Apr 8, 2016|
Last updated on March 26th, 2021 at 09:20 am
There are so many things to do in Salta and its encompassing region. Salta offers reasons to stay awhile, whether you plan on crossing into Bolivia and Paraguay, or instead focusing just on your Argentina trip. This is Argentina’s largest northwestern city, and yet visitors will find a walkable, small-town layout. Though Salta’s architecture is remarkably Spanish, its people are both mestizo and criollo, and the music heard in the peñas (traditional folk music halls) expresses a classic South American culture.
Things to Do in Salta City
The city’s three pedestrian avenues are Alberdi, Florida, and Caseros. These form the heart of Salta, with shops, bars, cafes, and restaurants where you can order tender llama stroganoff and a glass of local wine. Visit a peña for traditional live music where everyone picks up a guitar and sings.
On nearby Balcarce Street, a weekly craft market springs up every Sunday. Above the trees angles a cable car to the top of San Bernardo Hill. Off in the distance the Andes, and below them the road to Cafayate. This is the countryside of gauchos, where Butch Cassidy passed through like a myth, and ambitious conquistadors prepared for the long march to Peru. Their legacy exists partly in the city’s spectacular, baroque church and blue-domed cathedral.
Before the Spanish, there were the Incas, three of whom may be seen in the museum. They are the mummified Children of Llullaillaco and they appear as if frozen only last year.
Things to Do in Salta’s Surrounding Regions
1. Ride on the Train to the Clouds
Though Salta perches at a cool 3,780 feet above sea level, there is a train that will carry you higher. The Train to the Clouds, the fifth-highest railroad in the world, tugs its way through 21 tunnels, along 29 bridges, to an altitude of over two and a half miles. Make sure to get a seat on the left side in order to catch some of the greatest views of the Andes mountains. This spectacular train ride takes an entire day and runs from April to November.
2. Visit Calchaquí Valley
This region spans all of the northern provinces in Argentina, and is composed of mountain desert, canyon of contrasting colors, and high altitude wine valleys. In the midst of Calchaquí is the laid back town of Cafayate. Here there are wine cellars, and a day can be spent visiting the surrounding vineyards, sipping glasses of wine made from the white Argentine grape called Torrontés.
3. See the Hill of Seven Colors
The Quebrada de Humahuaca is a narrow mountain valley which once served as a caravan road for the Incan Empire. Along this natural road lies the little adobe town of Humahuaca, hardly touched by tourism. Humahuaca is charming, but in many regards it is but a jumping off point for those wishing to experience the surreal color palette expressed in the Hill of Seven Colors, the vast horizons ringing the salt flats of Salinas Grande, or the pre-Colombian fortress known as Pukara. This region, after all, has played host to many civilizations over the past 10,000 years.
4. Walk the Salinas Grandes (Salt Flats)
At 11,300 feet these salt flats are in sharp contrast to the colorful hills of Purmamarca. This salt filled ancient river are almost blindingly white against the backdrop of the Andes. Through extremely dry and arid, you’ll see wildlife like flamingos or the Andean fox. You’ll arrive here on essentially the same path as the Train de Las Nubes so talk to your travel agent about combining these two highlights.
How to Get to Salta
There are daily nonstop flights to Buenos Aires. Depending on the day of the week, there are nonstop flights to Puerto Iguazu to visit the famous Iguazu waterfalls, and to Argentina’s other wine region of Mendoza.
By Bus or Train
If you have lots of time, there are buses from Buenos Aires, and a 27-hour train from Buenos Aires to Tucuman. It is another half day by bus from Tucuman to Salta. I traveled from Asunción by bus to Salta, with a stop in Resistencia. This took all day. Later bused around 7.5 hours from Salta to La Quiaca, along the southern border of Bolivia. The view was scenic the entire ride.
Best Time to Visit Salta
Argentina weather is very enjoyable year-round. In fact, Salta boasts fair weather most of the year. One of our favorite times to visit Salta is during April. This is when the Salta Culture Festival occurs – an entire month of music, handicrafts, and parties.