This page contains affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.
We arrived in Salta in Northwest Argentina with plans to stay for a week or so.
Two months later, we are still here; still appreciating the beauty of traveling indefinitely and our newfound ability to exchange Best Laid Plans for whims and fancies without worrying about timescales or onward destinations.
We were charmed by Salta and her beautiful colonial buildings, her leafy central plaza and her carefree, laid back atmosphere that made it easy to relax under the seemingly endless sky. However, once we escaped the gentle grip of a prized spot in the sun and explored the surrounding areas, we were treated to a stunning array of landscapes and locales.
These are our highlights from our time in Salta.
Our first couchsurfing experience in Paraguay went so well that we tried it again in Salta – this time staying with Leigh, a fellow travel blogger, and her family in Castellanos on the outskirts of the city. We enjoyed a lovely week with the family chilling in the countryside.
They also hosted a lunch for the Salta couchsurfing group and we got to meet some interesting local people. We spent the last three weeks house-sitting the house and their puppy Mani while Leigh, Noah and Lila were back visiting the US. You never know what opportunities couchsurfing will lead to.
There’s an artisan market in the city, but buying souvenirs doesn’t interest us any more (having sold all our stuff and living out of a small backpack). However we do like to eat and once we rented an apartment with our own kitchen we headed to the local market to stock up. We were pleasantly surprised to find everything we needed amongst the numerous neatly stacked stalls – in fact the range of produce was more diverse than anywhere we found in Buenos Aires. We even found essential Mexican food ingredients: cilantro, avocados, chillies and dried black beans.
As well as the fruit and vegetable stalls you’ll find piles of spices, locally made goats cheese, a food court selling cheap meals and the requisite souvenir stalls with colourful woolly jumpers and hats made from llama wool.
Cerro San Bernardo
Many people take the teleferico (cable car) up Cerro San Bernardo but we regularly walked up the 1070 steps for the exercise and to take a break from work. The steps are always busy with a mixture of locals and visitors and we enjoyed some friendly chats en route.
At the top there are wonderful views of the city and surrounding hills – it’s particularly lovely at sunset.
La Casona del Molino
Visiting a peña to hear local folk music is one of the “must-dos” in Salta, and although there are plenty of touristy venues we heard that La Casona del Molino (Luis Burela 1) was the most authentic experience. It’s a multi roomed restaurant serving up traditional food (that’s empanadas for us then) and sangria. As the night progresses the music starts up. There’s no stage, dancers or fancy costumes, just local musicians strumming their acoustic guitars and singing impassioned folk songs from their table – they are just one of the crowd.
It’s a great night out. Make sure you get there early at weekends though. One Friday we turned up at 11pm and couldn’t get in because it was full. We ended up going to a restaurant on Balcarce instead and got to experience for ourselves a touristy peña: the music was far too loud, the food below average, and we ended up paying 15 pesos each for the privilege even though we hadn’t been told there was a cover charge. It just confirmed that in Salta La Casona del Molino is the place to go.
Watching the World Cup
We were lucky enough to be in Salta for the World Cup and although Argentina didn’t do as well as we would all have liked, it was a fantastic experience watching the Argentina vs Greece match with the football crazy salteños. After their win Plaza 9 de Julio filled with jubilant fans and a sea of pale blue flags. We were eager to see what would happen if Argentina won the whole World Cup – but alas, it was not to be.
Although popular with Argentine tourists in the summer, I don’t think many foreign travellers make it out to San Lorenzo, just 12 km from Salta. It’s a peaceful village surrounded by beautiful hills and cloud forest, that we got to explore when couchsurfing nearby. The Quebrada de San Lorenzo is a lovely place for a walk through the forest, with a zip line at the end. If you want an easy countryside break from Salta we recommend San Lorenzo.
Although Salta is a lovely city, for us the real highlight is getting out and exploring the region. The scenery we encountered on our road trip to Cafayate, Cachi and Purmamarca was simply mind-blowing. Read about our trip here.
