Discover all things to do around Salta, a province with an infinite number of beautiful landscapes and many adventures to experience.
The article we prepared on things to do in the city of Salta has run out of time with the amount of things to do in and around the city. So we decided to split it in two to focus on everything there is to see in the province.
Salta is a popular destination for backpackers, especially those travelling on a budget, and is increasingly gaining international fame. The food is cheap and tasty, the outdoor adventure options are endless, the scenery is breathtaking and there is a wealth of history and culture that attracts national and international tourists.
🔝 Enter here if you are also interested in doing a route and Itinerary through Salta and Jujuy.
📜 TABLE OF CONTENTS
Map with all there things to do around Salta
To see all that the province has to offer you need at least a week or a good holiday dedicated to the whole of northwestern Argentina. The distances are not very long and although many of the places we will discuss can be visited from Salta, the ideal is to stay one or two nights in some of them.
1) Village and gorge of San Lorenzo, lots of greenery
Only 10 kms from Salta, San Lorenzo was born as a summer village, although its proximity allows it to become the permanent residence of many of those who seek a haven of tranquillity to escape from the heat of the city.
Right next to this village is the San Lorenzo ravine, located at an altitude of 1450 metres above sea level, surrounded by hillsides with yungas, abundant vegetation typical of the region. As you ascend in altitude, the yunga changes its appearance due to the humidity. At the base, it is known as pedemontane forest, then it becomes montane forest and further up it is montane forest.
You can go hiking, drink mate on the banks of the stream, buy something in the craftsmen’s area or eat in the restaurant. There are also interpretative areas where you can get information about the flora and fauna of the San Lorenzo ravine.
The village has beautiful 19th century manor houses, including the castle of San Lorenzo, which stands on the road between the village and the ravine.
This Florentine-style mansion dates back to the early 20th century and is now used as a hotel and restaurant. As a curiosity, the fences that delimit it were made with pipes from Remington rifles used in the War of the Triple Alliance.
📌 The bus/bus line that goes from Salta to Quebrada de San Lorenzo is number 7. It works with the SUBE card.
📌 If you go by car, the parking fee is 100 pesos, as well as the use of the tables and chairs. There may be no one there, as happened to us.
📷 Check here the San Lorenzo Hiking Tour and book your place.
2) Sanctuary of the Virgen del Cerro, miracles and faith
The Sanctuary of the Virgen del Cerro is one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in the north of the country and one of the main places to see around Salta.
The story of the Virgen del Cerro begins in 1990 when a lady called María Livia began to see the Virgin Mary through supernatural manifestations. He listened to inner voices with messages and had conversations with Our Lady. For 10 years he kept it a family secret, although more and more people around him were finding out about it. It was in 2000 that he received a message from the Virgin with a request: to build a shrine on the top of a hill.
The sanctuary that houses the image of the Virgin is very simple and small; just in front of its entrance there is a tree where rosaries are hung with the petitions of those who visit her.
But the whole place is spectacular and is ready to receive thousands and thousands of people who come every Saturday to pray and ask for, thank or request the blessing of Maria Livia, the person to whom the Virgin Mary appeared and to whom miracles are attributed.
It goes without saying that silence must be maintained at all times in the sanctuary for the respect of those who come to pray.
– How to visit the Virgen del Cerro
- It is free of charge.
- It is open every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., except on Saturdays.
- On Saturdays is when Maria Livia is there, and given the large number of people who come, they allow access until 12 noon, at which time they begin to pray the Holy Rosary.
- On Saturdays it can take an hour or more to get on, not only because of the crowds, but also because priority is given to the sick, the elderly, mothers with babies, etc.
- It is possible to drive up and there are free car parks.
- Then you have to walk another 200 metres up to the top.
- If you have difficulty walking, a free shuttle is available to the top.
- It is also possible to walk up the various trails through the hill. One of the recommended routes is the “El Porterito” path, which is a little longer, but is the one with the least gradient. It takes approximately 40 minutes. There are resting places, aid stations and drinking water facilities.
- There are no shops or stalls on the hill, so if someone needs water, bottles and glasses are provided. But everyone is asked to bring their own bottle and glass. Only water may be consumed on the premises (no mate or other beverages).
- Also bring paper on which to write down intentions and pens. There are drop boxes where you can leave your orders.
