Copacabana has a fantastic location at the lakeshore of Lake Titicaca. It should be on your bucket list, so make sure to add it to your Bolivian itinerary. In this blog post, I’ll tell you how to get there, where to stay and 6 things you cannot miss in Copacabana, Bolivia.
How to get to Copacabana and Lake Titicaca?
Copacabana is situated at Lake Titicaca, close to the Peru-Bolivia border and you can approach it by taxi, rented car or as part of a tour. We chose the EASIEST AND CHEAPEST WAY and travelled there by bus from La Paz, which took 4 hours for us. The peninsula of Copacabana is reachable on more routes, depending on your chosen bus company. A few buses go through Peru, so this way the bus goes on land all the way.
The other option is to stay in Bolivia, enjoy the scenic drive on the lakeshore and cross the narrowest part of Lake Titicaca by boat at Tiquina.
By bus from La Paz to Copacabana
Local buses to Copacabana
Local buses depart from El Alto bus terminal and La Paz cemetery every 30-60 minutes between 6 am and 5 pm. The bus ticket cost around 20 BOB, depending on the size and quality of the bus.
Local buses to La Paz
On our way back to La Paz, we travelled by a local bus, which wasn’t that comfortable but it stopped at El Alto, so we could reach the airport easier. Buses depart from Plaza Sucre, the main square of Copacabana. The square is full of small and big minibuses waiting for the passengers. Drivers and vendors are yelling LaPazLaPazLaPaaaaaz, so I’m sure you will find your ride to La Paz. Tourist agencies at Av. 6 de Agosto also sell bus tickets, so we bought ours one day in advance.
Tourist buses to Copacabana
We bought a bus ticket online on Tickets Bolivia, which offers transportation by multiple companies. DIRECT BUSES DEPART FROM LA PAZ AT 7:30 AM, 8 AM AND 1:30 PM.
The price depends on the bus company and its services. The boat price and some snacks can also be included, so the prices can vary from 6 to 20 USD.
According to the bus ticket, we arrived 15 minutes before departure at the Central Bus station in La Paz. Inside the terminal, we checked in at the kiosk of Trans Titicaca, our chosen bus company, which offered cheap tickets to Copacabana. Extra services like snacks, wifi and toilet on board weren’t included. Though on the way, everyone could visit the restroom at a petrol station. And toilets were located on both sides of the ferry station at the strait of Tiquina.
The departure was at 8:00 am, before leaving the terminal, we had to pay additional terminal tax (2,50 BOB/person). MAKE SURE TO HAVE CASH FOR THE TERMINAL TAX, TOILET AND BOAT TICKET.
After a 2-3 hours scenic drive we arrived at the boat station of Tiquina, where all passengers had to take off the bus, buy a boat ticket (2 BOB/person) and cross the strait by a small boat. On the other side, we waited for our bus, which was transported by a little ferry.
After a 50 minutes drive, we finally reached Copacabana, where the bus stopped at the main square called Plaza Sucre.
Where to stay in Copacabana?
We booked our room with a private bathroom to Hostal Sonia in advance on Booking.com because of its affordable price and location. It’s located close to the centre, just a few minutes from the basilica and we even had a view to Lake Titicaca from the 3rd floor. However, climbing to the 3rd floor on this high altitude wasn’t that easy and the wifi didn’t work all the time up there, so when we needed wifi we went down to the reception area.
The breakfast was better than we expected. We could choose from tasty flatbread, butter, marmalade, eggs, juices, fruits and not so tasty coffee.
The hostel also has laundry service, what we really needed after 1,5 week travelling in Chile and Bolivia.
How many days to spend in Copacabana, Bolivia?
We went to Copacabana after 1,5-week travelling, so our 5 days there were very relaxed and our Copacabana itinerary looked like this:
- Day 1 – travelling to Copacabana
- Day 2 – a trip to Islas Flotantes (Floating Islands)
- Day 3 – discovering the lakeshore
- Day 4 – Isla del Sol day trip
- Day 5 – relaxing and climbing Cerro Calvario
- Day 6 – travelling to La Paz, El Alto airport
Don’t worry, staying 3-4 days would be also enough to see the most significant spots around Copacabana. You’ll find out soon why you need to add Copacabana and Lake Titicaca to your Bolivian itinerary.
