The Top Things to Do in Aguas Calientes

The Top Things to Do in Aguas Calientes

Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu town, is the last stop when taking the train to Machu Picchu. It’s a small tourist village that is -to be honest- rather unspectacular as it’s mostly home to touristy restaurants and hotels.

However, in your excitement of visiting Machu Picchu you most likely won’t be bothered by that and rather be surprised by its charming location in the mountains.

Many travelers still have some time either before or after their Machu Picchu tour which is why it’s useful to know about the things to do in Aguas Calientes. Let’s begin!

Table of contents:

The Top Things to Do in Aguas Calientes

yellow butterfly in hands

At the Mariposario, you’ll be able to see and learn a lot about many beautiful butterflies.


1. Visit the Butterfly Farm

The Butterfly Farm is a local conservation project to study and protect butterfly species. The goal of Mariposario is to increase the population of butterflies.

During the 15-20 min guided tour for S/10 ($3), you will learn more about the different species and developmental stages of butterflies.


2. Explore the Manuel Chavez Ballon Museum

At the Manuel Chavez Ballon Museum you can learn more about the history, culture and rediscovery of Machu Picchu. What is special about the museum are the four exhibition rooms with more than 250 original objects made of stone, bone, ceramics, metal, etc., which have been found in the city of Machu Picchu and on the Inca Trail in recent decades.

Adjacent you will find a botanical garden where native plants such as Peruvian coffee and coca plants and other native plants are shown.

The museum is just 2km from Aguas Calientes and admission is S/22 (approx $6) per person.

3. Discover the Mandor Waterfalls

The so-called Mandor Gardens (“Los jardines de mandor”), is a small but beautiful waterfall near Aguas Calientes. It is a privately run ecological conservation and reforestation project on the banks of the Urubamba River.

If you have enough time, it is worth taking a trip to the botanical garden and the waterfall. The hike is 4 km long and takes around 50 minutes.

couple at machu picchu ruins

At Machu Picchu, there are different hikes you can do. A relaxing bath in the hot springs is a great way to relax afterwards.


4. Visit the Hot Springs

The hot springs are great for recovering from a hike or to get your body ready for the next. On site you will find six different pools with different water temperatures.

The springs are open every day from 5am to 8pm and admission is S/20 (about $5). Don’t forget to bring your bathing suit and a towel. There are changing rooms on site.


5. Enjoy the Peruvian Cuisine

As in all of Peru, you will also find numerous delicious restaurants in Aguas Calientes that will enchant you with Peruvian dishes.

To avoid the classic tourist traps, we recommend reading our blog about the Best Restaurants in Aguas Calientes.

aguas calientes market

You’ll fall in love with the variety of colors and patterns of the different clothes at almost every traditional market.


6. Buy Typical Souvenirs

Did you know that no vehicles are allowed in the core of Aguas Calientes? This way you can walk through the charismatic streets in peace.

In Aguas Calientes you will also find a market with numerous souvenirs for your friends and family at home. Here you will find everything about Peru and Machu Picchu, such as ponchos, pictures, panpipes and much more!

However, we recommend buying souvenirs in Cusco or in the Sacred Valley, as they are usually a bit cheaper there. In order to be able to negotiate better with the locals, you should read our blog with 20 Spanish phrases.


Aguas Calientes: The Gateway to Machu Picchu

As you can see, there are some activities to keep you busy in Aguas Calientes if you have time before or after visiting Machu Picchu.

During high season, we recommend arriving in Aguas Calientes the day before your Machu Picchu tour so you can get in as early as possible the next morning. Another advantage is that you don’t have to travel back and forth as much in the same day and are therefore more rested. The best way is to combine this tour with the Sacred Valley, leaving you with our Best of Cusco in 2 Days tour.

If you have any other questions about the village or the Machu Picchu tour, please let us know in the comments or email us at

Are you ready for your visit? With our article 10 Things to Know Before Visiting Machu Picchu, you’ll be well prepared for your time at Machu Picchu.

  • 6 February, 2022 at 10:05 am

    I am so happy that I have found your blog article! Because we almost booked 3 nights in Aguas Calientes and as you have said – there is not too much to do and for that reason we will spend more time in Cusco. But we will go for sure to the hot springs. They look incredible!

    • 8 February, 2022 at 8:29 am

      Hey Sienna, thank you for your message and I’m glad the content was helpful for you! 3 nights in Aguas Calientes would definitely be too much, 1 night is enough. What we often recommend is visiting the Sacred Valley first, taking the train to Aguas Calientes after the tour and spending the night there. Then, on the next day, you do your Machu Picchu tour and you return to Cusco afterwards. If you’re interested, feel free to check our Best of Cusco in 2 Days tour. 🙂

      The hot springs are great after a strenuous hike, but last time I went they were a but smelly! If you have any other questions about Aguas Calientes feel free to contact us.

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