Immerse yourself in Argentina's rich culture and beautiful landscapes in this quick six-day itinerary. Begin by exploring the metropolitan capital of Buenos Aires. Next, visit the colonial city of Salta, your jumping off point for the rugged gorges, salt flats, and painted deserts of Argentina's far north. Top it all off with a visit to San Antonio de Areco, a traditional cowboy town where you'll stay on a working estancia.

Highlights

  • Explore the energetic neighborhoods of Buenos Aires
  • Visit the northern colonial city of Salta and tour the region's salt flats
  • Stay on a working estancia in the Argentine countryside and enjoy traditional Argentine BBQ

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Buenos Aires! Buenos Aires
Day 2 Fly from Buenos Aires to Salta Salta
Day 3 Salt Flats and Quebrada de Humahuaca Purmamarca
Day 4 Return to Salta - Wine Tour Salta
Day 5 The Pampas San Antonio de Areco
Day 6 Pampas - Buenos Aires & Farewell Argentina  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Buenos Aires!

The famous Obelisco of Buenos Aires
The famous Obelisco of 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 Neo-classical 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: Salt Flats and Quebrada de Humahuaca

The salt flats of northern Argentina
The salt flats of northern Argentina

Today you will leave Salta and tour the natural highlights of the region. This is an overnight excursion by private vehicle that travels mostly around Jujuy Province, north of Salta. Because this tour is relatively brief, it's best to leave your main luggage at the hotel in favor of day packs.  

Your excursion begins early in the morning. Initially, you'll travel along the same route as the famous Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds), a tourist train that connects the Argentine northwest to southern Chile via the Andes Mountains. This route zigzags between lonely mountain roads and the seemingly endless expanses of high desert plains, with nothing around you except the great blue sky. Sporadically breaking up the vast emptiness will be the sight of the occasional humble home or tiny mountain village. Along the way, you'll even have the opportunity to stop and visit pre-hispanic ruins!

Your first stop will be the small town of Campo Quijano and later the impressive Quebrada del Toro, a gorge through which the Tren a las Nubes also passes. Here you'll stop for a coffee break as well as to enjoy some stunning viewpoints. Then you'll visit Santa Rosa de Tastil, a pre-Incan settlement dating back to the XIII century. After a visit to one of the smallest villages in the region, San Antonio de los Cobres, you'll arrive at the Salinas Grandes Salt Flats. The natural light conditions here are so optimal that you're guaranteed to take amazing photos even if it's your first time picking up a camera. 

Finally, later in the afternoon, you'll arrive at your comfortable hotel in Purmamarca. This popular village, filled with adobe houses and craft markets, is located at the base of Jujuy´s iconic Cerro de los Siete Colores (Hill of the Seven Colors) in the historic valley of the Quebrada de Humahuaca. 

Tour Duration: 10 hours

Day 4: Return to Salta - Wine Tour

Take a drive through the Quebrada de las Cochas
Take a drive through the Quebrada de las Cochas

After breakfast, you will begin the return trip to Salta. However, you will first stop off at another winery. That's right, even in the arid north of Argentina, in the valley of the Quebrada de Humahuaca, you'll find bodegas producing stunning Malbec and Syrah varietals. So enjoy another tour of local vineyards and the fruits of the vine.  

Afterward, you'll return to Salta via a beautiful drive along the bright red mountains of Quebrada de las Conchas. Here in this gorge, wind and rain erosion of the topography has resulted in some fascinating natural rock formations. Many of these protrusions are so wildly shaped that they've earned colorful nicknames, like Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat). There's also a natural amphitheater here which has excellent acoustics.

You'll then transfer back to your hotel in Salta.

Day 5: The Pampas

Estancia El Ombú de Areco
Estancia El Ombú de Areco

Get ready, because you have a big travel day ahead of you. First, you'll transfer to the airport and hop a flight to Buenos Aires. Upon arrival in the capital, a driver will meet you and transport you to a historic estancia (country home) located on the Pampas, central Argentina's famed prairie, near the town of San Antonio de Areco.

This charming town is located about an hour from downtown Buenos Aires and is notable as being ground zero for Argentine gaucho tradition. San Antonio de Areco abounds with folk history, so much so that it inspired famed Argentine author José Hernández's epic poem, Martín Fierro. The fictional narrative is told not unlike a ballad as it recounts the exploits of its eponymous hero as he endures life on the frontier. The poem is a national treasure and represents the spirit of rural Argentina, which you'll feel all around you in San Antonio.

As for your residence during your time here, El Ombú de Areco is a late-colonial-style mansion built in 1880. It sits on expansive green grounds and offers visitors a magnificent setting for an unforgettable stay in the Argentine countryside. Today you have a variety of options for activities: you can go horseback riding, hiking, or sightseeing in an old-fashioned, horse-drawn carriage. This estancia is also a working farm, and you can observe typical ranch-style activities such as herding animals, branding cattle, and milking cows.

In the evening, you will enjoy a typical Argentine asado as well as musical performances and folkloric dance.

Day 6: Pampas - Buenos Aires & Farewell Argentina

Goodbye, Argentina!
Goodbye, Argentina!

After transferring back from the countryside, enjoy your last hours in the cosmopolitan capital of Buenos Aires. At the scheduled time, your driver will pick you up and transfer you by private car to Ezeiza International Airport, where you'll catch your return flight home.

Deborah
Written by Deborah Hayman, updated Mar 18, 2019