- Rosaries are purchased at the Monasterio San Bernardo de Carmelitas Descalza. Keep in mind that there are a lot of people going shopping, so there is a queue.
3) Cabra Corral Dam, adventure
The Cabra Corral Dam itself is of great importance in the generation of hydroelectric power for the provinces of northwestern Argentina and for irrigation of agricultural regions.
There is no end to the activities available at the reservoir. It’s a beautiful area that they’ve made the most of, so there’s plenty to do. These include:
- Bungee jumping or bungee jumping, similar but slightly different activities. I opted for this first, in fact, on a trip I made when I was 25, the main reason for my trip to NOA was this activity (see photo below).
- Rides on jet skis, banana boats and kayaks.
- Rafting, which is done through the canyon of the nearby Rio Salado, a breathtaking scenery while having an adventure. This river is also known as río Juramento (Oath river) because in 1813 Manuel Belgrano, coming from Tucumán after defeating the royalists, made the troops of the Army of the North swear the National Flag.
- Tyrolean traverse and canopy.
- Sport fishing, you can find pejerrey, tararira, catfish, mojarras and shads, among others.
- Mountain bike.
- 4WD tours.
Around the reservoir there are villages, hotels, restaurants and tourist agencies for activities. There are also areas where you can camp and spend the day at the same time as doing any of the above-mentioned activities. The main town of the reservoir is Coronel Moldes, but it can be visited in a day trip from the city of Salta.
📷 Check here the excursion to the Cabra Corral reservoir and make a reservation. Includes: transfers and guide.
4) San Antonio de los Cobres, a things to do around Salta
Located 164 km northwest of Salta at an altitude of 3775 metres above sea level, it is the second highest city in Argentina after El Aguilar in the province of Jujuy. There are many copper deposits in the surrounding area, which gives the place its name.
Tourism is very important in the city and there are several good reasons to visit San Antonio de los Cobres and it is one of the places to see around Salta:
- It is 5 km from the Viaducto La Polvorilla where the Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds) passes.
- If you want to take the Tren a las Nubes, you have several options for excursions to visit other places in the area, but if you just want to take the train and go over the viaduct, you will have to go to San Antonio de los Cobres a little before midday.
- The mythical route 40, which crosses Argentina from north to south along the Andes mountain range, passes through here.
- It is very close to the Salinas Grandes, one of the most important natural heritages of the country.
You will also be welcomed by the locals who will offer you handicrafts.
📷 Check here for a safari along route 40 and make a reservation.
5) Train to the Clouds, an original ride
The Tren a las Nubes is a train ride at over 4220m above sea level with its main landmark at the La Polvorilla viaduct.
Previously, you could make the trip by train from the city of Salta, but since 2015 you have to travel to San Antonio de los Cobres and from there the journey begins to the Viaducto la Polvorilla (round trip).
The official website of the Train to the Clouds sells a comprehensive experience that starts very early in Salta and travels along route 51, stopping at some places where you can appreciate spectacular landscapes, such as Campo Quijano, El Toro viaduct and Santa Rosa de Tastil, among others.
📌 There are two fares, depending on the season: BUS-TREN-BUS and TRAIN ONLY. This last rate does not include the transfer to San Antonio de los Cobres and you will have to get there by your own means.
6) Viaducto La Polvorilla, an astounding construction
The most awaited moment of the Train to the Clouds is when it crosses the La Polvorilla Viaduct, an iron bridge 63 metres above the ground and at 4220 metres above sea level, which makes it one of the highest bridges and railway spans in the world.
This viaduct is considered a magnificent work of engineering for several reasons, one of them because it was built in a curve and the other because it is cambered (the typical slope that the train takes when it turns).
Tips to avoid altitude sickness when doing the Train to the Clouds: Both the viaduct and the train to the clouds are over 4200m above sea level. As it is a short walk, these are the recommendations to avoid altitude sickness: sleep well, eat lightly, stay well hydrated, avoid alcoholic beverages, acclimatise, walk slowly, do not get agitated or exert yourself physically.
7) Santa Rosa de Tastil, tradition in the highlands
Santa Rosa de Tastil is one of the areas of influence of the Qhapaq ñan in the Province of Salta (the route of the Incas which is a World Heritage Site). Although the village has no more than 50 inhabitants, there are several things to do if you pass through on your own (on a tour there is almost only time to see and buy handicrafts and not much more).
