- For other places with the same name, see Copacabana (disambiguation).
Copacabana is a small town located on the Bolivian shore of Lake Titicaca. Situated relatively close to the capital of La Paz, it's a popular resort destination for foreign travellers and locals alike.
Copacabana shoreline, from Cerro Calvario
This is the original Copacabana -- actually lending its name to the beach in Rio. The name derives from the Aymara kota kawana, meaning "view of the lake", and the region was revered by the Inca even before the Spaniards built a chapel dedicated to the Virgin and turned it into a Catholic pilgrimage site. The image itself, whose official name is "Our Lady of the Candelaria of Copacabana", was made in the late XVI century by Francisco Tito Yupanqui, a local artist/sculptor and a descendant of Huayna Capac.
The town's central square is Plaza 2 de Febrero, and from there Avenida 6 de Agosto slides down to the lakeside. It's packed with souvenir shops, hostels, and restaurants, largely catering to foreign tourists. Avenida Jaregui one block north has a more local feel, with street markets and grocery stores.
The closest airports are El Alto (La Paz) or Juliaca (Peru). From El Alto take a taxi to the minibus stop on Avenida Juan Pablo II near the intersection of Avenida Alfonso Ugarte (10minutes), then take the minibus from there (Bs.15 & about 3hours). This is much quicker than going all the way down into La Paz & the Cementario Terminal.
From Juliaca in Peru (cheap domestic flights from Lima on Avianca - US$50~), take a bus from the airport to Puno (about an hour), then change to a bus to Copacabana (about 3hours, depending on the time of day & how long the border crossing takes).
Buses leave from La Paz' cemetery bus terminal; the fare is around Bs30 (Bs60 if you splurge for hotel pickup -- tickets are sold at all travel agencies in La Paz) and travel time is 3-1/2 hours. At the Tiquina Strait, you get off the bus and take a quick ferry ride (Bs2) to pick up the bus (which is ferried across by barge) on the other side. Beware of theft and keep a close eye on all valuables at all times.
Buses arrive in Copacabana at Plaza 2 de Febrero and leave from Plaza Sucre.
There are now new direct buses to Copacabana called Bolivia Hop. They can bring you straight into Copacabana from La Paz or/and Puno and Cusco. This service allows you to hop on or hop off at any of these places, they provide passenger assistance in Spanish and English at the border. They also can include a tour to the Islands. Bolivia hop is a new company and appear to be well ran. They have bilingual guides that can offer assistance in dealing with the border police. Note: Be aware that this company promises you that they came from heaven and have a solution for everything. Choose only if you want a very touristy and not-really hassle-free experience. You are not better off than with other local (non-irish-run) companies, even if they promise. There are e.g. no shuttles to your hotel as advertised, you will have to buy a taxi and border crossing is already hassle-free without them.
Buses also leave from Puno in Peru, and take roughly the same 3-1/2 hours to arrive in Copacabana; an hour is typically spent at the border, just 5 miles south of Copacabana. Beware of dishonest border police issuing false fines. Refuse to pay and stand your ground. If you leave in the afternoon from Puno there is no direct bus, you will need to first go to the border, do the formalities and take a collectivo to Copacabana.
Do not change money before Peruvian / Bolivian border as you will sometimes be instructed to do so by bus conductor. It's a scam operated by all bus companies and you'll end up with MUCH worse rate than exchanging your money later at the border or in Copacabana town. (In Apr 2016, market rate is usd:bob=6.915, before border the bus company offers you 6.7, after border checkpoint it's 6.8, at Copacabana it's 6.9) Do not pay any fake tax they ll try to charge you on the bus while going to Copacabana. There is no fee entry like Ingresso al santuario you have to pay. This is happening on Titicaca bus company (December 2015).
August 06th 2016. Regarding the above money changing paragraph. I took the Tour Peru Bus from Puno to Copacabana (25 Sols). This bus stopped at a Cambio Office at the Yunguyo border town, where we were told that we could change money. The official online rate was US $1 = 6.87 Bolíviano (XE.com). This particular Cambio office was giving US $1 = 6.7. I was on the Tour Peru Bus, while our bus was there, the Titicaca Bus also stopped at this Cambio Office and their passengers also changed money. If this is a scam, I am not sure who is making the big money. From my angle, it was very convenient, and quick.
