The name Copacabana makes you think of an idyllic beach in Rio de Janeiro. But Bolivia also has a Copacabana. Unfortunately less idyllic when it comes to a beautiful beach. But still a unique city, because of its beautiful location at the Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world and its religious significance. What to do in Copacabana Bolivia when you have a stopover in this city while traveling to or from Peru? Or planning a trip to Isla del Sol? This is a list with the best things to do in Copacabana, Bolivia.
What to do in Copacabana Bolivia?
Copacabana is located in a bay, wedged between two hills, on the highest navigable lake in the world, Lago Titicaca, at an altitude of almost 3900 m. The city has always been an important place of pilgrimage. Every year thousands of Bolivians and Peruvians go to the city to worship the holy “Virgen de la Guadalupe.”
For travelers, Copacabana is mainly a transfer city to get from Bolivia to Peru, as it is only 10 minutes from the border. Or the startingpoint for a visit to Isla del Sol, to one of the Bolivian islands on the Titicaca Lake. Discover the best things to do in Copacabana Bolivia in this article.
Hike to the summit of Cerro Calvario, one of the best things to do in Copacabana Bolivia
A steep climb up the hill, takes you to Cerro Calvario, the cross mountain. The trail leads you past 14 stations of the Cross and a number of chapels all the way to the summit. The mountain is only 150 m high but because of the height, the walk can be tough. At an altitude of 3900 m, every physical activity takes more effort than usual. Moreover, the path is irregular, so you have to take big steps at some points. However, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views over Titicaca Lake and its surroundings. Always check the current safety situation in your hotel, before you start your hike.
Relax and have a meal at La Cupula
The best restaurant of Copacabana is called La Cupula. A short climb up the hill, will take you to this dome. La Cupula offers a hotel and lovely restaurant with a beautiful view of the lake. The food is delicious and the owners pay a lot of attention to service, something so valuable and nice, as restaurants on the main street tend to forget about this. The complex includes a beautiful garden, where you can relax during the day in one of the hammocks and feed the alpacas.
Go local on the boulevard and enjoy a boat tour
One of the best things to do in Copacabana Bolivia in the weekends, is to stroll around the boulevard. As Copacabana is the weekend destination for Bolivians, it is the perfect place to immerse into local life. You’ll see car trunks turn into picnic sites, with loud sound systems. There are boats, shaped like ducks and swans, sailing on the lake. And the food stalls are a popular dinner hotspot for locals. Don’t forget to take a seat on the promenade and have a chat with a family. You’ll be sitting in one of the boats together with a family, before you know.
Visit Catedral Virgen de la Candelaria
One of the best cultural things to do in Copacabana Bolivia, is to visit the Catedral Virgen de la Candelaria. This white cathedral, built in Moorish style, is the icon of the city and the place where the Virgen de la Candelaria is located. Several miracles have been attributed to this holy virgin. As a result, Copacabana became an important place of pilgrimage. In February, on Good Friday and on Independence Day, countless people come to Copacabana to honor the patron saint of Copacabana. Outside the square, you’ll find numerous market stalls with religious souvenirs of La Virgen de la Candelaria.
Visit Isla del Sol | Top things to do in Copacabana Bolivia
When you’re in Copacabana, you should visit Isla del Sol, the island of the sun. The island is about 1.5 hours by boat from Copacabana. On the island, you can go for amazing walks and enjoy a 360-degree view over the Titicaca Lake and the mighty peaks of the Andes. Along the way, you will pass remains of former Inca structures. It is possible to go on a day trip, but it is recommend to stay overnight and enjoy the islands tranquillity.
The village Yumani offers many cheap and simple hostels. But one of my favorite places to stay is Puma Punku Ecolodge, outside the village, on the top of the island. The views are just breathtaking and it is the perfect startingpoint to explore the island. The owners of Puma Punko take care of your boat transportation and prepare delicious local dishes.
What to do in Copacabana Bolivia in August? – Independence Day
One of the best things to do in Copacabana Bolivia in August is to experience Independence day. What an experience! Hundreds of people hike the Cerro Calvario and stand in line for hours, to honor the holy virgin. Shamans are around to provide spiritual cleansings. And countless vendors adorn their stalls with offerings and alasitas; small replicas of houses, cars, and money, hoping that it will manifest in real life. Along the water, cars are decorated with flags and colorful decorations.
Independence Day in Bolivia takes place on August 6, so make sure you include this day in your itinerary. It is recommended to book your stay in advance, as hotels will be crowded.
Hotels in Copacabana
One of my favorite places to stay in Copacabana is Hotel La Cupula. First of all because of the amazing views of Lake Titicaca, the great restaurant next door and the lovely green garden with hammocks and alpacas. The rooms are spacious, with a nice and original design and also very affordable. Highly recommended! Hotel La Cupula is also centrally located, between the lake, the main street and Cerro Calvario. Just keep in mind that you have to hike up the moutain a bit to reach La Cupula.
Traveling from Bolivia to Peru? or Copacabana to La Paz?
There are different bus companies offering this service. Titicaca Turist Transport is a reliable company, bringing you from Copacabana to Puno, Peru in a couple of hours. Crossing borders between Peru and Bolivia became a smooth process and the company will guide you through the different steps. Just make sure you have your passport. Also make sure you check on visa requierements in advance, (depending on your nationality).
Extra tip: Do you want to go for a picknick around the lake? Or planning a bus trip with border crossing to Peru? Visit Pitstop. This is the best place for take-away food. Pitstop is a bakery selling fresh empanada’s, quiches, sandwiches and lots of other delicious pastries.
More about Bolivia
Did you enjoy reading this article about the best things to do in Copacabana Bolivia? Do you want to read more about Bolivia? In this article you’ll find an overview with what to do in Bolivia, including the most beautiful destinations. Also, have a look in the Bolivia library with many articles about this beautiful country. Such as a city guide for Sucre, a tour on the Bolivian salt flats, the Bolivian Inca trail, the best time to visit Bolivia, information about safety, a visit to the Potosí mines, a tour to the Tiwanaku ruins, shopping in La Paz and how to use the cable car in La Paz.