In Santa Rosa de Tastil you can:
- Visit the small church of Santa Rosa de Lima, with its adobe walls and stone façade. Dedicated to the virgin of Santa Rosa de Lima who is the patron saint and gives her name to the village. On the 30th of August, its day is celebrated and many people come for the festivities.
- Visit the Regional Museum of Tastil “Moisés Serpa”: it exhibits different archaeological pieces of the indigenous culture of the place. You can see ceramics, masks, textiles and even a 700-year-old mummy.
- Visit the Ruins of Tastil: it is a small and ancient pre-Inca settlement that existed between the XIV and XV centuries, located 2.5 km away from Santa Rosa de Tastil.
📷 Check here the excursion to the Salinas Grandes and Travesia a las Nubes and make a reservation. This is the tour that I, Flor, did back in 2005, which was quite complete. We visited Santa Rosa de Tastil, San Antonio de los Cobres, the Viaducto de la Polvorilla (in that year the Train to the Clouds was closed) and the Salinas Grandes.
8) Abra Blanca, mountain pass
The whole route to San Antonio de los Cobres and Santa Rosa de Tastil is incredible. Breathtaking scenery is visible from the road. One of them is the mountain pass called Abra Blanca, once one of the highest roads in the world at 4080 metres above sea level.
In this part of our country there are several passes. The most important of these is the Abra del Acay which passes at 4800 m above sea level along route 40 and is a higher pass than the highest mountain in Europe.
9) Salinas Grandes, white desert
These salt flats at 4000 metres above sea level extend over both the provinces of Salta and Jujuy and are so spectacular that they have been named one of the 7 natural wonders of Argentina. This white desert is one of the largest salt flats in the world and is located behind the impressive Salar de Uyuni. To visit it, you drive along the traced paths with a guide, visiting the salt pools and several water springs.
🔝 If you are visiting the Salinas Grandes, check out these recommendations for things to do in Jujuy.
10) Cachi, other things to do around Salta
Cachi is a small town located 3 hours from Salta and we visited it in a day. It is not easy to access from the provincial capital as part of the route 33 is paved and some of it is unpaved, but the scenery we encountered on our way there is incredible, among them the Cuesta del Lipán, the Tintin straight and the Los Cardones National Park.
It is one of the most picturesque villages we have visited and we regretted a bit not staying there. It is to be enjoyed in peace and quiet.
📷 Check here for the excursion to Cachi from Salta and make a reservation.
🔝 Do you want to know what to see in this picturesque town? Check out these recommendations for things to do in Cachi.
11) Los Cardones National Park, history
On our trip we did not go inside Los Cardones National Park but skirted it on our way to Cachi. Along the Tin-tin straight you can see part of the park and you can even stop to take some photographs in an interpretive area, a path with information signs.
It is important because of the large number of cardons that are in the area and give the park its name, but there are also palaeontological remains such as 70 million year old dinosaur footprints and cave paintings.
12) Quebrada de las Conchas, colours and fun
One of the most beautiful landscapes in northwestern Argentina and, of course, one of the places to see around Salta, is the Quebrada de las Conchas. Route 68, which connects the provincial capital with Cafayate, is one of the most picturesque routes, thanks to the fact that it crosses a ravine with reddish or pinkish rock formations.
Along the road there are several attractions along the way where you can stop to take some pictures, the most important of which are the Amphitheatre and the Devil’s Throat.
13) Cafayate, land of wine
Cafayate is one of the most beautiful places to see around Salta. It is located in the Calchaquíes Valleys, which it also shares with the province of Tucumán, surrounded by vineyards and beautiful gorges to visit, such as the aforementioned Las Conchas or Las Flechas, on the way to Cachi along route 40. Besides, one of the things to do in Cafayate is to visit a winery to taste its wines.
📷 Check here for the excursion to Cafayate from Salta, via the Quebrada de las Conchas, and make a reservation.
14) Iruya, things to do around Salta
Iruya is not a town that can be easily visited from Salta. A return trip within the day is almost impossible. What you can do is to travel during the day from Humahuaca or Tilcara in Jujuy, or spend a night there. It is such a small and remote village that the tranquillity is total. Beyond Iruya you can also visit San Isidro.
📷 Check here for a complete tour around Salta from 3 to 5 days and book.
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