Northern Argentina is among the least explored, yet most rewarding areas of the country to visit. Sitting at the foot of the Andes, you'll get your fill of spectacular scenery including snow-capped volcanoes, green vineyards, giant salt flats, colorful rock formations, and countless charming villages with colonial architecture. This two-week itinerary takes you deep into the region's most iconic and dramatic sights—with year-round pleasant weather—for a real road-trip adventure.

Highlights

  • Kick off the trip touring Buenos Aires and its late-night dining scene
  • Ride Salta's scenic gondola and check out the local folk music scene
  • Soak in the multi-colored landscapes of the Quebrada de Humahuaca
  • Spend several days in the rugged Puna de Atacama for a digital detox
  • Explore the striking Piedra Pomez, a place surrounded by pumice stone

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 2 Fly from Buenos Aires to Salta Salta
Day 3 Drive from Salta to Tilcara - Explore Pucará de Tilcara Tilcara
Day 4 Explore Quebrada de Humahuaca Tilcara
Day 5 Explore Salinas Grandes - Drive to San Antonio de los Cabres San Antonio de Los Cobres
Day 6 Drive from San Antonio de Los Cabres to Tolar Grande Tolar Grande
Day 7 Explore Salt Flats & Ghost Towns Tolar Grande
Day 8 Drive from Tolar Grande to Antofalla Antofalla
Day 9 Drive from Antofalla to El Peñon El Penon
Day 10 Explore Piedra Pomez & Carachi Pampa El Penon
Day 11 Drive from El Peñon to Cafayate Cafayate
Day 12 Explore Wineries & Quebrada de las Conchas Cafayate
Day 13 Explore Los Cardones National Park - Return to Salta Salta
Day 14 Fly from Salta to Buenos Aires - Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires

Floralis Genérica sculpture in Buenos Aires
Floralis Genérica sculpture in Buenos Aires

Welcome to Buenos Aires! Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel, then take the rest of the day to explore Argentina's enchanting capital city at your own pace. Each neighborhood will offer something different and new, so try to check out multiple neighborhoods to get a feel for the whole city.

After the sun sets, get a taste of the local cuisine, from asado beef to empanadas and much more, at one of the many delicious restaurants Buenos Aires offers. Wrap up the night with an evening stroll through leaf-lined streets of Palermo, one of the most picturesque and lively neighborhoods in Buenos Aires.

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: Drive from Salta to Tilcara - Explore Pucará de Tilcara

The pre-Inca fortification of Pucará de Tilcara.
The pre-Inca fortification of Pucará de Tilcara.

This morning, you'll travel from Salta to the town of Tilcara in the Jujuy province, located in a beautiful mountain valley for plenty of views along the route. Once you've arrived in the area, you will visit the pre-Inca fortification of Pucará de Tilcara, which is located just outside the town. Strategically situated on a hill, this fortification once provided views of enemies approaching through the narrow mountain valley of Quebrada de Humahuaca.

In the afternoon you will have time to explore Tilcara, including its church and local market.

Day 4: Explore Quebrada de Humahuaca

Hill of Seven Colors/Cerro de los Siete Colores
Hill of Seven Colors/Cerro de los Siete Colores

Today you’ll spend the day touring Quebrada de Humahuaca, a narrow mountain valley famous for its dramatic rock formations, striking multi-colored hills, and traditional Quechuan villages.

Continue traveling north to visit traditional agricultural villages, where life has changed little over the last hundred years. The inhabitants raise sheep and plant a variety of crops that—to this day—are cultivated with plows pulled by animals. You’ll learn more about their farming methods and see irrigation ditches built by their ancestors.

Stop off at Uquía, a quiet, dusty town that is renowned for its historic church, which features portraits of armed angels (yes, really). In the afternoon you’ll visit the village of Humahuaca with a church and narrow cobbled street for strolling. From here, continue on to Hornocal, an eye-catching range of mountains characterized by colored limestone bands. 

In the late afternoon, you'll return to Tilcara for your overnight.

Day 5: Explore Salinas Grandes - Drive to San Antonio de los Cabres

Salinas Grandes salt flats
Salinas Grandes salt flats

Today you’ll visit the gorgeous little town of Purmamarca, lined with algarrobo trees and adobe houses. The town sits at the foot of the multi-hued Cerro de Los Siete Colores (Hill of Seven Colors).

You’ll drive along the Cuesta de Lipan, a spectacular tract of winding mountain road, to Salinas Grandes, a large salt plain that lies high up in the puna. Once a lake, the flat comprises a salt crust that’s 1.5 feet (half a meter) thick. You’ll learn how the salt is extracted while enjoying the panoramic views of the snow-capped Nevado de Chañi.