How to spend 3 days in Copacabana?
- Day 1 – travelling to Copacabana + boat ride to Islas Flotantes (Floating Islands)
- Day 2 – Isla del Sol day trip
- Day 3 – discovering the lakeshore + Cerro Calvário
- (Day 4 – travelling to La Paz or other destinations)
On the following map (My Maps by Google Maps) you can see the best places to visit in Copacabana and Isla del Sol.
By clicking on the tab next to “Copacabana travel guide, Bolivia”, you can see the actual points, and it’s also possible to turn off and on layers. Furthermore, you can also save this map (if you have My Maps account) by pressing the star next to the map title.
And here are the 6 reasons to add Copacabana and Lake Titicaca to your Bolivian itinerary
1. The Virgin of Copacabana inspired the name of Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro
Copacabana sits between two hills, Cerro Calvário and Horca del Inca. Both of them can be climbed and provide a fascinating view of the town and Lake Titicaca. The bay is home to many boats, so this part of the lake isn’t recommended for swimming.
The main street is Av. 6 de Agosto with Plaza Sucre, where buses arrive and depart. An ATM is also located there.
The other main square, Plaza 2 de Febrero, is home to a park, a small market and the basilica. Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Copacabana is partly decorated with colourful azulejos, Portuguese-style ceramic tiles outside. Its inside is dressed in ornaments and gold, especially its Altair. Visiting hours can be changeable, mainly it’s open from 11 am to noon and from 2 to 6 pm. The admission is free.
2. Take a boat trip on Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca is the world’s largest navigable high-altitude lake with its 8372 km2, sitting at an altitude of 3812 m. The lake is situated between the mountains of Peru and Bolivia. From a boat, you can adore the snow-capped peaks of the Cordillera Real, green hills and blue vastness of the lake.
The tourist agencies in Copacabana offer many tours including boat trips to Islas Flotantes (Floating Islands) and Isla del Sol (see it later).
3. Fight with altitude by climbing Cerro Calvario
The peak of Cerro Calvario dominates the lakeshore of Lake Titicaca at Copacabana.
I love viewpoints and sunsets, so I had to climb this hill, which wasn’t easy at all. As I mentioned before, Copacabana lies at a high altitude, so WALKING AND CLIMBING CAN BE CHALLENGING. Make sure to bring water.
From the bottom of the staircase, I needed 30 minutes to reach the top and I kept 5-6 breaks during the hike. The long staircase starts behind the chapel of Señor Colquepata Cross, or you can also trek up the steep Calle San Antonio.
The breathtaking panorama of the lake and the harbour will compensate for the exhausting hike. From the peak, you can also watch the sunset and its reflection on the surface of Lake Titicaca. Totally mesmerizing 🙂
4. Eat local trout, the must-try food of Copacabana
Trying out local dishes is part of travelling and discovering new cultures. The must-try food in Copacabana is trout (trucha) and the perfect place to try it out is the lakeshore. Next to the harbour, you’ll find many kiosks serving trout. The menu and the prices are almost the same at every food stall.
On our 2nd day in Copacabana, we had dinner at kiosk Teresita nr. 7. My boyfriend said, “I could eat this every day”. So we did 🙂 Yep, we ate trout on the following days and experimented with different seasonings and types. Our favourite seasoning were francesa, garlic and the trout rinds (chicharron de trucha). It’s served with salad, fries and rice and you won’t stay hungry after the big portion.
Don’t arrive too late, the kiosks aren’t open after 9 pm and a few starts to close around 8 pm.
5. Visit Islas Flotantes
Islas Flotantes (Floating Islands) are located in Lake Titicaca and are ACCESSIBLE BY BOAT FROM COPACABANA. Tickets can be purchased at many places in Copacabana, though at tourist agencies it might be more expensive. We bought our return tickets in a kiosk at the lakeshore (at the end of Av 6 de Agosto).
Our boat left after enough people gathered there, so we had to wait only 1 minute. During the 20 minutes ride, we enjoyed the view of the lake from the top of the boat.
We could spend an hour on the islands, which was enough to climb the rocky island, stroll to the other islands, adore the panorama from the top and eat freshly caught fish from the lake.
