a bit of Uros history
At times of the Inca the Uros fled to the middle of the lake Titicaca to escape conflicts with Incas and another ethnic group called Collas. During the time there started connections to the Aymaras, a lot of the Uros converted to Catholizism, but there still live the whole year some hundreds of Uros in these islands. You can find a seventh-day-adventist-church on one of the islands, a post office, schools etc.
way to the swimming islands
At the port of Puno you´ll find different possibilities to get a boat to the floating islands, a well as in every tourist agency in Puno. THey organize tours with english guide, pickup at the hotel, boat tour to the island etc.
Lake Titicaca & the floating islands
This would probably be the only reason you would stay in Puno: to visit Lake Titicaca.
This truly enormous lake connects Peru and Bolivia (there is even a sort of 'rivalry' between the countries about whose part of the lake is the prettiest ;-)) and claims to be the world's highest lake. But for the rest it is just a lake. A big one alright, but just a lake.
It is well worth a day trip, though; the locals have made an effort to attract tourists (and they do), but I'd say don't spend more time than necessary.
The Uros Islands in the lake are floating islands made of thick layers of reed, and supposedly, there are still people actually living there. You can stop off at one of the tiny islands during your boat trip, have a look inside the houses and admire their handicraft etc, but if you ask me, I'd say the 'inhabitants' go back to their comfy appartments once the daily boat loads of tourists are gone.
I would definitely recommend a visit to the Isla Taquile (Taquile island), a huge rocky island in Lake Titicaca. Don't underestimate its height: it is quite an uphill climb from the dock to the village. This, combined with the high altitude (higher than Cuzco if I remember well), may make you feel exhausted/short of breath quickly, so take it easy: make sure that at the end of the climb you have got some energy left to explore the island.
Ask your hotel/hostel staff about guided tours to the lake & islands.
Las islas flotantes - the Uros
The Uros, a seperated etnic group live on "floating" islands made by hand from totora reeds that grow all around the lake Titicaca. They live there since the time of the Inca. You can visit these islands to get a personal impression of these espectacular living conditions. Here they invite you as well to do a tour on a boat made also by hand from these totora reeds. Entrance fee is around 4$.
Museo Carlos Dreyer
Carlos Dreyer Spohr was a German painter and collector, who lived in Puno for more than 30 years and was very interested in the various Indian cultures in the area. He created his own collection of ancient Indian and colonial artefacts, and the stuff are exhibited in what may have been Dreyer's own home (?) at ‘Plaza de Armas’ in the centre of Puno.
My favourite exhibition was about 'Chullpas the Sillustani' (read my other tips). Mummies and many gold objects from the ancient tombs were on display at the exhibition. Also the huge paintings of famous Indian events were impressive. Several of the colourful oil paintings are actually painted by Carlos Dreyer himself.
Other exhibitions are the Inca Room, the Stone Gallery the Room, Regional Archaeological Room, the Colonial Room, the Religious Art Room, the Dreyer Room and more... We were only allowed to take photos in the Dreyer Room. A small, but interesting museum.
Entrance: 15 s/.