Nestled in the mountainous regions of northwestern Argentina, Salta is a provincial capital city with a pleasant year-round climate and some spectacular Andean landscapes. Commonly referred to as Salta la Linda (Salta the Pretty), the town was founded in 1582 and is renowned for its exquisite Spanish colonial architecture and rich Andean heritage. Exuding a laid-back rural vibe, the beautiful colonial city is home to several must-see attractions and activities, including the stunning neoclassical Salta Cathedral, the Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña, the 18th-century town hall-turned-historical museum of El Cabildo, and the Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds).
1.Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds)
Arguably Argentina’s most famous train trip, the Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds) takes a journey into the clouds. The tourist train departs from Salta’s central station and descends into the Lerma Valley before beginning the steep climb up into the mountains around the Quebrada del Toro. It passes several ruins along the way and regularly steams through clouds before reaching the town of San Antonio de Los Cobres, one of the highest villages in Argentina at an elevation of 4,220m. Here the train crosses on the La Polvorilla Viaduct, a spectacular feat of engineering that spans an immense desert canyon, offering breathtaking views of the beautifully colored cliffside rocks and the valley far below, before descending back to Salta.
Ground Floor Local 33 Baccaro Gallery, A4400 Salta, Argentina, Phone: +54-38-74-22-80-21
2.Catedral Basílica de Salta
© Anibal Trejo/stock.adobe.com
Catedral Basílica de Salta (Salta Cathedral) is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Salta and the most famous and recognizable sight in the city. Built between 1856 and 1882 to replace the previous cathedral that was destroyed in an earthquake, the magnificent structure overlooks Salta’s central square, Plaza 9 de Julio, and is painted an unusual shade of light pink. The cathedral is open every day to visitors mornings and evenings who can pay homage to Salta’s revolutionary hero of independence, General Martín Miguel de Güemes, whose ashes lie in the church, and regular services are held on Sunday mornings.
España 558, A4400 Salta, Argentina, Phone: +54-38-74-31-82-06
3.Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña (High Mountain Archeology Museum)
© Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña (High Mountain Archeology Museum)
Salta’s Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña is a small museum based in a beautiful 19th-century building that highlights the Incan culture and mountain archaeology through a fascinating collection of archeological artifacts and objects. The museum is famous for housing the Mummies of Llullaillaco - the perfectly preserved bodies of three Inca children that were found frozen under snow on a 6,700-meter high volcano summit in 1999. The museum exhibits one mummy at a time in an airtight glass case, and they are some of the best-preserved mummies in the world with hair, clothes, and internal organs fully intact. The mummies are rotated every six months to ensure their preservation.
Bartolomé Miter 77, A4400 Salta, Argentina, Phone: +54-38-74-37-05-92
4.Cabildo and Museo Historico del Norte (History Museum of the North)
© Angelo D'Amico/stock.adobe.com
Overlooking Salta’s central square, Plaza 9 de Julio, the Cabildo and Museo Histórico del Norte (History Museum of the North), is dedicated to Argentina's rich colonial and revolutionary history. Based within the old cabildo, a beautifully restored colonial government building dating back to the 1700s and an architectural gem in its own right, the museum features an array of exhibits documenting the story of colonialism in Argentina and the wars of independence in the early 19th century. The museum’s collection boasts some ancient artifacts, paintings, furniture, and automobiles, and the central courtyard offers a tranquil place to relax with colorful climbing plants and flowers. Cabildo and Museo Histórico del Norte is open Tuesday through Sunday.
Caseros 549, 4400 Salta, Argentina, Phone: +54-38-74-21-53-40
5.Mercado Municipal San Miguel
Mercado Municipal San Miguel is a huge indoor market in the heart of Salta that takes up almost an entire block and sells all sorts of goodies from fresh fruit and vegetables, local produce and food, clothing to electrical items and gadgets. Based in a historical building on Avenue St Martin, the bustling neighborhood market tends to draw more locals than tourists, so it is a fantastic spot to sample local foods, meet local people, and soak up the spirit of Salta.
Av. San Martín 780, Salta, Argentina, Phone: +54-38-74-37-34-06
6.Cerro San Bernardo
© Anibal Trejo/stock.adobe.com
For some of the most spectacular views of the city, head up to the top of Cerro San Bernardo (San Bernardo Hill) on foot or with a teleférico (cable car). If you plan on walking to the top, the path begins behind the Güemes Monument, while the cable car leaves from Parque San Martín, which is a pretty park overlooking the town and worth a stroll. At the top of the hill are a beautifully landscaped terraced garden with plenty of picnic spots, a monument to the Battle of Salta, a small market selling souvenirs, and several food vendors selling delicious local snack food. It’s a fantastic spot to enjoy a picnic on a sunny day or watch the sunset in the evenings.