I did the border crossing on the 6th August 2016, and no extra money (fees, taxes etc) had to be paid. That is, there were no fees at all. I stamped out of Peru, and into Bolivia, and no money was asked for.
August 2016. I took the bus Copacabana to La Paz Bus. In Copacabana, the La Paz buses left from the intersection of Av 16 de Julio and Calle Buch. Cost was 20 Bolíviano. The mini buses to La Paz also leave from this intersection. The buses to La Paz stop at the Terminal Cementario. From this terminal it is a 10 to 15 Bolíviano taxi ride to the Terminal Central. You can also catch the local city buses to the central terminal.
Note: as of March 2016 the border in Yunguyo closes at 7pm Peruvian time.
Also note: There is a one hour time difference Peru to Bolivia. 11:00 am in Peru is 12:00 (Midday in Bolivia).
It is possible to get to/from Sorata without going back to La Paz. Get on a La Paz bound bus/minibus/micro from either town, tell the driver you wish to go to Sorata/Copacabana and you will be dropped off at the small lakeside town of Huarina (2 hours from La Paz). Cross the road and wait for a Sorata/Copacabana bound bus/minibus with space to pass. They should honk their horn if they have space and see people waiting, but it wouldn't hurt to keep an eye out and flag one down if you see it first. Best to get started early as you may have a bit of a wait at Huarina - it should still be quicker than going all the way to La Paz then 2 hours back in the same direction though.
The town is quite small, so taxis are hardly needed. From 2 de Febrero, you can hire pedicabs to carry luggage to your hotel.
- Copacabana Cathedral, completed in 1619, is one of the oldest churches in Bolivia and is a fine example of Moorish style architecture. (The current structure dates to 1805.) It houses the statue of La Virgen de la Candelaria (also called the "Dark Virgin"), reputed to have miraculous healing powers. The original statue was carved from cactus in 1583 by Francisco Tito Yupanqui, nephew of Inca emperor Huayna Capac. It has made the church Bolivia's most revered pilgrimage site, and its reputation traveled far and wide in its time, even leading someone to create a replica and build a chapel for it on a beach in Brazil...
- Museo del Poncho, Tito Yupanqui street # 42 (Walk down the main av. until you reach the beach, turn to your right and walk one block, turn to your right again and 50 feet from you'll find it), . 10.30 - 17.00. The Museo del Poncho exhibits a broad variety of weavings and clothing from Andean communities; particular pieces that are part of the male attire. It shows how the poncho is more than just a piece of clothing, but a symbol of identity, social status, authority and so much more. Bs 15.
- The imposing hill of Cerro Calvario overlooks the town from the north end of the beach, and it's a moderately strenous 30-minute climb. There are fourteen stations of the cross along the way, where you may want to stop and pray for stronger legs and lungs. The best time to go is around sunset, and hope the weather cooperates.
- On the other end of the shore are two hills with ancient Inca ruins.
- Isla del Sol is the largest island on Lake Titicaca, and definitely worth visitng, if just for the views of the Cordillera Real. Be cautious, however, of one-day trips including Isla del Luna, as it adds two hours of travel and makes a day trip to both islands not really worth it, as you will spend 5 hours of the trip sitting on the boat (which is very, very slow) and only 2.5 hours on the islands.
- Chill at one of the many (!!) cafes in town. There is not much to do in the town itself, which almost only features hotels, restaurants, cafes and tour agencies.
- Rent motorbikes and explore. Bikes can be rented in front of the restaurant kiosks on the beach. Just know that during the weekday pickings are slim (usually two terrible bikes), but on the weekends they add tons more for rent that are much better.
Lots of stores and shops line the Avenida 6 de Agosto selling local handicrafts, alpaca wool garments and lots of hippies sell jewelry on the streets.
The Spitting Llama Bookstore and Outfitter  has a huge book exchange, lots of maps, free tourist info, and new Lonely Planet guidebooks. They also sell and rent a full range of camping and travel gear. They are open 7 days a week 9AM-7PM. English is spoken. Tel: 2-2599073
There are three ATMs in total based around Avenida 6 de Agosto. Ask a local to point them out to you. There is one well guarded bank in Copacabana on Avenida 6 de Agosto, between Plaza 2 de Febrero and the cathedral, with an ATM that only supports cards issued by the bank itself. However, it is possible to withdraw money from ATM machines inside; bring your passport for identification.
