On the pre-Hispanic period, Puno was the settlement place of different human groups, who will finish being part of the first settlement of the Pucará culture. During this period, there were built big constructions of pyramidal shape. This kind of monumental architecture was peculiar of the Pucará and Tiahuanaco cultures, which also shared the territory. With the disappearance of the Tiahuanaco, during the 12th and 13th centuries, different kingdoms were born: Kollas, Lupacas and Pacajes.When the colonial period started, on the 15th century, Puno started its transformation into a inhabited center of commercial exchange, that little by little would be enriched with the multiculturalism of its visitors. This growth continued until half the 18th century, because Puno had taken relevance for being a mining settlement and a crossing territory between the most important cities of the region. In 1776 Puno ended being part of the viceroyalty of Peru, starting to being part of the viceroyalty of Río de la Plata, although it integrated again to Peru in 1796.On the Republic period, on the 19th century, the population of Puno was over the 6000 residents and the commercial development turned around different activities, as the agriculture and the textile, between other new industries. The University San Carlos de Puno was also founded, what motivated a bigger development of the culture, what favoured the new urban configuration that the city was taking.Nowadays Puno is a relevant city for the economic growth of the country, besides being considered the cultural capital of Peru. The tourism has grown quite a lot the last years, motivating the construction of an adequate infrastructure to receive the new visitors that each year come to 300.000 people.
Travel tips for Puno
In Puno you can go by foot, in "colectivos" (a little bus) or by taxi. The low cost solution is the colectivo, but if you are in a group the taxi will also be a cheap option.-Take your time to rest and acclimatize.-Don't you eat heavy meals and drink a lot of water, coca and muña tea.-Wear warm clothes at night because the temperature descends to 37 °F (and on the coldest winters it can go under 32 °F).-Even if the city is very safe, we recommend you not to walk by yourself late at night, specially when you go out or come back from a party or celebration. Don't go alone!!-If you are going on a tour on the Titicaca lake, remember for safety that the boats don't leave after 4:00 p.m.-It's very cold, but the sun is intense and hurts the skin: have your sun cream close to you.-You should make a good program of the trip for you to enjoy it full. You can get to know Puno in 3 days, time enough to know the most important places of the city and the tourist attractions of the surroundings. Those places are located at a maximum of 3 hours from the city, so you won't have difficulty to know all of them.-Don't you bring too much clothes, there you can buy everything you need to stand the cold climate of the city and surroundings as: sweaters, heater wool clothes, socks and hats; you will feel warm, you will be in fashion and you will have a souvenir to take home.-If what you look for is enjoying the nightlife in Puno, the Jirón Lima is your stop. There you will find numerous restaurants, pubs and clubs with live music and a good environment.-One of the twilights most beautiful and difficult to forget is the one that you'll see from the Amantaní island. If you go there, take a camera and good company with you.-Do not forget to take a look to the tourist calendar before travelling, because when there are festivals the prices ascend and the hotels are crowded. Be prepared for the bookings and buy in advance your tickets.
Best time to visit Puno
The best period to visit Puno is in February, since it's the moment when the Fiesta de la Candelaria takes place, a colorful and joyful celebration. You will enjoy watching all the traditional dances that are shown.
Climate in Puno
The climate in Puno is very cold and semi dry, kind of tundra climate, there are moderate rains throughout the year. The average annual temperature is 47 °F (8,4 °C).
Things to do in Puno
Puno is a city in the south of Peru, located at the shores of the Titicaca lake (considered the biggest of the world). Puno is known as the folkloric capital of Peru for being the place where converge different cultural expressions of the region, characterised for the variety of dances.You can make a tour through the lake and the closest islands (that are 41 in total). The people of the islands are called "uros", an ancestral Andean community that live there and maintain them.If you wish to take a traditional coffee, you only have to ask the locals, because there is only 1 or 2 places to do it. But it worths the effort to look for them, they have inviting terraces and a good view of the city (and the lake).
