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How to Get Around in Aguas Calientes, Peru

Aguas Calientes is a very small town. However, it is an extremely busy place. You will notice that it struggles with its  growth since it is all crammed into a small area surrounded by mountains and Urubamaba River.

There are no taxis, or uber, or any kind of public transportation. Needless to say, be prepared to walk!

Aguas Calientes

Town of Aguas Calientes, Peru

Things to Do in Aguas Calientes

Once you get off the train, you are stuck in a place that is totally dependent on tourists heading to or returning from Machu Picchu.

Everyone, pretty much stays for one or a couple of nights. And, usually, everyone has a few hours to kill either waiting for a bus to take them to Machu Picchu or waiting for the train to take them back to Cusco.

Map of 7 Best Things to Do in Aguas Calientes Peru

Map of Things to Do in Aguas Calientes, Peru

Map of 7 Best Things to Do in Aguas Calientes, Peru 

Things to Do in Aguas Calientes, Peru

Number 1

Visit Manuel Chavez Ballon Museum - One of the Most Interesting Things to Do in Aguas Calientes

Manuel Chavez Ballon Site Museum, in my opinion, is one of the most engaging things that you could do in Aguas Calientes and the coolest place to check out. Subsequently, it will give you an understanding of the Inca culture and the insight into the construction of the Machu Picchu citadel.

The museum is also known as the Machu Picchu Museum and it is named after the archaeologist – Manuel Chavez Ballon.

There are four exhibition rooms that house a collection of about 250 original objects of stone, metal, ceramic, bone and others found as a result of archeological research in the recent decades in the Inca City of Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail. Also, there are graphics, maps and photos from various archaeological excavations.

For me, it was fascinating to read about the very purposeful planning for the site as well as the process of transforming the granite stones into buildings, terraces and walls. Moreover, I was intrigued by the construction of the stone terraces which recreated the micro climates suitable for a variety of plants.

Also, what caught my attention was the original National Geographic magazine published in April 1913. It was entirely dedicated Hiram Bingham’s discovery of Machu Picchu.

Manuel Chavez Museum in Aguas Calientes Peru

The original National Geographic magazine published in April 1913 dedicated to Hiram Bingham’s discovery of Machu Picchu.

Things to Do in Aguas Calientes, Peru

Also, while you are there, check out the copies of letters from the Peruvian government authorizing Hiram Bingham’s team to take artifacts to Yale University for analysis for a period of 18 months. All in all, as we know, Peru did not reacquire back these artifacts until 2011.

Manuel Chavez Ballon Site Museum in Aguas Calientes is open everyday of the week. The opening hours are 9 am till 4:30 pm.

The entrance fees are:

  • Adults – 22 soles
  • College/University Undergraduate Students – 11 soles
  • Elementary/High School Students – Free

You can buy the tickets at the entrance to the museum.

In addition, when you are buying your tickets to Machu Picchu, you can add the tickets to the museum as well.

By the way, adjacent to the museum is a botanical garden with 402 species of plants representative of the Machu Picchu Sanctuary including some interesting varieties of orchids. So make sure to stop by as well and check it out.

How to Get to Manuel Chavez Ballon Museum in Aguas Calientes

In the first place, exit the train station and locate the bus stop where the buses leave for Machu Picchu.

The bus stop is pretty much across from the train station. You are not going to take a bus, but rather follow the road that the busses take to Machu Picchu.

Hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

Train Station and the bus stop in Aguas Calentes, Peru. 

Things to Do in Aguas Calientes

Follow the road that the buses take for about 20 minutes. The road is called Avenida Hermanos Ayar and it runs along the Urubamaba River.

One word of caution, if you see or hear the buses going to or returning from Machu Picchu, make sure get out of the way. The bus drivers have no respect or patience for tourists. Also, make sure to have a scarf and tie it around your mouth. The passing buses create an absolute dust storm.

After 20 minutes you will reach the bridge that spans over the Urubamba River. Next, cross the bridge and turn right. Next, continue for no more than 10 minutes and the museum will be right in front of you.

