Holidays in Salta
Wine Tasting Tours in the Wild West
The RealWorld Guide to Salta
Tucked up away in the north-west, on the way north to the border with Bolivia, Salta is one of Argentina's best-kept secrets. Somehow it has managed to stay largely off the main holiday radar, despite having Argentina's best-preserved colonial architecture, stunning mountain scenery, some of Argentina's best vineyards, and a quality of life that makes Australians look envious.
It has a long history, originally being founded as a staging-post between Buenos Aires and Lima, and almost uniquely among Argenine cities, Salta has managed to keep its colonial centre largely intact. As well as looking a little different to other cities, a holiday in Salta feels slightly different as well. You get a sense of the wild west up here, and it's not just because of all the cactuses... The food, the people and the scenery are all somehow more identifiably South American than much of Argentina.
Holidays and Tours in Salta
Where to Stay in Salta
Although it's a sizeable city, if you're on holiday in Salta then the only sensible place to stay is in the historic centre. Not only does it mean you have all the historical sights and the general ambiance of the colonial city on your doorstep, but it also has the pick of Salta's hotels.
The airport is 6km to the south of the city, but traffic isn't usually a huge problem, so even if you're on an early flight out, there's no real reason to stay nearer to the airport as the journey will only take around 30 minutes at most. Likewise, if you're heading out into the Cafayate valley for a sightseeing or wine-tasting tour then getting out of the city and underway won't take long at all.
What to See and Do in Salta
If you only have a short time on your holiday in Salta then you're advised to spend most of it in the city itself, exploring the rich history and gorgeous colonial architecture on offer. However, if you have a little longer at your disposal then a trip out into the dramatic countryside to visit a nearby vineyard or to enjoy a scenic train ride could certainly be on the agenda...
Salta's most important colonial architecture is in the historic centre, and the gorgeous Cathedral and 18th-century Cabildo form the centrepiece of any tour of Salta. Both are located on the Plaza 9 de Julio, right in the centre, with several excellent cafes handily-placed for you to sit in and admire them both. Also on the main square is another of Salta's major attractions, the superb Museum of Highland Archaeology (MAAM for its initials in Spanish) which houses some superb exhibits from the area's pre-colonial history.
Long before the conquistadores arrived, Salta was one of the southern outposts of the Inca Empire, and in 1997, the mummified bodies of 3 children were found on the 6700m summit of the nearby Llullaillaco volcano. These incredibly-preserved mummies are now on a rotating display in the MAAM museum and are a spooky but fascinating must-see.
And if you'd like an overview of things, another thing you absolutely must do when on holiday in Salta is to take the teleferico cable-car up to the top of the Cerro San Bernardo just to the east of the city.
The Wild West and Wine Tours
The countryside around Salta is another major reason for visiting, and it looks for all the world like a set from a Spaghetti Western. The red banded rocks, giant cactuses and arid scrub are guaranteed to bring out the cowboy in you, and whether you opt for a traditional horse-riding tour or just head out in a 4x4, it's a great day out.
Another way of seeing the area around Salta is to take the famous Train to the Clouds (or 'Tren a los Nubes' in Spanish) tour, which is one of Salta's biggest attractions. This 15-hour round trip in modern and comfortable carriages, takes you from Salta's modest 1,187m above sea-level right up to the 4,220m height of the La Polvorilla viaduct, giving you some superb views of the mountains and countryside.
As well as these day trips, you can also take longer tours up into the vineyards of the Cafayate Valley, where you can stay in traditional haciendas and enjoy wine-tasting tours to appreciate the fine wines with which Cafayate is becoming synoymous.
Flights To and From Salta
There are regular flights with Lan and Aerolineas Argentinas which link Salta with Buenos Aires, and Aerolineas also have useful direct connections to Cordoba and Puerto Iguazu as well, although the latter only operate in high season.
You can also fly directly to La Paz in Bolivia, with flights three times a week with Amaszonas.
Road Links to Salta
Up here in the far north-west, Argentina's usually excellent road network is not quite as good as elsewhere. The roads, such as they are, are fine, but you don't have the non-stop inter-city coaches you see elsewhere and you need to get down to Cordoba before you're really plugged in to the national road network.
That said, Salta is a regular stop-off point on the road route up to Bolivia, via Jujuy, which will take you to the crossing point at Villazon. From here it's easy to travel up to Tupiza and start a trip on to the Uyuni Salt Flats...
There are also regular buses over the border to Calama in Chile, but if Chile is on your agenda we'd probably recommend heading down to Mendoza and crossing there instead.
Transport Within Salta
Everything in the historic centre of Salta is perfectly walkable, and you're unlikely to need to explore other areas of the city. If you do for any reason, there is a decent city bus network, but you will probably find taxis more convenient. A taxi to the airport from the centre will cost around ARS$50.
Weather & Climate in Salta
Weather in Salta
You don't get a huge variation in temperatures in Salta, so although things are cooler in the Argentine winter (Jun-August) the major factor to consider is the difference between the rainy and dry seasons.
Most of the year is fairly dry, but from December-March you do get quite a lot of rain, so if you can plan your holiday in Salta to avoid this period that's probably best.
Wine Tours in Salta
All our Argentina holidays are 100% tailormade, so we can customise your tour of Salta in any way you like. One option we'd highly recommend is to take a trip out of Salta to stay in the wine-growing area of Cafayate - you'll be rewarded with beautiful scenery and the chance to take a fantastic wine-tasting tour as well. Just get in touch with our friendly and experienced advisors and we can start planning your holiday to Salta today.
Did you know?
The Cafayate valley is home to some of the highest-altitude vineyards on earth. Vines are regularly grown here at well over 1500m, with some up at the giddy heights of 3000m. The altitude is credited by winemakers with providing an increase in natural acidity, healthier plants, and more developed flavours: we can certainly vouch for the last!