This 5-day itinerary explores a special area of northwest Argentina starting in Salta—one of the most beautiful colonial cities in South America (circa 16th century). From here, you’ll enjoy a scenic road-trip to the towns of Cachi and Cafayate, admiring colorful gorges, vineyards, and mountain villages with an experienced guide. Return to Salta for one more night to soak in the local culture before heading home.

Highlights

  • Kick off the trip in Buenos Aires for a dose of big city culture
  • Ride Salta's scenic gondola and explore the exquisite colonial architecture
  • Visit wineries near Cafayate and enjoy the pleasant year-round climate
  • Make plenty of stops as you drive through Andean gorges and mountains
  • Tap your foot to some live folk music on your last night of the trip

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City Buenos Aires
Day 2 Fly from Buenos Aires to Salta Salta
Day 3 Calchaquí Valley Excursion (Day 1 of 2) Cafayate
Day 4 Calchaquí Valley Excursion (Day 2 of 2) Salta
Day 5 Fly from Salta to Buenos Aires - Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires - Explore the City

The Obelisco, a central monument in Buenos Aires
The Obelisco, a central monument in Buenos Aires

Welcome to Argentina! Renowned as the "Paris of South America," and the "Queen of El Plata," the capital city of Buenos Aires is defined by passion. This is exemplified in the rich tango heritage and its citizens' limitless enthusiasm for fútbol (soccer), which is far and away the country's most popular sport. 

When you arrive at the airport, your driver will be waiting to take you in a private car to your hotel where you can relax after a long flight. But make no mistake: the city will beckon you. So after a quick recharge, be sure to venture out into the welcoming arms of Buenos Aires and explore. The best starting point would be the city center.

Suggested activities include:

  • Visit the Obelisco, which might be the most famous icon of the city. This obelisk (which even Argentines admit is a little too reminiscent of the Washington Monument) is worth a visit for its location alone. It sits right in the middle of Avenida 9 de Julio, which boasts a whopping 16 lanes, making it the widest city street in the world.

  • Stop by the Teatro Colon, one of South America's premier opera houses. The horseshoe-shaped gallery features 2,487 seats and incredible acoustics. Even if you plan on taking a tour or catching a show here on another day, it's always breathtaking to pass by its exterior. The Colon's neoclassical facade has been the face of one of the most handsome buildings in Buenos Aires since its opening in 1908.

  • Stroll Puerto Madero, an upscale waterfront neighborhood adjacent to downtown. Puerto Madero may be the "new money" finance center of Buenos Aires, but it's also one of the most pleasant walking areas in a city famous for its walking areas. A romantic stroll involves walking over the canal on the Puente de Mujer ("Woman's Bridge") at sunset. 

  • Dine at an Argentine steakhouse or parilla. When night falls and dinnertime arrives, do like the locals and enjoy a thick, juicy steak (Argentina has some of the best beef in the world) drizzled with the nation's famous chimichurri (a garlic, herb, and vinegar sauce). Know that Buenos Aires is a culture that thrives after dark, and it's not uncommon for locals to have dinner well past nine in the evening, especially on weekends. 

Day 2: Fly from Buenos Aires to Salta

Salta's Pink Cathedral
Salta's Pink Cathedral

This morning, transfer to the airport to board your flight to Salta, one of Argentina's most impressive Spanish colonial cities. Upon arrival, you'll be greeted at the airport and transferred to your hotel. 

Take the rest of the day to get settled in and enjoy the town. Easy to explore on foot, the city's compact colonial center is lined with gorgeous neoclassical buildings, lively cafes, and bars teeming with a young and trendy crowd. 

Recommended activities include

  • Take the cable car up Cerro San Bernardo to enjoy the spectacular panoramic views of the city and beyond

  • Appreciate the city's beautiful architecture by visiting the pink Salta Cathedral, consecrated in 1878, as well as the striking mauve and yellow Church of San Francisco, and baroque Town Hall building

  • Explore the Museum of High Altitude Archaeology, which sheds light on important archaeological discoveries in the Andes

  • Learn about the region's rich history by paying a visit to the Historical Museum of the North, which showcases items from local indigenous cultures as well as colonial times 

  • Stroll around the craft market where you can buy traditional products from rugs to pottery 

  • Enjoy a traditional Argentinian dinner at a cozy local restaurant

Day 3: Calchaquí Valley Excursion (Day 1 of 2)

Los Cardones National Park
Los Cardones National Park

After an early breakfast in Salta, it's time to depart for an exciting two-day excursion with a local guide. Since you'll be returning to Salta the next day, it is recommended that you leave your luggage at the hotel and just to pack an overnight pack for a lighter load.

You will be picked up from your hotel leaving Lerma Valley behind to enjoy one of the gems of the northwest: the Calchaqui Valley. You'll drive through the beautiful and green laureles and escoipe gorges, as the scenery slowly changes its shape and color.

Eventually, you'll climb the majestic Cuesta del Obispo all the way to its highest point and then return down to Los Cardones National Park, where you'll visit a place surrounded by multicolored landscapes and fresh, unpolluted air. Feel the silence and get close to nature in this isolated spot!

From here, you'll visit Cachi, a typical town where the architecture beautifully combines indigenous and Spanish traditions. In the afternoon, you'll continue your trip to the south visiting the towns of Molinos, Angastaco, and Las Flechas Gorge to finally arrive in Cafayate—a picturesque town surrounded by wineries for your overnight (pay a visit on your way in if there's time).

After checking in to your hotel, enjoy a sunset drink in the tranquil main square before dinner, and order Malbec-flavored ice cream at the traditional gelato shop a couple of blocks away for dessert.

Day 4: Calchaquí Valley Excursion (Day 2 of 2)

Colorful rock formations along the route
Colorful rock formations along the route

After a relaxing breakfast in Cafayate, you'll drive along Road 68 which passes a famous gorge where erosion has carved interesting shapes into the rocks. In fact, this area was declared a Reserva Provincial for its colorful hills and unique natural formations.

Each of the hills has distinctly shaped features, specifically, the Devil’s Throat, the Amphitheater, the Frog, the Obelisk, and the Castles. Keep an eye out to appreciate the colors, as well as the dry and dramatic vistas. Along the way, there will be time to stop, walk around and take photos, and appreciate the impressive landscapes up close.

You will arrive back to Salta with plenty of time to enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening in town. Perhaps you can visit a peña (a meeting place for musicians) and mix with the locals while eating empanadas and listening to folk music to celebrate your last night of the trip.

Day 5: Fly from Salta to Buenos Aires - Departure

Take one more stroll around Salta before departure
Take one more stroll around Salta before departure

After breakfast, say goodbye to the city of Salta and transfer to the airport for your flight to Buenos Aires. Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, transfer to the international terminal for your return flight home. ¡Buen viaje!

Map

Map of Argentina's Salta & Calchaquí Valley - 5 Days
Map of Argentina's Salta & Calchaquí Valley - 5 Days