There are handful of great sit-down restaurants in Puno.
Lake Titicaca Tour Packing Checklist
- Sun protection (glasses, sunscreen, hat)
- Comfortable and sturdy footwear
- Warm jacket, for chilly evenings and windy conditions on the lake
- Motion sickness remedy for boat ride
- Rainy season: Travel side umbrella, waterproof clothes, or pancho
- Altitude Sickness: Lake Titicaca is located at 2,500 ft (3,810 m) above sea level. This is slightly higher than the elevation of Cusco at 11,120 ft (3,400 m), so travelers visiting Lake Titicaca next will have already had time to adjust to the altitude. Everyone responds differently to high altitude. Shortness in breath, headache, loss of appetite, or nausea are minor symptoms that can result from the change in altitude. Serious reactions to altitude are rare and hard to predict.
- Strong Sun: On a clear day, the high altitude of Lake Titicaca paired with the sun’s strong reflection off its surface is relentless and without proper protection it’s very easy to get a serious sunburn. Don’t forget your glasses, wide-brimmed hat and sunblock for your lake excursions.
Below are different options for getting to and from the principal hubs: Puno, Peru and Copacabana, Bolivia. Motorized boats are used for transport to Lake Titicaca’s various islands.
- Puno, Peru is accessible by bus, train or plane. Bus routes connect Puno to other popular Peruvian destinations, such as Cusco and Arequipa. The luxurious Andean Explorer train operated by PeruRail runs between Cusco and Puno. For travelers going directly from Lima to Puno, flying is the most convenient option with a 1 hour 45 minute flight time. The Inca Manco Cápac International Airport is located 30 mi (50 km) from Puno in Juliaca.
- Copacabana, Bolivia is accessible by bus or plane. From La Paz, the country’s capital, the tourist bus takes about 4 to 5 hours to reach Copacabana. Some travelers cross the border between Bolivia and Peru. The Puno – Yunguyo (border town) – Copacabana route takes about 3 hours. Some travelers, such as US, Australia, and need to pay the reciprocity fee.
- Around the lake: Don’t just go to Lake Titicaca; you must go out on Lake Titicaca to its islands. Boat tours in Puno depart daily. Only a 30-minute ride away, the Uros floating islands are nearest to the city. A full-day tour is needed to explore both Uros and Taquile Island which is further out. Boat tours also depart from the pier in the harbor of Copacabana to Isla del Sol. Cruise to Challapampa to the north end of the island, or Yumani to the south.
When is the best time to visit Lake Titicaca?
- Peak travel season is during the months of June, July, and August. These months are at the heart of the region’s dry season.
- Shoulder season falls between the rainy season and peak dry season; April-May and September-November. The weather during these months is pleasant and there are fewer tourists. April and May – after the tail end of the rainy season – is a particularly beautiful time to visit Puno because the surrounding landscapes are green and flowers are in bloom.
How many days should I stay in Lake Titicaca?
Two or three days is a good amount of time to explore some of the region’s highlights. Guided full- and half-day tours depart from Puno each day to nearby islands and archaeological sites. If you fly or take a bus from Cusco to Lake Titicaca, then you should have already had sufficient time to adjust to the altitude. At 12,500 ft (3,800 m) above sea level, Puno is only slightly higher than Cusco’s 11,120 ft (3,400 m) elevation. However, you may consider adding at least one day to your travel itinerary in Lake Titicaca to allow for time to acclimatization if coming from low elevation.
Are the Peruvian and Bolivian sides of Lake Titicaca very different?
From a touristic standpoint, the different sides of Lake Titicaca are very different.
- Puno, Peru is much more developed in terms of tourism infrastructure. The city has more hotel and restaurant options, especially when it comes to up-class and luxury. Copacabana, albeit “touristy” by certain standards, caters more to the off-the-beaten-path kind of traveler.
- Attractions in both Peru and Bolivia are quality. In terms of quantity, Peru wins with various islands and land-based archaeological highlights to keep you busy for at least a couple days. The main attraction in Copacabana is Isla del Sol and appeals to travelers seeking a quieter experience.
- For travel to Bolivia, U.S. citizens need to pay a $135 reciprocity fee payable in cash on arrival to any international port of entry. Canadian, Australian, and British citizens do NOT need to pay a visa fee for stays of less than 30 days. For travel to Peru, there is no fee to enter for citizens of the U.S., Canada, Australia, or the UK.
*Ask your travel advisor what fees, if any, apply to your specific country of origin.