The 13 Best Things To Do In Salta, Argentina

More and more wine lovers are travelling to ‘Salta - La Linda’ (meaning Salta - The Beautiful) to visit the world famous vineyards and enjoy the magnificent mountain landscapes paired with high-quality wines and delicious regional foods. Here are the best things to do in Salta along with a city guide with the best places to stay and eat.

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1. Walking Tour Of The City

The free walking tour in Salta is the perfect introduction to the city and will take you to the best places of interest and top attractions.

 

The tours are run by local guides who will teach you about the city’s history and leave you with a wealth of tips, tricks and recommendations for your stay.

 

All tours start from the main square at Plaza 9 de Julio, and there’s no need to book in advance. Your first few sights are in the main plaza, an elegant, cafe-lined square bordered by the neoclassical Salta Cathedral and El Cabildo. And from there on to the gastronomic area and other places of interest.

 

Head to their website for more information:

 

 

 

They also run a craft beer tour visiting 3 microbreweries in the city for $15 if that’s your thing.

2. Ride The 'Train to the Clouds'

Tren a las Nubes or ‘Train to the Clouds’ is one of the worlds highest railways spanning over 400km and reaching an altitude of 4,220m.

 

The train travels across the beautiful Argentinian countryside, passes through 21 tunnels and crosses 29 bridges and 13 viaducts. The final stop comes at La Polvorilla viaduct, a huge bridge that spans a massive desert canyon.

 

This is one for train lovers and those who haven’t explored north-west Argentina yet. The rustic landscapes and pastel-coloured mountains are picturesque, and the region is known for its indigenous crafts, museums, and delicious local gastronomy which you will experience on the journey.

How To Book

You can book tickets online but the website is in Spanish which makes things difficult.

 

The best way to book is to visit the train station in person and book directly at the sales office there. The sales office is just off Calle Balcarce, a popular street with lots of bars and restaurants and close to the couple of hostels we’ve recommended below. Address – (Ameghino y Balcarce) Estación Central de Trenes.

 

Tickets cost ARS$ 4,590 per person which is around $55.

 

 

Is It Worth It?

It’s an early start leaving at around 6AM via bus to drive to the train station. The bus journey is 2-3 hours with multiple stops in the Argentinian Andes for photos, before a 3 hour round trip on the train.

 

In our opinion, it’s not worth it. It’s expensive, and it’s a long time spent on transport. The Argentinian countryside scenery is beautiful, but we had seen it before travelling down from Humahuaca. Definitely book if you love trains and haven’t seen any of the country yet.

3. Museum Of High Altitude Archaeology

The Museum of High Altitude Archaeology (MAAM) may not sound that interesting, but it has one of the most unique and weirdly distributing displays in the world.

 

The museum focuses on the indigenous tribes of the Andes and provides insight into the high-altitude dweller’s ways of living.

 

However, the museum was also created to house the institute’s most important discovery: in 1999 they found three perfectly preserved Inca children frozen in ice at Llullaillaco Volcano. It is thought that the children were sacrificed to be buried with the chief. The Inca believed in the afterlife, and children were often sacrificed as servants to high-ranking members.

 

The museum displays the children for visitors, and this is one of only two South America places that display a mummified corpse found in the Andes. The other is the museum in Arequipa, Peru.

 

The museum is located in the main square (Plaza 9 de Julio).

4. Ride The Cable Car To Cerro San Bernardo

Salta’s Teleferico has been in operation since 1987 and takes tourists to the top of San Bernardo Hill for the best view over Salta.

 

It is a pleasant ride up that takes around 8 minutes. There is a set of gardens, artificial waterfalls, and a panoramic city view at the top.

You can also climb to the top on foot if you are looking for a short but strenuous hike (45 minutes) or take a cab if you are feeling lazy.

 

 

  • Cost: 500 pesos round trip for the ticket.
  • Opening hours: Every day from 10 AM to 7:45 PM.

 

How to get here: The cable car is in the San Martín Park, around an 8 block walk (20 minutes) from the main square or you can hop in a taxi.

