The 11 must-do things to do in Salta

Are you going to the northwest of Argentina? Do not miss to visit Salta, the most beautiful city in the region! Discover the 10 essentials that we have selected for you!

Summary

  • 1. Museum of High Mountain Archeology (MAAM)
  • 2. The historic center of Salta
  • 3. Pajcha – Museum of American Ethnic Art
  • 4. Cerro San Bernardo (cable car)
  • 5. Train to the Clouds
  • 6. Historical Museum of the North
  • 7. Big Salt Flats
  • 8. Calchaquies Valleys
  • 9. Cafayate
  • 10. Cafayate Ravine

If this is the first time you have traveled to Argentina, you will be surprised by the diversity of landscapes in this immense country! Lush and humid regions, desert expanses of the Pampas , Patagonian glaciers, arid deserts… We quickly fall in love with the culture and the striking contrasts that pass before our amazed eyes.

The Argentine Northwest rises at the foot of the Andes Cordillera, in a succession of polychrome canyons, Quechua and Aymará villages, deserts and historic cities. Salta la linda – the beautiful – is one of the prettiest colonial towns in the country. Founded in the 16th century, capital of the province of the same name, perched at an altitude of 1,185 meters, it is one of the favorite destinations for travellers! On the one hand, it is considered the ideal base for exploring the spectacular treasures of the region: Quebrada de Humahuaca, Quebrada de Cafayate, Valles Calchaquíes… But visitors also come to admire its colonial architecture, its fascinating museums and its mixed culture.

Planning to visit the area and wondering what to do in Salta? Follow our guide! We have selected for you the 10 essentials of the town and its surroundings!

1. Museum of High Mountain Archeology (MAAM)

High Mountain Museum of Archaeology

If there is one museum not to be missed in northern Argentina, it is the Museum of High Mountain Archeology (MAAM). Its collection dedicated to the Inca culture is fascinating! The museum presents in particular the mummified bodies of sacrificed children. Discovered at the top of Llullaillaco (volcano of 6,739 meters!) in 1999, these mummies have been the subject of many controversies regarding their exposure to the public. Today, they are presented in turn on a six-month rotation, surrounded by objects discovered in the tombs. Panels and videos inform the visitor about these sacrificial rituals, the way of life and the routes that the Incas used.

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2. The historic center of Salta

Cathedral of Salta, Argentina

The main square –  Plaza 9 de Julio – and its adjacent streets, the San Francisco church, the cabildo (city council from the colonial era) are all places to visit in Salta. Strolling through the historic district during the day or later in the evening, when the monuments are lit up, is a very pleasant stroll.

We walk through the city, while raising our eyes to the exuberant, neoclassical-baroque and ornamented facades. The animation is in full swing in the early evening, when the Salteños return from work and the tourists return from their excursion.

3. Pajcha – Museum of American Ethnic Art

Pajcha Museum, Dolls, Salta

Do you want to visit Salta to learn more about Andean art and culture? See you at Pajcha! The museum’s collections give pride of place to the original peoples, by mixing archaeological discoveries and current handicrafts. There are, for example, ornaments made of macaw feathers, instruments used by Kallawaya healers or even Mapuche jewellery. The collection is in fact the result of studies carried out by a passionate anthropologist, founder of the museum.

4. Cerro San Bernardo (cable car)

Cerro San Bernardo, cable car, Salta

The quiet little neighborhood of Parque San Martín is also the starting point for the cable car to Cerro San Bernardo, a hill overlooking the city. In eight minutes, you reach the top, for a breathtaking view of the entire agglomeration. A small park and a café on the terrace are particularly conducive to relaxation. Athletes wondering what to do in Salta can climb the Cerro on foot! Allow an hour on a green path… and 1,070 steps!

5. Train to the Clouds

Train to the Clouds

The Train to the Clouds is Argentina’s most famous train ride! Excursion acclaimed by travelers who come to visit Salta, it is particularly well known tourist sites.

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Every Saturday, from April to mid-December, the train leaves the city to descend into the Lerma Valley, then begins the spectacular ascent of the Quebrada del Toro. The circuit passes by the ruins of Tastil and San Antonio de los Cobres to finally cross a desert canyon. If you do not want to take the train, agencies in Salta offer similar routes by taking the road that runs alongside the railway.

6. Historical Museum of the North

Historical Museum of the North, Salta

Nestled in the magnificent buildings of the cabildo (former city council), in the main square, this museum is one of the monuments to visit in Salta. Inside, the rooms house a collection of pre-Columbian ceramics. There are also colonial religious art objects, as well as exhibitions on the city in the 19th and 20th centuries. A gallery of portraits of the successive governors of Salta and a collection devoted to transport complete the visit.

7. Big Salt Flats

Salinas Grandes, salt flats, Salta

Located in the Province of Salta, the salt plain is in fact an old dry lake at 3,350 meters above sea level. Bring your sunglasses to admire this immense salt crust (525 km²! A In this regard, it is best to admire it after the summer rains (in February-March), when the puddles of water are reflected in the blue sky.

If you’ve hiked the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia , you might find this salt flat less impressive. On the other hand, if this is not the case, Salinas Grandes is an essential stopover to do around Salta.

8. Calchaquies Valleys

The 11 must-do things to do in Salta

Rural, spectacular, atypical: the Calchaquian valleys seduce visitors visiting the provinces of Salta and Jujuy. The small winding roads cross villages with magnificent adobe houses, such as Cachi or Molinos. The Parque Nacional de Los Cardones is a veritable field of candelabra cacti that can reach 10 meters in height!

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From one end to the other of the road crossing the valleys, grandiose and contrasting landscapes pass, passing from the green to the red-ocher of the earth. To the south, taking the famous Route 40, the village of Cafayate is the perfect place to taste the wines of Argentina’s second wine region!

9. Cafayate

Cafayate, vineyards, Salta

After your visit to the city of Salta, you will undoubtedly arrive in Cafayate either by the Calchaquies valleys or by the Quebrada de Cafayate.

Welcome to the region that is home to the highest vines in the world! Rural, charming, the town attracts many local and foreign tourists who come to taste its famous Torrontés white wine. Many wineries, sometimes very chic, offer stays and tastings of wines from the region such as Malbec, Tannat or Cabernet Sauvignon.

10. Cafayate Ravine

Cafayate Ravine

From Salta, route 68 leading to Cafayate crosses the arid and wild landscapes of the Quebrada de Cafayate. This canyon dug by the Rio de las Conchas has shaped rock formations with green, ocher or red sedimentary strata. This excursion can be done as part of a tourist circuit (there are many agencies in Salta) or by renting your own vehicle.

If the view of the rocks with strange shapes is already spectacular from the road, the best is still to approach them on foot! Equipped with your walking shoes, you can climb the Garganta del Diablo (devil’s throat). With a bit of luck, you will even hear a musician sound his guitar in the Anfiteatro (amphitheatre)…

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Mohamed SAKHRI
Mohamed SAKHRI

I am Mohamed SAKHRI, the creator and editor-in-chief of this blog, 'Discover the World – The Blog for Curious Travelers.' Join me as we embark on a journey around the world, uncovering beautiful places, diverse cultures, and captivating stories. Additionally, we will delve into mysterious and, at times, even bizarre destinations.

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