Number 2

Check out the Butterfly House - Most Fascinating Thing to Do in Aguas Calientes

The Butterfly House is a local conservation project dedicated to studying local butterfly species as well as increasing butterfly population through a reproduction-and-release program. The project is run by Leonardo Serrano Gutierez.

I am recommending that you take one of their guided tours. It lasts about 15 to 20 minutes and costs 10 soles.

Hands down! The tour is really fascinating! You will have an opportunity to learn about butterfly varieties, developmental stages starting with an egg to larva, then pupa and finally butterfly.

Things to do in Aguas Calientes

The Butterfly House is a local conservation project dedicated to studying local butterfly species as well as increasing butterfly population through a reproduction-and-release program.

Things to Do in Aguas Calientes, Peru

Things to do in Aguas Calientes

Take one of their guided tours. It lasts about 15 to 20 minutes and costs 10 soles.

Things to do in Aguas Calientes

You will have an opportunity to learn about butterfly varieties and their developmental stages.

I was impressed how well camouflaged some varieties of butterflies are. They blend so absolutely perfectly with certain local plants. If it was not for the guide to point them out to me, I would have never been able to find them.

All in all, if you decide on stopping by the Butterfly House, keep in mind that it’s best to visit between 8 am and 11 am, as the butterflies are more active in the mornings.

Things to do in Aguas Calientes

The best to visit between 8 am and 11 am, as the butterflies are more active in the mornings.

Things to Do in Aguas Calientes

It’s also better to visit between the months of April and September, as the frequent showers of the October through March rainy season cause the butterflies to seek cover.

Things to do in Aguas Calientes

Don’t miss the visit to the Butterfly House! You will learn a lot, plus you will take some great pictures.

Things to Do in Aguas Calientes, Peru

The Butterfly House is open year round. The opening hours are 8 am till 5:30 pm.

The entrance ticket is 10 soles and it includes a guided tour.

How to Get to Butterfly House in Aguas Calientes

First of all, exit the train station and then take a slight left. Next, locate the bus stop where the buses leave for Machu Picchu.

Finally, follow the road that the buses take to Machu Picchu. It should take you no more then 15-20 minutes to reach the Butterfly House.

Number 3

Stop by Plaza Manco Canac - the Best Spot in Aguas Calientes to Snap a Few Pictures

Stop by the Main Square called Plaza Manco Canac in Aguas Calientes.

This is a perfect spot to take a couple of pictures in front of the statue of Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui.

Aguas Calientes, Peru

Stop by the Main Square and take a couple of pictures in front of the statue of Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui.

Things to Do in Aguas Calientes, Peru

Quick read:

Are you wondering who was Pachacuti? Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui was the ninth Sapa Inca (1418–1471/1472) of the Kingdom of Cusco which he transformed into the Inca Empire (Quechua: Tawantinsuyu).

Most archaeologists now believe that the famous Inca site of Machu Picchu was built as an estate for Pachacuti.

During his reign, Cusco grew from a hamlet into an empire that could compete with, and eventually overtake, the Chimú.

He began an era of conquest that, within three generations, expanded the Inca dominion from the valley of Cusco to nearly the whole of western South America.

Source: Wikipedia

How to Get to Plaza Manco Canac

Once you exit the train station, make a slight left and continue for no more than 10 minutes and Plaza Manco Canac will be right in front of you.

Number 4

Shop at Artisan Market - On the Best Fun Things to Do in Aguas Calientes

The Artisan Market is a great place to get a bunch of souvenirs to take home.

You will find pretty much anything your heart desires. Personally, I like these markets. It is fun to just browse around.

Things to Do in Aguas Calientes, Peru

The Artisan Market is a great place to get a bunch of souvenirs to take home.

Things to Do in Aguas Calientes, Peru

You will find pretty much anything your heart desires.

How to Get to Artisan Market in Aguas Calientes

The Artisan Market is right next to the train station. Once you get off the train, you will have to go through this maze of shops and stands selling all kinds of souvenirs.

