Salta is either the last city you’ll see on your way out of Argentina and into Bolivia, or the first glimpse of Argentina you’ll get coming the other direction. Either way, it is a welcome sight. Stately plazas, open parks, interesting museums, and quality hostels make Salta a great place to break up your journey to/from Bolivia. Eat cheap in the Central Market, ride the cable car up the Cerro San Bernardo, come face to face with Inca mummies, and get your shoes cleaned up while watching the world wander by in the Plaza 9 de Julio- you can do it all in Salta.
Most backpackers arrive in Salta via bus on their way to/from Bolivia. It is 7 hours to the Bolivian border, with Tupiza being the first major town an hour’s journey into Bolivia. Traveling south from Salta, it’s 13 hours by bus to Córdoba, 18 hours to Mendoza, 16 hours to Rosario, and 22 to Buenos Aires. Though the buses in Argentina are some of the best in all of South America, If you’re not in the mood for a long bus journey, check flights on LAN and Aerolíneas Argentinas- you’ll find flights to most other major travel hubs throughout the country.
Things to do in Salta
- Explore the Central Market- it’s a great place to find good, CHEAP food (the empanadas in Salta’s Central Market are LEGENDARY), along with fresh produce, crafts, souvenirs, music, clothes- pretty much anything and everything.
- Take the teleférico from Parque San Martín up to the Cerro San Bernardo. On a clear day, you’ll have incredible views of Salta and the surrounding hillsides, and there is a nice park with lots of waterfalls at the top as well. Don’t forget your camera!
- Come face to face with an Inca Princess- The small-yet-world-class Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña houses three Inca mummies that were found at 6700m on the peak of a nearby volcano. The museum tells the story of the Inca Empire and its traditions, culminating in room where one of these mummies is displayed to the public.
- Walk around the City Center- Salta is small enough to be covered on foot. Grab a map from your hostel and get out and explore. There are shops, cafes, restaurants, and pubs, along with some impressive architecture.
- Get an adrenaline fix- The hills surrounding Salta provide numerous opportunities to get out of the city and get your blood pumping. Whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, horseback riding, hiking, trekking, kayaking- if there’s something outdoorsy you want to do, there’s a good chance you can do it in Salta.
- Unless you’re being lazy, you only need to buy a ‘one-way’ ticket for the teleférico- there is a footpath that winds down the hill back into town. If you’re really ambitious, join in with the other health-conscious Salta residents and run UP the hill to the park... Good times, and a better workout.
- Try a Salta beer- brewed right there in Salta, the local grog is pretty good.
- Siestas are part of the daily routine in Salta- shops close and the streets are deserted between 2-5pm- plan accordingly.
- If you haven’t visited a ‘parilla’ and had a proper asado, Salta is a great place to do so. Argentinean meat lives up to its reputation as some of the best in the world, and in Salta, you’ll enjoy it at a fraction of the price you might in Buenos Aires, Bariloche, or Mendoza.
- There is a decent craft market in Parque San Martín, right next to where the teleférico runs from. If you’re headed out of the country and are in need of some last-minute Argentinean gifts, this is a good place to look.