There are several cambistas changing dollars, euros or Peruvian soles, but with poor rates. Prodem also change dollars for a better rate and gives cash advances on VISA and mastercard creditcards.
The one and only culinary specialty is trucha, or salmon trout, fished from the lake. Practically every single restaurant serves it, and there's a long row of identical stalls on the beach. Many places also serve pizza and pasta, presumably for those who've had enough (or don't like) fish. Most restaurants advertise free WiFi as a ploy to attract customers; however, it rarely works.
Try the giant popcorn. It's unique to Copacabana and is sweet and delicious.
For cheap food with the locals head to the Comedor Popular just next to the market on the right (there is a sign, just walk around the market and you'll find it). You can get an almuerzo with trucha, caldo de pollo, sopa etc... as good as the more expensive restaurants and more authentic... When you get out don't forget to try an agua de durazno (dried apricot water), it's delicious. 1 BOB.
Be careful, especially in low season, of restaurants with a low turn over of customers - they may keep food for longer than they should. Hygiene standards can be dubious!
- El Condor and the Eagle Cafe. They just moved on Av. 6 de Agosto,inside Residencial Paris, 1st floor. It's actually a cafe and not a hostel, IT IS really the best place in town to have a coffee and breakfast, the best sandwiches we had in Bolivia. Interesting collection of English books, downloads of ebooks, audiobooks, music and movies. WI FI free for clients. BOLIVIAN-IRISH OWNED.
- La Orilla, Av 6 de Agosto. Little bit more expensive but worth it as they have good hygiene standards. Very friendly staff who speak English. Provided me with tea to help with food poisoning (from a different restaurant!). Good selection of food.
- Pachamama, Av. 6 de Agosto
- Mankha Uta, Av. 6 de Agosto. Food is terrible. You will need to eat somewhere else after.
- Kala Uta, Av. 6 de Agosto
- Sujna Wasi, Av. Jaregui
- La Nimbo Food here tasted good but came out too quickly. Resulted in food poisoning the next day.
- Kota Kauhaña, , The most expensive restaurant in town and dinner is under US$10. Located inside the Hotel Rosario del Lago.
- Cafe Bistrót, Av 6 de agosto. Very tasty Bolivian-International fusion food. Amazing Thai Curry. Owned by the friendly Bolivian Fatima who speaks French, English and Spanish. Bs20-35.
- KM Zero, 6 Agosto, near the dock (about 10 shops up from the dock on your right). Set menu 25Bs, soup served with bread, mains with nice portion, postre. HH 8-10pm drinks 2x1. Live music starting 8:30pm. Good working WiFi. Much better than the other one called Bamba with the same price further up the road.
Av. 6 de Agosto has enough hostels and inexpensive hotels to accommodate hordes of backpackers.
The cheapest rooms you can find are from ~25s pp (March 2016).
The town is pretty empty during the week so you will easily find cheap accomodation. Rooms might be more expensive during weekends and holidays.
Note that many hotels don't have hot water (although they claim to) and some have limited wifi availability (e.g. only 1 hour per day, as some owners need to buy prepaid internet credit for the 3G stick. They most likely wont tell you this on arrival so you might want to check if you really need wifi).
- Hostal 6 de Agosto, (Nearly at the begining of the street, on your right.). checkout: 10.00 am strict. 35 bs. per person (6 dec 2012). Clean rooms with hot water. Bath, TV, towels included. They wake you crushing on your door if you don't tell them you will be staying one more day beforehand.
- Georges Residencial, (Near the harbour on the left side of the road. Look for a sign above the street.). checkout: 10.30 am. 50 bs. per person (January 2015). Clean private rooms with your own bathroom. water is changing from mediocre to warm. Friendly people who always smile when you enter. Breakfast is not included but they have a restaurant.
- Hospedaje Aroma, Jáuregui & Destacamento. Basic but seriously cheap. Try to get a room on the top floor, the views there are great. Price Bs.10++. Update Oct 2014: 15B per person, just room, not even an electric socket. Use of shower is 5B extra. Luggage storage only up to 12noon on the check out date. No choice of rooms.