Number 5

Go for an Evening Stroll in Aguas Caleintes

I think that one of the best things to do in Aguas Calientes is just to go for a leisurely evening stroll.

Aguas Calientes

Take an evening stroll along Urubamba River

Things to Do in Aguas Calientes

I think that one of the best things to do in Aguas Calientes is just to go for a leisurely evening stroll.

Aguas Calientes Peru

There are plenty of shops and restaurants along Urubamba River is Aguas Calientes. 

Things to Do in Aguas Calientes

Where to Go for an Evening Stroll in Aguas Caleintes

There are basically two main streets that run along the Urubamba River. My recommendation is to stick to these two main streets. There are plenty of bridges that span the Urubamba River, so plenty of places to take some cool pictures.

Number 6

Head to Hot Springs (Banos Termales) in Aguas Calientes - Your Muscles Will Thank You

A visit to the Hot Springs is a perfect way to end the day.

The Hot Springs are open seven days a week from 5:00 am till 8:00 pm. The entrance fee is 20 soles.

You will need a towel and a bathing suit, however, it is not a problem at all if you do not have one! You will be able to rent whatever you need at one of the stands along the way. By the way, you will get a locker. So, no worries, all your personal belongings will be secure.

All in all, there are six pools with varying water temperatures, so take your pick. If you need a drink, just wave your hand and a server will take your order.

Things to Do in Aguas Calientes, Peru

The Hot Springs are open seven days a week from 5:00 am till 8:00 pm. The entrance fee is 20 soles.

Things to Do in Aguas Calientes

How to Get to Hot Springs in Aguas Calientes Peru

First of all, once you exit the station, go up the hill.

Second, cross any of the bridges that span the Urubamaba River.

Next, continue up the hill until you reach the Hot Springs. All in all, it should take you no more then 30 minutes to reach the Hot Springs.

Number 7

Head to Cafe Inka Terra for a Great Dinner

Hands down,  you want to try traditional Peruvian food, or stick to your regular menu, they will accommodate you. I have a very sensitive stomach and they made for me a fantastic meal!

Things to do in Aguas Calientes

I loved the setting and the food was delicious!

Things to do in Aguas Calientes

Make sure to visit Cafe Inka!

Now, make sure to ask for a table on the patio (weather permitting). The setting is gorgeous. Also, check out their beer and wine menu. To top it off, their service is super attentive.

How to Get to Cafe Inka Terra in Aguas Calientes, Peru

First of all, exit the train station and turn right. Next, continue for no more than 15 minutes. Cafe Inka Terra will be on your right.

Intrepid Scout's 3 Tips for Best Things to Do in Aguas Calientes, Peru

That is quite a list of things to do in Aguas Calientes, Peru, right? What if you only have time to do a couple of things?

No problem! Here are my absolute 3 things to do in Aguas Calientes:

  • Hands down, of all the things to do in Aguas Calientes, the number one is to visit Manuel Chavez Ballon Site Museum. It will give you a good understanding of the Inca culture and an insight into the construction of the Machu Picchu citadel.
  • Second, head to the Butterfly House. It is fun and you will learn a lot about Peruvian butterflies and their natural habitat.
  • Finally, if you need to relax your sore muscles, then, hands down, check out the Hot Springs!

Are you heading to Machu Picchu? Make sure to read:

Machu Picchu – Top Tips for Visiting City of Incas

17 Best Things to See at Machu Picchu City of Incas

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7 Best Things to Do in Aguas Calientes, Peru
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Now, It Is Your Turn, I Would Like to Hear Back from You!

Are you planning your trip to Machu Picchu?

Please let me know! Drop me a quick comment right below!

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Comments:

2 thoughts on “7 Best Things to Do in Aguas Calientes, Peru (Besides Machu Picchu)


Caroline
2021-09-27

Hey! I see that the tickets for students are more affordable, but how can I prove that I’m a student when I buy them? Do I have to show them like my college ID or somethig?
Thanks in advance!

    2021-10-06

    Yes, they need proof that you are a college student.

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