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The Best Ways to Get from Cusco to Puno....and Visa Versa!

Written by:
Claire Dean

Published: 12-04-2023

Traveling from Cusco to Lake Titicaca (or vice versa) is a common route for most travelers in Peru. This journey is one of the most popular routes to take along the tourist trail to two of Peru´s major sights. Puno is the gateway to the magnificent Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world and Cusco is home to a wonder of the world in Machu Picchu.

 

The journey from Cusco to Puno is well and truly on the tourist map. When you travel to Cusco Peru, on your Machu Picchu vacation packages,  it is the logical next step to head to Lake Titicaca in Puno. That way you can visit two of the iconic Peruvian destinations while you are visiting the country.

Umayo Lagoon, near Puno

 

Here are the best ways to travel between these 2 major attractions depending on time, budget, and experiences along the way, for example, do you believe a scenic journey is as important as the destination itself? Or perhaps fitting in as many destinations as possible is more your style? Let’s explore the options for traveling from Cusco to Puno.

 

As you depart from Cusco to Lake Titicaca you’ll be surrounded by the towering Andes. Snow-capped peaks such as  The Ausangate mountain provide a dramatic backdrop for your journey. Andean agriculture with terraces carved into the mountainsides, also dot the landscapes on this part of your Peru vacation package.

Mountain Views


Air

Whether the thought of windy roads through the Andes Mountains gives you images of motion sickness or you simply don’t have the time for a full travel day, flying is a great option. There is no longer a direct Cusco to Puno flight. However, you can book a flight to Puno via a layover in Lima. Some flight schedules can get you to Lake Titicaca in as little as four hours, and the price is often comparable to taking the day tour bus if you’re traveling with carry-on bags. Puno’s Juliaca airport sits about 45-60 minutes from the lakeside downtown. So, make sure to factor in this travel time if you’d like to take a tour on the day of your arrival.

 

While there are no direct flights from Cusco to Puno, you can fly from Cusco to Juliaca. Juliaca is about 50 minutes away from Puno by car. LATAM Airlines offers flights between Cusco and Juliaca. From Juliaca, you can then take a taxi or bus to Puno.  Or book a transfer with us if it is not included on your Peru tour package.

Juliaca Airport


Train

Peru Rail runs a train between Cusco and Puno that comes with many traditional and luxury benefits to make your journey through the Andes a luxurious getaway. A classy 1920s train interior, gourmet meals, an outdoor observation deck, and tea time are some of the many touches that Peru Rail includes for a memorable experience. Enjoy the dining car, bar car, and observation car. Transport yourself with total freedom and take the photographs you want while enjoying an amazing landscape of the Peruvian Andes heading to Puno.

 

The Titicaca Train is the most luxurious and scenic way to travel between Cusco and Puno. The trip takes about 10 hours, offering stunning views of the Andes and Altiplano. Included along the way are gourmet meals, an observation car, and live music and dance performances. This is an excellent option on your  Peru luxury tours.

Cusco To Puno Train

 

The train ride lasts nearly 10.5 hours, and you’ll stay on board the entire time. This Cusco to Puno train ride is the most expensive of the options here, however, if train travel is your thing, this journey has been classed as one of the best train rides in the world. If you decide to take the train to Puno, plan your itinerary around Peru Rail’s departure dates. The service doesn't depart every day and definitely book in advance as this train sells out quickly, especially in high season (May to September).

 

For those looking to travel in comfort and style while they enjoy the scenic beauty, a luxury train tour from Cusco to Puno may be what you are looking for. As you leave Cusco on your Peru luxury vacation, remember that how you arrive there is just as important as the destination itself!

Luxury Train to Puno


Bus

The most economical way to travel to Puno from Cusco is by taking a bus. Several companies operate the Cusco to Puno bus route. The direct bus ride takes about seven hours, and some depart in the evening if you don't mind a night bus journey and a chilly early arrival in Puno. Bear in mind the disadvantage of night travel is that you won’t have the opportunity to see the beautiful scenery between Cusco and Puno.

 

The "route of the sun" from Cusco to Puno (or visa versa) offers comfortable buses that include a guided tour of attractions along the way. Visit Andean attractions such as the Andahuaylillas Church, Raqchi archaeological site, La Raya Pass, and Pukara Museum. Then head from Puno to Lake Titicaca to see the world's highest navigable lake for yourself!

La Raya - Half Way Point between Cusco and Puno

 

Therefore, if you want to take a direct day bus, a few companies offer morning departures, getting you to Puno by mid-afternoon. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to travel to Puno but would like to take a tour in the process, choosing a Cusco to Puno tour bus is an excellent alternative. Turismo Mer offers a 10-hour transfer and tour combo. During the drive, you’ll stop at Andahuaylillas, Raqch’i, La Raya, and Pukara.

 

 If you are traveling from Cusco to Puno by bus or train, try and secure a window seat. Keep your camera handy to capture the ever-changing landscapes as you travel through the Altiplano on your Peru tour package. Prepare yourself for some impressive scenery on this route to Puno.

The Road from Cusco to Puno


Private Tour

If you are undecided about whether the route from Cusco to Puno is scenic enough to make a road trip worth it, picture wild vicuña grazing beside your vehicle, mountains cradling the road you drive along before tapering off into flatter highlands, and rivers occasionally crisscrossing your path. So, if you want to enjoy these views but the bus journey sounds constricting, booking a private transfer is a great option.

 

On Puno tours from Cusco, you will pass through traditional Andean villages. You can observe local life and see people in colorful traditional dress. One if these villages is called Andahuaylillas, famous for its beautiful church. This church is often called the "Sistine Chapel of the Andes," and sits against a backdrop of roling green hills.

Market in Andahuaylillas

 

When considering how to get from Cusco to Puno, a private transfer is an excellent choice for larger groups since the price per person averages down.  You’ll have control over bathroom breaks, and most drivers are happy to stop occasionally to snap a quick photo in extra-scenic areas. You can expect your private transfer from Cusco to Puno to take around seven hours. However, departure times are flexible, so you can book your trip out of Cusco at any hour of the day or night.

 

On Lima to Lake Titicaca tours, your first glimpse of the lake Will be something to savor. The first sighting of Lake Titicaca often comes as a surprise. The vast expanse of deep blue water appears out of nowhere, contrasting sharply with the earthy tones of the surrounding Altiplano.

First Views of Lake Titicaca

 

Please ask here if you need any more information about the best ways to travel between Cusco and Puno!

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