Copacabana, Bolivia is a small town that sits at over 3,800 meters above sea level on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest lake. You might be contemplating whether to visit Copacabana or Puno on the Peruvian side of the lake. They are completely different experiences and honestly, both towns are quite touristy and ugly. The edge Copacabana has is its stunning natural beauty and hiking which make it worth a couple of days on your Bolivia itinerary.
How to Get There
Buses leave regularly from La Paz to Copacabana. The journey takes about 4 hours and it’s a very scenic ride. I recommend sitting on the right hand side for the best views of the lake and mountains.
What to Do
Spend a night on Isla del Sol – Just a 90-minute ferry ride from town is the beautiful island where the first Inca is said to have emerged. It’s a peaceful, car-free island and its endless hills make for incredible views. The backdrop of snow-capped Andean peaks is the cherry on top.
The best way to see the island is a 5-hour hike that passes through small communities and Inca ruins. A good route is Yumani-Challa-Challapampa-Chinkana Ruins-Yumani. Mirador Palla Khasa is the best place to watch the sunset on Isla del Sol.
Cerro Calvario – An easy 30-minute hike up to a fantastic viewpoint. The landscape of the hills meeting the lake is beautiful and it’s a popular sunset spot. You’ll want sunglasses because the main viewing area looks directly into the sun.
Hike the Yampupata Peninsula – This 4-hour hike along the coastline has some fantastic viewpoints. This hike is also an alternate way to reach Isla del Sol. At the end of the peninsula, you can take a boat to the island for 25-30 bolivianos (BOB). I had a few boatmen tell me it costs 200 BOB and that the south part of the island is closed, but this is not the case. Wait a few minutes and someone will take you for a fair price.
Basílica de la Virgen de Copacabana – The towering white church and surrounding walls stand out from anywhere in the town. On the inside, it has beautiful artwork and a golden altarpiece.
Where to Eat
Copacabana restaurants consistently serve trout, the local specialty, and pizza because it’s a tourist town.
Ali – A great option for a hearty pre-hike breakfast or for a trout dinner.
Restaurante La Cúpula – A hotel restaurant with maybe the best view in town and reasonably priced food.
Pit Stop – A cafe with delicious empanadas and desserts.
Where to Stay
Hostal Piedra Andina – This is more a hotel than a hostel and it’s a 15-minute walk from the plaza, but well worth it. The terrace views are incredible and they have hot water, a luxury in Copacabana.
Hotel Utama – A solid budget hotel near the main plaza.
Accommodation on Isla del Sol is very basic. Don’t expect hot water or decent wifi. Hostal Palacio Del Inka is a good budget option with a nice view.
How Long to Stay
2 days is enough time to spend in Copacabana before heading elsewhere in Bolivia or crossing the border to Peru. A day in Copacabana and a day on Isla del Sol is sufficient.
Where to Next
Bookaway is a great resource that allows you to compare the prices of both buses and flights, and secure your seat in advance!
La Paz (4 hours by bus) – This unique and chaotic city has lively markets, cable cars, and adventure activities.
Huayna Potosí (4 hours) – Climb a 6,000m mountain near La Paz that requires no previous climbing experience.
Puno, Peru (5 hours) – Spend a night with an indigenous family on one of Lake Titicaca’s islands.
Cusco, Peru (13 hours) – One of the continent’s gems is a hiker’s paradise full of incredible Inca ruins.
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