6. Enjoy a perfect 1-day trip to Isla del Sol
Isla del Sol is not just an ordinary island. It’s situated in Lake Titicaca and home to Inca ruins, scenic paths, cute llamas and other animals. You only have to enjoy this sacred atmosphere, get ready for high altitude and walk slowly.
After a 1,5 hours boat ride, we arrived at its harbour and spent around 5 hours on the island, which was enough to climb 2 mountains, make friends with a baby llama and have lunch with a view. Our 1-day trip to Isla del Sol was perfect like this, though IF THE WHOLE ISLAND WOULD BE POSSIBLE TO VISIT, 1 DAY WOULDN’T BE ENOUGH TO DISCOVER ITS WHOLE BEAUTY.
During our Bolivian trip (March of 2020), ONLY THE SOUTHERN PART OF THE ISLAND WAS OPEN FOR VISITORS. Unfortunately, the northern and southern part had some differences again.
Check out how we spent our 1 day trip in Isla del Sol, Bolivia and read about its fabulous sites.
Expenses during our 5+1 days in Copacabana and Lake Titicaca
As I mentioned earlier, most of the people spend only 2-3 days discovering Copacabana and Isla del Sol. During our 5 days, we spent money mainly on transportation and food, so our Copacabana trip cost 1699 BOB (~256 USD) for the two of us (if 1 BOB = 0,15 USD).
- Accommodation + laundry – 757 BOB (~114 USD)
- Transportation and tours – 293 BOB (~44 USD)
- Food and drinks – 649 BOB (~98 USD)
See our daily expenses below:
Day 1 – travelling to Copacabana
- Bus ticket (bought on TicketsBolivia.com) – 11,41 USD (~76 BOB) for the two of us
- Bus terminal additional tax – 2,50 BOB/person (paid before leaving the bus terminal)
- Boat fee – 2 BOB/person
- Toilet fee at the ferry station – 1 BOB/person
- 5 nights in Hostal Sonia (room with private bathroom and double bed booked on Booking.com in advance), breakfast included – 99 USD (~660 BOB)
- Laundry at the hostel (15 BOB/kg) – 97 BOB
- Lunch at Coffee Shop Copacabana (hamburger + fillet mignon + drinks) – 107 BOB
Day 2 – a trip to Islas Flotantes
- Sunbathing on the terrace of Hotel Estelar + choripan + coffee – 80 BOB
- Boat ride to Islas Flotantes (return ticket) – 15 BOB/person
- Lunch at Islas Flotantes (freshly caught fish from the lake) – 30 BOB
- Dinner at kiosk Teresita nr. 7 – 50 BOB (25 BOB/trout)
Day 3 – discovering the lakeshore
- Lunch at kiosk Aries nr. 12. (2 trouts + 2 cokes + 1 free coca tea) – 54 BOB
- 6-litre water + biscuits in a shop – 26 BOB
- Dinner at a pizza place (medium pizza + juice + tip) – 50 BOB
Day 4 – Isla del Sol day trip
- Boat return ticket – 30 BOB/person
- Entrance fee to the island – 10 BOB/person (the only fee you have to pay on the southern part)
- Lunch at Restaurant Pachamama (2 trouts (35 BOB/portion) + coke) – 82 BOB
Day 5 – relaxing and climbing Cerro Calvario
- Lunch at the lakeshore, kiosk #7 (2 trouts + 1 coke) – 52 BOB
- Dinner at Restaurant La Cupola (fillet mignon + lasagna + coke + coca tea) – 111 BOB (don’t accept card)
- 2-litre water – 7 BOB
Day 6 – travelling to La Paz El Alto airport
- Bus ticket to La Paz (bought on the previous day) – 30 BOB/person
- Ferry ticket – 2 BOB/person
- Toilet fee at the ferry station – 1 BOB/person
- Taxi from El Alto bus station to El Alto airport – 30 BOB
As you see, Copacabana has so much to offer. Hiking, boat tours, viewpoints, tasty trout, sunshine, green hills and fluffy llamas, just to mention a few 🙂 Make sure to add Copacabana and Lake Titicaca to your Bolivian itinerary.
Interested in more Bolivian and South-American landscapes?
- The best things to do in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia
- A day trip to Isla del Sol, Bolivia
- How to pick the best Uyuni Salt Flats tour to Bolivia?
- Best places to visit in La Paz, Bolivia
- How to plan your perfect trip to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile?
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