Its position on Lake Titicaca makes Puno a favorite travel destination in Peru—and because almost every visitor to Peru wants to see Cusco, the 387-mile (522 km) Cusco-Puno journey is a very popular one. It is popular too because of the different ways of doing the trip.
Peru's train network, although vastly reduced over the years, still offers the classic rail ride from Cusco to Puno, and because the chance to travel by train in South America is rare, this is a recommended option. You can also fly part of the way and then take a car or bus to reach Puno. The bus is also available, though it's the least desirable option in every aspect except for price.
Duration: 10 hours-1.5 days
One of the best train journeys in Peru—and indeed, all of South America—runs from Cusco to Puno. The same train also makes stops at Juliaca and, sometimes, Arequipa. The train run by Peru Rail departs Cusco's Huanchac train station: The Titicaca train departs on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday mornings; the Andean Explorer train (more luxurious) departs once weekly on Tuesdays but takes until the following day to arrive. Either way, the journey over the Andes is stark and stunning, but prices are high. This is the most expensive and atmospheric way to travel between Cusco and Puno.
By Air and Private Transfer
Duration: 2.5-3 hours
Because Puno does not have its own airport (the nearest airport is in Juliaca, over an hour's drive away) traveling from Cusco to Puno by plane is not as popular as it would otherwise be. But, unusually for an internal flight in Peru, this is actually not the most expensive way of arriving—even with a taxi from the Juliaca airport to central Puno it can work out as half the price of taking the train.
Latam has 1-2 direct flights daily, whilst Viva Air additionally fly there three times weekly: on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. From Inca Manco Capac Airport in Juliaca it is on average one hour and 15 minutes journey time by private transfer to Puno, with services taking you direct to your hotel in Puno.
Duration: 6 hours
With the dramatic increase of train prices over recent years, and the long waits at the airports in Cusco and Juliaca, the bus has become a more popular option. That said, it does not quite have the wow factor of the train ride or the convenience of a flight. Cruz del Sur and Ormeño run luxury services, but better still is the Inka Express service (taking slightly longer) which includes lunch and a tour guide explaining points of interest along the way. Hwy 3S runs southeast all the way from Cusco via Juliaca to Puno.