Tilcara, a small, scenic city in Jujuy Province, lies about 125 miles (202 km) to the north of Salta. While many bus routes cross between the two cities, a rental car or a private transfer are the most efficient options. The journey takes just under three hours by car unless you decide to stop in San Salvador de Jujuy (Jujuy) or Purmamarca along the way. The same trip takes between four and six hours by bus, depending on the transfers along the route.
While there is plenty to do in Tilcara and Salta themselves, this 15-day itinerary allows you to explore the scenery and cultural history of Argentina's entire northern region.
By Rental Car or Private Transfer
Duration: 3 hours, more with stops
While private transfers are available between Salta and Tilcara, many travelers choose to explore the north by rental car in order to take advantage of the scenic views across the region. If you're hoping to spot the multicolored rock formations during your drive, plan to travel in the early morning or late afternoon when the colors are most vivid.
To drive from Salta to Tilcara, follow signs for RN9. You'll keep following the road as it turns into RN34, and then take a slight left onto RN66. This route will take you past Jujuy, where you may want to stop and eat. Once past Jujuy, you will return to RN9 for the rest of the journey, and you can stop in Purmamarca, Volcán, or any of the other small, scenic towns that dot the route. Keep in mind the route has tolls.
Duration: 4-6 hours
Buses in Argentina can be much more luxurious than those in the US, with wide, comfortable seats and onboard meal services. That said, taking the bus is not the most efficient way to get from Salta to Tilcara. There are few direct routes available, and the routes with stops in Jujuy can take up to six hours and 20 minutes. To get between these cities, you'll be much better off taking a car.