7 Fun things to do in Copacabana Bolivia

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What we talk about in this article

Lake Titicaca is an interesting destination in South America. It belongs both to Peru and Bolivia, so it can also be visited from both countries.

Many travelers chose to visit the lake from Puno in Peru, which is a great choice for visiting the famous floating islands on the lake.

But Copacabana in Bolivia is steady on number 2 as a hub for exploring the area.

Maybe you’re unsure about how many days you need to explore Copacabana and which cool things you can do in this town and area.

That’s why we’re going to answer your question in this article: what to do in Copacabana Bolivia!

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Watch the sunset over Lake Titicaca

This one may sounds obvious, but we still want to emphasise exactly how stunning the sunset over Lake Titicaca is! It’s just beautiful!

We could spend hours every evening, just sitting on our extremely well located balcony, to watch the sun set into the lake.

This perfect sunset accentuates the hundreds of local boats that float randomly in front of the shore of the lake.

I won’t bother you too long with these words. Just check out these images and decide for yourself!

Stunning sunset over Lake Titicaca from Copacabana Bolivia
Stunning sunset over Lake Titicaca from Copacabana Bolivia

Visit Isla del Sol

Isla del Sol is the larger island of the 2 islands near the shore of Copacabana.

The island is considered sacred ground and there are no paved roads nor vehicles on the island. But the tiny island is covered with ancient ruins, dating back to the 15th century. Archeologists believe that people were already living on this island thousands of years BC.

Inca legends say that the god of the sun was born on this island.

Isla del Sol itself consist of barren and harsh terrain, which at the same time, make it an excellent hiking location.

Most of the ancient ruins can be found on the North side of the island.

The views from the viewpoint on the South side of Isla del Sol are pretty amazing!

7 Fun things to do in Copacabana Bolivia
Isla del Sol by Rodrigo Digo on Pixabay

Tips for your visit to Isla del Sol

  • Make sure to agree on a return time for the boat
  • Check where to boat is going exactly before you leave
  • You can eat fresh trout in one of the many restaurants
  • It’s possible to spend the night on the island
  • Tourism is increasing. Expect to pay entrance fees for many things and sights

Getting to the Isla del Sol

The island can only be reached by boat from Copacabana.

Boats leave a few times every day.

You can either reserve your spot on a boat the day before. The other option is to go to the waterfront in the morning around 8h or in the early afternoon around 13h.

Boats leaving Copacabana first travel to the North side of the island and then to the South end. You can choose where you want to get out or back in later.

The boat trip usually takes around 1 hour, but might take longer when the weather is bad.

Prices for this trip are changing continuously.

Time needed to explore Isla del Sol

Hiking all the way from the Northern tip to the Southern viewpoint of the island, takes 3 hours. Of course, you’re not obliged to do this. I’m just saying it to give you an impression of the distance.

If you want to explore the ancient sites and hike to the viewpoint, you probably need the good part of a day.

Would you rather pay a quick visit? Then you should count half a day.

Or visit Isla de la Luna

Isla de la Luna is the little speck in the lake that lies right next to Isla Del Sol.

Most boat trips will take you to both islands in one complete tour. But if you want to, you can also visit them separately. I’d just go for the combined tour or visit one of the two islands.

In opposition to the Isla del Sol, this island gets its name in a similar manner. Inca myths state that this island was used by a god in order to command the rising of the moon.

You can also find ancient ruins on this island.

The East side of Isla de la Luna offers open views on the majestic snow-capped mountain ridge on the shore.

7 Fun things to do in Copacabana Bolivia
Isla de la Luna in Lake Titicaca Bolivia

Tips for visiting Isla de la Luna

  • Make sure you’re getting a boat that goes to Isla de la Luna
  • Agree on a pick up time in advance

Getting to Isla de la Luna

At this time, most boats leaving for Isla del Sol, also travel on to Isla de la Luna.

To be sure, you should check it with the ticket seller before boarding!

Boats to the islands leave a few times each day.

You can either reserve your spot on a boat the day before. The other option is to go to the waterfront in the morning around 8h or in the early afternoon around 13h.

Boats that go all the way to Isla de La Luna, usually stop at Isla del Sol first. The make a stop at the North side of Isla del Sol, then the South side, before moving on to Isla de La Luna.

It’s also possible to get a private boat or even a kayak to the small island from Isla del Sol.

Prices for this trip change constantly.

Time needed to explore Isla de la Luna

Crossing the entire island can be done in 1 hour.

Walk up to Horca Del Inca

The Horca Del Inca is a peculiar sight just outside of the city center of Copacabana.

There were a few misconceptions about the name, since it was probably not built by the Inca, but some time before that.