Nightlife in Puno
Café bar de la Casa del Corregidor
Location: 576, Jr. Destua Price: 30 soles in average At the Casa del Corregidor you will find a place to get together to enjoy with friends, family or your couple with a warm coffee or a drink, as an aperitif for the night party. Among the drinks you can taste you have rum, pisco, selected wines, vodka, tequila, whiskey and many others, prepared with different presentations.
Smooth Jazz Bar
Location: 454 Arequipa Price: an average of 20 soles It's a very little bar, with a maximum capacity of 25 people, but its drinks menu is large and the music wonderful, and you can see the video clips in a TV located in a corner. The visit to this bar worths it by yourself or with somebody. You'll enjoy it!
Location: 378, Jr. Lima Prices: between 10 and 25 soles There is good music and excellent attention in this bar, as well as a large variety of national and international drinks. There is free wi-fi, food and snacks, TV to see soccer events and a great atmosphere if you wish to dance. All of that you will find in Positive.
Location: 443, Jr. Libertad Hours: opened from 8:00 p.m. This disco has several floors. In one of them there is a karaoke. On the others you will be surprised of finding dance floors with different musical genres.
Location: 355, Jr. Lima You will find all kind of rythms among other tourists, locals or foreigners, with well-known hits, from salsa to alternative rock. Don't you miss it if you look for lots of fun.
Where to eat in Puno?
Location: 394 Jr. Lima, inside the mansion Parodi Price: 17 to 40 soles The attention is very kind and the food varied; the menu also has dishes that aren't from the region (as pizzas, sandwiches). You have free Wi-fi access, bar, outdoor tables, and other comforts that will make your eating experience unforgettable. Make your booking in advance, in some periods is crowded.
Location: 342, Jr. Lima Price: 27 soles and up The restaurant stands out for the flavour fusion between the international dishes with the region tastes. The main dishes have Andean, Greek, Orient and Asian influences. Besides that, they have a delicious coffee, that you can taste with free wi-fi.
Los Balcones de Puno
Location: 354 Jr. Libertad, between the Plaza de Armas and the Parque Pino Price: from 22 to 59 soles You will enjoy a varied dinner, with a menu full of typical dishes of Puno, while you enjoy a dinner-show with dances and songs of the Andean region.
Tradiciones del Lago
Location: 418, Jr. Lima Price: from 20 soles and up The main dishes of the menu are the most representative of Puno, but they innovate because they combine the Puno tradition with the gastronomic culture of Peru. The attention also stands out, because the staff is well trained to look after the needs of the most demanding dinner guests. You can finish your tour in Puno with the delicious desserts made with dedication and care by the skilled chefs.
The tourist places to see in Puno are:
La Casa del Corregidor
Location: 576 Deustua Hours: From 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Price: free entrance This house is one of the oldest in Puno, and contains exhibitions in an art gallery. There are many activities proposed such as those exhibitions. It's also a great spot for a coffee and a tasty dessert in the restaurant, where you can rest of your walks in Puno.
El museo de la Coca
Location: 301 Deza street Hours: From 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Price: 5 Soles At the Museum you will learn about the healing properties of the ancestral coca leaf and you will appreciate a collection of the different typical costumes used in the traditional processions.
The viewpoint Kuntur Wasi
It's a monument built in honour of the majestic Andean condor. From there you can appreciate the whole city, the lake and the surroundings, in a spectacular view. To arrive to it you must go to the south area of the city and go up 620 stairs that separate the monument from the Puno's floor.
Location: in the center of Puno Hours: Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Price: free entrance The construction goes back to the 17 th century. It's made on the baroque architectural style and its front combines the features of the cultural fusion on the details that can be appreciated at the relief. If you like the colonial architecture and the spiritual destinations, you can't miss the Puno's Cathedral.
