The city of Puno, situated on the shores of Lake Titicaca in southeastern Peru, offers travelers a glimpse into the unique lives of the people who occupy this region. There are a handful of things to do in Puno, that a visit to this border city should be on everyone’s itinerary.

Puno is a charming city renowned for its culture, stunning natural landscapes, and deep rooted traditions. Puno serves as a gateway to explore the beauty of Lake Titicaca and history of the famous floating islands of the Uros people.

The city itself is characterized by colorful architecture, markets, and a lively atmosphere. Travelers to Puno can attend traditional festivals, such as the festival of the Virgen de la Candelaria celebration, which features colorful parades, music, and dance performances.

In this article, we’ll uncover what to do in Puno and at the end of the post, I’ll add any useful travel guides or tips that will aid you in your travels to the Puno region.

Best things to do in Puno, Peru

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Sunset at Sillustani Peru

Is Lake Titicaca Worth Visiting?

Before we get started with the best things to do in Puno, let’s get the burning question out of the way, is Puno worth visiting? Short answer is that yes, absolutely Lake Titicaca and Puno is worth visiting, and here’s why.

  • 💦 Natural Beauty: Lake Titicaca is one of the most breathtaking natural attractions in South America. Its blue waters, surrounded by snow capped peaks and picturesque islands, create a stunning landscape that is a sight to behold.
  • 🧶 Culture: The lake is steeped in cultural history and significance, being the ancestral homeland of the indigenous Uros people, who live on floating reed islands.
  • 🦙 Historical Sites: Lake Titicaca and Puno is dotted with archaeological sites and ruins dating back thousands of years. Highlights include the pre-Inca burial towers of Sillustani and the Inca ruins of Isla del Sol, where legend says the Inca civilization began.
  • 🛶 Outdoor Activities: The lake offers a variety of outdoor activities for travelers to enjoy, including boat tours, kayaking, and hiking.
  • 🏔️ Scenic Views: Whether you’re taking a boat ride across the lake or hiking to a viewpoint, the panoramic views of Lake Titicaca and the surrounding Andean mountains of the Puno region are simply breathtaking and offer fantastic photo opportunities.

10 Epic Things to do in Puno Peru

Best Things to do in Puno
Sillustani 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 tombs atop the plateau are pre-Inca tombs. History books say the tall round funerary towers were only built to bury noble people but there are no tombs discovered for normal people so thinking that this site was just for the priests and officials is probably false.

There are 30 pre-Inca and Incan tombs called chullpas. The chullpas are circular buildings because it represents the symbol of eternal life. Since the tombs range in various sizes from 2 meters to 12 meters as the tallest tower, 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.

I could go on about this beautiful ancient bury site but I’ll spare you the history lesson. 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.

Book a Tour to Sillustani →

Cutimbo Ancient Ruins

Another site composed of chullpas (tower-like tombs) 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.

I thrive off of visiting places independently but have read several places that Cutimbo can be a dangerous place for independent travelers, especially solo female travelers.

People are known to hide behind rocks at the top of the trail. This thing to do in Puno is probably best visited on a tour.

Book a Tour to Cutimbo →

Uros Islands of Lake Titicaca

Floating Uros Islands | The Most Popular Thing to do in Puno

I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures of the floating reed islands of Lake Titicaca as its a main attraction. Visiting the floating islands of Uros is one of the most popular things to do in Puno.

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, but so are the houses, boats and furniture.

Each island even has its own president and contains two or three different families. It’s pretty fascinating and hard to imagine what daily life is like on the man made islands. Especially when you realize that the Uros people have lived on the lake for centuries.

You can visit these islands on your own, a ferry runs daily from the port in Puno to the Uros Islands or you can experience the Uros floating islands on a tour. Don’t be surprised when you end up wearing a traditional dress.

The Uros Islands can easily be paired with a visit to the island of Taquile and/or with the island of Amantani if you are short on time when traveling through Peru.