And the translation of Horca also wasn’t quite right. It was believed to be a ‘gallow’, but it actually is a clever instrument to study to sun, the moon, and the stars. This way, eclipses could be predicted and seasons could be determined.

So the translation of ‘Horca’ should rather be ‘Fork’ than ‘Gallow’.

Unfortunately, the ancient structure was partly destroyed by the Spanish, leaving only a small part of the structure intact.

Aside from the ruins, you also get a great view over Copacabana and the lake.

Tips for visiting Horca del Inca

  • Take enough water with you
  • At some parts, you can’t avoid the sun, so take a hat and sunscreen if you need it
  • There is an entrance fee to see the ruins

Getting to Horca del Inca

Horca del Inca is located on a rocky hill just outside of town.

Leave Copacabana on the Southern side. You might want to open your mobile map app for this walk.

The hike up there is steep and tricky, so make sure to wear decent shoes.

Time needed for this walk

Count at least an hour to reach the Horca del Inca when hiking from the shore.

Hike to Cerro El Calvario

Cerro El Calvario is the relatively steep mountain North of the beach stretch in town.

The hike is a little more challenging than some of the other walks, but the views from the top are worth the sweat you lost along the way.

During this hike, you pass 14 stations of the Via Crucis, which are religious stops, before you reach the actual top. This hike is a true cultural experience as you’ll see other hikers who are on a real religious mission.

Locals and people from the area hike up this hill as a pelgrimage to ask the Virgin de la Candelaria for forgiveness for their sins or to grant them a new car or house. The Virgin de la Candelaria is also reason for a festival that being held each year and which attracts thousands of Bolivians from all over the country.

Keep scrolling to find out more about this festival.

Pro tip: Hike up in the late afternoon. This way, you can catch the sunset from the top, which is stunning.

Cerro El Calvario Hike from Copacabana Bolivia
Cerro el Calvario by Poswiecie on Pixabay

Tips for hiking Cerro El Calvario

  • Take enough water with you
  • Start hiking in the afternoon for lovely sunset views

How to get to Cerro El Calvario

The cerro or hill is located on the North side of the stretch of beach. There are 2 different hiking trails leading up to the hill.

One of the trails starts at the far Northern end of the beach.

The other trail is the actual pelgrimage train, which leaves in town.

Time needed for this hike

Getting to the top of the hill takes at least 30 minutes if you start hiking from the beach.

Go see the shrine for the Patroness of Bolivia

The Virgen de la Candelaria is the Patroness of Bolivia and you can find a shrine for her in Copacabana.

Supposedly, this Virgen has appeared to quite a few people in the past, right in the town of Copacabana. In the 16th century, she also saved the lives of fishermen who got caught in a massive storm on the lake.

To show gratitude, a shrine was built to please the Virgen. This shrine holds a sculpture of the Virgin, made by the last Inca king in Bolivia.

The shrine is set up in the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana and people from all over the country and further, come here on a pelgrimage to pray and pass special requests to the Patroness.

Travelers don’t only visit this place to see the shrine, but also because the Basilica itself is beautiful and nicely decorated.

How to visit the Basilica

There are no real opening hours documented, so you should try your luck and see of it’s open.

The Basilica can be extremely crowded at times.

7 Fun things to do in Copacabana Bolivia
Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana

Plan you trip during the a religious pelgrimage

Each year, between the 2nd and 5th of February, people from all over the world, but mostly from Peru and Bolivia, make a pelgrimage to Copacabana in Bolivia.

They travel there for the Festival of the Virgen de la Candelaria, the Patroness of Bolivia.

The little and sleepy village is then bursting at the seems as thousands of people make their way to town.

During this festival, people bring gifts and pray to the Virgin in order to forgive their sins and to ask for health and wealth.

Catholic priests bless new vehicles during the festival by throwing beer on them.

When is the Festival of the Virgen de la Candelaria

It’s held for 3 days each year between 2 and 5 Februari.

Good to know

On the third day of the festivals, dozens of raging bulls are released in the streets and people try not to get trampled by them.

Not sure why this is, but you might want to avoid them too!

What to do in Copacabana Bolivia

As you can see in our list of things to do in Copacabana, there’s a lot of walking and hiking in this area. Even if you choose to hike only one day, you won’t regret it, since the views from uphill are all majestic.

If you want to visit Puno, as well as Copacabana, like we did, you might be interested in these articles. We wrote a guide on how to travel from Puno to Copacabana, including the border crossing. And we also wrote an extensive list with things to do in Puno.

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Things to do in Copacabana Bolivia
Things to do in Copacabana Bolivia
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