Here is your complete guide of what to do in Copacabana Bolivia. This walks you through the best things to do as well as where to stay and how to get to Copacabana.
On the shores of Lake Titicaca, Copacabana is a small town with colourful buildings that is worth a visit and is also the springboard to visit the famous Isla Del Sol. Copacabana is the last town you will pass by road from La Paz to the Peruvian border so is also a great stop off place for a night.
Copacabana is surrounded by beautiful nature and is a great location. There are some great things to see in the town but it is not very big. 1 day here is a good amount of time. I visited Copacabana in May 2022 and some of the tourist activities were still bouncing back post Covid.
How to Get to Copacabana
The easiest way to get to Copacabana is by bus. Direct buses from Puno in Peru take about 3 hours and cross the border into Bolivia next to Copacabana. I paid 25 Peruvian Soles for this, I had arrived from Puno after going to the Amazon in Puerto Maldonado.
There are many buses from Copacabana to La Paz. I did this and paid 30 bolivianos and the total journey takes approximately 3 hours. From Copacabana to La Paz there is a section that must be covered by boat. The bus is put on a raft to cross this portion. Passengers use a different boat to cross (when you see the rafts the cars are on you’ll be happy with this). The journey is 10 minutes in the boat and costs 2 Bolivianos extra.
Direct buses from Uyuni (the salt flats) to Copacabana used to be possible but since covid these have been cancelled (update May 2022). To go to Uyuni you must change bus in La Paz.
Why Visit Copacabana
One of the main reasons tourists visit Copacabana is to visit Isla Del Sol or ‘island of the sun’. Isla Del Sol is incredible and I highly recommend spending a night there (to be discussed later). Apart from Isla Del Sol, Copacabana has a lot to offer in itself. It has beautiful views over Lake Titicaca as was as the fascinating tradition of car baptisms. As well as this, it is situated in a great location to break up the journey if you are travelling from Peru to Bolivia or the other way round.
Altitude in Copacabana Bolivia
Assuming you have arrived by road to Copacabana, it is more than likely that you have come from a location that is high in altitude. Copacabana is at an elevation of 3841m. This altitude can severely effect you if you have not adjusted correctly. Make sure to drink lots of water, not over exert yourself and be careful when drinking alcohol.
Where to stay in Copacabana
Copacabana is a small town but there are lots of options of places to stay. There are not too many high budget/luxury options. Most places are very affordable, here are my favourite picks for every budget:
££: Hostal Las Olas
What to do in Copacabana, Bolivia
Isla Del Sol
The closest Island to Copacabana on Lake Titicaca is Isla del Sol and is definitely worth visiting. I spent just a day there and walk from the north to the south of the island but I wish I had stayed longer. Isla del Sol is an island that has dramatic hilly scenery, Inca ruins and stunning blue water. It is a brilliant place to chill out and enjoy the view of sunsets and stars with limited light pollution.
I have a full post on what to do on Isla Del Sol here. There used to be conflict on the island meaning some of it was closed. When I visited (May 2022) the island was fully open again.
Yep, you read that right, Car Baptisms. This is a tradition that exists only in Copacabana and people travel from as far as Brazil and Colombia to have their cars baptised! The idea behind it is to bring your new car to be blessed meaning that you will be safe in your car throughout the life of the vehicle.
The cars are decorated with flowers and look like they could almost be ready for a wedding. The cars turn up at the cathedral main square and are blessed by the priest. This happens everyday of the week but Saturdays and Sundays are the biggest days with up to 50 cars per day turning up to be baptised!
As well as the catholic blessing from the priest there is the concept of being blessed by Pachamama (mother earth). I saw this happening with people pouring champagne, beer, holy water, petals and even rice on their car. It was truly incredible to watch!!
There is a timetable of car baptisms on the gate of the cathedral. Take this with a pinch of salt, and when I mean pinch I mean kilo. It is better to ask someone local for the best times as they are often 1-2 hours later than stated.
Viewpoint at Cerro El Cavario
The view at sunset from Cerro El Cavario was one of my favourite things in Copacabana. The sunset seemed like it would be average and then BAM the sky was suddenly full of pinks, purples and yellows across the view of Lake Titicaca.
There are 2 paths to access the viewpoint of Cerro El Cavario, by the steps from the town centre or through a path through the rock formations. The path through the rock formations is very steep and uneven underfoot. I went down on this path and I was very glad I didn’t climb up it, the steps is definitely the simpler way.
The walk up the steps is quite steep and takes about 30 minutes. It also passes by the Stations of the Seven Sorrows of Mary and an altar with a depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus. If you have not yet adjusted to the altitude it can be quite difficult. Make sure to take your time and some water. From the view point you get a view over the bay of Copacabana as well as Lake Titicaca. You can even see Isla Del Sol in the distance.
Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana
Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana is the Spanish colonial shrine in the centre of Copacabana. Our Lady of Copacabana is the patron saint of Bolivia. As it was built near the hill known as the temple to the sun, it is a site that is both sacred to indigenous people and Catholics. The building has clear Spanish architecture and is beautifully maintained. The grounds and building itself are definitely worth a visit.
Horca Del Inca
The Horca Del Inca was a pre-Incan astronomical observatory, built in the 14th century by the Chiripa people. Horca Del Inca used to be 7 structures used to observe the sun and the moon. Although 6 of them were destroyed by the Spanish so only 1 remains. The walk is about 20-30 minutes to get there up some steep steps and gives a great view over Lake Titicaca and Copacabana town.
That’s the end of the full guide of what to do in Copacabana Bolivia
I hope you enjoyed my full guide of what to do in Copacabana Bolivia! I had a great time there and I hope you will too. Let me know in the comments how your trip went and what you enjoyed the most.