- Hospedaje Las Playas, Near the dock on 6 Agosto, next to KM Zero Restaurant & Bar. Twin room 15B per person with hot shower and WiFi (limited time, expect no more than 2 hours a day, and you have to tell them to switch on the Router whenever you want it). Lumpy beds and shared bathroom smells sometimes. Good for the extreme backpacker with low budget. <--Oct 2014
- Hostal Sonia, a 5-10 min walk from the main tourist drag. Cheap, but the terrible shower had us changing accommodations after one night. No hot water, and the shower was located in our tiny bathroom almost overtop of the sink. Trucks and buses cruise by at all hours, always honking to make the turn around the hostel. Bs.50 for a room with double bed and private bathroom. Wifi available in the rooms. You can negotiate the rates very easily. Fine shower conditions, clean rooms. No noise.
- Hostal Central, new hotel on plaza Sucre. Comfortable and clean. Double with private bathroom for 70 Bs (May 2012). EDIT feb 2013 - price is 40 or 50Bs per person. No breakfast.No wifi. They wake you crushing on your door if you don't tell them you will be staying one more day beforehand - disturbing. Edit March 2014 40 Bs per person. The hostel now has WIFI. Clean and big room. (single but i was put in a double twin room with private bathroom) Hot water? Close to the lake.
- Hostal Elida, at the corner of Junin and Vallivan. Great alternative in quiet area. One block off from the Cathedral (away from the lake). Large and bright rooms. Run by friendly and helpful fammily with cat and dog. From Bs. 30 with private bathroom. Be careful that there's no heating and no insulation.
- Hostel Arco Iris, Half way between Plaza Sucre and Plaza 2 de Febrero on Avenida 6 de Agosto, Restaurant with good food. One night cost between 20 Bs. (shared bathroom) and 30 Bs. (private bath). Internet connection by WiFi in the restaurant and at 1st floor. On a trip to Isla del Sol, you can leave your heavy luggage for free at the hostel. However this hostel doesn't get only good reviews: there have been reports of disagreements and spats with the owner. Reports include owner blaming tourists for breaking already broken stuff in the hostel and charging them extra.
- Hotel Chasqui d'Oro, Av. Costanera 55 (on the lakeside, 2 blocks south of Av. 6 de Agosto), ☎ 2-862-2343. A grand-looking terraced hotel with a wonderful view of the lake. $10 per person (January 2005).
- The Mirador, Av. Busch esq. Costanera, Copacabana (on the lakeside). Every room has a beautiful view on the lake, but the matrimonial beds are a bit too small. Rooms are very big and clean, so is the bathroom. The breakfast is continental with fruits. The staff could be more attentive. 1 min away from the main avenue. But with the price it is unbeatable." $160 bs for matrimonial with bathroom (February 2013).
- Hotel Wendy Mar, Av 16 de Julio at corner of Calle Potosi #22 (big pink building across the street from Hotel Gloria), ☎ 2-862-2124. Super friendly and helpful staff. Nice views directly west for sunset. Clean and modern rooms with cable TV. Edit march 2015: Price is 200Bs the room. 200 Bs (not including breakfast).
- La Leyenda, On the beachfront. Beautifully decorated hostel, inside and out. The rooms are charming in a rustic sort of way, but some may consider overpriced for their condition. Try to get a room on the second or third floors, as the views (especially sunsets) are great. Comes with a simple continental style breakfast. Edit march 2015: Unfortunately another example of a hotel that hikes up their prices once listed in the lonely planet. Price is 200Bs per room and check out time is 9am! Bs. 200 for a large room with double bed and private bathroom.
- Piedra Andina. A nice, new guesthouse overlooking the lake at the opposite end of town near the southern hill. Full of character, just like Las Olas and Cupula, but much less expensive. Only downside is that it is a ten-minute walk from town. Best to take a taxi to it, since it is up the hill a bit. Views of the sunset are unbeatable, and it has decent wifi, reliable hot showers, hammocks around a pleasant garden, and free breakfast. Quiet and a great alternative to the other boutique guesthouses in town. $24-28 USD.
- Oasis Collections, ☎ +55 11 3042 9086 ([email protected]), . A portfolio of 20+ handpicked homes and apartments that include concierge service and full guest support. Recently awarded Top Villa Provider by Condé Nast Traveler.
