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Aguas Calientes – 5 Must-See Places to Visit

by Sean
aguas calientes

The small town of Aguas Calientes sits in the middle of the mountains and the rain forest in southern Peru which surprisingly, you may be generally familiar with. It’s one of the most beautiful stops in Latin America

The town is the seat of the Machupicchu District and is just under four miles away from the historical site of Machu Picchu, the famous citadel of the Incan Empire some 600 years ago.

Today, the town has become a hot tourist location where people come from all over the world to visit the lost city. 

It is practically unreachable by car and requires either hiking or taking a train to get to the city. But there is so much more to do in Aguas Calientes than just visiting the Machu Picchu town. During your visit there are some other amazing sites to discover and explore.

The Mariposario 

the mariposario

The Mariposario (Butterfly Farm) was designed to breed endangered butterflies and give inquisitive visitors a glimpse into ​​their life cycle. This is a private project that has been in operation for about 12 years and is only supported by donations from visitors. It is absolutely gorgeous and very well kept, and offers visitors a lovely walk through nature. The cost of entry is 10 soles and is just a short walk from Aguas Calientes.

Hot Springs

The hot springs is the place to go to get away from the congestion of the city and to relax in the middle of some beautiful scenery. As you walk to the springs, you make your way through a lovely gate as you follow a rushing stream that flows toward the town. It is surrounded by lush, green mountains, and you will have the opportunity to see some of the carvings which were made by the Incas so very long ago.

There are several pools and they are not all hot. In fact, the first pool is cold and is supposed to be good for sore muscles. However, the farther away you get from the main building, the warmer to pools get.



If you’re more on the adventurous side, you may want to consider climbing Putucusi Mountain. This may not be the thing for you if you are not an experienced climber or hiker because this is not a path or everyone and can potentially be very dangerous.

There once were some tall ladders that were absolutely terrifying that climbers would use to reach the summit. A total of 7 ladders reaching a height of nearly 100 feet and a 70-degree angle made the trek something that is not for the faint of heart. Those ladders were removed in 2016 and have not yet been replaced. You definitely would never catch me doing something like that.

Manuel Chavez Ballon Museum

This is probably hands down the best thing that you could do during your visit to Aguas Calientes.

The Manuel Chavez Ballon Museum is also known as the Machu Picchu Museum and is named after the archaeologist bearing its name-sake.

The museum is filled with hundreds of artifacts that were discovered as part of an archaeological dig that contains remnants of the Inca City of Machu Picchu. You’ll find well-preserved objects made from stone, metal, ceramic, and bone on this self-guided tour which should take you anywhere from 1-3 hours to complete.

Make sure that you stop by the botanical garden that is adjacent to the museum during your visit. This lush garden contains over 400 species of plants, some of which you won’t find anywhere else.

Aguas Calientes Restaurants Recommendations

aguas calientes restaurants

Aguas Calientes is a small town located at the base of the iconic Machu Picchu, and it is a popular destination for tourists visiting the ancient Incan ruins. The town is home to a variety of restaurants that offer a diverse range of cuisines, from traditional Peruvian dishes to international fare.

One of the top-rated restaurants in Aguas Calientes is Chullos Craft Beer & Home Made Food, known for its flavorful Peruvian cuisine and craft beer selection. The restaurant offers a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, making it an excellent choice for a relaxed dining experience. Some of the must-try dishes include their lava cake, pepperoni pizza, and salad.

Another popular restaurant in Aguas Calientes is Munaycha Restaurante, which serves authentic Peruvian and Latin cuisine. The restaurant’s menu features a variety of dishes, including Sops Criolla and Lomo Saltado. The restaurant’s cozy and rustic decor, combined with its delicious food, makes it a must-visit for anyone looking for an authentic culinary experience in Aguas Calientes.

For those seeking international cuisine, Restaurant Bistro Bar Indio Feliz is a great choice. The restaurant offers a unique blend of Peruvian and international dishes, such as the popular Andean Trout and Mushroom Risotto. The restaurant’s cozy and rustic decor, combined with its delicious food and friendly service, make it a favorite among locals and tourists alike.

If you’re looking for a romantic dining experience, The Tree House Restaurant is a must-visit. The restaurant offers a stunning view of the surrounding mountains and serves a mix of Peruvian, Italian, and North American cuisine. The restaurant’s unique treehouse setting, combined with its delicious food and excellent service, make it a memorable dining experience.

In conclusion, Aguas Calientes has a variety of dining options to cater to every taste and budget. Whether you’re looking for traditional Peruvian cuisine or international fare, there’s something for everyone in this charming town. So, don’t hesitate to explore the restaurants and indulge in the delicious flavors of Aguas Calientes.

Hotel Recommendation

If you’re looking for a recommendation of somewhere to stay on your trip, I would recommend the Casa Andina, a modern hotel right near the Aguas Calientes train station, making it convenient to travel to local markets, restaurants, and practically everything else you’d want to see during your stay. Take a look at the top hotel rooms on Expedia

FAQ about Aguas Calientes, Peru

Here are some frequently asked questions about Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu:

How do I get to Aguas Calientes?

The only way to get to Aguas Calientes is by train or by foot. There are no roads that lead to the town. The train ride from Cusco takes around 4 hours, and the train station is located in the nearby town of Ollantaytambo.

Is it safe to drink the water in Aguas Calientes?

It is not recommended to drink the tap water in Aguas Calientes. Instead, it is recommended to drink bottled water or to use a water filtration system.

Are there ATMs in Aguas Calientes?

Yes, there are several ATMs in Aguas Calientes. However, it is recommended to bring cash with you, as some establishments may not accept credit cards.

What is the weather like in Aguas Calientes?

The weather in Aguas Calientes is generally warm and humid, with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 25°C. It can rain at any time of the year, so it is recommended to bring rain gear.

What is the best time of year to visit Aguas Calientes?

The best time of year to visit Aguas Calientes is during the dry season, which runs from May to September. During this time, the weather is generally dry and sunny, making it ideal for hiking and outdoor activities.

Do I need to book my Machu Picchu tickets in advance?

Yes, it is recommended to book your Machu Picchu tickets in advance, as they can sell out quickly, especially during peak season. You can purchase tickets online or through a travel agency.

What is the altitude of Aguas Calientes?

Aguas Calientes is located at an altitude of 2,040 meters (6,692 feet) above sea level. It is recommended to take it easy and drink plenty of water to avoid altitude sickness.

Is there Wi-Fi in Aguas Calientes?

Yes, there is Wi-Fi in most hotels and restaurants in Aguas Calientes. However, the connection can be slow and unreliable, so it is recommended to have a backup plan.

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