The city of Salta is located in the northwest region of Argentina and is the state capital for the province of Salta. The mountainous province of Salta is slowly making a name for itself with the rise of the wine region in Cafayate. Many people come to Salta to visit this charming wine region, but often overlook the capital city of Salta itself. But this charming colonial town is worth a stop on any Argentina itinerary. So if you are visiting the area, here is a list of the best things to do in Salta in one day!
The Best Things to Do in Salta in One Day
Catch the views from Cerro San Bernardo
Cerro in English means “hill”. Cerro San Bernardo is the large hill forming the backdrop of Salta. To climb to the top you can either take a cable car (or teleférico) which sets off from Parque San Martín (San Martin Park) just east of the old town or walk. The cable car operates Monday to Sunday from 9:00 – 18:30 and costs 400 pesos round trip for adults, 200 pesos for children aged 6-12, and free for children 5 and under. One-way tickets are also available for half the price of a round-trip ticket.
If you choose to walk, the starting point is just behind the Monument General Martin Miguel de Guemes. The climb up the winding staircase takes between 30 – 45 minutes, but the view at the end is worth it. It is a great way to spend a morning before heading down to grab some empanadas and a Salta beer.
Over indulge in empanadas at Patio de la Empanada
Eating is one of our favorite pastimes and easily one of the best things to do in Salta particularly when it comes to empanadas. Our first taste of authentic empanadas in Argentina, Patio de la Empanada was absolutely delicious.
Located in a large partially covered courtyard, Patio de Empanada boasts a selection of six to seven vendors serving empanadas and other Argentinian street food.
Grab a table at one of the vendors to enjoy an array of empanadas. Or table hop and try empanadas from each of the vendors. However you decide to enjoy your empanadas, you are sure to leave Patio de Empanadas satisfied.
With traditional flavors such as ham and cheese, pulled beef, chicken, minced meat and oozy cheese served either fried or baked, you will not be disappointed. For those of you willing to try something a little bit different, there are others such as tripe and tuna. We stuck with the originals, but I am sure any choice will result in a delicious meal and what we think are the best empanadas in Salta.
Spend a leisure afternoon strolling through the old city and Plaza 9 de Julio
All South American cities have beautiful historic town squares on which the city is built. Salta is no different with Plaza 9 de Julio being the focal point. Flanked by the Cathedral Basilica de Salta and the Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña (Archaeological Museum of High Mountain), it is the perfect place to wander around. Or perhaps you may want to rest in the grassy park watching street performers and munching on empanadas during the Argentinian siesta held from 13:00 – 17:00 each day.
After enjoying the plaza head south towards Alberdi Street which is the main walking street in Salta. In the late afternoon, you can see the street vendors and performers setting up shop. Grab a bag of caramelized popcorn from one of the vendors as you mosey on down before making your way over to Bier Cerveceria Artesanal to grab a craft beer from Salta.
Hike Quebrada de San Lorenzo
Located just 15 kilometers west of Salta lies San Lorenzo and the entrance to a nice morning hike through the cloud forest. Quebrada de San Lorenzo provides a short escape from the city of Salta to get out and explore nature. The reserve is located on private property and therefore a guide is required to hike in the area (although we observed people without a guide running/hiking). A guide costs 300 pesos for two persons and lasts between 1.5 – 2 hours depending on your pace.
While not the most exciting hike, it is definitely worth it to get out and get active. The hike is along a pretty little creek with a few teeny tiny waterfalls. Once at the top of the cloud forest, you can see back over Salta providing a great vista.
Where to Stay in Salta?
Vanlife in Salta
If you are traveling through Argentina with a van and find yourself in Salta then head out of the city towards San Lorenzo and the Cascades Ecological Reserve Finca Las Costas. On the way here there is a small stream where you can stop to camp. It is the perfect place to spend a few days by the stream relaxing after exploring Salta.
Best Cafes in Salta
Many people nowadays are digital nomads or spend an occasional few hours working while on holiday. We found the best place to work and grab a coffee or glass of wine to be Bixi Coffee House. With an abundance of outlets and an upstairs area, it is the perfect place to catch up on those emails. Plus it is just off the main old town making it an easy walk for some afternoon exploring.