Puno is a port city at an altitude of over 3,800 metres, on the shores of Lake Titicaca on the Altiplano of Peru. Puno is a picturesque hillside city overlooking Lake Titicaca and one of its largest attractions, the Uros Floating Islands. This, and its proximity to the Bolivian border, means that it´s a regular stop on the South American tourist trail
Puno is also the name of the region.
The city of Puno is the melting pot of the Aymara and Quechua culture. Most of its inhabitants are of Andean origin and it has a unique mixture of modernity and Andean traditions. Women in traditional clothing live and work next to their modern versions.
Puno's elevation is about 3,822m (12,565 feet), which means it is fairly cold, especially at night. The sun is blistering hot during the day though and you should wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. During high season (July, August) almost every day one tourist is hospitalized with sunburns, especially after falling asleep on top of one of the sometimes agonizingly slow boats to the islands of Taquile or Amantani. If you arrive from a lower elevation, you might want to spend a day or two taking it easy in order to acclimatize.
The airport is located in Juliaca 50km away. Yet it's the fastest way to go to Puno. In the airport search for minibus to Puno.
Flights go to Juliaca from Lima and Cuzco. From Lima fares can be had for around $US50 on Avianca, even last minute - book in Spanish using their Peruvian website. LAN requires that you have a Peruvian residency card for their cheapest fares, Avianca does not.
Trains to and from Cuzco travel 3 times per week, Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, and if there are enough passengers, on Thursday as well. The train to Arequipa is only used for goods and no longer for passengers. The rail trip from Puno to Cuzco, The Andean Explorer, which is run jointly by Peru Rail and Orient Express is spectacular, one of the world's great train journeys. It is not cheap - about US$336. The other direction (from Puno to Cuzco) is 'only' US$150 (May 2012). one way. Don't look for the backpacker class for less money as it is no longer operates.
The trip takes in Andean mountains and valleys of the Huatanay River, before reaching the Andean Plains, La Raya (the highest point of the route) and finally Cuzco. The train stops at La Raya for about 10 mins to allow passengers to get off. There are stalls selling local handicrafts, e.g. alpaca sweaters, rugs, chess sets. Ensure that you bargain hard.
The arriving buses from the north do not go through the town center but travel along Av Circunvalacion, and enter the terminal from the southern end of Puno.
- Daily buses depart to and from Cuzco and Arequipa. From Cusco the cheapest option is 25 soles (Transportes Power, first counter to the right when entering through the north entrance of Terminal Terrestre. Departs at 07:45 am).The ride from Cusco to Puno takes between 5 and 8 hours, depending on the bus company. Keep a close eye on all valuables.
Trans Titicaca Bolivia Bus Company provides transportation between Puno, Copacabana and La Paz. The company has recently opened operations to the Salar de Uyuni as well, so now you can travel with a single bus company from Puno to Uyuni via La Paz.
Cruz del Sur bus line is the most popular service to get from Cusco, Arequipa, and other popular tourist towns to Puno. Check their website for latest schedule and prices.
Peru Hop offers bus passes to Puno from Cusco, Lima, Arequipa or Bolivia. These bus passes are hop on hop off and include stops along the way.If you want to see more of Peru, this is your best option. Also their buses are really safe as they avoid dangerous roads, every bus is monitored by GPS system and offers on-board bilingual assistance on all passes.
Bolivia Hop will also bring you into Puno from Cusco, La Paz or Copcabana. This service allows you to hop on or hop off at any of these places (on certain dates/times), they provide passenger assistance in Spanish and English at all border crossings. Bolivia Hop pass offers discounts on accommodation and some tours. This service is more expensive than Cruz del Sur or other Peruvian owned bus companies but when you total the cost of transport, the cost price of Bolivia Hop free activities in each of their destinations, and the complete price of other activities and accommodation that they offer discounts on, you’ll find that they work out at much better value.
TourPeru has bus leaving at 8.00 a.m and 10:00 p.m. The journey takes 7 hours and there are no stops. Tickets cost 50 soles for 1st floor seats (cama seats) and 40 soles for second floor seats (semi-cama) on the day bus.
Transzela has a bus at 8:00 a.m. from Cusco to Puno, arriving at 3:00 p.m. (7 hours). Cost is 60 soles (cama seat).
Inka express has a special tourist bus starts at 7:30am in Puno with several stops to take photos on the interesting points. It takes 8 hours to Cusco. Cost is $45.00 USD.
- Buses depart to Copacabana twice daily. There are 4 buses that depart at 7:30am (15 soles) but only Titicaca has an afternoon service that leaves at 2pm (20 soles).
