I can see the appeal of Copacabana to the backpacker – a cruisy little chill out town by the water, somewhere to unwind for a few days with minimal hassle. I was there recently while in Bolivia and it really helped to break up the trip before crossing the border to Peru.
There is not really heaps to do there, but that’s part of the appeal. The town is starting to cater more for tourists with some cool bars and cafes with live music on offer. It’s a definite draw card for local tourism and there is a famous Easter pilgrimage to the town, meaning it can be hard to get accommodation when Bolivians want to get their holiday fix. On recommendation we stayed at La Perla del Lago
There are regular connections to Copacabana from La Paz – we went with an agency based at the main tourist bus station, stand 32b… they left twice a day and were cheap and safe…. most the morning buses fill up quickly and this was the only company we found that had an afternoon alternative. The drive is roughly 4 hours and scenic in areas, especially once you get to Lake Titicaca. As the town is relying more on tourism, your souvenirs and jewellery etc can be a little more pricey than in the cities, but it’s still relatively cheap so well worth stocking up after a big of haggling!
The best place (and cheapest!) to eat would have to be beside the lakefront. Go into any of the little stalls to get your fix of fresh fish – highly recommend the garlic trout, just delicious. A popular walk is up the side of the town near one of the cathedrals – it takes you to the highest point for beautiful sunset views! It’s a short and steep hike up a paved hill that can be done in 30 minutes, but take it slow if you are still adjusting to the high altitudes. The panoramic views from here (Cerro Calvario) are great, very scenic and some would even say spiritual…..
There are day trips to be done – the most popular is to visit Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun)… you can stay there too, which I would definitely had done if I had more time, but a day trip and walk across the island for an adventure is beautiful – and good preparation for my trek up Machu Picchu a week later!
If you do want to go and see the famous floating reed islands (Uros) be sure to see them in Puno, over the border in Peru. We went to some makeshift ‘tourist’ reed islands about a 30 minute boat trip away from the port of Copacabana, but it was not the real deal…an okay way to kill a few hours on a nice day though. We were even treated to a local band filming their video clip… as well as a local wedding, so not bad for a day of random fun!
Funnily enough, this little town is seemingly loved or simply seen as being over-rated. But for a quick stop-over and an unwind between tours and travels, I highly recommend it…. i could think of worse places to be stuck in while visiting the tranquil Lake Titicaca.