Places in Puno you must visit
Puno for me is very special, it is a city with a culture very different from that one in the coast of Peru. I had the opportunity to get to know Puno during the pandemic in 2020. Despite the restrictions, it was still possible to visit most tourist places. Puno is usually quite sunny, but being high up, the weather is quite dry. If it is your first time visiting a city at more than 3500 meters above sea level, I recommend that you rest when you arrive so that you acclimatize quickly.
In Puno, most people speak Aymara apart from Spanish, because that is the original language of this place. The city of Puno is quite safe and its main attraction is Lake Titicaca, which Peru shares with Bolivia. This lake is huge and there are different islands with communities living in it, being that the main reason why tourists come to visit and even spend the night as part of experiential tourism, which helps economically to the residents.
Where to stay in Puno?
The city center is a good place to stay, it is safe and there is everything you need around, including some museums and good restaurants. However, if you want to live the experience, I recommend staying on some of the islands within Lake Titicaca. This will allow you to see closely how people live, what activities they carry out as part of their daily lives and of course it will allow you to enjoy the beautiful sunrises and sunsets that the lake offers.
My recommendation on where to stay and why:
Puno city center
Stay there if you want to do tours daily and want a place with bars and restaurants.
Taquile (Titicaca Island)
Stay there if you are looking for a calm place where you can enjoy life with locals.
How to move around Puno?
Puno is a very quiet city, without many traffic problems, but in reality the center is so small that you won’t need to take transportation. However, if for some reason your lodging is a bit far, I recommend you take a taxi that is quite cheap, around 2 to 4 USD within the city center.
If you’re on a pretty tight budget, it’s possible to visit some places on your own and save some money. For this, using a bus is an excellent idea. Some places like ruins or for example “chulpas de sillustani” can be reached by bus and the price is around 2 USD.
To visit the Lake Titicaca or one of its islands, a boat is definitely necessary. Usually hotels offer tours, but you can also buy one at the port. Please note that some tours, such as the Taquile tour, only depart at 7:30 am, as the journey is long.
Places you must visit
Puno city center
Puno city center combines typical Andean constructions with European-style buildings. Most of these buildings were built in colonial times. The most attractive part of the city center is the Plaza de Armas and its great cathedral, which is one of the most beautiful in Peru. Around the square you can find nice restaurants with balconies, where you can have an exquisite meal. Another place to visit in the center is undoubtedly “Jirón Puno”, a street where you will find many shops with typical local things.
City Walking Tour in Puno
Chulpas de Sillustani
The chulpas de sillustani are located next to Lake Umayo, 45 minutes by car from the city center. The chulpas are rock constructions in the shape of an inverted cone where the bodies of the authorities of the Inca empire were buried. The dead person was mummified and put in the fetal position along with all his belongings so that he could use them in the afterlife. In addition to the chulpas, in Sillustani you can enjoy the great view of the lake and the beautiful sunsets every single day.
Half Day Tour to Sillustani
Lake Titicaca is located very close to the center of the city. This lake is home to several communities such as the Uros, who are people who live on floating islands. Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and is shared by Peru and Bolivia. Visiting this lake is definitely one of the things you must do if you visit Puno. According to the history of the Incas, Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo (son and daughter of the Sun) left Lake Titicaca with a gold bar and nailed it to Cusco where they founded the great empire.
Titicaca Full Day Tour
Uros floating Islands
The floating islands of the Uros are islands built of straw by the same inhabitants, who have always lived there in the middel of the Titicaca lake. It is incredible to think that these people do activities such as livestock, fishing and gathering to survive in this place. Currently the Uros live mainly from tourism since travelers from all over the world visit these islands daily and participate in different tourist activities or buy souvenirs that these people make.
Uros tour on fast boat
Taquile is one of the largest islands within Lake Titicaca. On this island the main economic activity is the manufacture of clothing with sheep’s wool, however, today tourism is also a big part of its economy. Travelers visit this island to do mainly experiential tourism, which means that they sleep in the house of a family and carry out all the activities as a member of the family. People in Taquile have very nice and comfortable houses, some of them even have beautiful views of the Lake Titicaca.
Taquile Island tour on fast boat