5. Go Trekking In Quebrada San Lorenzo

If you are looking to escape the city for some nature, then spend half-day hiking from San Lorenzo’s pueblo into the Quebrada San Lorenzo cloud forest.

 

You can spend all day in the park hiking, so use maps.me to avoid getting lost as the place is enormous. Make sure you wear hiking boots as you’ll be trekking in woodlands and across rivers.

 

Check out ‘El Duende de la Quebrada’ for a lovely café with views over the river in San Lorenzo after you’ve finished exploring.

How to get there: San Lorenzo is 10km north of Salta. Bus no.7 leaves from the main square and takes you close to the park entrance.

 

You will need to purchase a public transport card first (SUBE), and the bus costs c.10 pesos to San Lorenzo. The cards can be purchased from some of the small shops on the Plaza 9 de Julio.

6. Visit Argentina's Rainbow Mountain

We had no idea Argentina had a secret rainbow mountain hiding away in the north-west.

 

El Hornocal or the 14 Coloured Mountain, is just outside the town of Humahuaca, a 4-hour journey from Salta. It’s a great little day trip. You can either organise a tour from Salta or travel to Humahuaca yourself on public transport.

 

Everything you need to know to visit from Salta is here in our guide:

 

 

 

We personally think it’s best to go and stay in Humahuaca for a night or two. The town has a laidback, relaxing charm and the countryside of the north-west is beautiful.

 

All the information you need for visiting by yourself and staying in town can be found here:

 

 

7. Visit Tilcara & Purmamarca

Tilcara and Purmamarca are two charming towns along Route 9 (just before the town of Humahuaca) in the north-west. We’d recommend all travellers visit them if travelling the north. The best way of seeing both in a day is with a tour.

Tours from Salta to Humahuaca / Tilcara / Purmamarca

It is possible to do a tour from Salta that will stop at some or all of these towns but be warned that it’s a long day. Tours start at 7AM and lasts 14 hours returning to Salta at 9PM.

 

 

 

The price of the tour is $35 and you visit the following:

 

  • Purmamarca & The Hill of 7 Colours
  • Tilcara town – optional extra to visit Pucará de Tilcara archaeological site which costs 400 pesos for foreigners unless visiting on Monday when it is free to all
  • El Hornocal (14 Coloured Mountain)
  • Humahuaca town
  • Maimara and Paleta del Pintor (painter’s palette) viewpoint, another colourful mountain

A bus ticket from Salta to any of these towns will cost less than $15 and accommodation for a night under $13, we think making a day trip by yourself is well worth it rather than a tour.

 

Furthermore, the amount you are seeing in one day is excessive, you probably won’t be able to absorb it all, and you’ll spend a lot of time on the bus.

 

All the information you need for visiting by yourself can be found here:

 

 

8. Wine Tasting In Cafayate

Mendoza is known for producing some of the country’s best wines, but Cafayate is a close second.

 

Cafayate is a wine-producing region in the northwest of Argentina, located within the Calchaqui Valley – one of the world’s highest suitable locations for growing grapes. 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 three bodegas in town that are easy to visit – Nani, Domingo Hermanos and El Transito. At each one you can pay a small price to try a selection of wines. For example, at Bodega Nani we paid 250 pesos to taste 5 wines (3 reserves and 2 young).

 

How To Get There: The journey takes 3-4 hours by bus, but you can also rent a car to visit. Again, it’s much better to either stay the night or just visit for 2-3 days if you have the time. This is another beautiful Argentinian town that’s off the beaten tourist track.

 

Check out our full guide to the town here:

 

 

9. Road Trip Along Route 40 or 33

We rented a car in Salta and journeyed south to Cachi and Cafayate. We used Hertz, and the process was efficient and straightforward.

 

Two great routes to drive along include Route 40 and 33, but renting a car and driving up to Route 9 to see the towns we’ve mentioned above is also a great option

Route 33

The road from Salta to Cachi will take you along Route 33 and to two popular stops – Cuesta Del Obispo and the Tin Tin Straight Line.

 

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.

 

The Tin Tin Straight Line is 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.

To see how Cafayate and Route 33 fit into a wider north Argentina  itinerary, check out our post below:

 

 

Route 40

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 down 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.