The floating island of the Uros
It's a group of islands inhabited by the uros, an indigenous community that is believed comes from the Pukinas (the oldest residents of America). Those islands are artificial, made of totora -large reed that grows in the vicinity of the lake-. When you visit the islands you can make homestay tourism, buy handicrafts, go for a tour in a raft and even lodge with the locals that gives this service.
It's the most important historical lake in Peru, besides being one of the highest of the planet. Inside the lake there are some islands where you will live unique tourist experiences and of great cultural value. This lake has a lot of myths and legends. The most well-known is the one that tells that in the lake emerged Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, both founders of the Inca Empire. The lake is also home of different species of birds and fishes that live on the area.
The Amantaní island
This island is located at about 22 mi (36 km) of the Puno port. In this island live a community of 800 people, dedicated to the agricultural activity. Its flora is rich in sage, tola and muña, which are natural herbs very used in the traditional medicine. Pacha Tata and Pacha Mama are the most elevated points of the island, and there are located the archaeological remains of pre-Hispanic cultures. From those sites you can obtain a panoramic view of the lake and its extension, not to be missed by the explorers that like to immortalizing landscapes with their camera.
This island stands out among the others for the kindness of its residents, who are also famous for the traditional dresses that are inherited from generation to generation. For the women, the clothing is made of many skirts of different colours covered by a bigger black skirt. On the head they have a cloak, also black, that is useful for protecting the neck and the face of the sun rays. The clothing for men is also black mostly (the trousers), although they use a white shirt that is accompanied by a little and tight vest. An interesting detail is the use they do of the chullo (a wool bonnet) by the men, because this hat means that they are married or single (the tail of the hat can even indicate if a man is looking for a partner).Those features on the clothing are the sign of one of the main activities of the locals, the textile, they are recognised worldwide (the UNESCO appreciates the textile art of Taquile as masterpiece of the Intangible and Oral Heritage of Humanity).
Chullpas de Sillustani
Location: at 21 mi (34 km) on the North-West of the city Hours: the whole day Price: 5 soles The chullpas are funeral towers more than 12 meters high where the high social status dead people were put. It's believed that the Pukará inhabited this area, although the Tiahuanaco influence arrived to this land. Later the Collas dominated Sillustani, but they fell down before the Inca power, who incorporated chullpas to its funeral rituals.
The things to do in Puno
Party and Folklore
Puno is considered the Capital of the Peruvian Folklore, due to the more than 350 ancestral dances that make part of the main festivals. The best month to visit the city is February, when the Fiesta de la Candelaria takes place with its activities. Furthermore, during the year there are many celebrations as the Huchuy Poqoy carnival, the Festividad de las Cruces (Crosses Festival) and the Anniversary of the City (November).
The Historical Center of Puno is one of the examples of the remains of the colonial architecture. Places as the Puno Cathedral, the Balcony of the Lemos Count and the Museum Carlos Dreyer are the main tourist places to go through; at the museum Carlos Dreyer are exhibited pottery pieces, gold, silver, textiles, pre-Inca and Inca sculptures and objects of the colonial period.
Nature and adventure
You can't miss the visit to the Cerro Huajsapata, which is a natural viewpoint from where you can contemplate the city and the Titicaca lake and even the Amantaní and Taquile islands. You can't either forget the National Reserve of the Titicaca lake, the National Park of Bahuaja Sonene and the Chacas lacune, natural places that keep the diversity of flora and fauna of the area. If you look for adventure, you can also practise parascending, aquatic motorcycle and water skying at the Titicaca lake; besides, you can go through walks by bycicle on the beautiful landscapes under the Puno sky.
Typical dishes in Puno
Trucha frita (fried trout):
The dish is prepared based on a fish of sweet water that can be found at the Titicaca lake or the rivers of the Andean area. It's very appreciated for its flavour and high nutritional value. It's served fried with potatoes, salads, freeze-dried potatoes and rice. A great delight!
Chupe de quinua:
It's a mixed soup based on quinoa, fishes and shellfishes, of high nutritional value and a concentrated flavour, due to the preparation step by step.
