Argentina is a cultural melting pot, with Buenos Aires having a distinctly European flavor and Patagonia a Scandinavian hue. That is why the Northwest can be so satisfying to visit as it is definitely 100% South American. The following is a 5-day itinerary that ensures that you truly experience the rich indigenous culture of this beautiful region with its strong strain of Spanish colonialism. Grandiose architecture sits well with excellent local food, washed down with delicious wines. The regional handicrafts are as colorful as the landscapes, and the people are Argentina's friendliest. To see the most in the shortest time possible, it is best to hire a car or go with a reliable tour company.
Day 1: Arrival Salta City
Use this charming city as your base for the first few days. Fly in early morning from Buenos Aires and check into the down-to-earth but efficient Hotel del Antiguo Convento. Stroll the lovely plaza and visit the gilded Iglesia San Francisco and the baroque Salta Cathedral. Have lunch in the sunny courtyard of Casa Moderna, Vte. Lopez 423, before doing what the locals do and taking a well-deserved siesta. Early evening is spent in the fascinating MAAM, known locally as the mummy museum. Enjoy a Torrontes wine at Café Van Gogh on the plaza before wandering over to Salta's finest restaurant José Balcarce.
Day 2: Shopping in Salta
This special city deserves more than 1 day. Take the cable car to San Bernardo Hill and enjoy panoramic views of the city while sipping a coffee. Then take a taxi to the hilltop village of San Lorenzo, where you can enjoy a lunch at the Tuscan-style El Castillo de San Lorenzo hotel. After the customary siesta, take a taxi ride to the Mercado Artesanal, located in a handsome, renovated millhouse. Here you can enjoy afternoon tea amid genuine local products. Back in the city, freshen up before hitting Salta's nightlife street Calle Balcarce. Enjoy a foot-stomping music session at Café de Tiempo and later join the dancing yourself at the numerous clubs and discos nearby.
Day 3: Wine Tasting in Cafayate
Check out of your hotel and go south in a rented car as far as the wine town of Cafayate. The red rock scenery is gorgeous, and the 3-hour journey goes quickly. Enjoy a light lunch on the plaza of this sleepy village before visiting El Porvenir winery for excellent wines and El Esteco for palatial architecture. Both are within the town limits. Check into the atmospheric Killa Cafayate and dine on llama at Machacha restaurant.
Day 4: Cachi
As its name implies, this hilltop village will take a hold of you. Its sparkling white adobe cottages and quaint church take you back in time. Visit the archaeological museum to see the area's rich Incan heritage. In the afternoon, check into the luxurious La Merced del Alto, where you can enjoy a beautiful dinner beneath the stars.
Day 5: Quebrada de Humahuaca
Jujuy province is the last stop before Bolivia, as seen in its landscape and architecture. Drive north from Salta along the multicolored mountain range Quebrada de Humahuaca, which will make even the most jaded traveler gasp. Turn off the main road to visit the quaint village of Purmamarca and its Technicolor backdrop. Continue north until you reach the town of Tilcara, a cobblestoned gem with old-world charm. Dine at busy Los Puestos before visiting the indigenous ruins of Pucará. Continue north along the main road before you reach sleepy Humahuaca village, where you can browse through the plaza market before turning south toward Salta. Treat yourself to some pampering at the House of Jasmines before flying out the next day.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.