you can fly to the nearest town of Juliaca and take a one-hour bus, taxi, or private transport into Puno. This isn’t the most popular option because of the added hassle of getting a transfer and dealing with airport security.

Regardless, if you decide to fly, you can fly from Lima to Juliaca in one hour and 40 minutes, or from Cusco to Juliaca in one hour. Latam is our go-to operator for these flights.

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2. Train

Belmond Andean Explorer. You will get your own room with a bed, sofa, and table. These trains are perfect if you want to relax while you travel.

3. Bus

Most people will take a seven-hour bus from Cusco to Puno. It’s better to pay a little extra and get a safer and more reliable ride. The double-decker buses are quite comfortable and many offer phone chargers so you can charge while you travel. Our favorite operators are Cruz Del Sur or Turismo Mer. You can also take a 6-hour bus from Arequipa if you are planning to visit the “White City.”

If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you could take a car; however, this is not recommended because the road conditions are unpredictable. Unfamiliar winding roads through the Andes can be dangerous. Plus, you will be driving with Peruvian locals, who are known to drive rather aggressively.

On the other hand, if you want to avoid the hassle of figuring these things out by yourself, you can speak with a travel advisor to help you plan everything in a fully customized itinerary. At Peru for Less, your travel advisor can tell you of current conditions in Peru and give you the best recommendations. They will also book these things for you, so you can focus on the important things, like enjoying your trip.

What to Do in Puno

Uros Floating Islands

Next, you will want to plan what to do in Puno. Surely, you won’t want to miss the incredible Uros Floating Islands. A short boat ride will take you a few miles from shore where you can step foot on one of the 40 or so islands made by the people who live there. Your guide will tell you the story of how the islands are made and maintained with Totora, a type of reed native to the lake. The people have lived here for hundreds of years, even predating the Incas and still follow the same traditions to build and maintain the islands. They even make their boats and houses out of the reeds. Daily activities include fishing, taking care of chickens, and maintaining the island.

Three women in traditional Peruvian clothing looking at the floating Uros Islands from a boat near Puno.

Three women in traditional Peruvian clothing looking at the floating Uros Islands from a boat. Photo by Peru For Less

But the locals have added some new traditions to their ancient ways, making homemade souvenirs for those who come to visit their islands. This has provided some income for the people, which has brought a few modern conveniences such as improved sanitary facilities, solar panels, and electric lights which reduce the risk of fire.

Cathedral of Puno

In the center of the city, you will find a main square with a unique piece of history, a baroque colonial cathedral. Designed by Simón de Astro, the beautiful structure was completed in 1757. It features two impressive bell towers, a carved exterior, and two large green doors. The interior suffered damage from a fire in the 1930 and some of the invaluable carvings were lost. Today, it has an altar made of marble, an image of Jesus, and two venerated saints. There is also a burial area to the left of the altar with the remains of Monsignor Julio Gonzales Ruiz, former bishop of the Diocese of Puno.

La Casa Del Corregidor

There is a famous yellow house in Puno that you must see. With bright yellow walls, beautiful blue doors, and a Spanish balcony, you will fall in love with the charm of this hidden gem. Conveniently located across from the Cathedral, it is one of the oldest examples of colonial-style architecture in Puno, dating back to 1668. Inside you will find a fair-trade craft shop, some local art, and a café. Relax and enjoy the vibe while eating tapas and drinking craft beer.

Festival of the Virgin of La Candelaria

In February there is a remarkable festival in Puno called the Festival of the Virgen de la Candelaria. Between the 2nd and the 12th, this two-week holiday is full of folk dancing, drinking, and colorful costumes on parade. It is believed the virgin protected the Spanish inhabitants of Puno from the Inca besiegers during the great rebellion of Tùpac Amaru in 1781.

You can find the sculpture of this virgin in the ancient mud church of San Juan Bautista. The church was renovated in a gothic style in 1886 and then converted into the official sanctuary of the Virgin in 1998.

Jirón de Lima Street and Parque Pino

If you are looking for a walk head over to Jirón de Lima Street where you will find markets, cafes, bars, and travel information. To get there, walk north from the Plaza de Armas, or main square of Puno. This street is perfect for an afternoon stroll and connects the Plaza de Armas with Parque Pino, where you will find benches to relax. Here you will see a monument built to honor Dr. Manuel Pino, a local war hero in the conflict with Chile. It’s also a great place to see the local lifestyle of the people of Puno.

Taquile Island
A woman walking along a stone path under an arch on Taquile Island, near Puno, Peru.

A woman walking under an arch on Taquile Island. Photo by Peru For Less

In addition to the Uros Islands, you can also visit the island of Taquile. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a 2.5-hour ride from Puno Port and offers some of the most stunning views of Lake Titicaca. You can walk stone paths and look down the slopes to the mysterious blue water. The island is famous for the intricate colorful fabrics made by the locals. For those who have a little more time, this is sure to be a highlight of your trip to Peru.

Sillustani Cemetery

About 20 miles from Puno is Sillustani, where you can see the Chullpas, or ancient funerary towers. These were built by the Qolla people, who were conquered by the Incas in the middle of the 15th century. The Qollas would wrap their deceased nobles in a fetal position and bury them in these towers with food and personal belongings for their journey into the afterlife. The towers can be up to 40 feet tall and are located on a hill which offers impressive views of the lake.

Two Inca funerary towers of Sillustani, Peru with a blue sky in the background.

Ancient Incan funerary towers of Sillustani. Photo by Peru For Less

Where to Stay

Of course, you will want to find a great place to stay. In order to find the right hotel, you need to know the type of experience you are looking for, as well as your budget. We have selected our favorite hotels that offer incredible experiences at a great value. Here are our top picks for places to stay in Puno, any of which can be added to your custom itinerary.