Caldo de cabeza (Head clear soup):
The main ingredient of this soup is the lamb or pig head, cut off in pieces and mixed with vegetables, boiled with freeze-dried potatoes, garlic and potatoes. It comes with spicy pepper (ají), onion and tomato (the accompaniment can change).
Chicharrón de alpaca:
The alpaca meat is cooked on steam and then fried with its own fat, to be seasoned with vegetables and the other ingredients.
Cancacho is roasted lamb or piglet marinated on pepper (ají) and dry leaf of maize (panca). It's served in the cities of Ayavirí and Puno, being very popular among the dinner guests for lunch.
How to reach Puno
Puno by train
There is a luxurious train called Andean Explorer that covers the route from Cusco (Wanchaq station) to Puno (Puno station). The travel takes about 10 hours. The ticket costs approximately US$ 255 one way ticket and US$ 150 the return. You will see the river Huatanay during the trip and the magnificent mountains.
Puno by flight
The distance on a straight line from Lima to Puno is 538 mi (866 km), the Aeropuerto Internacional Inca Manco Capac is located in Juliaca and it’s the closest to the city of Puno –which does not have its own airport–. The airlines that operate in the airport are Lan, Star Peru, Avianca and aerotaxis that provide routes in the surroundings of Juliaca. Among the main destinations we find Lima, Arequipa and Cusco, which have only 8 flights per day.
Puno by bus
To get to Puno by bus you can go from cities as Cusco, Ica, Lima, Arequipa, Copacabana, with bus companies as Inka Express, Civa, Transzela and Huayruro Tours. The distance from Lima to Puno is 938 mi (1510 km) and on the highway the trip can take 22 hours (it may be a lot, but you have many places to visit during the itinerary). The terrestrial transport company that covers the tour of this route, so requested by travellers, is Civa. The company offers tickets for the bus Lima - Puno from s/ 110 to s/ 140.
Accomodations in Puno
Hospedaje Q'oñi Wasi
Location: 135, Avenida La Torre Price: From 15 soles with shared bathroom You'll have access to a shared kitchen, and simple rooms that are more or less comfortable.
Posada Don Giorgio
Location: 238, Tarapaca street Price: From 79 soles The rooms as well as the inn in general are pleasant and comfortable, with very personalized service. Highly recommended.
Location: 272 Tarapaca street Price: From 180 soles The Intiqa Hotel is modern and pleasant, with exceptional rooms decorated with indigenous art that creates an atmosphere ethnic with magnificent colors, very welcoming. Inside the hotel you will find wi-fi, TV, lift, and oxygen service (if you demand for it), between other comforts that will make easier your experience in Puno.
Important dates in Puno
Fiesta de la Candelaria
(From January to February)
For about 2 weeks, the city of Puno, located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, transforms into the folkloric capital of the Americas. On the principal day, the Virgen is carried in a procession, alongside more than 200 musical bands with just as many dance troupes adorned in colorful costumes that dance throughout the entire city and later compete for prizes in the local stadium.
Fiesta de Alasitas y las Cruces
(May 3rd and 4th)
The Fiesta de las Cruces (Crosses festival) coincides with the International Festival of Alasitas. In the first festival mentioned the people celebrate the first trunk where Christ was crucified. During this festival there are masses, processions and the Alasitas Fair. This fair is famous for the handmade miniatures which represent from cars to houses; those objects are also included on the way of the cross procession, with the purpose that they are blessed by the saint presence. Those little pieces of the local handcrafts are also beautiful decorative elements, not to be missed by the collectors, even if you are not a believer of the rituals for attracting wealth.
Anniversary of the Founding of Puno
(November 1st to 7th)
To celebrate Puno's anniversary there are dance exhibitions in the streets and other civic activities. On Nov. 5th there is a play about the legend of Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo emerging from Lake Titicaca, and the mythical couple's search for the land upon which to found the Incan Empire.