1. Visit Every Bodega In Town
- Cost: 200-500 pesos ($3-5) for a wine tasting
- Duration: Allow half an hour for each tasting
Cafayate is the wine-producing region in the northwest of Argentina and is one of the world’s highest suitable locations for growing grapes. It’s second only to Mendoza as one of the best wine-producing regions in the country.
The combination of high-elevation, great year-round weather and fertile soil produce incredible malbecs and torrontés.
Cafayate is a must for wine lovers. There are lots of bodegas in town to try out but the three best that are cheap and easy to visit are:
At each one you pay a small price to try a selection of wines. For example, at Bodega Nani we paid 250 pesos ($2-3) for 5 wines.
2. Tour Piattelli Vineyard
- Cost: 1000 – 1500 Pesos ($10-15) depending on the wine tasting selection you choose
- Duration: 1 hour for the tour and tasting
Piattelli vineyard is a 30-minute walk from town or a 10-minute bike ride. The grounds are beautiful, set higher up in the Cafayate valley among the rolling hills of lush green vineyards.
The estate is just as beautiful, with a huge building that includes a restaurant, bar, museum, and terrace.
When you arrive, book yourself in for food at the restaurant and then sign up to the tour. The tour will take you around the grounds and give you a bit of background on the region and how wine is made here. Then you will stop for a tasting of some of Piattelli’s best wines.
Once you’ve finished, you should have worked up an appetite.
Sit yourself out on the restaurant terrace overlooking the vineyards and enjoy some great food, more wine and incredible views. The restaurant is also one of the best in town.
3. Visit Quebrada De Las Conchas
- Cost: Free
- Duration: 30 minutes to an hour spent there
- How To Get There: 15 minutes by car or taxi, there is probably a local bus as well but we can’t find information on this so best to ask your accommodation for help. Better if you’ve rented your own car as you can spend as long as you want there.
The surrounding countryside of Cafayate is filled with strange and beautiful rock formations.
The orange and red rocks of Quebrada de las Conchas (Valley of Shells) are a short journey from town and well worth a half-day trip. The canyon is lined with curiously shaped rocks that look like the shells you find on the beach.
This can be combined with the other stops below if you want to go exploring for a whole day and have your own transport, but if not, you can take local transport or rent a bike. In our opinion, this would be a nice bike ride if you can manage it. The landscapes around Cafayate are spectacular.
It should take 45 minutes to an hour by bicycle (20km) and you can rent them in town from shops in the main square (try Majo Viajes).
The north of Argentina is full of incredible scenery from beautiful waterfalls to stage rock formations. They even have their own Rainbow Mountain which rivals the one in Peru. Be sure to check it out if you are visiting the north:
4. Journey Along Route 66 To Garganta Del Diablo
- Cost: Free
- Duration: 30 minutes spent at each stop
- How To Get There: 45 minutes by car or taxi. Easier to visit if you’ve rented your own car.
Continuing along from Quebrada de las Conchas, Route 66 has several more natural wonders to visit. If you decide to drive this way to Cafayate from Salta, then you can stop at these places on the way instead. There are also several viewpoints along the route for fantastic views of the Calchaquí Valley.
Garganta Del Diablo (The Devils Throat) – A deep, narrow ravine that looks like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. This natural rock formation is millions of years old and a great place to stop for some snaps.
El Ampitheatro – this is a large circular rock formation resembling an amphitheatre. The walls reach up to 20m in height, and the shape creates beautiful acoustics. If you are lucky you may catch a performance by local musicians who travel here to play.
If you have your own car then making this journey to the two places mentioned above along with Quebrada de las Conchas is well worth it, either for a day trip or on your way to or from Salta. But don’t go out of your way if you don’t have your own transport as the journey would be too long and complicated.
Also, try to visit on a weekday to get these places to yourself, the crowds can get big at the weekends.
5. Cool Of At Cascadas Del Rio Colorado
- Cost: 200-400 pesos for a tour guide
- Duration: Half day
- How To Get There: 15 minutes by taxi to the trail entrance.