 

After reaching the town of Cachi, you will come on to Route 40 which will take you to Cafayate. Along this road, there are multiple photo opportunities as you follow the Rio Calchaqui south.

 

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 either side.

10. Visit Argentina's Salt Flat - Salinas Grandes

Salinas Grandes is Argentina’s very own salt flat and well worth a visit if you can’t make it to Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia.  And don’t worry, you’ll still be able to take the perspective and reflection shots here too.

 

At an average altitude of 3,450 meters above sea level, the salt flat is well-known for its vast white desert. It’s the third-largest salt flat in the world and one of Argentina’s most impressive natural landscapes.

 

How to get there:  The simple way to visit is to book a tour. Most tours stop at the Hill of Seven Colors in Purmamarca and cost a reasonable $35.

 

 

11. Taste All The Steak, Wine And Salteñas

You must experience three things whilst in Argentina: steak, wine, and empanadas (better known as salteñas in Salta).

 

Finding a great steakhouse in Salta is easy, and you know you will be getting grass-fed, pasture-raised beef. One of the best places in town is ‘El Viejo Jacks’, most popular among Salta locals so you know it’s going to be good. Each restaurant has a selection of wines from the Salta region and the rest of the country. Just ask the waiter for recommendations as they usually know what’s best.

 

If you haven’t tried one already, a salteña is Salta’s 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 Dona Salta or Patio de la Empanada.

 

‘Pick up the fork’ have written up a brilliant salteña city tour here if you want more options.

12. Party On Calle Balcarce

If you make it to Salta for the weekend, then a night out with Argentinians is a must.

 

Calle Balcare is the best place for nightlife in the city. The long street is lined with bars, pubs and restaurants open until the early hours of the morning.

 

Try Café del Tiempo for a good bar and live music on busier nights and if you are staying out until the early hours, try Amnesia for a lively club on Balcarce. Just remember, Argentinians don’t hit the clubs until late, so pace yourself and move on to dance somewhere at around 12 – 1AM.

See how Salta can fit into a wider South America backpacking trip, check out the expertly planned itinerary in the post below:

 

 

13. Cabra Corral Dam

The Cabra Corral Dam and reservoir is a favourite spot among Salta locals wanting to escape the city for the weekend and enjoy some adrenaline sports.

 

The dam is 93 meters high the most popular activity is the bungee jump. You can also trek through the mountains around the reservoir or rent boats or kayaks for the day to explore the lake.

 

Again, due to the distance from Salta, it might be best to stay the night. Try Terrazas Del Lago for a great view of the lake.

Is Salta Worth Visiting?

Here are four reasons why Salta is worth visiting:

 

 

  • The north-west of Argentina is still relatively untouched by tourism compared to Buenos Aires. This means everything is cheaper, there are fewer people, and everything feels more relaxed and authentic.
  • The weather is perfect all year round, with warm temperatures and little rain.
  • The region is beautiful, and there are some fantastic natural sights such as El Hornocal, Salinas Grandes and the vineyards of the Calachqui valley.
  • It’s one of the best wine-producing regions in the country, second only to Mendoza, so if you love wine, then this is the place for you. You can visit multiple bodegas and do tours and tastings.

 

Exploring the northwest of Argentina works well if you visit Bolivia. It’s easy to travel across the border to Humahuaca from Uyuni or Tupiza.

 

See how to plan an extended trip to South America here with our guides:

 

 

How Many Days Do You Need In Salta?

Two days in Salta is the perfect amount of time in Salta to see the highlights of the city.

 

You can spend one day exploring the city on a walking tour, checking out museums and riding the cable car up to Cerro San Bernardo for some incredible views.

 

Take a second day for a trip to one of the many unique sites outside of the city – either to a vineyard, one of the other unique towns in the region such as Purmamarca or remarkable natural wonders Salinas Grandes.

