On the shores of shimmering Lake Titicaca, Puno is famed throughout Peru for its folklore and traditional music and dance. Its winding streets echo with the melodies of local musicians, and there are frequent fiestas celebrating local culture. The lake adds serenity to this lively city – its vast waters cover 8,400 square kilometres. Puno's friendly inhabitants and pockets of historic architecture make it an inviting place for visitors.
Hostels in Puno are decorated in bright colours, and most of them give you a free breakfast of eggs, juices, coffee and fresh bread. Most of them also have free Wi-Fi. Stay in a central Puno hostel with an outdoor terrace and a sauna for ultimate relaxation. You can pick an elegant, family-run place that looks after you with a free welcome drink to help ease soroche (mountain sickness), or check out Puno hostels with Lake Titicaca views, hammocks and a communal kitchen.
There are plenty of vibrant areas in Puno. Head to Plaza de Armas and Parque Pino on weekend evenings, when there are often live bands playing. Lima is a bustling street for nightlife, and you might get coupons for free drinks from local bars. The town centre has lots of shops where you can pick up souvenirs like alpaca sweaters and local artesanías (handicrafts). Head to the port area for boat trips to explore the north end of Lake Titicaca.
Puno has festivals throughout the year with masked folk dances, huge sound systems and traditional music all on the menu. In the evening, you'll often find groups of musicians jamming as you stroll the streets. For a courtyard feast, head to one of the many restaurants in town for spicy local meats and ceviche. Lake Titicaca has 70-plus islands to explore too, so look at boat trips from Puno to get a feel for Peruvian life on the water.
The closest airport to Puno is Inca Manco Cápac International in Juliaca. A private shuttle will get you into Puno in around an hour, and there are also shared shuttles that depart when all the other airport passengers are on board. If you're coming from Bolivia, it's a six-hour bus ride from La Paz. You'll arrive at the bus terminal near the lakefront. Puno is an easy place to walk around, but there are also three-wheeled motorcycle and bike taxis.