Book a Boat Tour of the Uros Islands on Lake Titicaca →

Homestay on Amantaní Island inside Lake Titicaca Peru
Little girl at Homestay in Lake Titicaca

Homestay on Amantani Island | The Best Thing to do in Puno

If you are looking for an authentic experience in Peru then I urge you to go for a homestay with a local family on the island of Amantani. This was one of the best experiences I had during my two months of traveling through Peru.

Located on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca, Amantani Island is about a 4 hour ferry ride from Puno. There are 10 local tribes that live on the island, roughly 3,000 people. The Islanders speak Quechua, but their culture is more heavily influenced by the Aymara.

There are dozens and dozens of tour operators in Puno offering Lake Titicaca homestays. Unfortunately a lot of them have a bad reputation of not paying the local families and basically just dropping you off and saying, ‘see ya tomorrow morning.’

If you are interested in a homestay book with Always Travel. They offer smaller guided groups and practice ethical & responsible travel. We paid money directly to the families the morning after our stay.

I won’t go into too much detail but if you’re interested, you can read my full experience of an authentic Lake Titicaca Homestay below. Better yet, watch our Amantani Island Homestay vlog.

Sunrise atop Pachamama on Amanatani IslandPeru

Hike up to Pachamama & Pachatata

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 and Pachatata, the highest peaks on Amantani Island.  

Both are temples, Pachamama (the Inca fertility temple) representing Mother Earth and Pachatata paying tribute to Father Earth.  Make sure to enjoy this thing to do in Puno at sunset for incredible views.

💡 Travel Tip:  Don’t attempt this thing to do in Lake Titicaca without acclimatizing first. Plan on spending a few days in Arequipa or Cusco first or take it easy the first couple days in town.

Island of Taquile outside of Puno

Taquile Island

Taquile island is another island located in middle of Lake Titicaca and 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.

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 with Andean farm acitvities.

Book a Tour →

🎥 Check out the full Travel Vlog on the Island of Taquile

On a train in Peru to Cusco

Take the Scenic 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 deck 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.

Book a Train Ticket → 

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 is 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. We traveled to Puno in the shoulder season of May and Puno was cold!  Much colder than Cusco.  Eating quinoa soup will not only taste good but warm you up as well.

🥣 Travel Tip:  Eat at Mojsa – one of the best restaurants in Puno.

Things to do in Puno Peru

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 in Puno 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 Puno Cathedral, the Balcony of the Count de Lemos, and museums.

This is a great place to relax and people watch. I personally loved sitting on the stairs leading up to the cathedral of Puno. Children were playing and kept running through the flock of pigeons that were chomping on bird seed.

The Main Street through the city center of Puno 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.

The floating islands of Uros

Kayak Lake Titicaca

One of the best things to do in Puno is to explore Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. If you are looking for a little adventure in nature, then take a kayaking tour on Lake Titicaca.

On this tour, you’ll  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 sometimes paired with lunch and a homestay if you’re really feeling adventurous. Travelers can learn about their unique way of life, traditions, and crafts, offering a fascinating glimpse into ancient Andean culture.

Book a Kayaking Tour of Lake Titicaca →

Aguas Calientes Travel Tips

Things to do in Puno Travel Tips

The distance from Puno to Lake Titicaca varies depending on which part of the lake you are referring to, as Lake Titicaca is quite large and spans across both Peru and Bolivia.

However, Puno is actually located on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Therefore, if you are planning to visit Lake Titicaca from Puno, you can easily access the lake by boat from the city’s port or by taking tours to various islands and Puno attractions on the lake.

Altitude in Puno: The people of Puno like to party and since Puno sits at an elevation of 12,556 feet, I feel 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.

You may experience altitude sickness due to the high altitude. Make sure you give yourself a few days to acclimate before setting off on your adventures around Lake Titicaca and Puno.

📍 More Puno Travel Tips:

  • Book your Train Tickets from Cusco to Puno in advance as this train books out months in advance.
  • The town is very small and walkable.
  • Tap water is not safe to drink.
  • Lifestraw Water Bottle – helps me save a little money on buying water and stay healthy with clean drinking water.
  • Get an eSIM for your phone to stay connected with a local high-speed data network while you travel.
Central Plaza one of the best things to do in Puno Peru

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. We stayed at the Pukara House and it was around $20 a night.

It had everything we could want. Free breakfast, a hot shower, so so wifi and a heater. Having a heater in the room was a game changer and super necessary. It was so cold in Puno and most places don’t have heat so be forewarned.

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, one of Puno’s most luxury hotels 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 hotels can book you a shuttle for around 20 soles.

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.  We’ve tried several bus companies in Peru, some better than others.

We had sleeper seats on 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 so if you are traveling on a budget, your best bet is to book one in person at the station.

Book a Bus Ticket to Puno →

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.

Book a Train to Puno →

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.

Reserve a Rental Car →

🚂 Read Full Post: Best Ways to Get from Cusco to Puno

The king and queen of the Lake Titicaca Floating Islands
On Lake Titicaca Peru

Best Time to Visit Puno

The best time to visit Puno is during the dry season, which typically lasts from May to October. During these months, Puno experiences clear skies, minimal rainfall, and mild temperatures, making it an ideal time to visit Puno and Lake Titicaca.

The dry season also coincides with the high season and several festivals and cultural events, such as the famous Candelaria festival in February, which showcases colorful parades, traditional dances, and fun street parties.

Visiting Puno during the dry season allows for easier access to Lake Titicaca and its surrounding attractions, as boat tours and outdoor activities are less likely to be disturbed by weather.

If you prefer to avoid the crowds and don’t mind the occasional rain shower, visiting Puno during the shoulder seasons of April or November offer pleasant weather and fewer tourists.

​I would not recommend traveling to Puno during the rainy season as explorations around the lake will be limited. 

Puno Travel Vlog

If you want to see what Puno’s main square looks like, learn about Puno’s way of life, see me petting some llamas, and visit Sillustani, check out this Puno travel vlog we filmed on our first day exploring Puno. Check out the video above or click below to watch the whole series.

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🎥 Watch our Peru Series on YouTube

I'm Jess Traveling through Peru at Machu Picchu
Pangea Dreams Retreat

Onward Travel from Puno

  • Cusco – Head north to historic city of Cusco, the former capital of the Inca Empire. Explore Cusco’s colonial architecture, vibrant markets, and nearby archaeological sites such as Sacsayhuman and the Sacred Valley.
  • Arequipa – Travel south to the white city of Arequipa, known for its stunning colonial architecture and proximity to the Colca Canyon. The journey from Puno to Arequipa takes around 6-7 hours by bus and can also be reached via train.
  • Bolivia – Cross the border into Bolivia and explore destinations like Copacabana and La Paz. Copacabana, located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, offers stunning views of the lake, while La Paz is a bustling city known for its markets, museums, and street life.
  • Trekking – For outdoor enthusiasts, embark on a trek in the Andean highlands. Popular trekking routes include the Ausangate Trek, the Lares Trek, the Salkantay Trek, the classic Inca Trail or trek to Rainbow Mountain.

Final Thought on the Best Things to do in Puno

Those are the best things to do in Puno and around Lake Titicaca. From serene mornings on the lake to a lively party at one of Peru’s biggest festivals, you are sure to have a memorable time.

If you found this article useful, let fellow travelers know in the comments below 👇.

Peru Travel Guides ↓

📍 If you are planning your trip to Peru, I spent 2 months traveling around this beautiful country, and the only reason I left was because my visa was running out. Check out the travel guides below for more inspiration in planning your travels to Peru.

The Ultimate Guide to Peru

Best Things to do in Miraflores

2 Week Peru Itinerary

14 Remarkable Things to do in Peru

15 Incredible Places to Visit in Peru

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Best Things to do in Puno, Peru
Things to do in Puno
Best things to do in Puno