Visit Salta on foot: Recommended self-guided tour

  Julieta Fraguío 12/04/2018

The city of Salta offers a great variety of places to learn about its history, culture and flavors, combined with wonderful landscapes of the surrounding hills.

One of the best ways to visit each of these places is to visit them on foot, in this way you will be able to observe everything more closely, from the pace of life of the inhabitants themselves, the architecture of the houses and historical buildings to the smells that come out of the still lifes and rocks.

In this self-guided circuit that we start from the center of the city you will be able to know in depth each of the corners of Salta:

1. We start the walking tour in Plaza 9 de Julio

The walking tour of the city is recommended to start from the historic center to be able to easily connect with the rest of the most emblematic sites and thus begin to delve into the history and culture of this wonderful city.

The historic center is located around the Plaza 9 de Julio or also known as Plaza de Armas (Bartolomé Miter and Caseros), where our circuit will begin. Around this park you will see that there are the most important and oldest buildings in the city, it is also a green space with trees, palm trees, seats and a water source where you can take a few minutes to take photos and look at the whole environment that surrounds the center of Salta.

In front of the Plaza de Armas you can see El Calbildo, the Museo del Norte, the Catedral, the Cultural Center América, the Teatro Provincial and the renowned Museo de Alta Montaña (MAAM). 

A particularity that distinguishes to this plaza among others in Argentina is that the arch that surrounds it in almost its entirety remains intact practitioner. Its conservation and that of the surrounding historic center are due to more than twenty resolutions decreed mostly throughout the 1990s. The square has more than  250 specimens of different tree species and with more than 7000 dwarf flower seedlings (each tree  and plant has a sign that mentions the species).

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2. Cabildo Histórico de Salta

The first building to visit in front of the Plaza de Armas is  the Cabildo, located on Caseros street is a colonial building painted all white, it was the seat of the Government House until 1880 . At the beginning of the 20th century it was  declared a National Historic Monument  and now it is the  Museo Histórico del Norte, in which you can see collections of colonial objects, media of transport of the time and also some jewels of sacred art. There are guided tours and admission is free.

This emblematic building tells us about the first moments of Salta as an organized city, since it was the institution in charge of the government of the city and its jurisdiction. Through the years, it was used for different purposes, it functioned as the Government House, prison and police of the province, it was also occupied  by commercial stores and as a hotel. 

The heritage of the  Museum reveals much of the history of the region and the history from El Cabildo, there are pieces that are preserved inside (formerly a large part was built with wood), there are elements from the first agricultural villages, such as a polished stone sculpture from 500 AD; works of sacred art, liturgical furniture (such as the carved wooden pulpit from the 18th century that belonged to the company of Jesus) and pieces of numismatics and medals. The different rooms tell the history of furniture in this region through pieces from the 18th and 19th centuries made of walnut, oak and palo santo.

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3. Catedral Basilica de Salta

Once the visit to the Cabildo is finished, we cross the Plaza de Armas towards España street to go to another of the emblematic buildings of the city center:  The Catedral, you will distinguish it because stands out for its neo-baroque architecture and decoration. 

The Cathedral was declared National Historic Monument in 1941, it is one Within the most iconic places of Salta, within are the remains of the national hero, General Güemes, who fought against the Spanish during Argentina's war of independence. If you want to know more about the history of this emblematic place, behind the Cathedral Church there is a small museum where you can see different  paintings by Italian, Spanish, Alto-Peruvian and Salta artists from the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as polychrome carvings and glued cloth that have their origin in Upper Peru, the Jesuit missions and Salta. You can also see pieces of goldsmiths for worship made by mestizo artists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and elements of furniture, prints, clothing and ornaments. Admission is free and is open every day.  

As for the interior of the Catedral there is a very interesting  Sanctuary, where The images of the Lord and the Virgin of the Miracle are protected, the patrons of the city of Salta, who every September 15 receive thousands of devotees from all over the province to renew their pact of fidelity (this event takes place in La Catedral). 