Day 6: Drive from San Antonio de Los Cabres to Tolar Grande

Mountain plateau La Puna
Mountain plateau La Puna

Today, you will leave San Antonio de Los Cobres in the morning, passing bizarre, yet mystical, red rock formations before reaching the vast and rugged Puna de Atacama. You will eventually stop at Tolar Grande, a small rural village in a spectacular location in the middle of the Puna for your overnight. This is the last inhabited town on the western border with Chile, and you'll have more free time to explore the area's deserts, salt flat, and volcanoes in the Andes.

Day 7: Explore Salt Flats & Ghost Towns

Mountain landscapes in La Puna
Mountain landscapes in La Puna

In the morning, you will cross Salar de Arizaro, a vast salt flat that borders Chile that is one of the world’s largest. You will then drive to the ghost town of Mina Casualidad, whose economy was based on extracting sulfur at over 16,404 feet (5000 m). The mine was closed in 1978, and the town abandoned. Take the time to visit its derelict buildings and understand more about its past, and then return to Tolar Grande.

Day 8: Drive from Tolar Grande to Antofalla

The otherworldly landscape near Salar de Antofalla
The otherworldly landscape near Salar de Antofalla

In the morning, you will get back on the open road for the drive to Antofalla. Nearby is the Cono de Arita, a volcanic pyramid that rises from the middle of the plain. It's a stunning sight unlike anything outside of the pyramids of Egypt and definitely worth a stop.

You will then drive through Campo Amarillo to the Salar de Antofalla, a large salt flat that lies at an altitude of 11,483 feet (3,500 m). Adjacent to the salt flat is the isolated town of Antofalla, home to only about 40 people. Here you will overnight with a local family for the ultimate cultural experience. 

Day 9: Drive from Antofalla to El Peñon

A scenic road in northern Argentina
A scenic road in northern Argentina

Today, your destination is El Peñon, a small highland village surrounded by incredible scenery. Along the route, you’ll visit Antofagasta de la Sierra 11,286 feet (3440 m)—a green oasis nestled among the arid plain of the Puna that is surrounded by black volcanoes. 

From here you will continue driving to El Peñón at 11,155 ft (3400 m), where you’ll spend the night.

Day 10: Explore Piedra Pomez & Carachi Pampa

Pumice stones at Piedra Pomez
Pumice stones at Piedra Pomez

Today you will explore Piedra Pomez, or the Pumice Stone Field, a dazzling landscape of giant white volcanic rocks. You'll then visit the Carachi Pampa, a young volcano of an intense black color that was produced by basalt spilling. While here, take a look at the lagoon where pink flamingos are often found. 

In the afternoon you’ll return to El Peñón to spend your last night in the Puna.

Day 11: Drive from El Peñon to Cafayate

Ruinas de Quilmes
Ruinas de Quilmes

This morning, you'll leave the magical Puna and drive through a series of awe-inspiring landscapes of snowy peaks, volcanoes, salt flats, and giant sand dunes. You'll also drive through Cuesta de Randolfo, a high mountain pass, while descending towards sea level. A new landscape will soon emerge—this time with rugged mountains, cacti, and goats. The road leads to the Ruinas de Quilmes, the largest pre-Columbian settlement in Argentina. 

In the afternoon you’ll continue to the city of Cafayate, renowned for growing the local Torrontés grape, a varietal that produces a refreshing and aromatic white wine.

Day 12: Explore Wineries & Quebrada de las Conchas

Quebrada de las Conchas
Quebrada de las Conchas

Today you’ll have the chance to visit a number of the area’s wineries, such as El Porvenir, El Esteco, or San Pedro de Yacochuya, where you will enjoy a wine tasting session.

In the afternoon you’ll drive through the Quebrada de las Conchas, a deep valley of red canyons characterized by intense colors and spectacular geological formations. You’ll stop off at the amphitheater rock formation, nicknamed as such for its outstanding natural acoustics.

Day 13: Explore Los Cardones National Park - Return to Salta

Malbec grapes
Malbec grapes

Today, you’ll drive through Los Cardones National Park, famous for its giant cactus plants that grow abundantly at this altitude. You’ll drive along the Cuesta del Obispo, where the road climbs and snakes up a scenic mountain slope carpeted with lush vegetation. You are likely to spot plenty of wildlife, including vicuñas, mountain cats, and falcons. You’ll also stop off at Valle Encantado where you’ll be able to enjoy a short hike (weather permitting), taking in the area’s natural beauty.

You’ll then drive on to the city of Salta, where you will relax for the evening.

Day 14: Fly from Salta to Buenos Aires - Departure

Goodbye, Salta!
Goodbye, Salta!

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 Northern Argentina Road Trip - 14 Days
Map of Northern Argentina Road Trip - 14 Days