All the must-see things to do in La Rioja Argentina in 3 days we tell you in this article. National parks, towns, vineyards and the beauty of the mountain range landscape.
The province of La Rioja in Argentina offers a variety of attractions, most of them featuring the Andes Mountains. It is an area where the rock formations acquire different shades ranging from reddish, ocher and greenish.
The province is also characterized by the cultivation of vineyards with renowned wine brands, sightings of native fauna, lagoons at over 4,000 meters above sea level and old mining sites that are now tourist attractions.
If you are looking for information to plan your trip to La Rioja in Argentina, we tell you everything below.
Map with the places to see in La Rioja Argentina
When is the best time to travel to La Rioja Argentina?
The northwestern province of Argentina has a marked difference in temperature between seasons. Winter is cold and dry, especially in mountain areas. In the summer, the heat is very present in La Rioja capital and the foothills and rainfall is frequent, causing rivers to overflow.
The best time to travel to La Rioja Argentina is during the months of autumn (April to June) and spring (September to November), when there is no rain and the weather is milder. However, it is recommended to bring a coat at any time of the year if you visit Laguna Brava, for example, since the temperature drops sharply at night.
How to get to La Rioja Argentina
If you want to travel to La Rioja by plane, Aerolineas Argentinas is the only airline that offers direct flights from Buenos Aires.
La Rioja airport is located about 20 minutes by car from the city center and is small. There are remises to go from the airport to the city center.
✈️ Search here for cheap flights to La Rioja.
To get to La Rioja by car from Buenos Aires, the best option is to take Route 9, which is a highway to the city of Córdoba, and then take Route 38 towards the province. La Rioja city is a total of 1,132 kilometers.
If you are touring the mountain range area coming from San Juan or Catamarca, Route 40 is the main road that crosses Chilecito and runs along the Miranda slope. It is fully paved.
Talampaya National Park (Day 1)
Talampaya is a must do in La Rioja in 3 days. Its importance is such that it has been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
It is a canyon with large rocky walls of reddish color that can reach 150 meters high and that acquires this color due to iron oxide. Thanks to wind erosion and the difference in temperature, curious formations such as the gothic cathedral or the monk have been produced in the rocks.
🔝 Check out this article with all the information to plan your visit to Talampaya National Park.
To go through the Talampaya canyon you have to hire the excursion, you cannot do it on your own by car. There are three different excursions: the Talampaya Canyon itself, the Talampaya Canyon plus the balconies and the Shimpa Canyon. In the last two you not only have the view of the high walls from below, but also climb up to the top of the rock face.
Where to stay to go to Talampaya
There is no lodging inside Talampaya National Park, only a camping site. The nearest town to sleep in is Villa Unión, about 55 kilometers away. There are many options in the area, such as large hotels, resorts and cabins.
Our recommendations for where to stay in Villa Unión are as follows:
- Chakana Hospedaje Rural: in a natural environment of great beauty and located on the outskirts of the city. Excellent breakfast and service.
- Hotel Valle Colorado: located in the heart of Villa Unión. It has cabins, restaurant and outdoor swimming pool.
🏨 Want to look for other options? Find here the best hotels in Villa Unión.
Chilecito, Famatina and Miranda’s slope (day 2)
If you go or come from Talampaya to Chilecito, you will find a stretch of Route 40 between the towns of Nanogasta and Villa Union, where the road runs between reddish mountains and the Miranda River. The so-called Cuesta de Miranda is one of the most beautiful landscapes of La Rioja with hills of different shades and viewpoints.
Chilecito is one of the most touristic towns in La Rioja. Its enclave between hills and the tranquility that is breathed make it very attractive.
One of the main attractions to do in Chilecito is the cable car La Mejicana, which was a great work of engineering to transport the metals that were extracted in the Famatina mountain range, at 4600 meters above sea level, to the city of Chilecito. There are 9 stations in total, although it is only possible to visit the first three by car. If you want to reach the ninth station, you must go on a 4×4 vehicle excursion.
Another of the places to see in Chilecito is the Mirador Cristo del Portezuelo, to see the city from above. Finally, about 30 kilometers from the city, it is worth a trip to the town of Famatina, which has gained notoriety for its fight against open-pit mining.
🔝 Check out this article about places to visit in Chilecito and Famatina.
Where to stay in Chilecito
- Huellas del Trapiche Apart: modern cabins with mountain views and surrounded by a large garden. It has an outdoor swimming pool.
- Nocenta Pisetta Inn: on the outskirts of Chilecito, about 4 km from downtown. This mansion was the residence of the Pisetta family, the first winemakers in the region. Excellent breakfast, country and colonial style.
- La Martina Cabin: excellent place surrounded by a large park and an outdoor swimming pool. They are cabins and apartments 1.5 kilometers from downtown. Excellent attention from the owner. Ideal for relaxing and resting.
🏨 Want to look for other options? Find here the best hotels in Chilecito.
The villages of the Riojan coast (day 3)
Lying on the Velazco mountain range, the towns on the coast of La Rioja are ideal for learning about the traditions of the area and its architecture, represented mainly by the churches, such as the church of the Virgin of the Morenita in the town of Sanagasta.
The natural environment where these small Riojan towns are located is ideal, with the Huaco River as the main waterway, hills and shady trees such as poplars, pines and walnut trees. You can even spend the day by the river and swim.
Finally, do not forget to visit the Castillo de Dionisio in Santa Vera Cruz, a construction designed and built by its owner, Dionisio, who for a long period of time dedicated himself to create his own castle with a style that mixes mysticism, religion and nature. At some point, it connects with the works of Gaudí that can be seen in Barcelona. The visit is done with a guide, who explains the life of Dionisio and how he conceived the construction of the enclosure. Not to be missed!
Where to stay in La Rioja
There are some cabins in the villages along the coast of La Rioja, but as it is the third and last day, it may be more convenient to stay in the city of La Rioja, which is very close by. Our recommendations where to stay in La Rioja city are the following:
- Reina Mora Hotel: modern, elegant, with spacious rooms, it is a fairly new accommodation. It is surrounded by a beautiful garden and has an outdoor swimming pool.
- Emel Suites: centrally located, fully equipped apartments. Excellent cleanliness.
- La Guadalupe Cabins: on the outskirts of the city, it is a complex of cabins with barbecue, garden and swimming pool. Excellent comfort and staff attention.
🏨 Want to look for other options? Find here the best hotels in La Rioja capital.
Things to do in La Rioja Argentina in 4 or 5 days
If you have more than three days to visit the province of La Rioja, we recommend visiting these two places:
- Laguna Brava: on the puna, at 4200 meters above sea level, it is a large salt water lagoon surrounded by high mountains. Pink flamingos and vicuñas can be seen in the area during the summer. To get there you have to drive along a gravel road suitable only for 4×4 vehicles after a three and a half hour drive from Villa Unión through a truly impressive landscape. It is advisable to do it with an excursion and a guide, because you have to cross fords and the solitude of the road is not good for venturing alone.
- Quebrada de los Cóndores: in the town of Pacatala, about 160 kilometers from La Rioja capital and close to the town of Tama, the sierra de los Quinteros offers trekking and condor watching, these large birds that reach almost 150 cm in length.
Discounts and useful resources to save on your trip
- Cheap flights with Skyscanner
- Rent a car with RentalCars
- Train, Bus and Ferry tickets for Europe with OMIO
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- Passages through Asia with 12Go
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