Lake Titicaca sits on the border of Peru and Bolivia at an altitude of almost 13,000 feet above sea level. It is shrouded in mystery and still bears a great spiritual and cultural significance for the people who live on its banks and islands. There’s no doubt that the glorious Lake Titicaca is one of Peru’s foremost attractions. Compared to Machu Picchu, it usually comes as a strong contender for second place and is well deserving of a place on your itinerary.
Although most people have heard of Lake Titicaca, few people will have heard of Puno, the city that borders the lake. This is because Puno isn’t a great cultural center like Lima or Cusco, nor does it have the Amazon charm of Iquitos. It is a humble city with an authentic vibe that sits a little ways off the beaten track. Getting there is not difficult if you know what you’re doing. And that’s why we are here to help.
Lake Titicaca can easily be reached by bus, train, or plane. Because the lake is so large, it is best to determine what you want to see and decide if you should enter from the Peruvian or Bolivian side. Puno is the city to base yourself in on the Peruvian side, and Copacabana is the access city on the Bolivian side.
For travelers who prefer to fly, the closest airport is the Juliaca airport. Juliaca is a small town on the Peruvian side, about 44 km from Puno. From here, you can take a taxi or bus to Puno city center. Flights from Cusco are only one hour, and arrive direct twice daily. You can also fly from Lima, Arequipa and Iquitos. We recommend flying with LATAM airlines.
There is a train that runs from Cusco to Puno that takes just a few hours, and can be booked in conjunction with your train to Machu Picchu. This is by far the most comfortable way to travel between the two cities but the trains are not very regular and often sell out days in advance, so be sure to purchase tickets with plenty of anticipation. It is a beautiful experience with the scenery whizzing by outside of your window and is a great addition to any Cusco – Machu Picchu – Puno itinerary.
Our most popular train option is the luxurious Andean Explorer. Her one and two-night itineraries journey between Cusco, Puno and Arequipa, stopping at Lake Titicaca and Colca Canyon along the way.
The least expensive way to get to Puno is to travel by bus. Buses arrive to the cities of Puno and Copacabana multiple times per day from other major cities in each country (the most frequent being from Cusco, Lima or Arequipa in Peru and from La Paz in Bolivia).
From Cusco this takes around 6 hours and buses can usually be bought just before you get on the bus. It is also a very manageable journey from Arequipa and both starting points have overnight buses so you don’t need to waste a precious day in transit.
If you choose to travel by bus in Peru, Cruz del Sur is an excellent bus company with comfortable seats that recline nearly 180 degrees. A seat that almost becomes a bed suddenly makes an overnight bus seem a little more appealing.
Whichever way you choose to get to Lake Titicaca and Puno, it will be worth the journey when the shimmering lake is spread out before your eyes.
While Rainforest Cruises aim to provide accurate and up-to-date information, we make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information herein or found by following any link on this site. Rainforest Cruises cannot and will not accept responsibility for any omissions or inaccuracies, or for any consequences arising therefrom, including any losses, injuries, or damages resulting from the display or use of this information.