Far from the glaciers and snow-capped mountains of Patagonia, Argentina’s northern corner holds its own secrets and stunning landscapes. Salta and neighbouring Jujuy are worth spending time exploring, with their surreal mountains and valleys, jungle and vineyards, and indigenous cultural heritage. If you are short on time, though, we have come up with the perfect 3-day Salta itinerary with suggestions for extending it.
Arrive in the city of Salta in the morning. After checking in to your accommodation, it’s time to explore the city. You can opt to take a city tour or explore yourself. Some highlights to see in Salta include the pink Cathedral of Salta, and the red and yellow San Francisco Church, the Museo de Arquelogía de Alta Montaña (MAAM), famous for its mummified body of a child, the Cultural Centre America, and the Historical Museum. Walk or take the teleférico up San Bernando Hill to admire the views over the city and surrounding mountains.
In the evening head to Plaza 9 de Julio. This is where all the action is, with many cafés and bars lining the plaza. Keep in mind that Salta takes siesta, so shops close after lunch, and open again in the late afternoon. As night falls, get cultural on a Folkloric Tour, or head to a typical parrilla where you can sample a-typical meat, such as llama or try locro (an iconic stew of the Andean region, made with corn, beans, chorizo and chunks of meat). Get an early night’s sleep because day two is going to be a long one.
Take a tour to Salinas Grandes. A day tour into neighbouring Jujuy is a great way to maximise your time and see some of the region’s top attractions on one trip – perfect for people short on time. This tour will take you to the high-altitude town of San Antonio de los Cobres. From there continue on the famous Route 40, crossing incredible mountain landscapes. Arrive at the Salinas Grandes. These giant salt flats just beg for creative photographs as you play with perspectives on this unusual landscape. After having your fun here, continue on to the typical town of Purmamarca in the Quebrada de Humahuaca (Humahuaca Canyon). Here is where you’ll find the incredible Seven Colours Hill. This is one of the most incredible mountain landscapes in the country. Finally head back to Salta, after stopping briefly in the colonial city of San Salvador de Jujuy.
After a long day out, grab some empanadas salteñas for dinner, which people from Salta will tell you are the best in the country, and many in Argentina are prone to agree!
Tucked in the mountains of Valles Calchaquíes is the lush wine country of Cafayate. Spend your third day in Salta visiting this beautiful town. You can take a tour to Cafayate, hire a car and drive there, or take the local bus, which runs 4 or 5 daily services between the two towns. Stop along the way at Quebrada de las Conchas (the Shell’s Gorge), where the towering red rock walls have been carved over time into weird and wonderful shapes. Some of the most popular ones are The Ampitheatre, The Titanic, Devil’s Throat and the Toad.
Reaching Cafayate, it’s time to go wine tasting! Cafayate is a unique wine region due to its high altitude, with the highest vineyards in the world. It is famous for Torrontés wine, Argentina’s signature white grape. Other wines also flourish here, including Malbec, Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. If you’re in Cafayate without a tour, stop by the tourist information office in town to pick up a list of wineries and their tasting schedules. There are a number of places in town to taste at, if you don’t have a car. Remember that Cafayate’s wineries are not open on Sundays, so keep this in mind when planning your itinerary.
If you have time this is a great place to spend a relaxing night before heading back to Salta in the morning and catching your flight or bus. Otherwise head back and spend your last night enjoying Salta’s food and wines.
Extend your trip
There are plenty more things to do if you have a bit more time. Combine your trip to Cafayate with a visit to Cachi and the Los Cardones National Park, with its giant cactuses and extinct animal fossils. This trip takes you up the winding roads of Cuesta del Obispo on Route 33. There is also a day tour from Salta that takes you to Cachi and Los Cardones.
Salta also is a the ideal place for outdoor adventures. With its many mountains, there are plenty of stunning hiking routes. It is also a popular place for cyclists, opting to cycle between towns rather than take tours or buses. For more adrenaline, there is the Yungas (jungle) which offers great adventure tour options, including mountain biking, rafting and ziplining.
Another great area to explore is the Quebrada de Humahuaca area. Instead of passing through quickly, spend time exploring the towns here, such Humahuaca and Tilcara, where you can explore a pre-Inca settlement. Cross back into Salta to visit Iruya, one of the region’s prettiest towns tucked into the mountain side.
You can easily spend two weeks in Salta and Jujuy, exploring their many highlights. But if you have just three days, stick to this Salta itinerary to fit in the highlights. Be warned though: you’ll probably want to come back soon to see the rest!
For more tours and activities in Salta, please visit our website!