The main attractions in Puno are outside the city: the communities of Lake Titicaca and the ancient Sillustani ruins. What there is to see in Puno doesn't delay most visitors for more than a half-day or so. However, if you stumble upon one of Puno's famously colorful festivals, you might want to linger.
Visiting Uros Islands
It is, no doubt, the main attraction of the region, fascinating floating islands are what draw visitors to Puno in droves. Founded by the Uros people hundreds of years ago, the islands have been artificially made from native totora reeds and once served as a refuge from the expansion of the Inca empire. These days, the Uros meticulously maintain their traditional homes to attract scores of well-heeled visitors. Although undeniably touristy, the incredible ingenuity of these resilient people make the attraction entirely worthwhile.
Visiting Taquile Islands
Another island well worthy of a visit is Taquile, typically included on an Amantaní tour. Smaller yet more developed, the island is famous throughout Peru for its expert male weavers who produce textiles of remarkable quality. An abundance of interesting archaeological sites and breathtaking lake views can also be found throughout the island.
Virgen de la Candelaria Sanctuary
The ‘Virgen de Candelaria’ is the patron saint of Puno and is highly revered by locals. Supposedly, she became the patron saint following the victory of Spanish soldiers over local tribes in the 16th century. The famous Candelaria festival is one of Peru’s biggest festivals and is held in her honour in February every year.
This church is also known as the San Juan Bautista Church and was originally built as a simple adobe chapel. It was remodelled in the gothic style in 1886 and in 1988 it became the official sanctuary of the Virgen de la Candelaria.
Puno Cathedral: San Carlos Borromeo
The Catedral Basílica San Carlos Borromeo or Puno Cathedral is an Andean Baroque catedral right on Puno’s Main Square. The inside of the Cathedral is quite plain compared to some other churches in Peru but it has a certain charm with sun streaming through the window, two side altars and well-preserved stonework.
The Sillustani Chullpas or funerary towers are a 45 minute drive from the city of Puno on the Lake Umayo peninsula. The ancient Colla tribe reigned over this region in the 15th century and buried their nobility in tall round funerary towers called ‘chullpas’.
Sillustani Funerary Towers - Things to See in PunoThe tallest tower is the famous Lizard Chullpa which is 12 metres high. The dead were buried along with their families, food and belongings for their journey into the next world. The views from the site are stunning.
Don’t miss a visit to the stunning Fundo Chincheros, a traditional Peruvian ranch on 125 hectares of the Altiplano just 20 minutes outside Puno. They offer a lovely range of alternative rural tourism activities well off the beaten Titicaca tourist trail. Try your hand at horseback riding one of their lovingly-cared for Peruvian Paso horses across the pampa for a few hours. Enjoy a relaxing half day visit to learn about their Andean farm acitvities, visit a large herd of llamas and alpacas, walk their cactus forest trail and indulge in an outdoor BBQ as you admire the countryside.
Located in the Plaza de Armas, the grandiose and colorful Casa del Corregidor, with an elegant balcony that overlooks the square. This 17th-century colonial home is supposedly one of the oldest in the city. Nowadays, it hosts a small fair trade artisans store as well as a cute café.