Just a few hours from La Paz towards the Peruvian border, you’ll find the pretty lakeside town of Copacabana. It’s set at 3841 metres above sea level in the hillsides, on the shores of one of the largest lakes in South America, and the highest navigable lake in the world - Lake Titicaca. This is a perfect stopover point to explore the stunning views from Isla del Sol, or simply to chill out and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere that Copacabana has to offer.
Copacabana is a great introduction to Bolivia if you are coming from Peru, and equally as good a farewell if this is your last stop in Bolivia. The town consists of many quaint streets running up from the shore, the landmark ´White Anchor´ at the pier, and the famous large stunning white Basilica at the top of the hill. With a few scattered, well-maintained parks, many local family-run restaurants - and not forgetting the café bars, handicraft stalls and fresh food markets - you can easily spend a few days here just enjoying the peaceful and relaxing setting of this beautiful Bolivian town. There are so many great things to do in Copacabana: stroll around the colourful buildings, sample some of the fresh trout at very cheap Bolivian prices, and people watch in this captivating town. Below is our Copacabana travel guide with information on all the best things to do, places to go and what not to miss.
VISIT ISLA DEL SOL – The Island of the Sun. Cross the crystal clear bright blue waters of Lake Titicaca by boat and you will find the sacred Inca Island. Home to Inca ruins and a few guesthouses where you can stay the night, here you can explore the trails through the ruins, visit the sacred rock, and explore the beautiful pathways across the island. It is rare to come across another person, which makes it such a peaceful and beautiful island to explore - just you, the stunning views, your camera and the sun! This is definitely one of the best things to do in Copacabana, if not Bolivia.
CLIMB CERRO CALVARIO – Challenge yourself to this short (yet steep!) hill climb to get a fantastic view over Copacabana town and Lake Titicaca.
TAKE A PEDALO out on the highest navigable lake in the world.
VISIT THE 16TH CENTURY BASILICA – Whether you are religious or not, this is a beautiful display of architecture and is well worth a visit.
*** WHAT NOT TO MISS ***
Visiting Isla del Sol.
Exploring the pretty back streets of Copacabana.
Filling up on the fresh lake trout served everywhere.
You will find most of the local restaurants serving their 'menu del dia', which includes a starter, main, dessert, and drink for a very reasonable price. Don't miss trying the lake trout!
Eat like a local and try the tasty salteñas – the typical Bolivian-style empanadas – which are savory and contain beef, pork, or chicken, in a delicious, slightly spicy sauce. One place to find these is Salteñeria El Tigre, located by Plaza 2 de Febrero, close to the basilica.
If you fancy a hearty breakfast, vegetarian food, or just miss your home comforts, go to El Condor & The Eagle Café (Av 6 de Agosto). Here you can even find Earl Grey tea and porridge! The owners Don and Tatiana are delightful, and more than happy to give you any tips to help you out on your travels.
The nightlife in Copacabana is pretty much limited to the occasional live music in some of the small bars on the main street. Look for signs outside the bars, or simply follow the music. Km Zero Resto Bar (Av 6 de Agosto) has great live music, including rock and folklore Boliviano. There’s also a happy hour, and the burgers, chips, and sandwiches served here are delicious.
Like in many of the high-altitude towns across Bolivia, here you will find clear blue skies and bright sunshine during the daytime, but once the sun goes down you’ll need a layer handy to keep you warm in the chilly Bolivian nights.
Daytime temperatures have little variation throughout the year, staying at around 15 degrees, with cooler nights between 0 to -4 (from May to September) and 2 to 4 degrees Celsius (from October to April).
Buses arrive and depart just a few streets away from the main street In Copacabana; it’s virtually impossible to get lost in this small town!
If you are coming from Peru, it only takes 15 minutes from the Peruvian border of Kasani. The total journey time from Puno to Copacabana is 3.5 hours in bus, taking into account passing through immigrations – this can take some time, as there are often long lines of people at both the Peruvian and Bolivian side.
If you are coming from La Paz, it takes 3.5 to 4 hours by bus, including crossing the lake by boat.
Most guesthouses/hostels do not have websites yet and Wi-Fi is limited on Isla del Sol, so it’s a case of simply turning up and shopping around to get a suitable room. It’s not usually a problem as the town is so small, making it easy to find somewhere relatively quickly.
Hotel La Cupula (Calle Michel Perez 1-3) is a great choice: it’s beautifully decorated, and you can enjoy the spectacular views over Lake Titicaca. There’s even llamas roaming the grounds, and a garden with hammocks where you can relax. The rooms are spacious, and some have a jacuzzi and a fireplace. Hotel Utuma (Calle Michell Perez) is another good option. It offers clean and comfy rooms, and a tasty breakfast.
If you’re looking to stay on Isla de Sol, check out HI Inca Pacha (Comunidad Yumani), located on the south of the island. It is cozy and has stunning views.
ATMS are available in Copacabana – but there are none on Isla del Sol – so be prepared!