Camino Cerro San Bernardo, A4400 Salta, Argentina
Doña Salta is a festive, family-friendly restaurant geared towards tourists that offers dishes that are typical of Salta and the Northwest served by costumed waiters. Located right opposite Iglesia San Francisco, the warm and welcoming eatery boasts a dining room adorned with old wooden implements and wine jugs, soft lighting and a cozy, inviting ambiance and serves up classic dishes like empanadas, roasted meats, and signature plates of humita (steamed corn husks stuffed with cheese) and local locro stew overflowing with chunks of beef and beans. Casual house wines and craft beers accompany the food, and the restaurant is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week.
Córdoba 46, A4400 Salta, Argentina, Phone: +54-38-74-32-19-21
8.El Solar del Convento
© MAX SUAREZ/stock.adobe.com
El Solar del Convento is a casual, friendly neighborhood restaurant that serves traditional northwestern cuisine in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Cozily decorated with smiling staff, the family-friendly restaurant serves classic dishes like steaks, mixed grill options, and a range of fresh fish dishes, and specializes in sirloin steaks with an array of housemade sauces. The food is accompanied by a selection of casual wines and craft beers, and the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
Caseros 444, A4400 Salta, Argentina, Phone: +54-9-38-74-31-00-92
© El Charrua
El Charrua is a family-friendly restaurant that serves classic northwestern and Saltan fare in a bright and homey setting. Renowned for their highly trained and bilingual staff and an extensive menu of delicious traditional cuisine, El Charrua serves both the regular parrilla focus along with regional dishes from Salta like the llama stroganoff and a range of specials. Boasting a cozy dining space with brick and stone walls and a bustling, vibrant atmosphere, the restaurant is the perfect place to try local dishes made with llama meat. The food is paired with easy-drinking wines and beer, and the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
Caseros 221 A4400 Salta, Argentina, 221 – Phone: +54-03-87-43-22-22
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© La Monumental
La Monumental is a family-friendly neighborhood grill with bright lighting and a vibrant ambiance that specializes in pizza, pasta, and other comfort fare. The restaurant has ample comfortable seating and a separate children’s area for the little ones to play. The menu offers a wide range of pizzas with various toppings, pasta and sauces, prime cuts of meat served with several sides, and a beverage menu of casual wines, craft beers, and sodas. La Monumental is open for lunch and dinner daily.
Alsina 1224, Salta, Argentina, Phone: +54-38-74-39-80-56
© La Cefira
La Cerifa is a tiny, hole-in-the-wall eatery with warm décor, soft lighting, and walls adorned with original art that serves classic meat and fish dishes and a variety of house-made pasta with inventive toppings like curried pumpkin, including squid ink, coconut milk, and poppy seeds. Located a few blocks south of the center, the restaurant is an excellent spot to grab some lunch in between sightseeing or enjoy a quiet dinner for two. Fresh bread is served to start, vegetables are fresh, and wine can be enjoyed by the bottle or the glass. La Cerifa is open for lunch and dinner daily.
Córdoba 481, A4402 EZI, Salta, Argentina, Phone: +54-38-74-21-49-22
12.Hacienda de Molinos
© Hacienda de Molinos
Set in a beautifully restored and refurbished 18th-century hacienda that was once the residence of the last Spanish Governor, Hacienda de Molinos Hotel offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Located in front of the beautiful El Molino de Pueblo Church, the deluxe hotel features well-appointed guest rooms and suites with handcrafted décor and furnishings, romantic four-poster beds, and en-suite bathrooms with showers. Facilities include an outdoor swimming pool with stunning views of the Nevado de Cachi Mountain, a restaurant serving regional dishes and author’s cuisine, and a full-service bar with an extensive beverage list. Guests can relax in the elegant lounge next to the fireplace or on the outdoor patio and soak up the spectacular views.
Abraham Cornejo s/n, A4419 Molinos, Salta, Argentina, Phone: +54-38-68-49-40-94
12 Best Things to Do in Salta, Argentina
- Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds), Photo: pablo/stock.adobe.com
- Catedral Basílica de Salta, Photo: Anibal Trejo/stock.adobe.com
- Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña (High Mountain Archeology Museum), Photo: Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña (High Mountain Archeology Museum)
- Cabildo and Museo Historico del Norte (History Museum of the North), Photo: Angelo D'Amico/stock.adobe.com
- Mercado Municipal San Miguel, Photo: alexzappa/stock.adobe.com
- Cerro San Bernardo, Photo: Anibal Trejo/stock.adobe.com
- Dona Salta, Photo: HLPhoto/stock.adobe.com
- El Solar del Convento, Photo: MAX SUAREZ/stock.adobe.com
- El Charrua, Photo: El Charrua
- La Monumental, Photo: La Monumental
- La Cefira, Photo: La Cefira
- Hacienda de Molinos, Photo: Hacienda de Molinos
- Cover Photo: Spectral-Design/stock.adobe.com