1. GHL Hotel Lago Titicaca

If you want the highest luxury, the GHL Hotel Lago Titicaca is the way to go. This five-star hotel won a Traveler’s Choice award and is the top-rated hotel on Tripadvisor. The food is some of the best in Puno and people love that you can get breakfast to-go if you have an early excursion, just make sure to ask the front desk if you need this service. The rooms are comfortable, and you can get a room with a view. The hot tub is also worth mentioning for those who like to have a relaxing soak after a day of adventure. It’s also one of the best value five-star hotels you will ever stay in.

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2. Casa Andina Premium Puno

Another great option is the Casa Andina Premium. It’s a four-star hotel that has a ton of amenities including oxygen in reception, free luggage storage, buffet breakfast, restaurant/bar, and terrace. The rooms are spacious, and this hotel is always highly rated by travelers. This is one of the top hotel brands in Peru and comes highly recommended.

Two bed in a double room at the Casa Andina Premium Puno.

Two bed in a double room at the Casa Andina Premium Puno. Photo by Peru For Less

3. Casa Andina Standard Puno

In addition to the Premium, Casa Andina also offers a three-star option in Puno. If you want comfort and style in a convenient location, then this is the place for you. Located just 7 minutes from the Plaza de Armas, this 100% non-smoking hotel offers the basic amenities of WIFI and free breakfast as well as comfortable rooms and luxurious shared spaces. They also offer massages for an extra fee.

4. Uros Titicaca Lodge

For those who want a more immersive experience, the Uros Lodge is sure to deliver. Here you will spend the night on one of the floating islands. Considering such a remote location, you still have a surprising amount of modern luxuries. Amenities include WIFI, free breakfast, a restaurant, solarium, a fireplace, private balcony, and of course, an incredible view.

5. Kaaro Hotel Puno

As far as the best budget three-star hotel in Puno, look no further than the Kaaro Hotel. Complimentary breakfast and comfortable rooms. Of course, each room has a flat-screen TV, private bathroom and free WIFI. Located only two blocks away from the Plaza de Armas.

6. Sol Plaza Hotel Puno

Another top-rated three-star hotel with a modern style, located a few steps from the main square. This hotel offers a bidet, which is a unique feature that may be important for some. They also offer Allergy-free rooms and blackout curtains for those who don’t want to be disturbed.

7. Tierra Viva Puno Plaza Hotel

Like our first recommendation, this hotel also won a 2022 Traveler’s Choice award winner on Tripadvisor. Located in a quiet neighborhood right off the pedestrian mall, this three-star hotel has blackout curtains, a free breakfast, and great dining.

What to Eat

Speaking of dining, you can get some great food in Puno. When you are out on the town, make sure to keep an eye out for these places. The first one on the list is worth going a little out of your way for a special experience, but is close if you are staying at the Casa Andina Premium. Our travel advisors can help you choose custom experiences at your favorite restaurants.

Los Uros Restaurant

Another great choice is located on the Isla Esteves is an incredibly scenic place called Los Uros Restaurant. The food is delicious, and the view of the lake is incredible. They offer Peruvian and International cuisine and have vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options. We recommend going just before sunset so you can watch the sun go down over the lake.

La Casa del Corregidor

If you need a break, there is a little café and bar with bright colors and a fun atmosphere. It is contemporary Peruvian cuisine. Sit down and grab a cup of coffee and enjoy free WIFI. They also have vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options for those with dietary restrictions. We recommend this place for those who want to take a break from walking and slow down a little.

Sushi Ten Bento

For those who love Nikkei, one of the top-rated restaurants in Puno is actually Japanese-Peruvian cuisine. You will find many Asian influences in Peru, and Puno is no exception. At Ten Bento, you will find exceptional sushi. The maki rolls are particularly good and the ramen is sure to warm your soul. If you have dietary restrictions, then be sure to ask about the vegetarian and vegan rolls–they are delicious!

Alma Bar Restaurante
Seating at Alma Bar in Puno, Peru with a view of lake Titicaca and Andean mountains in the background.

Seating at Alma Bar with a view of lake Titicaca and Andean mountains in the background. Photo by Peru For Less

Without a doubt, the Alma Bar has some of the best food in Puno. Located in the Casa Andina Premium, you will find a restaurant that serves Peruvian as well as international cuisine. You won’t want to miss the famous mazamorra morada. They also have vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options, so you can experience the flavors of Peru without having to compromise your diet. Inside the atmosphere is enchanting, and the view… breathtaking!

Tulipan’s Restaurant & Pizzeria

At this point, you may want something more chill. Tulipan’s is a Peruvian bar and Pizza joint serving contemporary food in a relaxed setting. They cook the pizza in a stone oven, so it has an authentic smoky flavor with a crispy crust. There are many pizza toppings to choose from including local cheese, basil, broccoli, tomatoes, onions, olives, mushrooms, and tons of carne for those who love meat.

Get Help Planning Your Next Trip

Now that you know what to do, where to stay, and what to eat in Puno, it’s time to experience it in person. If you want help booking your next trip, be sure to contact Peru For Less and get in touch with an expert travel advisor. They will put together a custom itinerary and quote for you so you can enjoy the trip of a lifetime.

Happy travels!

 Kevin Green
Kevin Green
Kevin, is an author and lover of adventure originally from northern Utah. He has a bachelor’s degree in English from BYU and a Marketing MBA from SUU. Upon visiting Peru, he fell in love with the country and decided to make Lima his new home.
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