For some outdoor adventure, head out to these beautiful waterfalls set among the red rocks and desert greenery. Swimming in the plunge pools is a great way to cool off in the summer heat.
From what we’ve gathered on the internet, this is a hike where you should book a guide. You can find most of the guides waiting at the trail entrance and they shouldn’t charge more than 200-400 pesos for the day.
The trail isn’t marked and there are river crossings, crevices, slippery rocks, and a surprising amount of climbing. Make sure you bring sunscreen, a good pair of hiking boots and your swimming gear. You will be able to swim in the pools once you reach the waterfalls.
Update: From Trip Advisor reviews, it appears his area was closed in 2020 and the only access road is guarded by local police. Apparently, the area was closed off due to a political dispute between the landowners and the city. Check with your accommodation to get the latest updates, as it may have changed and be open again in 2021.
6. Plaza Central
Cafayate is a small town centred around a main plaza. You can explore it easily in the morning or afternoon. Most of the action will be in the main square, Plaza 25 de Febrero, where you can find artisan stalls, musicians in the small park and restaurants with outdoor seating filled with locals.
A couple of popular things to check out include:
- Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary – the main church set on the square.
- Mercado Artesanal – small giftshop with local crafts.
- Wine Ice Cream – several ice cream shops advertising wine flavoured ice cream.
- Centro de Informacion Turistica – the tourist information centre to get some local. knowledge. You can ask about local buses to places like Quebrada de las Conchas here.
- Majo Viajes – place to rent bikes.
7. Enjoy The Best Steak And Wine
You need to experience two things whilst in Argentina that the country is known for – steak and wine.
Finding a great steakhouse in Argentina is easy, and you know you will be getting grass-fed, pasture-raised beef. One of the best restaurants in town is the restaurant in Bodega Nanni. We also had a great steak at ‘Pacha Cocina de Autor’ just off the main square.
Each restaurant has a selection of wines from the Salta province as well as the rest of the country. Just ask the waiter for recommendations as they usually know what’s best.
8. Snack On Empanadas
If you haven’t tried one already, a salteña is the Salta provinces version of an empanada. They are savoury pastries filled with beef, pork or chicken mixed in a sweet, slightly spicy sauce.
They are perfect for an afternoon snack if you are feeling peckish. Try the aptly named ‘La Casa de las Empanadas’ for a wide selection so you can snack to your heart’s content.
9. Museum Of The Vine And Wine
- Cost: 150 pesos ($1.63)
- Duration: Half day
- How To Get There: 15 minutes by taxi to the trail entrance.
Cafayate has been blessed by its natural landscape and is revered as one of the best regions for growing grapes in the world due to its climate.
The town sits at 1700m above sea level and is arguably the best-known wine region other than Mendoza in Argentina.
The region’s winemaking traditions are covered by this modern interactive museum exhibit where you can get detailed descriptions of everything to do with vines, grapes, wines, and how the atmospheric conditions in the region and soil influence the flavours.
They also have a shop at the end with a huge selection of wines from the Bodegas in town if you want to purchase some yourself.
10. Rent A Car And Road Trip The North
If you’ve been using our other guides to North Argentina, then you know we love to recommend exploring the region by renting your own car. There are so many beautiful landscapes and viewpoints outside of the cities and towns, that it doesn’t make sense to book tours to all of them.
Renting a car for a few days gives you the freedom to explore and stop wherever you want. There aren’t any rental shops in Cafayate but there are in the bigger cities of Salta and Jujuy.
Here are some other routes to check out on the way to or from Cafayate:
Route 40 is Argentina’s most famous highway that stretches the entire length of the country from the north at the border of Bolivia, all the way to Patagonia in the south.
It’s consistently rated as one of the best routes to road trip in the world with hundreds of sights along the way.
Along this road, there are multiple photo opportunities as you follow the Rio Calchaqui North to the small town of Cachi.
The most unique stop is Quebrada de las Flechas – or Canyon of Arrows. You drive along a winding road through this canyon with 150 ft rocks jutting out at steep angles on either side.
