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What to do In Aguas Calientes

Written by:
Claire Dean

Published: 12-08-2022

Machu Picchu Pueblo, traditionally known as Aguas Calientes, is the last stop before entering the Machu Picchu archaeological site, which is why the activities in this gateway to Machu Picchu are usually overshadowed. Still, there are some great things to do in Aguas Calientes if you have the time on either side of your Machu Picchu visit. Here are some recommendations.


Vilcanota River, Aguas Calientes

Manuel Chávez Ballón Museum


Named after the local archaeologist, the collection consists of ceramic, lithic, textile and anthropological relics found by researchers at the archaeological site of Machu Picchu.  A small botanic garden is also part of the museum, where you can take it easy and contemplate. Expect to spend half a day there, and your ticket to Machu Picchu will grant you access to the museum.


Machu Picchu Museum in Aguas Calientes

Los jardines de Mandor (Mandor Gardens)


A beautiful, family-owned private piece of land, defined by its simplicity, is an excellent place to spend some downtime. Looking to preserve the natural richness of the cloud forest, the Alangóns opened its gates to visitors with basic yet original options, including an organic restaurant. Swim at the base of a waterfall after hiking, birdwatch or enjoy the surrounding natural environment, blessed with a variety of flowers and butterflies as well as many other creatures hidden in the lush vegetation. 



Mandor Gardens


The Butterfly House


Mariposario de Machu Picchu is a butterfly sanctuary close to the lower entrance gate of Machu Picchu. The butterfly house is run by a resident who has been trying to revive the declining butterfly population in the region for over ten years. Take a tour with a naturalist, usually a volunteer, to understand the cycles of these insects and a simple reminder that we must co-exist with all creatures. A very well-organized initiative, locally managed and scientifically run by committed staff that helps you discover the magical world of these stunning and essential insects. Participate in the activities and spend a few hours here marveling at these creatures with an onsite cafe.


Monarch Butterfly, Aguas Calientes



Handicraft Market

As with most markets, you can find various assorted handicrafts to remind you of Machu Picchu and beyond.  The best place to buy last-minute gifts or souvenirs if you are looking for a colorful distraction. Bargain prices are somewhat elevated due to its location near the world's wonder.


Handicraft Market


Relax in the Hot Springs

Aguas Calientes was named after the hot springs in the town, and relaxing in these hot springs is one of the most popular things to do in the area. There are six pools at the hot springs, all with varying temperatures, allowing you to choose the best one for you. While relaxing, wave down a server to enjoy a beverage while soaking in the springs. This experience is one of the best things you can do when visiting Aguas Calientes. Be aware that these springs fill up unless you manage to go off peak hours. 


Hot Springs

Climb Putucusi Mountain

Located opposite Machu Picchu is Putucusi Mountain, an incredible mountain to climb, offering fantastic views of Machu Picchu and the ruins. Though the climb is not too difficult, it takes considerable effort due to the steep ascent, and temperatures can get very hot. The ascent includes some rickety steps along the way, so the hike is not for vertigo -suffers and not for the faint-hearted!




Hike to Cascadas Allcamayo

The rainforest surrounding Aguas Calientes offers beautiful trails to hike through, which lead to breathtakingly beautiful waterfalls. The hike to the Allcamayo waterfalls is a bit challenging, especially for those with limited mobility. However, if you brave the trails, you will be rewarded with the opportunity to splash around in the cooling, fresh mountain water. Perfect after a day of hiking the ruins.


Waterfall, Aguas Calientes


Visit Plaza Manco Capac

Plaza Manco Capac is the small central plaza in Aguas Calientes. Surrounded by municipal buildings, monuments, and a beautiful church, many like to take pictures in front of the statue of Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, which stands in the plaza. Also, please visit Iglesia Virgen Del Carmen, which is small and humble but has a colorful altar decorated with icons.



Pachacutec Monument