 

Salta 2-Day Itinerary

Day 1 - City Day

Morning

  • Walking Tour

Lunch

  • Viracocha

Afternoon

  • Museum of High Altitude Archaeology (MAAM)
  • Cable Car to Cerro San Bernardo

Dinner

  • El Viejo Jacks for steak and wine

Day 2 - Day Trip

Choose whichever suits you:

 

  • Salinas Grandes
  • Cafayate Vineyards
  • A road trip along route 9, 33 or 40

Extended Itinerary

If you aren’t travelling south along Route 33 or Route 40 after your time in Salta, then you’re going to miss out on some of the most scenic roads in the world. Therefore, if you do have the time, extending your stay in Salta is worth it.

 

Renting a car and leaving your big bags at your hostel is easy and you can explore Cachi or Cafayate for a day or two. Or you can road trip the whole of the north west for two weeks.

 

Check out our North Argentina road trip post for more information:

 

 

  • North Argentina Road Trip itinerary

The Best Restaurants In Salta

  • El Viejo Jack – one of the best places in town for steak and wine. Highly recommended and the place where all the locals go.
  • Viracocha – Andean fusion food with a great selection of dishes. They also have their own craft brewery on site with some fantastic craft beers on tap.

The Best hostels In Salta

Prisamata Hostel

Prisamata is set in a beautiful historic mansion dressed with colourful paintings, quirky photographs, floor pillows and woven hammocks – the perfect place for kicking back and relaxing. Includes breakfast, and a bar for ice-cold beers. 

 

It’s a 15-minute walk from Calle Balcarce, so there’s loads of bars, restaurants and nightlife close by.

 

We stayed here and would recommend it. The big dorms are spacious, with a fan and curtain on each bed for extra privacy and ample storage space for your bags. The fans were needed in the summer.

 

Room prices:

 

    • 8-bed mixed dorm – $14
    • 4-bed mixed dorm – $16
    • Basic single room with shared bathroom – $24
    • Twin room with en-suite – $39

Chabot Hostel

Another hostel set in a historical mansion. Chabot hostel is right next door to Prisamata, so it’s in a great location, close to the main square, bars and restaurants. A continental breakfast is available every morning. The rooms are basic compared to Prisamata.

 

Room prices:

 

  • 14-bed dorm – $5.44
  • Double room with en-suite – $30.23

How To Get To Salta

Salta is the biggest city in Salta province in the north-west of Argentina. It’s a great city to use as a base for exploring the rest of Salta and Jujuy province.

 

Salta’s bus terminal, southeast of downtown, has frequent services to all parts of the country. There’s also tourist information and luggage storage services, free toilets, and an ATM 20m east of the main entrance. The taxi rank is directly outside.

 

The address of Terminal De Omnibus is Av. Hipólito Yrigoyen 2-77 Salta Argentina

How To Get To Salta From Jujuy

The buses in the north of Argentina are easy to organise and run frequently. We didn’t bother to book online in advance and were able to get buses easily.  

 

If you want to do some forward planning, then Bus Bud is always helpful.

 

The bus from Salta to Jujuy takes 2 hours and 15 minutes and costs approx. $7.

How To Get To Salta From Humahuaca / Tilcara / Purmamarca

Bus bud displays buses from big cities such as Salta and Jujuy, but you won’t find any of the buses between the small towns on route 9 as these are all local companies.

 

To reach Salta from the towns along Route 9, you need to travel to Jujuy and change bus. The Jujuy bus station is massive, and we found a bus company within minutes to take us.

 

The bus journeys are as follows:

 

  • Humahuaca – 3 hours and 45 minutes;
  • Tilcara – 3 hours;
  • Purmamarca – 2 hours 45 minutes

The journey to Jujuy will cost between $2-3 depending on your destination. Then around $7 to get to Salta from Jujuy.

How To Get To Salta From Buenos Aires

You have two options:

 

  • Bus – This journey will be an overnight bus taking between 20-24 hours to reach the capital. Bus bud has one company advertising this journey at the cost of $87. We found that long bus journeys in Argentina were expensive so it might be worth looking at flights.
  • Flight – a flight from Salta to BA takes 2 hours. We had a quick search on Skyscanner and found flights with Jetsmart for around $99, but this is without checking the baggage cost. Seems worth it though as it’s only slightly more expensive than the bus and saves you a lot of time.

Martín Miguel de Güemes International Airport is around 30 minutes by taxi (pay about 200 pesos, equal to a few dollars).