Route 40 is best accessed driving from Salta to Cafayate or vice versa. After Cafayate, you can continue to follow it south to continue your road trip if you wish.
There are two popular stops along route 33 – Cuesta Del Obispo and the Tin Tin Straight Line.
Just outside of Cachi is ‘The Tin Tin Straight Line’, a 20km almost perfectly straight road that follows an ancient route built by the Inca. Unfortunately, Tin-Tin’s name comes from a nearby river and mountain and has nothing to do with the Belgian detective comic.
Cuesta del Obispo, or Bishop’s Slope, is a long winding road ending at the top of a hill at La Piedra del Molino (the Millstone) nearly 11,000 feet above sea level. The mountain offers a perfect viewpoint overlooking the Enchanted Valley, and some great shots of the road carved out of the mountainside.
You can combine a road trip along Route 33 with Route 40 as they are both on the way to/from Salta.
How Many Days Do You Need In Cafayate?
2 days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Cafayate.
You can wander around the town on your first day, exploring the main plaza and tasting wines at all the different bodegas. On your second day you can book a tour of Piattelli vineyard or go exploring any of the natural waterfalls or rock formations outside of town.
Extend your trip to 3 or 4 days if you really are a wine fanatic and want to relax in this laidback town, hit all the bodegas and enjoy the beautiful countryside.
Cafayate 2-Day Itinerary
- Explore the main plaza
- Visit the wine museum
- Lunch – Bodega Nanni
- Wine Tasting at Bodega Nanni, Domingo Hermanos and El Transito
- Dinner – Pacha Cocina De Autor
- Drinks on the main square
- Visit Quebrada de las Conchas
- Lunch – Bad Brothers Wine Experience
- Piattelli Vineyard Tour
- Dinner – Piattelli Vineyard
The Best Restaurants In Cafayate
For the best restaurants and places to eat, try to avoid the main square and head out into the side streets for cheaper and better fare.
- Restaurant de Bodega Nanni – one of the best restaurants in town, set in a beautiful garden behind the bodega
- Bad Brothers Wine Experience – another great venue with indoor and outdoor dining. Sit outside and enjoy a wide selection of wines in the cacti garden.
- Pacha Cocina de Autor – we had one of our best steaks here.
- Piattelli Vineyard – terraced garden overlooking the vineyards and some of the best food in town.
- El Gallito – the local favourite for grilled meat, steaks etc.
The Best Places To Stay In Cafayate
Hostal del Suri – Hostal del Suri offers simple and cosy accommodation in Cafayate, only 2 blocks from the Main Square and surrounded by many wineries. We stayed here and liked it. The garden is lovely in the mornings for sitting and relaxing whilst eating breakfast. Rooms only have electric fans though so look at booking somewhere with aircon if going in the summer.
- Twin or double room – $21 with breakfast included
Hosteria Tia Florita – 150 yards from the Main Square and 900 yards from Cafayate vineyards. Free private parking is available on site. Every room at this hotel features hot and cold air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with cable channels and a wardrobe.
The best part is the pool which is needed for cooling off in the hot Argentinian summers.
- Double room – $28 with breakfast included
Hostal Andino – Featuring an outdoor pool and a garden, Hostal Andino offers rooms and bungalows, only 350 yards from the main square.
Great views from the top balcony which also has a hot tub.
- Double room – $39 with breakfast.
How To Get To Cafayate (From Salta)
The closest city to Cafayate is Salta. The two best ways of getting there are by bus or car.
Bus: The journey takes 3 hours and 45 minutes by bus and costs around $7.
We used Busbud.com to check times and book all our tickets in Argentina.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Cafayate?
The best time to visit Cafayate for great weather is in the summer (December to February) with average temperatures of around 30°C.
Summer is the busiest time however, so the best time to visit for less crowds but enjoyable weather is the spring (September to December). This is the shoulder season so there are less tourists and prices for restaurants, hotels and tours are cheaper.