The colonial city of Salta is quickly building a reputation as one of the best travel destinations in Argentina. Founded in 1582, it’s known for its Spanish colonial architecture and Andean heritage. This quaint town in northwestern Argentina is often called “Salta la Linda” or “Salta the Beautiful.” Surrounded by jagged mountains and enchanting vineyards, […]
The colonial city of Salta is quickly building a reputation as one of the best travel destinations in Argentina. Founded in 1582, it’s known for its Spanish colonial architecture and Andean heritage. This quaint town in northwestern Argentina is often called “Salta la Linda” or “Salta the Beautiful.” Surrounded by jagged mountains and enchanting vineyards, there is plenty to do both within and outside the city. We’ve created a quick Salta City Guide to show you the best sights and give you travel tips, along with our top recommendations.
The official language of Argentina is Spanish.
Argentina uses the Argentine peso (ARS). Check the current exchange rate beforehand. 1 USD = 45 ARS
Winter is May-Aug, with temperatures about 55°F/13°C. Summer (wet season) is Nov-Jan, with temperatures about 73°F/23°C.
Greet people with one kiss on the cheek, rather than a handshake.
Be prepared for everything to run a little late. Most locals arrive 30 minutes late to social events.
Keep an eye on your belongings at all times and beware of pickpockets.
“Salta the Beautiful” has plenty to offer. From artisanal shops to historic cathedrals and lively nightlife, Salta will have you captivated throughout your entire stay. With that said, most of the best spots within the city are within walking distance from each other, and you can easily see the best of the city in two days. After that, explore the mesmerizing canyons and local vineyards of the surrounding regions. While within Salta, make sure to check out our top 6 places to visit.
|Plaza 9 de Julio
Start off your trip by heading to the center of the city, Plaza 9 de Julio. Wander among the street artists and vendors. From the plaza, visit Iglesia San Francisco, a striking magenta-and-yellow church originally built in the 17th century. After that, stop by the Cathedral of Salta, a Roman Catholic cathedral that was declared a national monument in the mid-1900s. To gain a better understanding of the history behind each monument, take a tour through the city with a knowledgeable guide.
|Cerro San Bernardo
For the best view in the city, head to the top of Cerro San Bernardo. A gondola can take you on an 8-minute ride from Parque San Martín to the top of the hill. Alternatively, for those looking to get some cardio in, you can opt for the hour-long hike to the top. Once there, soak in an outstanding view over the entire city of Salta.
|Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña (MAAM)
The Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña (Museum of High Altitude Archaeology) is an informative exhibit located right by Plaza 9 de Julio. You’ll learn about Inca culture and the child sacrifices that took place on top of the Andes mountains. The centerpiece of this museum are 3 mummified children discovered at the peak of Llullaillaco in 1999. Due to the icy conditions, the mummies are some of the best-preserved in the world, complete with hair, clothes, and internal organs. The mummified bodies are displayed one at a time and rotated every 6 months to help preserve them.
|San Miguel Market
When traveling to a new city, it’s always a good idea to head to the market to get a genuine feel for the area. You’ll be surrounded by the hustle and bustle of locals shopping for meats, produce, and traditional cuisine. It’s also a great place to see what native fruits and vegetables are grown in the area.
If you want to check out the nightlife in Salta, head to Balcarce Street. This pedestrian street is full of authentic shops and restaurants, but most importantly plenty of peñas. Peñas are traditional folklore music parties, mainly celebrated in northern regions of Argentina. Filled with food, wine, music, and dancing, you’re sure to have a great time while participating in this lively tradition.
To buy souvenirs, head over to the Mercado Artesanal (Artisan Market). You’ll find handmade pottery, traditional ponchos, and jewelry. Prices may be slightly more expensive than some of the souvenir shops in town, but there are more options. You can enjoy a full afternoon of just walking around and looking at all of the trinkets.
Where to Go
Hike in the Quebrada de Cafayate
Often compared to the landscapes of Utah or even the Grand Canyon, Quebrada de Cafayate is a rugged canyon an hour and a half outside of Salta. It’s also known as Quebrada de las Conchas, which translates to “Shell’s Gorge.” Wind and water have eroded the mountains, leaving behind magnificent formations. Spend the day driving around the canyons and stop for short hikes along the way. Or, join this hiking and biking overnight tour to experience even more natural wonders of the area such as the Rio Colorado falls.
Taste Cafayate Wine
After visiting the canyons, head to the vineyards surrounding the town of Cafayate for some wine tasting. Cafayate’s dry climate and high altitude make for delicious wine. Drive down any dirt road in this small town and you’re sure to find a winery where you can tour the estate and taste the wine as well. To combine the scenery of Quebrada de Cafayate with a nearby winery, we recommend this day tour that takes you through the canyon before heading to a local vineyard.
Admire the Salinas Grandes Salt Flats
On day trips from Salta into the surrounding mountains, you’ll find the Salinas Grandes Salt Flats. The salt flats cover approximately 132 square miles (212 square km) of vast horizons and sprawling views stretching into the Andes mountains. Said to be the remnants of an ancient river, the salt that isn’t mined is often turned into sculptures by local artists.
Bike the Cuesta del Obispo Road
The route to the town of Cachi is a scenic, winding dirt road known as Cuesta del Obispo. This road goes all the way up the mountain to an elevation of 11,000 feet above sea level (3,353 m). The landscapes on either side of the road are absolutely gorgeous and you can enjoy them best on a bike tour. As you drive up to a high point, this adrenaline-pumping road will have you gripping your seat and peering over the edge. You’ll feel as if you’re on top of the world! Then, descend by bike, admiring the majestic mountains and deep valleys.