The town of Aguas Calientes
Aguas Calientes is the name of the closest town to Machu Picchu. That is why it is also named as Machu Picchu town. In addition to the famous Inca citadel, this place offers other tourist attractions to visit. For example, the thermal baths of the place, the challenging Putucusi mountain, the Mandorpampa waterfalls or the site museum with objects found in Machupicchu. The town is full of hotels and restaurants for the hundreds of visitors who arrive there every day. Learn more about this famous place.
Machu Picchu Pueblo
Aguas Calientes is known as Machu Picchu Pueblo due to its proximity to the Inca archaeological site, located just 10 kilometers by road.
This small town is nestled in an amazing landscape of the Cusco high jungle, with mountains and trees everywhere. It is located approximately 100 kilometers from the city of Cusco. Its altitude is 2,040 meters above sea level
The town was created by the workers of the railway that connected Cusco with Quillabamba at the beginning of the 20th century. The workers who settled there were unaware of the tremendous importance that the town would come to have thanks to the discovery of Machu Picchu.
The only way to get to Aguas Calientes is by train from one of the stations in Cusco. After the train trip, you must board the bus that will take you to Machu Picchu. Many visitors decide to stay in the town in order to visit the Inca city with more time and tranquility.
The town has hotels that offer different qualities of services (from 5-star hotels to economic options). It also has restaurants that offer the best of Peruvian and international food, and more.
Its tourist attractions
There are several tourist attractions near the town of Aguas Calientes. Of course, the most famous of all is Machu Picchu, one of the 7 wonders of the modern world. But a few meters from the town it is possible to enjoy incredible places such as the thermal baths or the Mandor waterfalls. Learn more about the tourist attractions of this destination.
- Machu Picchu – The Inca city of Machupicchu is the main tourist attraction of Cusco and Peru. It is only 10 kilometers by road from Aguas Calientes. The Incas built dozens of temples and enclosures there. Also paths to the high mountains of the place: the Huayna Picchu and the Machupicchu mountain.
- Thermal baths – Aguas Calientes owes its name to an immense natural source of hot water converted into a recreation center with two large pools and other smaller ones. The thermal baths are located in the upper part of the town, about 800 meters from the main square.
- Putucusi – This high mountain offers distant but different views of the Inca city of Machu Picchu. However, reaching the top is a challenge as it requires difficult sections and is not suitable for people in poor physical condition or with a fear of heights. The visit to this summit is free for all. The start of the walk is just 1 kilometer from the town of Aguas Calientes.
- Mandor Falls – These falls have a waterfall that reaches 30 meters high. It is located within a natural environment of thick vegetation called ‘Jardines de Mandor’. There you can also appreciate various species of birds, butterflies, flowers, trees and even wild animals. Admission costs 10 Peruvian soles and offers the option of camping on site.
- Manuel Chávez Ballón Museum – This museum is located 2.5 kilometers by road from the town of Aguas Calientes. Findings from Machu Picchu excavated in 1911 and subsequent years are exhibited in its seven rooms. It also offers audiovisual material to provide an idea of how the process of enhancing the value of the Inca city was.
The train station
The train station is located in the heart of the town of Aguas Calientes. From any part or hotel in the town you can get there on foot. The station is located on the Avenida Imperio de los Incas (inside the town’s craft market).
Approximately 40 train services arrive at the Aguas Calientes station every day. A similar number of services, both cheap and luxurious, also depart every day.
Train tickets can be purchased at the same station or at other stations located throughout Cusco. However, to get availability, it is best to make the reservation online through the Peru Rail or Inca Rail websites.
During the return trip it is recommended to arrive at the Aguas Calientes train station at least 30 minutes before the departure time.
The bus station
The bus station is also in the heart of the town of Aguas Calientes. From any part of the town you can get there on foot. The bus stop is located on the corner of Hermanos Ayar Avenue and Empire of the Incas Avenue. The ticket office is located on Mayta Cápac street (a few steps from the bus stop).
Buses depart from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu every day from 5:30 in the morning until 3:30 in the afternoon. The departure frequency is 5 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes the rest of the day.
Buying bus tickets can be done in the town of Aguas Caliente without any problem. The company that markets the tickets is called ‘Consettur’.
The town of Aguas Calientes has dozens of hotels of different categories: from exclusive 5-star services next to Machu Picchu to cheap hostels with shared rooms. These are the most famous according to their categories:
- Belmond Sanctuary Lodge (5 estrellas).
- Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel (5 estrellas).
- Inkaterra Machupicchu Hotel (4 stars).
- Tierra Viva Machu Picchu Hotel (4 stars).
- Taypikala Hotel Boutique Machu Picchu (4 stars).
- Casa del Sol Machu Picchu Hotel (4 stars).
- Hotel Casa Andina Standard Machu Picchu (3 stars).
- Waman Hotel Machu Picchu (3 stars).
- Hotel Ferre Machu Picchu (3 stars).
- Hotel La Cabaña Machu Picchu (3 stars).
- Supertramp Hostel (cheap service).
- Illary Inn Hotel (servicio económico).
- Machu Picchu Packer Hotel (economic service).
- Machu Picchu Guest House Hotel (servicio económico).
The residents of Aguas Calientes adapted to the high demand of tourists. For this reason, they promoted dozens of restaurants of different qualities and styles. There are pizzerias, cafeterias, international and Peruvian food restaurants, buffet service and more. Meet the most famous of the town:
- Tinkuy restaurant (buffet service).
- El Mapi restaurant (buffet service).
- El Indio Feliz (international food).
- Cala Tratoria (international food).
- Incontri of the Old Town (pizzeria).
- Mapacho Restaurant (pizzeria).
- Palate Pizza & Burger Bar Machu Picchu (pizzeria and hamburgers).
- Chef House Peruvian Food (comida peruana).
- Julian Restaurant (Peruvian food).
- Inti House (comida peruana).
- Café la Boulangerie de Paris (coffee shop).
- TAO Sweet Salty (cafeteria).
For foreign tourists, the cheapest way to get to Aguas Calientes is through the Hidroeléctrica route. The journey along this route follows the route: Cusco – Santa María – Santa Teresa – Hidroeléctrica Station – Aguas Calientes. This way of getting there takes 7 hours on average. It may cost as little as $15.
From May to October the rains are not frequent in Aguas Calientes. On the other hand, from November to April it can rain at any time of the day (especially in February).
The cost of the entrance ticket to the thermal baths of Aguas Calientes is 10 soles for foreigners and 5 soles for Peruvians. The hot springs are open every day from 5:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The Aguas Calientes food market is the cheapest option for breakfast or lunch. The plate of food there can cost 8 Peruvian soles. The food section of this market is open from 5 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon.