Known as Salta “la linda” (the beautiful) for its indisputable beauty, the province of Salta has many places worth visiting. The city of Salta is one of the must-sees, not only for being the capital of the province but also for its history, architecture and activities. In this post I you’ll learn about the top things to do in Salta, Argentina.
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The province of Salta is for many travelers the first point to visit the stunning Argentine Northwest. If you are planning a trip to Salta, you will surely start by visiting the city of Salta which is where flights arrive from other places in Argentina.
In March 2020 my boyfriend and I visited the province of Salta for 3 days and we loved visiting the city. In this post I tell you about my experience and what we visited.
How many days should you visit Salta
The city of Salta is nice, but the real beauty is in the interior of the province. I think 1 day is enough to visit the city of Salta. There are museums, churches and some other places to visit.
After 1 day of exploring the city, you can head south to Quebrada de las Conchas and Cafayate, go to the northwest to take the Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds) in San Antonio de los Cobres or continue north towards the province of Jujuy.
How to get to Salta
Salta’s airport is Martín Miguel de Güemes International Airport and it’s located 7 km away from the city. There are daily flights to Salta from Buenos Aires, Bariloche, Córdoba, Mendoza, Neuquén, Puerto Iguazú and Rosario. International flights also arrive from Bolivia, Chile, Perú and Panamá.
HOW TO GET FROM SALTA AIRPORT TO THE CITY CENTER:
- Car: if you plan to rent a car to travel, you can pick it up at the same airport. We booked our car through Rentalcars and started our trip to Cafayate as soon as we arrive to the airport. If you are considering renting a car, I recommend Rentalcars, a website that compares the prices of all rental companies and usually offers a lower price.
- Taxi: Taking a taxi is a fast but expensive option. Just outside the airport you can take a taxi to the city center.
- Shared transfer: The best way to avoid worrying about anything is to book a transfer from the airport to your hotel in Salta. There are both private and shared options. The driver will wait for you at the airport, and drop you off at your hotel.
You can also get to Salta by bus from any province in Argentina.
Where to stay in Salta
To visit the city of Salta, I recommend staying in the historic center, near Plaza 9 de Julio which is the main square of the city.
On my trip I stayed at Hotel Alejandro 1º, a hotel with excellent service. It is located just 3 blocks from the plaza, so it is close to many tourist spots in the city. Click here to see the prices for Alejandro 1º in Booking.
Another beautiful hotel to check out is Villa Vicuña Hotel Boutique, a colonial house turned into a boutique hotel with a gorgeous interior patio and pool. It’s also located in the city center, near the Plaza 9 de Julio. Click here to see prices for Villa Vicuña in Booking.
Things to do in Salta in one day
- Tour the Historic Center of the city
In the historical center of the city you will see many beautiful buildings that reflect the colonial times of the city. It is ideal for walking since it is not too big.
- Plaza 9 de Julio
Like all Latin American cities, Salta has its main square. In Plaza 9 de Julio you will find several of the most important buildings in the city such as the Cabildo or the Cathedral. One option to start exploring the city if you want to learn a bit about its history is to take this 4-Hour Guided City Tour where you will learn more about all the buildings located at Plaza 9 de Julio. This tour includes an english speaking guide and transportation in bus or minivan to see the city.
- Salta Cathedral
If there is something that this city has are churches, and of course you can’t missthe Cathedral Basilica of Salta, a national historical monument. You can take a free guided tour of the Cathedral, available only in Spanish.
- Cabildo of Salta
The Cabildo is one of the oldes buildings in the city. It was the city hall from 1626 to 1888. The building was renovated and is currently home to the North Historical Museum and the Colonial and Fine Arts Museum. Entrance is free.
Basilica and convent of San Francisco
Something that I loved about the churches of Salta is how colorful their facades are. Without a doubt, my favorite was the Basilica of San Francisco with its terracotta-colored facade. The first building of this church was built in 1625, and the current facade is from 1872. Its bell tower is the tallest in Latin America with 54 meters high. It is located in the historic center so you can easily walk there.
- Parroquia Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria de La Viña
Another church that draws attention for its light blue color is the Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria de la Viña. The interior is very interesting too but unfortunately it was closed when I visited.
- Convento de San Bernardo
To end this churches tour in Salta, you can stop by the San Bernardo convent, one of the oldest buildings in the city, which was built in the late 16th or early 17th century. You can’t enter because it is an enclosed convent but you can see its exterior.
Visit the Museo Arqueológico de Alta Montaña (MAAM)
Visiting the High Altitude Archeological Museum is one of the best things to do in Salta. The main attraction of this museum are the Children of Llullaillaco, three mummified inca children who were discovered in 1999 in perfect conditions.
I didn’t have time to visit this museum but I’ll make sure to do so next time I visit Salta. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday and holidays from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. You can find more information on the museum’s website.
- Cerro San Bernardo
Cerro San Bernardo is a municipal nature reserve with a height of 284 meters. It is a place that offers very nice views of the whole city, so sunset is the perfect time to go. Not only many tourists visit it, but also local people who go up the hill to exercise or just chill (specially on weekends). At the top there is a cafe where you can sit down to have a drink while you admire the city views. There are 3 ways to go up:
- Take the funicular: The funicular is located near Parque San Martin. It costs ARS$250 each way and is open from Monday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Click here to see updated rates.
- Walk: free admission. It takes approximately 40 minutes to reach the top.
- By car: free entry. We went up with the rental car. At the top there is almost no place to leave the car and people leave them on the road (which is downhill) so it is not organized at all.
Visit a Peña Folklorica
If you want to experience the typical music from Northwest Argentina, you shouldn’t miss a night at a peña folklórica. Peñas are meetings where people gather and can have traditional dishes of the region while enjoying to live music and dance. Peñas are typical in Salta and can be found in restaurants and other places.
You can also take this tour to visit the best peñas in Salta.
Day trips from Salta
From the city of Salta you can take several tours. These are some of the most known day trips from Salta:
- Cafayate with wine tasting: Cafayate is a place you can’t miss if you travel to Salta. If you don’t have a car, you can take this full day tour to Cafayate which includes the transportation in a minivan, a bilingual guide, stops at the Quebrada de las Conchas and a visit to a Cafayate winery to taste the torrontés wine. If you are going to rent a car, you can read more about Cafayate in my post: Quebrada de las Conchas road trip from Salta to Cafayate.
- Quebrada de Humahuaca: Another possible tour to take from the city of Salta is the Quebrada de Humahuaca in the province of Jujuy. Humahuaca Gorge has one of the most beautiful ladscapes in the country. In this tour you will see the Hill of 7 Colors and explore the town of Purmamarca. Click here for more information about the tour to Humahuaca from Salta.
- Salinas Grandes: This is one of the most incredible places in northern Argentina. Salinas Grandes are located in the province of Jujuy and it is the third largest salt flat in South America. It is a unique landscape. Click here for more information about the tour to Salinas Grandes from Salta.
What is the best time to visit Salta?
In my opinion, any time of the year is great for visiting Salta city since it has nice weather all year round. In summer (December to March) it can be very hot and these are the most rainy months. In winter (June to September) the temperature is around 18ºC. The rest of the year the weather is mild and pleasant. Salta is known for having over 300 days for sun per year.
I hope you found this post useful when planning your trip to the city of Salta. You can see my Salta pictures on Instagram under the hashtag: PFISALTA
Other posts about Northwest Argentina:
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