Exploring Aguas Calientes Peru: Top Attractions Beyond Machu Picchu
Aguas Calientes, the charming gateway to the iconic Machu Picchu, offers so much more than just a starting point for your adventure.
With its bustling markets, incredible hot springs, and unique culinary scene, there’s a world of wonder to explore in this enchanting town.
So why not step off the beaten path and discover the hidden gems waiting for you in Aguas Calientes, Peru? In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the best attractions and hiking trails and give you tips for making the most of your time in this captivating destination.
- Explore Aguas Calientes, Peru, for its vibrant activity, stunning landscapes, and enchanting attractions.
- Sample the best of Peruvian craft beer & experience local culture at Machu Picchu Museum.
- Unwind in natural hot springs or butterfly houses while tackling the Inca Trail for an unforgettable journey!
Discovering the Heart of Aguas Calientes
Nestled in the breathtaking Andean landscape, Aguas Calientes is the ideal gateway for over 1.5 million people visiting Machu Picchu annually.
While the awe-inspiring Inca citadel is undoubtedly the main attraction, this vibrant town offers many experiences waiting to be explored.
From the lively central square of Plaza Manco Capac to the bustling Mercado de Artesanía, Aguas Calientes promises a unique and unforgettable journey.
As you stroll through the town, the rhythm of life in Aguas Calientes unfolds before you. The gorgeous Urubamba River flows past, adding to the town’s charm.
The streets are lined with enticing shops and restaurants, while the town’s parks and gardens offer a tranquil escape from the buzz of activity. Start exploring the heart of Aguas Calientes and discover the treasures that await you.
Plaza Manco Capac: The Town’s Pulse
At the center of Machu Picchu town, also known as Aguas Calientes, Plaza Manco Capac is the vibrant hub where locals and tourists alike come together to enjoy the lively atmosphere.
Dominating the square is a majestic statue of Inca King Pachacutec, the visionary leader who built the magnificent Machu Picchu. As you take in the view, you’ll be surrounded by delightful restaurants, charming shops, and ideal spots for people-watching.
While exploring Plaza Manco Capac, don’t miss the opportunity to visit:
- The Ministry of Culture, where you can purchase Machu Picchu tickets and even receive a delightful free Machu Picchu stamp
- The quaint Parroquia Virgen del Carmen Church
- The Tree House Restaurant offers a fusion of Peruvian cuisine shaped by Andean, Italian, Asian, and Latin American influences
Boasting plenty to explore, Plaza Manco Capac serves as Aguas Calientes’s heartbeat.
Mercado de Artesanía: A Treasure Trove of Local Crafts
Just a stone’s throw away from the train station, the bustling Mercado de Artesanía awaits your visit. This vibrant market is a treasure trove of unique souvenirs, handmade crafts, and traditional Peruvian textiles, offering an unforgettable shopping experience.
As you wander through the market, you’ll gain a unique insight into the region’s culture and perhaps even find the perfect souvenir to take home.
The atmosphere at Mercado de Artesanía is nothing short of captivating. From the colorful stalls to the friendly vendors, every corner of the market offers something new and exciting to explore.
Be sure to take a moment to enjoy a warm drink and watch the trains steaming past, carrying eager tourists on their way to visit Machu Picchu.
Thanks to its handy location and abundant cultural offerings, you should add Mercado de Artesanía to your Aguas Calientes itinerary.
Journey to the Inca Citadel
While the awe-inspiring Machu Picchu draws visitors from all corners of the globe, the journey to reach this ancient Inca marvel is an adventure.
Whether you conquer the iconic Classic Inca Trail or embark on an alternative trek through the stunning Andean landscape, each path offers unique rewards and challenges, ultimately leading to the breathtaking Machu Picchu ruins.
As you traverse the breathtaking terrain, you’ll follow in the footsteps of the ancient Incas who once walked these paths.
Each step brings you closer to the mysterious citadel as you traverse lush valleys, traverse rugged mountains, and pass by sacred Inca sites.
Journey deeper into the path to the Inca Citadel and uncover the marvels that await you on the Classic Inca Trail and alternative treks.
Conquering the Classic Inca Trail
The Classic Inca Trail is an unforgettable trek that leads you on a 4-day journey through the Andean landscape, culminating in the majestic Machu Picchu.
