If you're visiting Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there’s a good chance you'll pass through the small pueblo of Aguas Calientes en route. This gateway town to Peru’s famous Incan ruins sits nestled in a valley of cloud forest, where a series of natural hot springs gives the town its name.
The majority of travelers to Peru come to see the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, and almost all of them will spend at least a little time in the town of Aguas Calientes. The train taking passengers from Cusco to Machu Picchu stops at Aguas Calientes, where day-trippers then board a bus to the ruins. Visitors on overnight itineraries, including those hiking the Inca Trail, often spend the night in the village before rising early to catch the sunrise at Machu Picchu.
Things to Know Before You Go
- It’s a good idea to book your stay and Machu Picchu entrance tickets well in advance, particularly during high season.
- Wear sturdy and comfortable shoes suitable for walking over uneven surfaces.
- Dress in layers, as conditions can change quickly between town and the ruins.
How to Get There
The easiest way to reach Aguas Calientes is by train, several of which depart Cusco daily for the journey of one hour and 45 minutes. A bus runs from town up to Machu Picchu.
When to Get There
Aguas Calientes enjoys the best weather from June to August, the busiest season for vacationers. While things are quieter from October to April, this is the rainy season, so expect regular downpours.
Attractions in Aguas Calientes
Aside from the thermal baths, Aguas Calientes highlights include a hike to the summit of Putucusi Mountain, which offers stellar views of Machu Picchu on a clear day. You can also visit the Butterfly House, Machu Picchu Museum (Museo de Sitio Manuel Chávez Ballón) and nearby botanical gardens, or the Gardens of Mandor (Los Jardines de Mandor) with its waterfalls.