- Daily buses depart to and from La Paz, Bolivia on two slightly different routes.
- Direct route via Desaguadero (the fastest route, about 5 hours taking shared taxis).
To do this, take a bus from the terminal or a shared taxi to Desaguadero (2-3 hours, most buses leave before 10am) and after getting your passport stamped on both sides of the bridge, you can take a bus/minivan/shared taxi to La Paz (10/15/25 Bolivianos, 2-3 hours, much faster and more comfortable by shared taxi). If you want more space in the back you can pay for an extra seat. Border formalities are quite quick, but you might want to take a bicycle taxi to avoid walking a long way from the bridge to the transport on either side. You can change money here at one of the stalls outside Peruvian immigration - it's best if you know the exchange rate in advance.
- Via ferry boat across Lake Titicaca and Copacabana.
- You should change some money at the border in order to be able to pay the ferry in Bolivianos. Be prepared to change buses in Copacabana. This will mean you will lose your good seats.
When the overnight bus to Cusco stops at the state line for the police to inspect cargo underneath the bus, get out and watch your luggage to avoid theft.
Ormeños has buses leaving Puno between 8am and 9am every day. The departure time depends on how long the bus takes to arrive from Lima, so it is necessary to call Ormeños in Puno or Arequipa at about 7am to find out what time the bus will be passing through. The price is 100 Soles per person and the journey should take about 6 hours.
Many of the hostels are set on a hill above the Plaza del Armas which feels even steeper because of the altitude.
- Taxis or motor-rickshaws run from S/3 to S/6 within the city, depending on how well you speak Spanish and how much you want to bargain.
- Urban colectivos (or combis) charge 0,60 S/.
The 3rd of November is the eve of the anniversary of the founding of the city, for about a week the streets come alive with traditional music and dancing, and there are many concerts, processions and marching bands throughout the town. It's a great time to be there and it's free.
Most Puno sights are actually not in the city itself. Check the "Get out"-section below.
- Floating Islands (described in detail in "Get Out" section. Tour boats leave every 40 mins from the dock (5 Soles by taxi). These cost 10 Soles for the return boat trip plus a 10 Soles entry fee to the islands. The last boat leaves around 4:30pm. The boat takes you to a couple of different islands (there are more than 50) where the island's "president" explains how the islands are built. Everything is made of reeds, including the islands themselves, the people's houses and their boats.
- The Islands of Taquile and Amantani where you can sleep over with a local family.
- The peninsulas of Chucuito and Capachica that form the right and left arm of the Puno Bay. In Chucuito you can stay in Luquina Chico or Karina, in Capachica the community of Llachón is becoming famous, but you can also stay on the other side of the peninsula in Ccotos or the small island of Tikonata.
In the city itself you can visit the panoramic viewpoints of the Puma and the Condor statues. The two miradors are rumored to be dangerous to foreigners, but both are staffed with police and feel very safe. The Condor especially has a great view on the bay and city. Take a taxi (8-20 soles) to the top and go down the hundred plus stairs, in 10 min you are on the main square.
Also worth visiting: the Dreyer Museum close to the main square, and the Yavari boat museum. 7 soles by taxi (Hotel Posada del Inca).
In the last few years a few smaller museums have opened, like the Galindo Gallery with paintings in the Cusco School style, the Paleontological Museum and the Totora Museum.
There are several llama farms in Puno available for tourists to go to. You can learn about the history and agricultural llama use.
check all the places in 
You can buy souvenirs here for less than in Cuzco or Lima. There is a large artisan market on the lake by the touristic terminal.
- In and around the Mercado Central are several budget places to lunch for less than 3 Soles.
- Lunch or dinner can easily be acquired for less than three soles if you're willing to walk a 3-5 blocks down from Jr. Lima or the Plaza de Armas.
- Loving Hut Titikaka, Jr. Jose Domingo Choquehuanca 188 (close coliseum and water park), has excellent set four-course vegan lunches in a quiet, very clean atmosphere. Really worth the short walk if you're tired of junk food. The owner speaks English, and the daily lunch menu is posted on Facebook.
Ricos-Pan on Jr. Moquegua No 334-326, about 100 meters from the post office. Good coffee, good fresh cakes, and bread. Downside, no Wi-fi.
Most touristspots are in and around Calle Lima, with main courses around 20 Soles. Some have reported success with haggling, however that does not seem any more appropriate here than it would be in the United States or another developed country. At any rate, $8USD for dinner at an upscale restaurant is not a bad price.
- Restaurant and Pizzeria Mojsa on the Plaza de Armas is surprisingly affordable, with good pastas, pizzas, coffee and an excellent atmosphere.