As you hike along this iconic route, you’ll encounter remarkable landmarks such as:
- The awe-inspiring ruins of Machu Picchu
The Classic Inca Trail offers a challenging yet rewarding experience, taking you through diverse landscapes, from lush valleys to towering mountains.
With limited daily permits available, the trail is never overcrowded, ensuring an intimate and unforgettable trekking experience.
Gather your courage, tie up your hiking boots, and tackle the Classic Inca Trail on your adventure to the Inca Citadel.
Alternative Treks with a View
For those seeking a different perspective on the journey to Machu Picchu, alternative treks such as the Lares, Salkantay, and Choquequirao routes offer unique experiences and breathtaking views.
Each of these trails provides a distinct challenge, whether navigating the Salkantay Trek’s high-altitude terrain or uncovering the hidden wonders of Choquequirao.
Not only do these alternative treks offer stunning vistas, but they also provide a more intimate connection with the Andean landscape and local communities.
As you journey through remote villages and pristine wilderness, you’ll be immersed in the region’s rich history and vibrant culture.
Why not stray from the well-trodden path and undertake an alternative trek to the Inca Citadel?
Aguas Calientes’ Natural Hot Springs
After a long day of exploring the wonders of Machu Picchu and the surrounding areas, what better way to unwind than by soaking in the rejuvenating hot springs of Aguas Calientes?
These natural hot waters, for which the town is named, offer a popular attraction for locals and tourists, providing a soothing respite from your adventures.
When planning your trip to Machu Picchu Aguas Calientes, include a visit to these hot springs and the journey from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu.
Located at the northeastern end of the Aguas Calientes Village, near the Aguas Calientes train station, the hot springs facility boasts a variety of pools with different temperatures to suit your preferences.
As you immerse yourself in the warm waters, you can enjoy a refreshing cocktail served right to your pool or simply relax and take in the serene surroundings.
Don’t forget to bring your sandals, towels, and dressing gown to make the most of your visit to Aguas Calientes’ natural hot springs.
So, if you’re planning to visit Aguas Calientes, don’t miss out on this rejuvenating experience.
Cultural Immersion at the Machu Picchu Site Museum
For history enthusiasts and curious travelers alike, the Museo Machu Picchu offers a fascinating glimpse into the rich history and culture of the Inca civilization.
Located only 2 Km or 1.4 miles away from Aguas Calientes, the museum showcases a remarkable collection of artifacts and exhibits related to the Inca empire and the construction of Machu Picchu.
As you explore the exhibits, you’ll uncover the incredible skill and ingenuity of the Inca masons, who built the iconic Machu Picchu using their unique ‘ashlar’ technique of fitting stones without mortar.
The museum houses over 250 original objects that provide a captivating insight into the lives and achievements of the ancient Incas, including:
These artifacts showcase the craftsmanship and cultural significance of the Inca civilization.
Immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of the region at the Machu Picchu site Museum, and deepen your appreciation for the wonders of this ancient civilization and the Machu Picchu site.
Gastronomic Delights in Machu Picchu Pueblo
As you wander the streets of Aguas Calientes, prepare to be enticed by the mouthwatering aromas wafting from the town’s diverse culinary scene. From the fusion of Italian and Andean flavors at Incontri del Pueblo Viejo to the best of Peruvian craft beer at local breweries, there’s a gastronomic delight for every traveler in Machu Picchu Pueblo.
Whether you’re in the mood for a wood-fired pizza topped with fresh, local ingredients or a refreshing pint of Peruvian craft beer, Aguas Calientes’ culinary offerings will surely delight your taste buds. Take a break from your adventures and savor the delightful flavors of Machu Picchu Pueblo.
Incontri del Pueblo Viejo: Italian Cuisine Meets Andean Flavors
Incontri del Pueblo Viejo, a highly recommended restaurant in Aguas Calientes, offers a unique dining experience where Italian cuisine meets Andean flavors. The talented Italian chef and owner brings an authentic Mediterranean touch to every dish, creating a perfect harmony of flavors that will leave you craving more.
At Incontri del Pueblo Viejo, indulge in scrumptious Italian-style wood-fired pizzas with a twist, featuring fresh local ingredients that elevate each bite. The restaurant’s cozy atmosphere and attentive service make it the perfect spot to unwind after a day of exploring the wonders of Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu.
