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10 Epic Things to do in Puno, Peru

Written by Sam Corporations January 18, 2024

10 Epic Things to do in Puno, Peru

Puno, Peru is the capitol city of the Puno region and sits at the edge of Lake Titicaca – which is the highest navigable lake in the world. There are many things to do in Puno that a visit to this border city should be on everyone’s itinerary through Peru.

The people of Puno like to party and since Puno sits at an elevation of 12,556 feet, it feels like half the reason they drink is to stay warm. We came to Puno from Cusco at the end of May and it was significantly colder in Puno than Cusco and I even hiked the Salkantay Trek.

Whether you’re spending a few days or just passing through to head to Bolivia, these are the top ten things to do in Puno, Peru.

10 Epic things to do in Puno, Peru

Visit Sillustani

Sillustani is a pre-Inca cemetery on the shores of Lake Umayo near Puno, Peru. When you arrive to the site, you’ll see that it is a peninsula surrounded by water.

The tower like structures atop the plateau are pre-Inca tombs. History books say they were only built to bury noble people as there are no tombs discovered for normal people.

There are 30 pre-Inca and Incan tombs called chullpas. The chullpas are circular buildings as it represents the symbol of eternal life. Since the tombs range in various sizes from 2 meters to 12 meters, they believe that the tomb height and size represent social status.

You can tell which ones are pre-Inca and Incan based on the intricacy. The pre-Incan tombs are built more loosely and the Incan tombs are taller and more fused together. All of the tombs face East – a belief that each day the sun was reborn by Mother Earth.

This is definitely one of the best things to do in Puno. Try to book a tour to Sillustani in the afternoon so you can catch sunset atop the peninsula which offers phenomenal, panoramic views.

Sillustani

Cutimbo

Another site composed of chullpas is Cutimbo. The chullpas come in both square and circular shapes unlike Sillustani which are all circular.

Cutimbo is a dramatic site that sits on a table-topped volcanic hill surrounded by plains. The position atop a volcanic hill makes this site very remote. This is both extremely enticing and more dangerous to visit independently. Probably best visitied on a tour.

Cutimbo archaeological site

Floating Uros Islands

I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures of the floating reed islands of Lake Titicaca. These are the Uros Islands and are the most popular things to do in Puno.

Floating Uros Islands

There are about 100 tiny islands that are all artificially made out of totora reeds. Not only are the islands themselves made out of these reeds, also are the houses, boats and furniture. Each island even has its own president. It’s pretty fascinating and hard to imagine what daily life is like on the islands. The Uros Islands can easily be paired with a visit to the island of Taquile and/or the island of Amantani for the full Puno experience.

Homestay on Amantani Island

If you are looking for an authentic experience in Peru then go for a homestay on the island of Amantani.

Located on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca, Amantani Island is about a 4 hour ferry ride from Puno. There are 10 communities that live on the island, roughly 3,000 people. Islanders speak Quechua, but their culture is more heavily influenced by the Aymara. If you’ve read any of my Peru travel guides, you’ll know that hiking is always on the itinerary. Amantani Island was no exception. Put on your boots and tighten your laces to make the hour trek up to Pachamama & Pachatata, the highest peaks on Amantani Island. Both are temples, Pachamama representing Mother Earth and Pachatata paying tribute to Father Earth.

Hike up to Pachatata

Taquile Island

Taquile island is the smaller island next to Amantani. This is best visited on an organized day trip but if you have more time it’s possible to visit independently. The island consists of 6 communities totaling about 2500 people. As with Amantani, the islanders also speak Quechua.

You won’t find much on this island but simple life as they don’t accept private businesses like hotels and such. They don’t even have many animals – no llamas, alpacas, horses, not even cats or dogs. And forget cars or motorcycles, Taquile is truly simple life uninterrupted from modernization.

Taquile Island

Everyone on the island is either a farmer or a weaver, where it is the mens job to weave. As with Amantani, a popular way to experience the island is by staying with a family to get a small glimpse into the local way of life. You can check out the full travel vlog on the island of Taquile here.

Take the train from Cusco to Puno

If you love to travel in style then you’ll love the Peru Rail train that takes you from Cusco to Puno. This exclusive train ride travels through gorgeous landscapes including rivers and beautiful mountain peaks.

The entire journey lasts 10-11 hours where you can enjoy the views from the observation car, sip a pisco sour from the bar car or a gourmet meal from the dining car. Warm up with tea as you watch Andean artists perform live by showing you typical dances and music of Puno and Cusco. There’s no better way to get from Cusco to Puno.

Cusco to Puno

Eat Quinoa Soup

Peruvians in the Lake Titicaca Basin of the Andes are mostly vegetarians and only eat meat on special occasions such as weddings. Quinoa being the main source of protein in the Puno area. One of my favorite things to do in Puno was to enjoy a warm bowl of quinoa soup.

Each restaurant has their own unique ingredient and all of the soups will taste a little different. The weather is much colder than Cusco. Eating quinoa soup will not only taste good but warm you up as well.

Explore the City Center and Main Plaza

The main plaza is a bustling area and one of the major tourist spots in Puno. Most hotels are located close to the main square which makes it easy and convenient to wander around. At the square you can visit several important monuments and buildings such as the cathedral, the Balcony of the Count de Lemos and museums. This is a great place to relax and people watch.

The Main Street through the city center of Cusco which runs past the main plaza is full of places to eat, clothing shops and tour operators. You can easily spend a few hours wondering around the area and eating fresh wood oven fired pizza from one of the many restaurants.

Kayak around Lake Titicaca

If you are looking for a little adventure in nature, then take a kayaking tour on Lake Titicaca. On this tour, get to know local Aymara and Quechua culture and experience their unique way of living.

As well as, learn about the totora reeds that the Uros Islands are made out of as you paddle through the area. Tours are paired with lunch and a homestay if you’re really feeling adventurous.

Where to stay In Puno, Peru

There are lots of options when choosing where to stay in Puno and all are pretty easy on the budget. Make sure you a hotel with heating as it can get pretty cold in Puno.

Here are some other great places to stay in Puno.

  • Casa Panqarani – Charming bed and breakfast about a 10 minute walk away from the main square.
  • Mosoq Inn – Modern hotel equipped with 15 rooms and comfortable beds.
  • Casa Andina Premium Puno – If you want to style out, this Puno hotel is on the outskirts of town offers panoramic views of the lake or mountains. There’s even a boardwalk onto the lake with a floating reed platform at the end of it.

How to get to Puno, Peru

There are four main ways to get to Puno, by air, by bus, by train or by car.

Air: The nearest airport is in Juilaca which is about an hour away. If you are flying into Puno check with your hotel as most can book you a shuttle for around 20 soles. Or you can book a private transfer which is around $30 one way.

Bus: The terminal terrestrial is the main bus station that the long-distance buses will embark and enter from. Buses leave from Cusco and Arequipa on a regular basis. There are several bus companies in Peru, some better than others.

Transzela on the way to Puno from Cusco and it only cost 40 soles per person. Cruz del Sur is one of the biggest bus companies that have luxurious sleeper seats. This also makes ticket prices a bit more expensive but are the most reliable and comfortable.

Train: As mentioned as one of the epic things to do in Puno, the Andean Explorer is the fanciest way to get to Puno from Cusco.

Car: If budget is not an issue you can hire a private car to get to Puno. It will cost anywhere from $200 and up.

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Why Choose SAM CORPORATION

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Why Choose SAM CORPORATION

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Contact our travel advisors to plan the most complete trip of your life.

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