- Chifa Shanghai, Jr. Arbulu,171, across the street from the Central Market. Good Chinese food prepared by real Chinese cooks. The "A la Carta" menu has more expensive (14-25 Bob) but more authentic Chinese dishes and you can ask for a side order of plain rice or chaufa. The "menus" are inexpensive; some include dessert.
- Cafe restaurant Monterrey, Pasaje Grau 158, has reasonably cheap and good breakfasts.
- Restaurant pizzeria Ollantay, Pasaje Grau 160, has pizzas, trout and alpaca. Ask for el menú.
- Restaurant Colors, Calle Lima, has creative nouveau andean and international dishes and free wifi. Really good food and the desserts are fab!
- Cafe restaurant Sal y Azucar, Pasaje Grau, relatively cheap but delicious desserts and some savory meals.
- Restaurant Don Giorgio, Calle Lima, serves Italian food at very high prices.
- Restaurant and cafe Incabar, Jr. Lima near Parque Pina, has a nice atmosphere and free, fast wifi. However, their food is expensive, and the coffee comes from down an alley next door.
- Sweets Cafe on Jr. Lima has mediocre coffee and food, but also has free wifi and a balcony overlooking the walking street.
- Eccos Cafe/Resteraunt, incredibly tastey menu del dia, (15 Soles), just off the main pedestrianized street.
- Restaurant Inka Vegan, Jr. Santiago Giraldo 167. Perfect if you like natural, fresh and tasty vegetarian food. Just lunch for now. Cheap complete menus. Custom dishes on request. Friendly owners. (Closed on Sundays)
- See Loving Hut Titikaka under budget.
- Fruitjuices at one of the many juguerias on the second floor of the market.
- Many gringo spots at or near the pedestrian mall.
- Pacha cafe-bar, calle independencia (main pedestrian blvd). Bar on main street offers average coffee and cocktails. Any food ordered is brought in from outside, so best not to eat there. Staff have game to see how much they can short-change gringos. Free wifi, password 11030489. 2 for S12 happy hr. edit
- Qalapaxta Bar on top of the tallest building in town, the Hotel Qalaqatani, up a side street from Jr. Lima. Excellent view and atmosphere. They have trouble finding a good bartender, so the bar isn't always officially 'open', or you might have to be content with one or two ingredient drinks and pointing out what bottles.
- Inkas Rest, Pje San Carlos 158 (In small dead-end street just off the street with the railway tracks very close to main tourist area.), ☎ 051-51-368720, . Tidy Clean hostel with friendly staff, speak some English. Lots of living areas with couches, free tea, and coffee, free breakfast (very early till 9 am), Kitchen with lots of spices, rice and pasta etc so you can cook a meal if you want to save your soles. Dorms 22 soles (Dec 2013) plus good prices for singles and doubles, comfortable beds. Free wifi and computers in each living space. Cable tv. Recently, there was major construction going on, moving the kitchen and adding new rooms. Huge noise from 9 is till 11 pm every day. Guests were not told about the construction when checking in. edit
- The Point Hostels, AV. Circunvalación Norte 278 - Huajsapata (3 blocks from the Main Square), ☎ +51 (051) 351 427, . The Point Hostel Puno has been created to be a passage destination for backpackers heading to, or coming from, Bolivia. The Hostel is located on a safe & quiet street, just three blocks from the Main Square. The spacious building has modern dorms with shared facilities. Trips can be booked there for Uros Floating Reed Islands, trips on Lake Titicaca, border crossing assistance (buses to Bolivia) & much more. Maybe permanently closed. edit
- The WalkOn Inn, Jirón Libertad 115 (corner Jr. Tacna), ☎ +51 (0)51 352 631, . * The WalkOn Inn (email:)opened a hostel in downtown Puno. Rooms with ample space and private bathroom cost 60 soles for a double/twin with hot water 24/7. Breakfasts cost 8 soles for a buffet. The hotel can also connect you with tours. 60. edit
- Pirwa Hostels Peru, Av. La Torre #492 (only 2 blocks from the main square), ☎ +51 084 244315 ([email protected]), . checkin: 10.30 am; checkout: 10.00 am. Services: Free continental breakfast, free pick up, free internet access, 24 hours reception, in house bar and more. from $ 8.50 /person. (-15.832822,-70.028293) edit
- Quechuas Backpackers (a.k.a. Miski Wasi Inn), Calle Santiago Giraldo No 177. A new place with super comfortable beds and good and friendly service (they will greet you by name etc). Free wifi. USD 20 for a double or twin incl breakfast (May 2012).