Sampling the Best of Peruvian Craft Beer
Peruvian craft beer has been making waves both within the country and internationally, and Aguas Calientes is no exception. At Mapacho Craft Beer & Peruvian Cuisine, you can sample the finest Peruvian craft beers, each boasting unique and exotic flavors that set them apart from the rest.
As you sip on your refreshing pint, take in the stunning views of the Urubamba River, creating the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable evening. With its vibrant atmosphere, delicious food, and impressive selection of craft beers, Mapacho Craft Beer & Peruvian Cuisine is a must-visit destination for beer enthusiasts and foodies alike.
The Path Less Travelled: Hiking Around Aguas Calientes
While the journey to Machu Picchu is an adventure, the picturesque town of Aguas Calientes offers a wealth of hiking trails that the average tourist often goes undiscovered. From the serene Mandor Waterfall and Gardens to the scenic walking route to Machu Picchu Village, these lesser-known trails provide a unique perspective on the surrounding landscape and a chance to escape the crowds.
As you venture off the beaten path, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views and unforgettable experiences. Tie up your hiking boots and journey to uncover the hidden gems of Aguas Calientes and its surrounding areas.
Mandor Waterfall and Gardens: A Nature Lover’s Escape
For those seeking a moment of tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle of Aguas Calientes, the Mandor Waterfall and Gardens offer a nature lover’s paradise. This enchanting oasis, located just an hour’s walk from the center of town, is home to lush gardens, a beautiful waterfall, and plenty of birdwatching and wildlife spotting opportunities.
As you wander through the gardens and along the picturesque paths next to the river, you can’t help but feel a sense of peace and serenity wash over you. Take a moment to appreciate the beauty of your surroundings, and let the calming sound of the waterfall soothe your soul. With its captivating scenery and tranquil atmosphere, the Mandor Waterfall and Gardens provide the perfect escape for nature lovers and weary travelers alike.
Trails and Tales: Walking to Machu Picchu Village
For a truly immersive experience, consider embarking on a scenic walk to Machu Picchu Village. This breathtaking route takes you through the area’s lush vegetation, offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the Urubamba River. As you make your way along the trail, you’ll be following in the footsteps of the Incas who once traversed these very paths.
Not only does this walking route provide a unique perspective on the landscape, but it also allows you to:
- Connect with the region’s rich history and vibrant culture
- Experience the beauty of the surrounding nature
- Challenge yourself physically and mentally
- Enjoy breathtaking views along the way
Whether you’re an experienced hiker or simply looking for a leisurely stroll, a Machu Picchu visit is an adventure you won’t want to miss. Don’t forget to secure your Machu Picchu ticket before embarking on this unforgettable journey to Machu Picchu Village.
Accommodations for Every Traveler
Whether you’re traveling on a budget or seeking a luxurious retreat, Aguas Calientes offers a wide range of accommodations to suit every traveler’s needs and preferences. Some options include:
- Cozy hostels
- Charming guesthouses
- Elegant hotels
- Lavish resorts
You’ll find the perfect home away from home in this enchanting town.
As you plan your stay, consider the various options available, such as the tranquil Andean House Standard Machu Picchu, the luxurious Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, or the charming House of the Sun Machu Picchu. With so many choices, you’re sure to find the ideal accommodation that matches your style and budget, ensuring a comfortable and memorable visit to Aguas Calientes.
Preparing for Your Visit to Aguas Calientes
As you plan your visit to Aguas Calientes, there are a few helpful tips to remember to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Navigating from Cusco to Aguas Calientes is easy with various transportation options, such as trains, buses, and trekking routes. Additionally, it’s essential to be prepared for the effects of altitude sickness when visiting the town, which stands at an impressive 2,300 meters above sea level.
By planning your visit and familiarizing yourself with the local customs and conditions, you can make the most of your time in Aguas Calientes and fully immerse yourself in the town’s unique charm and allure. Pack your bags, tie your hiking boots, and prepare for an unforgettable adventure in this magical corner of the world.
Navigating from Cusco to Aguas Calientes
Traveling from Cusco to Aguas Calientes is a breeze, thanks to the variety of convenient transportation options. For a quick and comfortable journey, consider taking a train from Ollantaytambo, which whisks you away to Aguas Calientes in just 1.5 hours. Alternatively, the adventurous at heart can embark on one of the many trekking routes, such as the iconic Inca Trail or the lesser-known Salkantay Trek, which offers unique perspectives and experiences while leading to the majestic Machu Picchu.
