Home to delicious regional cuisine, a wealth of historical sites and a thriving arts scene, Salta City is a vibrant, provincial capital of 500,000 inhabitants. Sitting high in the rolling Andean foothills in northern Argentina, locals claim the city has a â€śperfectâ€ť climate.
Sight-seeing is concentrated around the recently restored, well-lit Plaza 9 de Julio, where new walking streets have cut traffic noise.
On the plaza are the imposing facades of the Catedral Basilica, dating from 1858, and the asymmetrical Cabildo, the old city hall. Three blocks away is Iglesia San Francisco; painted a rusty red with white pillars and gilt trim, the striking church is Saltaâ€™s most emblematic building. Downtown museums are numerous, highlighted by the new Museo de ArqueologĂa de Alta Montana. Opened two years ago, the museum contains the three astonishingly well-preserved corpses unearthed by archeologists in 1999 on the heights of the Volcano Llullaillaco.
The Mercado Artesanalâ€”founded in 1968, making it Argentinaâ€™s oldest handicraft marketâ€”is a sprawling display of local basket and textile weaving, silver, metal and leather work; also available are handcrafted musical instruments and wines and cheeses.
To get a birdÂ´s eye view of the city, take the gondola from Parque San MartĂn to the summit of Cerro San Bernardino and enjoy the sunset. Back in the city, nightfall brings another round of delights. Abundant restaurants offer affordable and delicious dishes, while local favorites like empanadas are sold in streets filled with the sounds of local folk rhythms. Musical roots run deep in Salta, and its rich tradition has produced some of the countryâ€™s most notable folk musicians.
Zamba and chacarera, lively folk sub-genres based on traditional dance steps, are native to the province of Salta, and the cityâ€™s peĂ±as, bars where traditional music and dance are performed, are some of the best folk music venues in the country. A dense concentration of peĂ±as and barsâ€”many tending more toward the modern with dance music replacing guitars and Mojitos substituting wine jugsâ€”can be found around the train station. Find the corner of Balcarce and Necochea, and follow your ears, or ask around for the two classic peĂ±as: Boliche Balderrama and La Vieja EstaciĂłn.
Another source of pride for salteĂ±os is the Symphonic Orchestra of Salta, a select group of classical musicians from all over the country that plays regularly in the city.
Unfortunately, administrative disputes have closed the spectacular Tren de las Nubes, once SaltaÂ´s most popular tourist attraction. Truck trips paralleling the tracks can be arranged to observe the engineering marvels of the train.
Salta City is a culinary and cultural haven, and itâ€™s also a great base to explore the endless attractions of northern Argentinaâ€”from charming rural vineyards to isolated red-rock canyons to small town carnivals.