Insider South America Series, Chapter 8: What to Do in Salta, Argentina
Salta, la Linda. The nickname of our next destination translates to “Salta, the beautiful”. After staying here for a few days, it was easy to see why! A charming city in the north of Argentina, and sadly our last port in this beautiful nation, was really a hidden gem.
Surrounded by beautiful towns and provinces, incredible landscapes and adventures to some of the most beautiful places we have ever seen, mountains the colour of rainbows extending as far as the eye can see, cacti the size of giants, and azure blue skies… We can not think of a better way to say goodbye to Argentina than this.
Where to stay
Like always, let’s tackle a hostel first. We stayed in a nice little hotel called La Covacha. Had a simple, yet free breakfast and helpful staff. Which is exactly what you need in a place like this with so much to do!
What we liked most about this particular hostel is the location, a short walk to anywhere you need to go, and that has not only one, but two rooftop terraces! Plenty of places to sit back and relax after some big tours, watch the sunset and with views like that, very social environment making it easy to meet new people.
We suggest staying here, although feel free to use HostelWorld or booking.com as there are many, many options to choose from around the area depending on whether you want a chilled or party vibe.
What to do
Firstly, there are many things to do in Salta as there is anywhere else we have visited. Full of brilliant museums, parks, bars and everything in between. I will give a few things an honourable mention now but will focus more on the things that really make Salta, beautiful.
All the city stops
Within Salta, you will find the gorgeous Plaza 9 de Julio, a great place to sit with friends, have a coffee and do some people watching. Surrounded by colonial architecture and cobblestone streets, it's a great place to pass the time.
Speaking of passing the time, Salta is home to many museums such as Museo Arqueologia Alta Montana and Museo Pajcha Arte Etnico, which are the two you can not miss.
On top of this, you can also catch a cable car, or stroll up the mountain of Cerro San Bernardo for panoramic views of the city, and to gain a full scope of how big it actually is!
Off the beaten track
Now that the city is out of the way - let’s take a look at some more ‘unique’ things that Salta has in store for you. First of all, a must visit is ‘Tren a las Nubes’. This is Argentina's most famous train ride, and it means train to the clouds. I do need to mention, it is rather expensive compared to other trips, but the engineering is astonishing and the photos, well there's a reason we placed it on the must do list!
Quebreda de Cafayate
Sounds like a mouthful right? Well, it's as hard to pronounce as it is beautiful. Part of the Calchaquí Valley it is surrounded by beautiful red mountains, sculpted by nature, unreal geological rock formations, it's something you have to see to believe. The craziest thing about the natural beauty here is that everywhere you look around the province of Salta, it continues to get more beautiful!
Seeing as though we are on a run with hard to pronounce places, we have another for you… Purmamarca, and the hill of seven colours. Part of a day trip from Salta, the hill is located on the edge of the Jujuy region, and it looks best in the morning with the sun on it.
However, at any point in the day, you can stand in front of it and really take in the beauty of the world and awe at what it has created. A small suggestion, rather than do a day trip here where you may be slightly rushed, why not spend a night in a hostel in Purmamarca. You will see the most beautiful sunset in the world, and see the night sky spark up with the most incredible and unpolluted view of the stars imaginable.
One more thing we absolutely must mention to you, is to visit what we find to be both astonishing and beautiful, is the mountain shapes in Humahuaca.
I know what your thinking. Crazy names right? Well, absurd names suit crazy places. It is tough to actually describe the mountains here. The best we can explain it is, imagine getting on a bus for a few hours, seeing some amazing colours, picturesque valleys and immaculate blue skies.
Then, when you get off, you realise you're on Mars…. That's right; it does not look like it's from this world, the colours, patterns. Something you have to see for your own eyes or you won't believe they exist!
Now, all the amazing things we have just mentioned are just a few of the amazing sights on offer in Salta. The list goes on, and on. Our biggest recommendation for you would be to spend 1-2 nights in Salta itself, and then move around the province, spend a couple of hours on the bus and settle in for a night in each small place around Salta and the Juyjuy province. You will never run short on things to do!
Honourable mention: Salta is aptly named as it is home to one spectacular sight not yet mentioned... The Salt Flats. A great place to visit and experience first hand, but remember, these places are at altitudes so be prepared with altitude pills if you find necessary.
Although the salt flats here are gorgeous, don't worry if you don't have time to see them. They are only a taste of what's in store on the next instalment. The worlds largest salt flat a.k.a the worlds largest mirror and the border between heaven and Earth.
Don't just take our word for it, check out South America for yourself, whether you take our Community Buenos Aires volunteering trip in Argentina itself or choose to get paid and work in South America on our Teaching English trip in Peru. You will have Salta right on your doorstep to explore as far and wide as you want to!