Salta was one of my favourite destinations in Argentina! With its colonial architecture, picturesque streets and interesting museum, Salta is a great city to explore, but the area also lures. You can make day trips to the most beautiful mountains, villages and salt plains. The landscape is breathtakingly diverse and easy to visit with a rental car or guided tour. These are the 10 reasons to add Salta to your itinerary!
#1 The colonial architecture
Salta is one of the most pretty cities in Argentina. The atmosphere is relaxed and the architecture beautiful. It is a typical colonial village with Spanish influences. Take a walk through the town and sit down on a bench at Plaza 9 de Julio. Do you want to go around town with a guide? Then we recommend you to join a free walking tour.
#2 Museo Arqueologia de Alta Montana (MAAM)
Website | Salta’s most important museum is on Plaza 9 de Julio. The exhibition about the child sacrifices and the Inca culture is particularly impressive. The museum tells the story of the child mummies discovered in the Andes. Human sacrifices to the gods were part of the Inca culture. Children from the most important families were selected for these sacrifices. After extensive celebrations, they were killed at holy places up in the mountains or buried alive there to honour the gods. Due to the unique conditions in the mountains, the bodies of three children have been perfectly preserved. In MAAM you can now admire the mummies of a 15-year-old girl and a 6 or 7-year-old boy and girl. An impressive way to learn about the Inca culture and their religion.
#3 De Salinas Grandes
You’re so close to the border with Bolivia, you can already get a taste of the famous salt plains in this neighboring country in Salta. North of Salta are the Salinas Grandes. The vast salt plains are a unique sight. The salt crust is half a meter thick in most places! Take sunglasses with you, because the white salt layer can be dazzling on sunny days.
#4 The coloured mountains at Purmamarca
The village of Purmamarca is cute, but it is mainly the coloured mountains that make it worth a visit. The Cerro de Los Siete Colores are located exactly above the village. A postcard pretty sight! That also makes the small village very popular with tourists, so make sure you are here in the early morning. You can then walk through the quiet village and visit the market with woven ponchos and scarves. The colourful mountains are also at their best in the morning light.
#5 The villages along the Río Grande
The Río Grande has cut an impressive gorge through the mountains. Straight through that gap and alongside the river, a road leads past the most picturesque mountain villages. Purmamarca with its coloured mountains is one of the first that you will encounter. But drive further into the mountains along the cactus fields and rocks to visit the other villages. Recommended are Uquía and the larger town of Humahuaca.
#6 The empanadas and the peñas
Salta is known as the place where the Argentine empanada was created. The town is therefore bursting with restaurants and kiosks that claim to make the best empanadas in the country. Try them all and decide for yourself! And don’t forget to visit the local peñas. A peña is a bar where you can eat and drink, but mainly come for the live music. This typical folk music is even more famous in Argentina than tango!
#7 The canyons at the Quebrada de Cafayate
It is not just the north where a river cut out a beautiful landscape. To the south of Salta the Río de las Conchas created the Quebrada de Cafayate. It runs from from Salta to the wine village of Cafayate and has the most impressive mountain views. From colourful rock formations to desolate mountain landscapes. From high gorges to bright red mountain tops. This is perhaps one of the most beautiful roads in Argentina.
#8 The wine tastings at Cafayate
The southern village of Cafayate is the heart of one of the most important Argentinian wine regions. Visit one of the vineyards in the region for a tasting. The views are just as spectacular: endless vineyards with impressive mountain ranges as backdrop.
#9 Tren a las Nubes
Salta also has the most famous train ride in Argentina. The cloud train departs from Salta and leads through the beautiful mountain area. The highlight of the trip is the huge and high La Polvorilla viaduct over a huge canyon. I skipped this train ride myself. It is said to be very touristy and pricey and the tour lasts very long. If you’d like to visit La Polvorilla in another way: there are also tours in Salta that lead you along the train route, where you also get to see the viaduct.
#10 Cerro San Bernardo viewpoint
For a beautiful panorama of Salta and the surrounding area you have to be on this hilltop. You can hike up yourself, but if you want to make it easy on yourself, take the telérico. The cable car can be found in the Parque San Martín. The start of the hike is at the Güemes monument.