Puno does not have an airport; the nearest is Aeropuerto Manco Capac (tel. 051/322-905) in Juliaca, 45km (28 miles) north of Puno. LAN (tel. 01/213-8300; www.lan.com) flies daily from Lima and Arequipa to Juliaca; flights start at about $139 one-way from Lima. Tourist buses run from the Juliaca airport to Puno (a 1-hr. trip), depositing travelers on Jirón Tacna for S/15. Rossy Tours (tel. 051/366-709) runs inexpensive combi taxis to the airport in Juliaca (picking passengers up at their hotels) for S/15 per person.
In Juliaca, Hit the Ground Running -- Juliaca, site of the regional airport, is perhaps the most disgraced city in all of Peru. If you are flying into Juliaca on your way to Puno, don't linger. The town is a chaotic and ugly mess of half-finished houses, potholed dirt roads, and trash-strewn streets clogged with sales carts and ciclotaxis. If that weren't enough, Juliaca is also reputed to be downright dangerous. The only reason it was awarded an airport is that Puno is boxed in by mountains and local politicians had a stranglehold on Lima's purse strings.
Puno has a modern, safe bus station, Terminal Terrestre (tel. 051/364-733), Av. Primero de Mayo 703, Barrio Magistral. Road service to Puno from Cusco has been greatly improved in recent years, and many more tourists now travel by bus, which is faster and cheaper than the train. The terrific views during the day are pretty much the same. Most buses drop passengers at Melgar, a few short blocks from downtown.
From Cusco, executive-, imperial-, or royal-class buses make the trip in less than 7 hours (though some services, such as Inka Express, make stop-offs at Inca ruins en route, extending the trip a couple of hours, highly recommended if you have the extra time) and cost about $45. Imexso (tel. 084/240-801; www.perucuzco.com/imexsotours), Inka Express (tel. 084/247-887; www.inkaexpress.com), and Cruz del Sur (tel. 01/311-5050; www.cruzdelsur.com.pe) operate buses with videos and English-speaking tour guides. Ormeño (tel. 01/472-5000; www.grupo-ormeno.com.pe) has daily direct departures between Cusco and Puno (6 hr.). Regular buses are as cheap as S/15, but they are uncomfortable, have no restrooms or videos, and are potentially dangerous -- and not recommended.
The trip between Puno and Arequipa by bus is no longer tortuous; the long-awaited highway between the cities has dramatically shortened travel time from 12 hours to just 5. Cruz del Sur (tel. 01/311-5050; www.cruzdelsur.com.pe) and Ormeño (tel. 01/472-5000; www.grupo-ormeno.com.pe) make the trip for around S/40.
The Titicaca Route journey from Cusco to Puno, along tracks at an altitude of 3,500m (11,500 ft.), is one of the most scenic in Peru. Though it is slower (10 hr. and prone to late arrivals) and has experienced its share of onboard thievery, it is a favorite of travelers in Peru and preferable to the bus if you've got the time and money. Keep a careful eye on your bags and, if possible, lock backpacks to the luggage rack; keep valuables close to your person. PeruRail's Andean Explorer trains (www.perurail.com) trains from Cusco to Puno depart from Estación Huanchaq (tel. 084/238-722), at the end of Avenida Sol. Service to Puno is Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday year-round, departing at 8am and arriving at 5:50pm. Fare is $220 one-way in swank coaches and includes lunch in luxurious dining cars. Tickets can be pre-reserved. The Puno train station (tel. 051/351-041) is at Av. La Torre 224, only a few blocks north of downtown. Inexpensive taxis are widely available; hotels along the banks of Lake Titicaca definitely require a taxi, unless you're staying at Casa Andina Private Collection, which has its own train stop.
Train service from Arequipa to Puno is available by group charter only; visit www.perurail.com for details.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.