Puno in Southern Peru is the gateway to the highest navigable lake in the world “Lake Titicaca”. Geographically, Puno is located between the shores of Lake Titicaca and mountains that surrounds the city. A regional trading hub, the city is also acknowledged as the “folkloric capital” of the country, owing to its traditional festivals featuring vibrant music and dancing.
Puno is served by the Inca Manco Capac International Airport located 50kms. away in Juliaca.
TIP: Flights go to Juliaca from Lima and Cuzco. Consider booking on Avianca, using their Peruvian website in Spanish language. LAN requires that you have a Peruvian residency card for their cheapest fares, Avianca does not.
Puno has a daily bus service to and from Cusco, Arequipa and Copacabana in Bolivia.
The cheapest options are available from Cusco, as of October 2016 Libertad offers tickets for the 7 hours journey for S/.15. (USD 4.5) (tickets can be booked only across the counter at the bus station) However tourist bus companies like Cruz Del Sur has tickets priced from S/.55 (USD 16).
From Copacabana (Bolivia):
The journey between these two cities is usually 3 1/2 to 4 hours and costs S/.15 (USD 4.5). Buses depart to Copacabana twice daily. There are 4 buses that depart at 7:30AM and Titicaca has an afternoon service that leaves at 2Pm and costs S/.20 (USD 6).
You can enjoy sights on foot however taxis and motor-rickshaws can be found everywhere and are nor pricey. You could get a ride in a taxi for not more than S/.4 or in a Moto Rickshaw for S/.2 within the city. The cheapest option is Urban colectivos in which you could get a ride for S/. 0.80
What To See:
- Plaza De Armas (the main square in Puno) is centrally located and is the best place to start the walking around the city from.
- The Cathedral of Puno was built in 1757 and is located right opposite to Plaza De Armas. The interior is more spartan than you’d expect from the well-sculpted facade.
- Carlos Dreyer Museum depicts the artwork of German Painter Carlos Dreyer Sphor, his art was strongly influenced by the indigenous current. (the entrance fee to the museum is S./10).
- Huajsapata Hill is a small hill located four blocks from Plaza De Armas with a statue of Manco Cápac, founder of the Inca Empire located on top. There is a belief that there are caverns in the hills through which underground tunnels link Puno with the Korichanca temple in Cuzco.
- Sanctuary Of Virgen De La Candelaria hosts one of the biggest Catholic feasts in Peru, the “Candelaria.” During 16 days, from the 2nd to the 18th of February, Catholic devotion and the carnival spirit mix in the streets, with thousands of dancers and musicians moving around the city in an endless parade.
- Deustua Arch is located seven blocks from Plaza De Armas, it is a monumental arch built-in 1847 by the people of Puno as a tribute to those who fought in the battles of Junín and Ayachuco.
- Handicraft Market is located nine blocks away from Plaza De Armas towards Lake Titicaca. Open Air Handicraft market has stalls selling typical tourist goods and local handicrafts like alpaca sweaters, rugs, chess sets etc.
- Kuntur Wasi View Point (also known as Condor Hill) is an apropos place for the monument of Condor (Vultur gryphus) with 36 Ft. long metal wingspan and is perched overlooking the city. A hike of 690 steps would get you to the top from where you could get a commanding view right over Puno, and out to Lake Titicaca.
- Lake Titicaca, one of South America’s largest lakes and the world’s highest navigable body of water at the height of 3,812 meters, is a prominent attraction in Puno. Its said to be the birthplace of the Incas and is home to numerous ruins. There is number of tour companies offering half day, full day and two day’s tour. It’s recommended to book a tour with Find Local Trips for their knowledgable guides and reliable service.
Where To Eat:
Mercado Central, one block away from Pino Park (Sanctuary Of Virgen De la Candelaria) has food stalls on the second level where you could buy an entire set of menu for S/.5.
For vegetarians, Restaurant Govinda on Calle Deustua, a block away from Plaza De Armas (towards Lake Titicaca) is open for lunch and serves vegetarian food for S/.8.
Where To Stay:
Pirwa Hostel: Offers a bed in 8 bed dorm for USD 7.80.
Hostel Aymarak: Offers a bed in 10 bed dorm for USD 6.00
Hostal Duque Inn: Offers a private room with panoramic view of the city for USD 6.00 (Backpackways recommends)
Cozy Hostel: Offers a bed in a 8 bed dorm for USD 7.80