“Taking the train is a nice option and can be a bit boring (9+ hours), a very pleasant alternative to flying to/from Cusco to Puno is a tourist bus! Particularly if you’re on vacation and want to maximize your adventure.”
Puno is about 390 km from Cusco City. Travelers in general can travel by bus, train or plane. If traveling on the Route of The Sun keep in mind to bring a lot of warm clothing with you particularly if traveling at nighttime because it might get extremely chilly.
You will find a few daily flights to Puno (via Juliaca airport). Departures are in the morning when the climate conditions is typically better (Pilots require decent visibility to take off in Cusco). The air travel time is approximately 50 minutes but you might learn some services have to go via Arequipa airport making the trip time about 1:45 hrs. Airline companies operating this route are Peruvian Airlines and Lan Peru.
By Bus (Local Bus)
You will find a lot of daily buses that departure to Puno. The trip takes about 8 hours (extended in rainy season). Cost per person is about US$9-12 based on the service. Some bus providers leave right after sunrise and reach Puno late in the afternoon whereas other buses depart in the evening (around 10 pm) and arrive in Puno early in the morning (5 am). If you arrive early in Puno (4 am or 5 am) you might request the bus driver to stay on the bus and take a break awaiting a more sensible hr (7 am). Buses depart from the central bus station known as the “Terminal Terreste” that is a 10 minute taxi ride from Puno’s Plaza de Armas. Our recommendation is to take a taxi down to the central bus station the day before you would like to take a trip and reserve your ticket. This in addition will provide you a good chance to check-out all bus companies and their different services.
By Bus (Tourist Bus)
In addition to the standard local buses from Cusco to Puno you will also find three tourist bus providers that offer a VIP quality bus transportation service. One of the most popular of these is a company called Inka Express (offices at Urb. Ttio Quinto Paradero). Their tourist bus service includes a guide on the bus and seven stops (Inca attractions) along the way. The price is about US$50 per person and includes a good buffet lunch (Sicuani town). Tickets can be purchase directly ovia their website, their offices or through most travel agencies in Cusco City one or two days in advance. Other companies that have daily services during the day include Turismo Mer and Wonder Peru.
Train service to Puno depart from Wanchaq train station at the end of Avenida Sol. PeruRail offices opens Monday through Friday 7 am – 12 pm and 2 pm – 5 pm, Saturday 7 am – 12 pm, Sunday 8 am – 10 am). Train ticket booking should be made a day prior to your trip.