Puno is a Peruvian city which sits 3860 meters above sea level and borders Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest, navigable lake. The great lake borders Peru and Bolivia and even more impressively, is home to inhabited floating islands made from reeds, yes you heard correctly, reeds! It’s a popular stop for travellers on their way to the sacred valley and if time permits, it’s definitely worth a visit. The floating islands are incredibly unique, but the rest of Puno doesn’t have wild amounts to offer so we found 24-hours is certainly enough to explore the main attractions. So this is why I created this Guide to 24- Hours in Puno, a no-nonsense all you need to know about this city!
Where to Stay
Due to the high volume of tourists visiting each year, Puno is well equipped to accommodate them. There are hostels, B&B’s and hotels everywhere and the majority are pretty budget-friendly. However, you certainly get what you pay for so expect basic levels of comfort. We stayed at the Cozy hostel which was clean, the staff were friendly and helpful and a basic continental breakfast was included in the price. However, the place was quite cold, a little rough around the edges and like many hostels we’d stayed in during our time in Peru, the shower often had a few surprises in store!
How to Get There
As a popular tourist stop, Puno is relatively easy to get to via public transport. However, we visited as one of our stops with Peru Hop, a hop on hop off bus company who help travellers navigate Peru’s greatest locations. We had a wonderful time travelling with them and would certainly recommend this company to anyone considering hopping around Peru. If you’d like to know more, check them out here!
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Things to Do
The half-day tour to the floating islands is a 2-hour long excursion. The tours leave twice daily so you have plenty of time to explore a little of Puno too, here are a few ideas of things you can do to fill your time:
Wander Down by the Lakeside
On a nice day, the lake is beautiful; the sun bounces off the water making It sparkle and the colourful boats parked up in the dock are like something you would see on a postcard. There are pedalos to hire, market stalls to peruse for souvenirs and a great, easy-going atmosphere.
Visit the Floating Islands
The floating islands are certainly the biggest draw to Puno, and I can honestly say they’re nothing like anything I’ve seen or experienced before! On the half-day tour, you depart by boat getting a beautiful view of the city, lake and islands from afar, before docking on one of the islands where you are allowed to disembark. Setting foot on the island is a surreal experience which I can only liken to being in a field of straw once it’s been cut and left to dry (farmers and country folk will understand what I mean). Everything on the island is made from these reeds; the boats, the houses, the statues which guard the entrance to each island. To add colour, everything is then adorned by brightly coloured woven fabrics. You are invited to sit while some of the inhabitants explain the history of the islands, how the islands are made and maintained and what life is like still living this unique lifestyle in modern times. You also get to try reed banana which is an interesting textured plant the locals often eat as a source of fibre. Personally, I will stick to normal bananas but I’m always keen to try new things! Next, you are shown inside some of the houses and have the opportunity to buy handmade crafts created from the reeds or from intricately woven fabrics before finally being taken to an odd little convenience store where you can pay a few soles to get your passport stamped with the Uros Island stamp. This about concludes the two-hour tour so you are then ushered onto the boat and taken back to the mainland. We booked our tour through Find Local trips who we booked many of our tours in Peru through and found them to be fairly priced and reliable. A visit to the floating islands would certainly be the top of my to-do list in Puno for sure and something you should certainly prioritise as it’s an experience you will definitely remember.
Take a Walk to one of the Multiple Viewpoints in Puno.
There are three striking miradores available to walk to in Puno – Mirador El Condor, Mirador Puma Uta and the Mirador at Parque Huajsapata marked by the statue of Manco Capac. All are a pleasant walk and provide excellent views of the lake and city below with some great photo opportunities. Some of the viewpoints are further away than others so make your decision based on how much time you have and where you’re based.
If You Have More Time…
If you have a couple more days planned in Puno there are also a few options for you; firstly you can opt to do a homestay on one of the floating islands to fully immerse yourself in the Island community experience. Additionally, you can explore the Yavari boat or even stay the night on board this Victorian steamship packed with history. Another option is to venture a little further afield and visit Sillustani, a uniquely built, pre-Incan cemetery or finally, Taquile a beautiful island in the middle of Lake Titicaca with stunning views on a nice day.
So there you have a quick, no-nonsense guide to Puno, Peru. I hope this guide has given you some tips and inspiration for planning your visit. If you have any further questions about Puno or travelling Peru in general, do not hesitate to get in touch and if you are on the hunt for more top tips and inspiration check out my other Peru Posts here!