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How to Spend 3 Days in Puno

How to Spend 3 Days in Puno

The city of Puno is rarely considered most beautiful destination on Lake Titicaca; the modern and somewhat scruffy city is a working port town. It is a destination not only for tourists, but also lake dwellers here to market their wares and shop for necessities. Puno does, however, have its understated charms, and is a convenient base for exploring Titicaca’s amazing islands, pre-Columbian ruins and other attractions.

The original indigenous settlement here on the lakeshore was first occupied by the Spanish in 1668, and soon became a boomtown thanks to the neighboring Laykakota silver mines. After Independence from Spain, indigenous Peruvians began asserting their own autonomy and have since reclaimed their spiritual homeland and (according to legend) birthplace of the Andean peoples, for their own.

Today, Puno is known as the “Folkloric Capital of Peru,” where Aymara, Uros, Quechua and other cultures have long mingled. More than 300 folk dances, each accompanied by colorful costumes, elaborate masks, cheerful songs and other traditional accouterments, are performed throughout the year at assorted festivals held in honor of Catholic saints and virgins, as well as the old gods. Check to see what’s on while you’re in town.

Travelers should be aware that Puno’s altitude of 3,822m (12,565 feet) presents some serious considerations for visitors. Altitude sickness is common and the ubiquitous coca tea only helps so much; take it easy, and consider acclimating at a lower elevation, such as Cuzco, for a few days. Sunburns are also serious business; wear hats, sunblock and glasses, or risk being one of the hundreds of travelers hospitalized with blistering (literally!) sunburns each year.

Day One: Explore the City

Puno’s strollable city center has plenty of sites that can keep you busy for a day or two. The most famous is the Church of San Pedro, called the “Sistine Chapel of the Americas” for the exquisite murals covering its ceiling and walls. Several other attractive churches offer relief from the blistering sun, such as the Church of San Juan, home of Puno’s patron, the Virgen de la Candelaria, and stone 1757 Cathedral of Puno, famed for its elaborate silver-plated altar, next to the famed Balcony of the Count of Lernos, who founded the city.

In the mood for museums? Don’t miss the Dreyer, with a wealth of pre-Columbian art and artifacts. Also interesting is the Yavari Ship Museum, which covers the history of shipping on the world’s highest navigable lake, from reed canoes to British steamships. Other options include the Paleontological and Totora Reed Museums.

For great views, visit Huajsapata Park, just three blocks from Plaza del las Armas, topped with statues of local legends. Or climb 700 stone steps from the city proper to the Kuntur Wasi viewpoint, where you’ll find an iconic metal condor sculpture and incredible views over the port and lake. Security is an issue, so go in groups (or better, with a local guide) and leave valuables at the hotel.

Day Two: Out and About

After watching an epic high-altitude sunrise, book a tour or catch a public boat for the half-hour ride to Islas Uros, Lake Titicaca’s famous floating islands. You can easily spend half a day wandering the artificial landscape, with an extra spring in your step thanks to the reeds with which these unique islands are made. Take an island tour in a gondola made with lashed bundles of reeds, then do some shopping for the region’s famed handicrafts. After returning to the mainland, book an afternoon tour to the Chullpas of Sillustani, the remarkable burial towers overlooking lovely Lake Umayo.

Day Three: Out onto the Lake

While Puno offers a taste of Lake Titicaca’s attractions, it’s well worth the effort to spend the night out on one of the islands. There are several choices.

If you are seeking a taste of the local lifestyle, Isla Taquile and Isla Amantani offer community-organized homestays, meals and guided hikes around their isolated island paradises. Taquile tends to appeal to handicrafts aficionados, while Amantani is a bit farther off the beaten trail. Luxury lovers should book a night or two on Lake Titicaca’s only private island, Suasi, with its excellent upscale hotel. Those in search of the lake’s spiritual and cultural heart, however, will need to head across the lake to Copacabana, Bolivia, with access to Isla del Sol. There, according to legend, was where the sun and moon were born, and the human race began.

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5 Tours and Activities | All Puno Tours

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One-Way Scenic Bus Transfer to Puno from Cusco

One-Way Scenic Bus Transfer to Puno from Cusco

star-4.5
Discover the spectacular sights located between Cusco and Puno on a scenic one-way bus transfer. Avoid the stress of organizing transport while on vacation by booking a convenient and comfortable transfer. Enjoy hotel pickup and drop-off before admiring the splendid scenery of the Andes Mountain range on a stylish, air-conditioned coach, and stop off at significant points of interest throughout the journey. Enjoy an authentic Andean experience on this unforgettable ride.
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  • 10 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$96.90
Price varies by group size
From
US$96.90
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Private Round-Trip Transfer: Puno Airport to Puno Hotels

Private Round-Trip Transfer: Puno Airport to Puno Hotels

Make the transfer between the Puno airport and your Puno hotel easy and hassle-free with private ground transport. Book ahead for this round-trip service, which allows you to avoid stressful taxi queues and crowded shuttles.
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  • 1 hour
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$73.40
Price varies by group size
From
US$73.40
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Half-Day Tombs

Half-Day Tombs "Chullpas" of Sillustani from Puno

star-5
Embark on a half-day tour to Lake Umayo's Sillustani, known for its impressive funeral towers. Set out from Puno to this pre-Incan burial ground belonging to Peru's indigenous Colla people. Explore the grounds and learn about the Colla civilization, inhabitants of the surrounding lands years before the Inca people. Your trip includes round-trip hotel transport.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$20.00
From
US$20.00
Taking safety measures

Private Round-Trip Transfer: Puno Bus or Train Station to Puno Hotel

Private Round-Trip Transfer: Puno Bus or Train Station to Puno Hotel

star-5
Arrange your round-trip transfer in advance and skip the hassle of booking a service in Puno. This convenient form of transport takes you from Puno bus or train station to your downtown or greater Puno-area horel, and then back again. It means you spend more time enjoying your trip and less time puzzling out the logistics.
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  • 1 hour
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$14.40
Price varies by group size
From
US$14.40
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Lake Titicaca and Sun Island Overnight Catamaran Cruise from Puno

Lake Titicaca and Sun Island Overnight Catamaran Cruise from Puno

star-3
Admire the stunning scenery that surrounds Lake Titicaca and the majestic Sun Island during an overnight cruise from Puno. Climb aboard a stylish catamaran and set sail over the shimmering surface of the world’s highest lake, absorbing gorgeous greenery as you cruise. Visit the traditional town of Challapampa to gain intriguing insight into the indigenous culture of the area; see the ancient Inca temples of Chincana and Pilko Kaina accompanied by a knowledgeable guide; and feast upon regionally inspired dishes in rustic restaurants.
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  • 2 days
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$409.20
Price varies by group size
From
US$409.20
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures


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