- Hostal Terminal, In the terminal, on 2nd floor. Clean, sunny and warm rooms with hot water. single 20/25, double 30/35 withhout/with tv and towels (4 dec 2012). Located literally in the terminal so a bit noisy but practical if you would like to stay 1-2 nights. Noise level drops off after 22:00, but starts up again at 05:00. Owner is a bit paranoiac while giving towels (says people took the towels with them, this's the reason). edit
- Hostal Los Uros, Theodóro Valcárcel N8 135, 051-352141. Clean and decent hotel close to the center. Popular with foreigners. A single with shared bathroom cost 30 soles. Ask for a discount in low-season.
- Sleeping at one of the Uros Islands A new option available is hospedaje made of reed located on the Uro Islands The prices are well worth the atmosphere and getting away from most of the tourists on the daytrips (about 15 soles a night, 30 including dinner and breakfast).
Hospedaje Petita on Jr Luis Banchero Rossi. 25 sols for a single with private bathroom, cable TV, and pretty good Wi-Fi. It’s a small Hospedaje on a quiet street, especially at night. Its 5 minutes and about 300 meters from the terminal.
To get there from the Terminal Terrestre (Main bus terminal in Puno), exit the terminal at the normal passenger exit point, next to the Tourist Police Office, and not at the Salida for Taxis. Turn left, walk through a dirt car park full of white collectivos. The Hospedaje is across the road at the end of this park.
- Hostal Los Pinos Inn Tarapacá 182, [email protected] Helpful staff, breakfast, private bathrooms, affordable.
- Cantuta Inn Tacna 797, Puno Located in the heart of the center. (5 minutes from La Plaza de Armas by walking) Super nice and clean rooms with fast Wifi. Lavish breakfast buffet offers a variety of choices; fruits, bread, cereals, meat and cheese, juice, yogurt, assorted teas, and coffee. Attentive staff with warm, welcoming smiles. Free oxygen for those that suffer from low saturation levels (altitude sickness). Tel:051354009, E-mail: [email protected] Website: www.cantutahotel.com
- Titilaka, ☎ +51-1-700-5100, . A modern luxury refuge located on the shores of the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca, featuring 18 lake-view Suites and providing guests with a richly authentic experience in the region. edit
There are loads of agencies offering trips from here, and most hotels and inns will be more than happy to reserve for you. Note that the latter often charge an extra 5 S/. for this service.
- Walking up in the hills gives nice views over the city and the lakes, but it is dangerous! Tourists are often the victims of armed robberies in the hills.
- Chucuito (19km, 1 Sol by colectivo) can be done as a daytrip from Puno, -or en route to Bolivia.
- Cutimbo is a nice daytrip, -for pre-Inca ruins and views.
- Sillustani has the best examples of pre-Inca tombs in the area, -and also has some nice lakeside views.
- Isla Taquile, famed for its traditional Titicacan way of living, can be done either as a daytrip, or staying a night or two.
- Uro Islands, the floating reed islands, are mostly visited on daytrips. Recently has been opened a hospedaje on one of the islands.
Buses to Copacabana, Bolivia
Most companies offer buses at 7:00am and 7:30am for S/.15 to S/.20. Last Bus in the afternoon at 2:00pm. The cheapest and most time flexible option is to take a minibus from the "terminal zonal" (few blocks south of the main terminal terrestre) to Yunguyo, 2km from the border. Leaves very often, costs 8s to Yunguyo; the driver can usually takes you directly to the border for an additional 2s. Note that the border closes at 7pm Peruvian time (March 2016). If you come back from the Uros-Amantani-Taquile boat at 3pm, you should be able to make it across in time but don't waste time!
Buses to Arequipa
- Cruz del Sur has one bus daily leaving at 3pm for Arequipa. There's one stop in Juliaca, and the trip takes 6 hours.
- Ormeno's only daily bus to Arequipa leaves at 6pm. Like Cruz del Sur, it stops for a short while at the Juliaca bus station and takes a total of 6 hours to Arequipa
- Julsa has hourly departures for Arequipa, with Platinum service (a double-decker bus with a bathroom onboard) about every other hour. Julsa heads to Juliaca before continuing on to Arequipa; however, it'll also stop randomly on the side of the road to pick up as many people as there are seats. The Julsa bus driver seemed safe.
Buses to Cusco
- Cruz del Sur has night buses to Cusco. 85 soles for a 10pm cama ride (August 2015).
- Tour Peru has a night bus to Cusco. 30 soles for cama, 40 soles for VIP cama, 10pm (August 2015).
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