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4. Güemes Museum

After seeing the buildings with the greatest history in the city: El Cabildo and La Catedral, we left the latter and walked two blocks on Calle España at 730 to reach the Güemes Museum, where you will be able to know everything about General Martín Miguel de Güemes, who played a fundamental role in the Independence of Argentina.

The museum is located in an old red house in  where the General and his family lived, which was declared  National Historic Monument in 1971.

The museum tour is completely educational, they are used screens and multimedia presentations in a very original way for kids to understand too. During the tour you will not only learn about the life and history of Güemes but also each of his feats to achieve the independence of the Argentine people.

It is open Tuesday to Sunday between 11am and 7pm.

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5. Museo de Bellas Artes

After visiting the Güemes Museum, we continue along the same España street to the right until we reach the corner and take Sarmiento avenue to the right, where we will see in the corner the Museo de Bellas Artes, here  there are exhibitions on: Viceregal art, XIX and XX centuries, tapestries, works of art by different Salta artists, engravings and sculptures. 

The Museum of Fine Arts of Salta works at the headquarters of the building known as   La Casona Usandivaras. This construction is in the French style, from the early 20th century  and was inaugurated in December 2008, with samples of the invaluable artistic heritage of the Province.

The building has more than 1,000 m2 distributed over two floors and was restored, expanded and adapted to its new function. The Museum has 245 m2 of exhibition space for temporary exhibitions on the ground floor and 166 m2, on the first floor, for the permanent collection. It has a specialized library, auditorium, shop and bar.

This museum shows the rich history of local art and It is one of the oldest in the country.   Although the actual creation of the first public museum in Salta took place on July 9, 1930, under the name of the Colonial, Historical and Fine Arts Museum. Its first headquarters was the building of the Council of Education, current Museum of High Mountain Archeology.

Among its collections, the Museum has: Religious Art of the 18th Century , Art of the 19th century, works by artists such as: Ernesto Scotti, Aristene Papi, Ramiro Dávalos, Guillermo Usandivaras, María Martorell, Carlos L. García Bes, Luis Preti, Osvaldo Juane, Jorge Hugo Román, Rodolfo Argenti, Elsa Salfity and many others Salta artists who left their mark on the art of the early and mid-twentieth century. In addition, the Museum has a Pre-Columbian Art Room that integrates the permanent collection and manifestations of the pre-Hispanic past from which many local artists drew.

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6. Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña (MAAM)

When leaving the Museum of Fine Arts we walk four blocks along Belgrano avenue towards the Plaza de Armas until we reach Bartolomé Miter, here we turn right and after half a block we will find the Museo de Arqueologia de Alta Montaña is a must for all who visit Salta, as it has surprising content about the discovery of the children of Llullaillaco , an archaeological discovery of more than 500 years ago. These are three children who were offered by the Inca empire and found at 6730 meters above sea level, on the summit of the Llullaillaco volcano. Seeing their cryo-preserved bodies is mobilizing, but it is a fascinating gateway to entrance to the archaeological world.
The Capac Cocha (royal obligation in Quechua) was one of the most transcendental rituals of the Inca Empire. It was performed in honor of the god Viracocha and included the sacrifice of boys who were taken to the summits of the highest hills and volcanoes in the Andes (as close as possible to Inti, the sun god) and were abandoned there. Some were previously assassinated, others died of hypothermia.
The MAAM located a few meters from Plaza 9 de Julio , shows the whole story behind these sacrifices and every detail in its modern and educational facilities. The bodies of the three children are exposed in a low-temperature capsule that works with the cryopreservation process. 

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7. Museo de Arte Contemporáneo

At the end of our visit to the MAAM we crossed the Plaza 9 de Julio again towards Zuviria 90 street to enter the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (MAC), a museum inaugurated July 26 with the aim of disseminating, educating, investigating and exhibiting contemporary artistic production through independent sculptures, paintings and designs. If you are interested in seeing the ingenuity of the main local artists this is one of the best places in Salta.