No matter which option you choose, the journey promises to be an unforgettable adventure, with breathtaking views and a chance to connect with the region’s rich history and vibrant culture. Whether you favor the comfort of a train ride or the exhilaration of a trek, there’s a choice to match every traveler’s preference and style.
Tips for Avoiding Altitude Sickness
As you plan your visit to Aguas Calientes, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential effects of altitude sickness and take steps to prevent and manage this condition. Symptoms of altitude sickness can include:
- shortness of breath
But can often be alleviated with proper preparation and acclimatization.
To help prevent and manage altitude sickness, consider the following tips:
- Spend a day or two in Cusco or another high-altitude location before your visit to Aguas Calientes, allowing your body to adjust gradually to the elevation change.
- Stay well-hydrated and drink plenty of water.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as they can contribute to dehydration.
- Consider speaking with your doctor about medications that may help alleviate symptoms.
By following these tips, you can increase your chances of having a comfortable and enjoyable experience at high altitudes.
By taking these precautions, you can ensure a more comfortable and enjoyable experience when visiting Machu Picchu, including your time in Aguas Calientes and the journey from Calientes to Machu Picchu.
Celebrating Biodiversity: Butterfly House and Botanical Wonders
In addition to its rich history and stunning landscapes, Aguas Calientes also offers a wealth of opportunities to celebrate the region’s biodiversity. The Mariposario de Machupicchu Butterfly House allows visitors to get up close and personal with these beautiful creatures, while the Mandor Gardens showcase the area’s diverse flora and fauna.
As you explore these enchanting attractions, including Santa Teresa, take a moment to reflect on the incredible variety of life that flourishes in this unique corner of the world. From the delicate wings of a butterfly to the vibrant blooms of a tropical flower, the wonders of Aguas Calientes await your discovery.
Unwinding at Leisure: Aguas Calientes’ Relaxation Spots
After a day filled with adventure and exploration, Aguas Calientes offers an array of leisure spots where you can relax and unwind. Stroll along the tranquil banks of the Urubamba River, taking in the stunning scenery and soothing sounds of the water. Or, find respite in one of the town’s many charming parks, where you can kick back and enjoy peace amidst the hustle and bustle.
For a more indulgent experience, visit one of Aguas Calientes’ cozy cafes, where you can savor a delicious hot beverage and watch the world go by. With so many relaxing options to choose from, you’ll find the perfect way to unwind and recharge during your visit to Aguas Calientes.
From its lively markets and rejuvenating hot springs to its breathtaking hiking trails and diverse culinary scene, Aguas Calientes offers a wealth of attractions and experiences beyond the iconic Machu Picchu. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking a unique adventure, this enchanting town promises an unforgettable journey. So, step off the beaten path, and discover the hidden gems that await you in Aguas Calientes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some exciting things to do in Aguas Calientes besides visiting Machu Picchu?
Explore the local markets, soak in the hot springs, visit the butterfly house, or go on a hiking trail – all these activities make Aguas Calientes an exciting destination for any traveler.
How can I prevent altitude sickness while visiting Aguas Calientes?
To help prevent altitude sickness, spend a day or two in Cusco, stay hydrated, and avoid alcohol and caffeine while visiting Aguas Calientes. Consult your doctor to discuss medications that may help alleviate any symptoms.
What are the different trekking options for reaching Machu Picchu?
Discover Machu Picchu with an incredible trekking experience! Choose the Classic Inca Trail, or explore unique alternatives such as Lares, Salkantay, and Choquequirao.
What are the accommodation options in Aguas Calientes?
Aguas Calientes provides something for everyone, offering a selection of comfortable accommodations from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious resorts.
How can I get from Cusco to Aguas Calientes?
Enjoy the stunning views of the Andes while you travel from Cusco to Aguas Calientes – whether you take a train from Ollantaytambo, board a bus to Hidroeléctrica and walk, or go on a trekking route.
Miguel is a professional tour guide from Cusco, Peru, with almost 20 years of experience leading tours and a deep knowledge of Peru’s cultural and ecological diversity. He is also an advocate of ecotourism and cultural sensitivity and has lectured on these topics in the US and Europe. He co-founded Evolution Treks Peru, a worker-owned travel company based in Cusco.