Introduction to Salta
Salta is the biggest city in the Northwestern region of Argentina, and with its balmy climate and attractive colonial architecture it effortlessly lives up to its nickname, La Linda, meaning ‘the beautiful’ in Spanish. It is without a doubt one of the most well-preserved colonial cities in all of Argentina, and it’s pretty streets are dotted with beautiful architecture and interesting museums. Salta’s many alfresco bars make the most of the summery climate and create a lively folklorico music scene around the city.
As well as being a destination in its own right, the city of Salta is the perfect base from which to visit the rest of the northwest of Argentina, with many of its most famous sights within easy reach. This is also the place to soak up the distinctive culture of the north, with traditional craft markets, interesting cuisine and a lively local music scene, including dance and music and a contemporary folk scene which goes on late into the night. With its colonial plazas where you can while away an afternoon sipping a glass of the local torrontes wine, to grand churches and museums for exercising the mind, as well as nightlife to rival that of Buenos Aires, Salta is a firm favorite of ours.
What not to miss in Salta
City of Salta
Founded in 1582 and traditionally called ‘La Linda’ (The Beautiful), the provincial capital is one of the region’s highlights. In the city of Salta colonial houses and churches become a normal part of the scenery as you walk down the center’s streets. Stroll through the cobblestone streets around Plaza 9 de Julio, the hub of the city of Salta, and be romanced by the beautiful colonial architecture and candlelit cafes.
114 miles (183km) away from the city of Salta, in the most southerly point of the Calchaquí Valley Route, is Cafayate. Home to the up-and-coming Torrontes vineyards, which are unique to this region and produce a refreshingly light white wine, the charming colonial town of Cafayate is firmly on the map for wine enthusiast travelers.
Cachi is a highlight in itself. 35 miles (157km) away from the city of Salta, this is a frequent first stop on the Calchaquí Valley Route. A small village at the foot of the 20,570 ft (6,270m) tall Nevado Mountain, the town seduces visitors with simple cobblestone streets, small colonial constructions and an imposing sight of mountains all around it.
Calchaquí Valley Route
The Calchaquí Valley Route is a joy to explore with its ‘out of this world’ rock formations that have been created by millions of years of wind and water erosion.
Put away your watch when you get to Purmamarca, as time seems to have stopped here. Dusty light brown streets sidelined by low adobe houses are guarded by the majestic Cerro de los 7 Colores (The Mountain of Seven Colors).
Horseback Riding with the Gauchos
Riding with the Gauchos through the open fields, forests and mountains surrounding Salta is not only a great way to experience the Gaucho way of life and traditions but will also introduce you to the region’s tranquility and breathtaking landscapes.
Salta is famous for its empanadas, which are different to those found in the rest of the country. The Patio de Empanada is a fun and lively spot to try a variety of these delicious stuffed pastries.
The Movitrack overland truck experience is simply unforgettable! Climbing aboard this huge truck that can grapple with the region’s tricky terrain you’ll be able to enjoy this unique adventure while soaking up the stunning panoramas of Northwestern Argentina.
What you need to know
When to go
In the summer months Salta bakes under cloudless skies and an unforgiving sun, and though it can be visited in summer it is at its best in spring, fall and winter (around April to November) when temperatures are more agreeable. Whatever time of year you visit, make sure that you have plenty of sun cream and a wide-brimmed hat! Rainy season falls during the summer months of December to February with the rest of the year mostly dry. Wine enthusiasts should consider visiting in the months running up to harvest from around February to April.
How to get there
Daily flights from Buenos Aires arrive at the Martín Miguel de Güemes Airport in the city of Salta and the Gobernador Horacio Guzmán airport in San Salvador de Jujuy.
Buses also reach the Northwest but keep in mind that the journey from Buenos Aires by bus takes almost 24 hours.
Where to stay
Most of the standard hotels in Salta and Jujuy are four stars and under. However, there are new boutique hotels in many of the most visited sites. B&Bs, hostels, cabins and campsites can also be found in almost all touristic areas.
Visiting different sites around the city of Salta and San Salvador de Jujuy is possible by bus, though tours are probably the most comfortable way to move around, since distances are sometimes long and some spots are not covered by public transport.
However, normal buses are fine if you wish to move from one village to another and spend one whole day, or more there.
Car rental outlets are available in both capital cities. You should take into account that not all the roads are paved and some mountain routes can be dangerous at some points, so not all cars can be driven in some places.
Moving around the city of Salta is possible by bus, or taxi although as it’s not a big city walking is sometimes the best option. There is a cable car that goes to the top of Cerro San Bernardo.