Salta BRIDGE

Is Salta Worth Visiting? 12 Great Reasons To Go In 2024

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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Is Salta Worth Visiting?

Salta is a fantastic city and well worth your time, especially if you love wine, epic road trips and insane landscape.

 

Here are some reasons why I will recommend a trip to Salta for anyone visiting Argentina:

 

 

  • 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.

12 Great Reasons To Visit Salta

1. Enjoy A Free Walking Tour Of The City

The free walking tour in Salta is the perfect introduction to the city.

 

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:

 

The main square in Salta (Argentina)

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 a day out 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 Tickets For 'Tren a las Nubes'

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.

 

Is 'Tren a las Nubes ' 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 my 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. But definitely book if you love trains and haven’t seen any of the country yet.

Is Salta Worth Visiting? The Train To The Clouds

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 I’ve ever seen.

 

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).

If you want to combine a trip to Chile alongside Argentina, then there are several ways to do this with a simple border crossing. The three itineraries in the post below can help you cross the borders a 3 different points in Argentina to see Chile:

 

 

Plaza De Julio, Salta (Argentina)

4. Ride The Cable Car To Cerro San Bernardo

Salta’s Teleferico has been in operation since 1987 and will take you to the top of San Bernardo Hill for the best views 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.

 

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.

Travelling through the north-west is one of the highlights of a trip to Argentina. But there’s so much more to see in this incredible country. To see how to combine the north-west into a one-month itinerary that also covers the entire country, head to the post below:

 

 

CHURCH TOWER AND BELL, SALTA

6. Visit Argentina's Rainbow Mountain

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.

 

There’s no hiking involved but you’ll be up high at around 4200m

 

The views of this mountain range are so impressive, and much better than the one in Peru in my opinion!

TOP TIP:  I personally wouldn't book a tour to see El Hornocal. You'll spend most of the day on transport. However, I do think it's well worth visiting, especially if you haven't seen a Rainbow Mountain before. I took the local bus to Humahuaca and stayed there over night instead. Check out this guide if you're interested.

El Hornocal hills - Joe from Shall We Go Home Travel

7. Visit A Second Rainbow Mountain In Purmamarca

Known as Cerro de los Siete Colores which means the Hill of 7 Colours. This is the second Rainbow Mountain in the region is just as colourful and just as easy to visit.

 

The Hill of 7 Colours surrounds the town or Purmamarca, so all you need to do is get here.

 

Hiking the trails around the town will lead you to climb between 20m to 1,000m . The Paseo de los Colorados is a popular 3km loop that takes you around the mountain. It takes an hour and is considered an easy route.

 

You can take the local bus from Salta or book a tour.

 

Most tours will combine Purmamarca with a trip to Salinas Grandes too.

8. 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.

 

The simple way to visit is to book a tour. Most tours stop at the Hill of Seven Colors in Purmamarca.

 

The tour below is highly rated on Get Your Guide:

Salinas Grandes, North Argentina

9. Visit Tilcara & Climb To The 'Devils Throat'

Route 9 in Argentina runs from the border of Bolivia south to Salta and eventually to Buenos Aires.

 

Tilcara is the next town along Route 9 from Humahuaca.

 

It has the same laidback vibe of Humahuaca and is filled with artisan cafes, restaurants and shops. In the summer it is busy with Argentinian tourists escaping the big cities.

 

If you visit for the day, you can trek to El Garganta Del Diablos (The Devil’s Throat Waterfall) or the historical site of Pucara Del Tilcara.

TOP TIP: A bus ticket from Salta to any of these towns on Route 9 will cost less than $15 and accommodation for a night about the same. I think making a day trip/overnight stay by yourself is well worth it rather than a tour.

horses passing through Tilcara, North Argentina

10. Go Wine Tasting In Cafayate

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

 

Cafayate is 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 – and you can do tastings at all of them for between $5-10.

 

The journey takes 3-4 hours by bus, but you can also rent a car or take a tour 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.

VINEYARDS IN SALTA, ARGENTINA

11. Road Trip Along Route 33 To Cachi

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). 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.

Check out this tour if you prefer but again, rent a car! These roads are perfect for road tripping!

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

 

 

Route 9 from Salta, North Argentina

12. Indulge In Steak, Wine And Salteñas

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

 

  • Steak – 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.

 

  • Empanadas – 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.

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.

 

Here are two great places I went to:

 

  • 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:

 

 

Empanadas

How Many Days Do You Need In Salta?

2-3 days in Salta is more than enough to see the city, but if you want to explore the north-west (using Salta as a base) then I would recommend 5-7 days.

 

Here’s my recommendations:

 

  • 3 days in Salta – this is the perfect amount of time to explore the city and enjoy a day trip or two into the countryside. You can spend a day in the city on a walking tour, visit San Bernardo Hill and then pick a day tour that takes your fancy.

 

  • 5 days in Salta – extend your stay by 2 days if you want to explore north along route 9 (where you can find Argentina’s Rainbow Mountain) or south along route 33 to visit El Cafayate.

 

  • 7 Days in Salta – this is he perfect amount of time to if you want to rent a car and explore the region fully. You can take road trips outside of the city or stay overnight in the smaller towns recommended.

Exploring the northwest of Argentina also 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 my multi-country guides:

 

 

VIEWS ACROSS THE VALLEY IN SALTA, ARGENTINA

Renting A Car In Salta

Most of the thing I’ve recommend you do on this list are outside of Salta and require transport or tours to reach them.

 

Car rental is popular in the north of Argentina, as it’s set up perfectly for road trips and you actually end up saving money.

 

The biggest hub for renting a car is from Salta, but you will also be able to find companies in Jujuy.

I always use Discover Cars to find the best rental prices when travelling Argentina:

Renting a Car In Salta (Comparison using Discover Cars)

Where To Eat 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.

Where To Stay In Salta

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.

 

It 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.

 

I 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.

Views from San Bernardo Hill, Salta (Argentina)

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. 

 

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

How To Get To Salta From Humahuaca / Tilcara / Purmamarca

Check Busbud as they display the most up to date buses from big cities such as Salta and Jujuy.

 

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 – 3-4 Hours
  • Tilcara – 3 hours
  • Purmamarca – 2 hours 45 minute.

How To Get To Salta From Buenos Aires

Most adventures in the north west of Argentina will start from Buenos Aires.

 

The best way to get there is to fly but you can also overnight bus it:

  • Bus – This journey will be an overnight bus taking between 20-24 hours. Check Busbud for the prices and times.
  • Flight – a flight from Salta to BA takes 2 hours. I use Way Away Plus to book my flights whilst travelling as they give me cashback everytime! Martín Miguel de Güemes International Airport is around 30 minutes by taxi to the city centre.
The cable car to San Bernardo Hill, Salta (Argentina)

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