Visiting the remote city of Puno was one of the highlights of our trip to Peru. The city is situated on the banks of Lake Titicaca, the highest lake in the world at 12,507 feet above sea level. Since getting to Puno requires a long bus ride or renting a car, the city is relatively untouched by tourists.
In addition to being a scenic city with relatively low numbers of tourists, Puno is also home to an incredible food and cultural hub in Peru. The great food scene in Puno really surprised and impressed us; we loved every single restaurant we ate at. But the incredible cultures we witnessed really took the cake for our favorite part of Puno.
Looking to experience Puno’s incredible foods and cultures, too? Here are our top 11 best things to do in Puno, Peru:
1. Start your day at Plaza de Armas
Puno’s Plaza de Armas is located in the central part of the downtown area. It’s a great place to start your day, because it will help you get the feel of the city and orient yourself to your surroundings.
The Plaza de Armas is home to the massive Cathedral of Puno, a small park, and it is close to many great restaurants, shops, and museums. Just walking around this area is very beautiful, but you’ll also find plenty to do on the surrounding streets.
2. Head to Cafe Bar de la Casa del corregidor for breakfast
Eating breakfast on the colorful patio at Cafe Bar de la Casa del corregidor was one of our favorite meals the entire time we were in Peru. We ordered a bunch of different finger plates to share, and loved everything. On top of that, they also have the best latte in town if you are a caffeine addict like us.
Our server was also very friendly and helpful, and she ended up recommending the next thing on our list!
3. Visit the Museo Municipal Carlos Dreyer
If you are looking to learn about Puno’s history and culture, Museo Municipal Carlos Dreyer is the place to do it. This museum is located right downtown just a block away from Plaza de Armas, and is home to a ton of fascinating cultural artifacts dating back centuries ago. The museum’s collection belonged to Carlos Dreyer, a German who was fascinated by the Incan culture.
Our favorite part of the museum was the human remains that had on display on the second floor. You can see the skeletons had their limbs bound, which was apparently a sign that they were servants during their lifetime. Overall, the museum is a fantastic way to learn about Incan history and culture.
4. Visit the Uros Islands (floating reed islands)
You can’t leave Puno without visiting the famous Uros Islands, a collection of floating reed islands located on Lake Titicaca. There are a number of tours that you can choose from, and learning about the culture of this unique community is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The most fascinating part for us was the amount of work involved in sustaining these floating reed islands. Every 25 days, they have to add a new layer of reeds to the top of each island since the bottom reeds rot and dissolve. It’s very labor intensive, which gave us a whole new respect for this incredible community.
5. Have a scenic lunch at Mojsa Restaurant
We couldn’t believe the views when we sat down to eat at Mojsa Restaurant. It overlooks Plaza de Armas from the second floor of a building across the street, giving this restaurant some of the best views in all of Puno.
The food at this restaurant was incredible, too. We shared soup and a pasta dish and loved both. Even better, they had really good wifi so we stayed a little extra and had a cup of tea.
6. Make the trek to Mirador El Condor
We’re not exaggerating when we say you’ll have to climb a LOT of stairs to get up to Mirador El Condor. Climbing numerous flights of stairs at 12,500 feet of elevation isn’t exactly easy, but the views when you get to the top of this scenic overlook are worth it.
The Condor sculpture sits at a gorgeous viewpoint, and you can even climb up a spiral staircase to the overlook point on the structure the Condor rests on.
7. Get your sweet tooth fix at Rico’s Pan bakery
This bustling bakery has great prices, but even better baked goods. And there’s a reason the reviews for this cute bakery are so good: the smell of their baked goods will make your mouth water the second you walk in the door.
We came in here and picked out a few breakfast pastries since we were leaving early the next morning. Devouring the baked goods the next morning during our road trip was the perfect pick me up.
8. Check out the Cathedral of Puno
The stunning Cathedral of Puno (AKA Cathedral Basilica of St. Charles Borromeo, Puno) is the centerpiece of Puno’s Plaza de Armas. It was built back in 1757 and it’s a beautiful example of Andean Baroque architectural tradition.
The doors weren’t open to visitors when we were there, but we read that tourists are sometimes welcome to go inside. If the doors are open when you are there, seize the opportunity to check out this incredible architecture.
9. Have dinner at La Table del Inca
Eating dinner at La Table del Inca was the first thing we did in Puno after arriving late in the evening. We had no idea the incredible food art that we were in store for. Every single thing that La Table del Inca put in front of us was as delicious as it was beautiful. The food combinations were creative and ambitious, with some combinations I would have never expected.
The atmosphere of the restaurant was also incredible. Beautiful, colorful art made by local artists hangs all over the restaurant’s walls. And while this isn’t the place to bring kids, but it is the perfect restaurant for a nice date night.
10. Spend the night on the Uros Islands
If just visiting the Uros Islands isn’t enough for you, you can actually spend the night on one of the islands, too. We booked our overnight stay on their islands through Airbnb, and it was one of the coolest experiences of our entire trip.
Our room was in a little hut on the island, and had a big beautiful bed, and even a tiny bathroom! Our host took us on a boat ride to show us around the islands, even explaining how they pull the reeds out of a lake in a sustainable way so that they will grow back. That night, our host made us a delicious dinner for 15 soles each and then we sat in lawn chairs stargazing at the incredible night sky.
11. Catch a stunning sunset over Lake Titicaca
When the sun sets over Lake Titicaca, the beautiful colorful sky reflects in the water. It’s a gorgeous sight that you can’t miss, especially if you are a sunset junkie like us. Watching the sunset is the perfect way to finish your day in Puno.
Puno was one of our favorite places we visited during our time in Peru. It’s a gorgeous city with lots to do, and the people were very helpful and friendly. Make sure you bring plenty of cash since many places are cash only, and you’ll have an incredible time.
If you are looking for other things to do in Peru, check our 11 Things To Do in the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, Peru.
Check out this video of our experiences:
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