Salta was our introduction to Argentina, the first city we visited during a 2.5 month tour of this spectacular country. And what an introduction it was. A perfect city to just stroll around in and get used to the laid back style of life in Argentina, Salta has much to offer travelers.
Salta, not unlike most other Argentine countries, offers fantastic food and wine, especially if your favorite color is red. A Sunday market on Av San Martin is a great way to sample some local fare, and if you’re into nightlife and dancing, you came to the right city (and country for that matter).
Airplane- The airport is located about 7 miles (12 km) southwest of the city. A taxi will cost you about $5US, but travelers can also take the bus (no matter what the cab drivers tell you) for the much cheaper price of about $0.50.
Bus- The bus terminal is located about 8 blocks east of the main plaza, and all buses arrive/depart from this station. There are many bus companies here, traveling to all parts of Argentina (and Bolivia and Chile). They all offer different types of seats and prices, so shop around before buying your ticket to your next destination.
Foot- Walking around Salta shouldn’t be a problem as the main areas of interest are pretty compact. Salta is a gorgeous city, and it’s a fantastic place to wander around, checking out the beautiful architecture, parks, and plazas.
Cab- If arriving by plane or bus, you may want to hop in a taxi (make sure you tell them to put on the meter) and have them take you to your hostel/hotel. If you don’t have accommodations booked yet, then a good central location to have them drop you off at is either the main plaza (Plaza 9 de Julio) or the park on Av San Martin. Both have plenty of accommodations nearby.
Where to Stay
Salta isn’t really broken up into different neighborhoods, and as stated earlier, it’s not the biggest of cities, so travelers have many options for accommodations. We turned up without a room and ended up walking around for quite a while before we found a room of our liking. Many were booked, and coming from Bolivia, we had a bit of sticker shock, so we were probably being a bit too picky.
Where we stayed-We ended up at a place called El Correcaminos, which was in a decent location that close enough to the attractions but far enough from any noise. We paid $24US for a double room with SHARED bathroom. There was no breakfast included either. They did have a very nice kitchen, several great common areas, and free wifi and a computer station that was free as well. The staff was excellent, and though we were by far the oldest there, we had a blast. Just don’t expect peace and quiet all night long.
Food and Drink
Throughout the Argentina pages and posts, you will tend to notice a common theme; raving about the quality of food and drink (particularly wine). We are the furthest things from vegetarians (nothing against you folk, we just dig on the meat), so the red meat Heaven that is Argentina was right up our alley. Though we couldn’t really afford to eat out much in Salta, we did get a taste of what was to come while visiting this awesome country.
Lomitos- It didn’t take long to find my new favorite sandwich, the lomito, which I am somewhat ashamed to admit how many I ate during our 2.5 months in Argentina. A lomito is a sandwich, on a french roll, with thinly sliced steak, cheese, a fried egg, ham (it seems they like to put fried eggs and ham on every sandwich) some mayo, sometimes some hot sauce, and a few veggies thrown in (typically lettuce, tomato, and onion). It’s a messy and delicious delight, and I had one every day for the first week I was in Argentina. And yes, I gained much weight while here.
- Stand near Plaza Guemes- One of the best lomitos I ate during our time in Argentina was from a corner “restaurant” near Plaza Guemes, on the corner of Leguizamon and Balcarce. Go get a lomito there, eat it, and just enjoy life.
Sunday Market on Av San Martin (in Parque San Martin)- A great market that served tons of delicious food. Go hungry because it’s difficult to turn down all the yummy goodies here.
- Lomitos- You can get them everywhere, including at the very well put together Sunday Market.
- Empanadas- The empanadas in Argentina are different from others we ate in Peru and Bolivia. Argentine empanadas are typically baked instead of fried, and they’re usually pretty simple, being filled with beef, ham and cheese, or onion and cheese. There were some tasty ones at the market.
- Sausage- Argentina is a meat country, and they serve about everything, from steaks to liver to intestines to various sausages. We had some delicious sausages at the market as well.
Supermarkets- We did suffer from some sticker shock on prices of everything after coming from the very cheap Bolivia. So we ended up cooking many of our meals while traveling in Argentina. Luckily for us we love to cook, and we were also ecstatic to see an actual grocery store that we were used to.
- Vea Supermarkets- There were many Vea Supermarkets around Salta, and it was similar to supermarkets that we were used to at home, complete with a meat and deli counter, beer, wine, and liquor, and anything else you’re used to seeing at your local supermarkets. Growing up on American supermarkets has spoiled us into being able to get everything we need in one stop, so seeing a similar one after 2+ months on the road was just nice. Don’t forget to buy a corkscrew if you don’t already have one. You’ll need it in Argentina.
We aren’t really the clubbing type of people, but if you are, there is plenty of that to go around in Salta, so talk around and read up.
Our first night had us cooking dinner, drinking wine, and hanging out with all the college kids in our hostel before heading out on the town at about 1am. Read this post about the perfect introduction to Argentina for more.
- Plaza 9 de Julio- The main plaza in town is surrounded by restaurants and bars, and it’s hopping until all hours of the night. The unique thing is that it’s all about families here, not drunken college kids (no offense to you drunken college kids), so it’s not uncommon to see mom dancing with her teenage son at 3am to some local music while grandma sits at a nearby table holding her granddaughter and sipping wine. It’s an odd thing at first, but it’s easy to get used to.
Things to Do
Markets-Both the aforementioned Sunday Market at Parque San Martin and the daily (except for Sundays) Mercado Artesenal are great places to visit for some shopping a little taste of the local culture. Markets are one of my personal favorite parts of traveling, and to steal from Tony Bourdain, there’s no better way to introduce yourself to the local culture.
Architecture- If you’re a photographer, Salta is a great place to wander, taking pictures of the lovely churches and beautiful colonial architecture.
Cerro San Bernardo- Tourists can take a cable car up here for a great view of the city. In addition to the views, gardens, waterfalls, and even a cafe are located at the top. Consider walking back down instead of taking the cable car.
Exploring the surrounding area- Salta is set in a beautiful region of Argentina, so I urge anyone visiting to get out and explore the surrounding natural beauty. Day trips can be organized to any of the regions around, but I suggest heading to Cafayate (one of our favorite places in all of South America) for several days instead of just a day trip.