Most people travel South from Buenos Aires to Patagonia, overlooking the fascinating tourism potential that in the North of Argentina. Salta is the best base to explore this scenic region, with the nearby wine producing town of Cafayate and the stunning Quebrada de las Conchas canyon nearby, along with various interesting small highland villages en route North to Bolivia. Anyone that has actually travelled to Argentina, and visited the region of Salta, will invariably tell you to also visit if you are planning your own vacation to Argentina.
An overview of this part of Argentina follows shortly, but see also the following extensive, in depth travel guides with regards to this region. Wondering where to visit in North Argentina? Here's some priceless tips:
Salta in general
Purmamarca, Tilcara & Humahuaca
Salta: Tours & Luxury Hotels
Founded in 1582 and surrounded by wonderful mountains, the atmospheric city of Salta has many fine colonial buildings, plazas and churches. Salta is also well known for it's culture, folkloric music and excellent food. The city is easily explorable on foot, and a full days city tour takes in most of the colonial sites of interest. Salta's main plaza is a fantastic place to sit and watch the world stroll by.
Salta is also a perfect base for exploring Argentina's Andean regions such as the Calchaqui valley and the Quebrada de Humahuaca North of nearby Jujuy. One of South America's great railway journeys departs from Salta - the Tren a las Nubes (Train to the clouds), which has spectacular views as it zig zags up and down the mountains.
Hotels in Salta
The best hotels in Salta include: the ultra luxury Finca El Bordo de las Lanzas; the sumptous former family home of Solar de Plaza; the boutique El Lagar Hotel; the charming Fina Los Los; the minimalist, ultra modern hotel Alejandro L; the boutique style Bo Hotel de Encanto and Spa (a little outside of town); the peaceful boutique hotel Papyrus; the chic Gran Hotel Presidente; and the polo-club-esque Salta Hotel. There's a hotel for all tastes in Salta.
Jujuy & Andean Villages in North Argentina
Though it lacks the elegance of Salta, the Andean scenery around Jujuy is even more spectacular. This region of Argentina feels distinctly Andean and indigenous, as is evident from both the food and local music. There are pre-hispanic ruins at nearby Tilcara, and beautiful small Andean villages to explore. Travel north from Jujuy to the spectacular Quebrada de Humahuaca gorge, full of fascinating small villages en route to Bolivia. See the trip report on Purmamarca, Tilcara & Humahuaca for some travel ideas.
Cafayate & Wine Tours
Travel South from Salta through an increasingly arid landscape of cacti, sand dunes and the bewilderingly coloured rocks in the Quebrada de Cafayate, to the town of Cafayate, which is in one of Argentina's principal wine growing regions. There's an alternative travel route through the equally spectacular Calchaqui valley through little oasis-villages - overnight tours that begin and end in Salta invariably visit the region in a circular loop.
The scencic setting and fine wines and vineyards (bodegas) in the Cafayate region make it a popular (long) day tour from Salta, but for those wishing to spend a little longer in this wine growing region, there are some lovely luxury hotels available. Consider staying at the excellent converted old winery hotel of Patios de Cafayate (which also has a spa), the colonial Vinas de Cafayate on a hillside just outside of town, or the converted 300 year old mill at El Molino de Cachi Adentro in the pretty nearby town of Cachi (Cachi itself is a lovely town to explore with some nearby ruins - see the article on Cachi for some advice).
Travel Onwards from Salta & Northern Argentina
There's flights from Salta to Buenos Aires with both Lan Argentina and Aerolineas Argentinas. Aerolineas also has occasional flights to Cordoba. LAB (Lloyd Aereo Boliviano) used to offer flights from Salta to Santa Cruz in Bolivia, but the airline is now bust / suspended - book with Aerosur instead. It's typical to travel from Salta (Argentina) through Jujuy and into Southern Bolivia (eg. the Uyuni Salt Flats). Alternatively, travel overland west into Chile's Atacama Desert (via Purmamarca, which is worth a stop).