Great, I may go in few weeks and stay about a month in the region. Thanks and good luck with your adventure*
Hey guys, nice blog, I m planning to go to Salta although I ve heard it´s kind of unbearably hot in these months, what do you think? Cant find what months were you there…Gracias, it s quite inspiring to read your posts:)
We were there in winter – we had everything from hot days to snow! I’m not sure what it’s like at this time of the year although I can’t imagine it’s too bad as it’s at about 1000 metres. I really recommend the area whatever the weather!
My husband and I are in Salta now. We love it here! Erin helped us rent the same apartment she did when she was here. We’ve been here since Dec 30. It’s not hot, the temperature is in the 70’s most days. But, it is the rainy season. It rains or is cloudy pretty much ever day. It’s supposed to stay rainy until March. If you don’t mind the rain it’s a truly special place. I really recommend it as well.
So glad to hear that you got the apartment Sheryl! We love that place. Glad it’s not too hot although that’s a shame about the rain. Enjoy the jacuzzi!
Just found your site. I love it. Cant’ wait to read through more post.s We’re heading to Salta tomorrow, hopefully for 1-2 months. Still don’t have an apt nailed down. How did you find yours?
Thanks Sheryl. Salta is a great place to base yourself – there is so much to do in the surrounding areas and it’s very chilled out. We found our apartment through friends who were living there before us – they found it through an estate agent. It might be available at the moment, so I will email you the landlord’s contact details.
Great design and very useful info, especially for northwest argentina. We are heading over to salta next ourselves.
Thanks so much! Enjoy Salta and the NW – it was one of our highlights of South America.
I keep checking into your blog as I’m also heading to Salta in January but we only have about 5 days for the general area. Still I will bookmark this blog and your one on Cafayate so I can follow some of your recommendations.
Any suggestions for small family run hotels?
Perhaps you’d like a housesitting job in Vancouver one day???
Hi Leigh, with 5 days in the area I would recommend renting a car and getting out to explore the area. The city is nice but the surrounding scenery is really special. We have no recommendations for hotels in Salta – it seems quite difficult to find decent budget places. Our hotel recommendations for other places in the area are in our road trip post.
We are actually coming to Vancouver in June for the Travel Blog Exchange conference and would love a housesitting job!
I’m really looking forward to spending a month in Salta this November-December. This post has me excited, and I’ll be couchsurfing to boot!
You’ll have a great time Keith. The trees are starting to blossom now and the weather is warming up – I’m sure it will be beautiful in November. Are you going to stay with Leigh?
Yes, I hope to if the offer still stands. Leigh and I have spoken and it sounds ideal. I did notice they are outside the city – how did you two manage to get into town, or did you make a little hermitage?
They have a gorgeous house in the countryside. Transport is a problem – you can get a lift into town when they take Lila to school. There are supposed to be buses but the timetable isn’t very reliable and we never managed it. Otherwise you can walk about 45 minutes into San Lorenzo and get a bus from there. You can also get a taxi for about 35 pesos.
Awesome!!! I can’t wait to visit Salta sometime. It’s definitely on the list. Yay, to CSing!
Hopefully we will be able to follow your mantra (not leaving until you’re ready) when we leave at the end of the year.
Salta looks awesome! I think we’re going to have to travel around a bit in Argentina before we choose where we want to rent an apartment for a while. :)
Hi Erica, we recommend Salta and Buenos Aires for renting an apartment for a while. BA has a lot more going on, but Salta is much more chilled out and the surrounding area is stunning.
We didn’t spend nearly as much time as you in Salta, but it was one of those places that I really enjoyed and thought I could stay for a while. There’s a great feel to the place and its people.
Although I only walked through the Salta market briefly with Leigh, I also felt that it had a lot more on offer than many of markets we had seen in Buenos Aires. It’s a bit of a taste of what you’ll find in markets in Bolivia.
I’m sure it will be sad to leave!
There is a great atmosphere in Salta and the people are really friendly. We will be sad to leave but we are also ready to move on. We are definitely following our rule of don’t leave a place until you are ready!
I was in salta around a month ago, the casona del molino was one of my best experiences, it´s true you do have to get there before hand though, as it fills up fast.
Hi Graeme, glad you had a good time there too.