- Hotel La Cupula , La Cúpula is nestled on the hillside of lake Titicaca, a location, which overlooks both the lake and the Village of Copacabana. Calle Michel Perz 1-3, Phone 862-2029, [email protected] Singles from 75 Bs, heating, breakfast extra. Real hot showers.
- Hotel Rosario del Lago , Considered the best hotel in town and it's only US$35 a night (single, US$45 double, larger/suite US$45-95). The modern hotel is designed in the local contemporary style and decorated in traditional Bolivian textiles. Every room has a view of the Lake and the hotel includes a small museum and the top restaurant, Kota Kauhaña.
- Hostal Las Olas, . A set of seven individually desiged suites on the hillside past La Cupula on Calle Michel Perez. Each room in the suites has an almost perfect view of lake titicaca, making for amazing sunsets in beautifully artistic buildings. The complex has a plunge pool and hot water 24 hours a day. Expensive at from $32US for single accommodation to $62US for the largest suite. But the price is per suite, not per person. Breakfast not included.
- Internet is expensive at Bs 8-12 an hour. However, as of 2017, wifi can be accessed almost anywhere. Be aware that many guesthouses are using a mobile connection and may hit data caps, slowing the connection.
· Bolivia Weekly  has English language news on Bolivia and Copacabana.
· Understand that Copa during the week and Copa during the weekend are two very different things. During the week the town is slow, quiet, and sleepy, and many businesses are closed. There are few, if any, bikes to rent on the beach, and most of the tourists seem to be foreigners. However, every Friday the town fills with Bolivianos and vacationing Peruanos and becomes much more hectic. Hotels book up, restaurants become packed, and the beach fills with games, motorbike rentals, and busy kiosks.
· If you want to visit Isla del Sol and Isla del Lun, think twice before doing a one-day tour. You might think the distance is not far, but boats leaving to the islands move excruciatingly slow. It takes 1.5 hours to get from Copa to Isla del Sol, and almost another hour from there to Isla del Lun. A day trip means you might spend 5 hours on the boat and only 30-45 mins on Isla del Lun and 2 hours on Isla del Sol. We definitely did not think it was worth it. Better to spend a night on Isla del Sol, the views from the top are really quite amazing.
- If traveling into Peru, buy a bus ticket to Puno, and once there buy a new ticket from the company of your choice. (Buying a ticket to Arequipa or Cusco just means you allow the Bolivian company to buy the cheapest ticket with the worst bus company for your onward travel past Puno). A trip to Puno is around BOB35 (jan 2017). Currently, the Titicaca company provides good value: an on board guide provides all info needed for crossing the border and onward travel. No pressure was applied for changing money, nor anything else.
- March 2017: Titicaca does offer a DIRECT connection to Cusco. You only have to get off once to cross the border (about 20 minutes from Copacabana). They leave three times a day. Night bus leaves at 6:30pm and arrives in Cusco around 5:00am. Asking price is 120 bolivianos, but you may be able to negotiate to 100 bolivianos. In theory, you could arrange a van in Cusco to start your quest towards Machu Picchu by 7:00am on the same day.
- No matter what customs and the likes tell you: there is no exit or entry fees!
- Change money at the border. There are enough money changers and rates are better, especially on the Peruvian side).
- Definitely make a trip to Isla del Sol. Boats leave around 8:30 AM for full day tours with stops at the north and south (also possible to hike north to south) of the island. Half day tours are also available in the afternoons (1:30 PM), typically visiting just the south. (As at March 2017, the asking price for the full day trip with stops in the north and south was 35 Bs. if bought at a street shop. Negotiate! The port deck sells it for 40 Bs).
Several companies make the trip and the prices are similar. May 2018: The north of the island is still blockaded. Be aware of this and modify your travel plans if you need to. You cannot walk north-south on the island right now.
- Buses to La Paz leave regularly all day long. Larger buses go every hour from 7am, cost 20s and take 4h (negotiable to 15s. March 2016. You will also need to pay 2s for the ferry, or stay in the bus to save 2s). Minibuses leave regularly and cost 20s.
- Walk all the way to Yampupata. It's about 17 kilometres or 4-5 hours, along a dirt road with a few ups and downs and very little traffic. The scenery on the way is superb. If you don't want to continue to Isla del Sol, it can be kind of hard to arrange transport back. A better option is probably to go there by car/bus/truck and return on foot. This also brings the advantage of walking with the sun mostly in your back.