The MAC offers theoretical and practical workshops aimed at children, adolescents and adults in the area of photography, painting, design, art history, video, observation and understanding of the work of art. It organizes an annual program of talks, conferences, seminars and clinics for visual artists or the general public.

In 2007 it was awarded as Museum of the Year, award granted by the Argentine Association of Art Critics (AACA). It currently has a specialized library service, it has an audiovisual archive of contemporary art producers and managers in training. It is worth visiting this beautiful museum that has colonial architecture and very original exhibits.

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8. Moreno Artesanías

Once you finish your visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art, surely you want to start choosing some souvenirs from the trip and what better choice than an authentic poncho or traditional Salta pottery.   For that we left the museum and headed down Calle España towards Deán Funes, where we turned right and half a block away we stopped at the local Moreno Artesanias.

In this local you will find handmade ponchos of the best quality. They are made in a small town in the Calchaquíes Valleys called El Colte, in Seclantás, south of the province of Salta in Cachi and then they are distributed by the main locals of Salta.

In the Colte, its people weave it  in a traditional way for many years. Although they also make other garments by loom such as cushions,  scarves and other garments, the most typical are the Salteños Ponchos, with their characteristic burgundy color and black lines, very warm, combining the best natural fabrics and  traditional techniques maintained from generation to generation.

The ponchos are made up of two hand-sewn cloths with a zigzag stitch.  These two Cloths can be made of sheep, vicuña, guanaco, alpaca or llama wool. Most of the ponchos produced in Salta are made of sheep, vicuña or llama. 

If you prefer to bring a ceramic object, in Moreno Artesanías you will find all kinds of varieties and also varieties from Cafayate, known especially for their aboriginal guards motifs.

Ceramics are pieces of art but also for everyday and practical use such as ceramic tableware, bowls, cups, plates and of course ornaments with figures of llamas, vicuñas, christs, virgins or coyas. 

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9. Basilica of San Francisco

After buying some gifts we turn right and continue one block along Deán Funes street until we see on the left hand side  The Basilica San Francisco, one of the treasures of Salta that  captivates not only for its endless bell but also for its architecture and the cultural richness that it preserves. His “Fray Luis Giorgi” experiential museum, is one of its main attractions, the circuit includes different rooms (5) where the history of the basilica and the convent, the Franciscan spirituality, cultural aspects, sacred art, archive of the history of the province, the library and sacristy. The tour is carried out accompanied by a guide or through an audio guide system.
During the circuit also  valuable works of art and pieces can be appreciated collection from the 18th and 19th century. Among them deserve special attention: the set of chalices, reliquaries, American Baroque style silverware, colonial-style furniture, imagery and paintings from different periods.
The museum is   open Monday through Friday from 9.30 am to 6 pm  and is located just two blocks from the main square 9 de Julio.

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10. Eat empanadas in Doña Salta

Surely after a long walking tour and visiting several places you are wanting to sit down and eat something delicious, the best option may be to enjoy the typical Salteño empanadas and you can do it in the place  Doña Salta that is  in front of the Basilica of San Francisco on Deán Funes street. 

Doña Salta's empanadas are on the podium of the richest in the city. They have the classic small size of the Salta empanadas, surely you have to ask for a good quantity because you are going to love them. Some empanadas are prepared with spice, or you can ask that they be served with yasgua sauce (tomato sauce) or you can put lemon inside and accompany them with a glass of very cold Torrontés. 

The classic Salta empanadas have meat cut with a knife, boiled potato, egg, paprika, green onion, cumin, and sometimes paprika.  Other varieties Of meat are those of Charqui (dehydrated meat dried in the sun), which can be eaten in the clay oven or fried. In addition to the classic meat and chicken empanadas, there are the  cheese ones that are super tasty!  They have onion and paprika. It is an excellent option for vegetarians, as well as humita (corn cream). 

You can find all these varieties in Doña Salta and order them to eat in the place that is an old house with an open kitchen in view of the diners or you can order them to take away and you eat them during the tour. A tip to add to Doña Salta's empanadas is that around Buenos Aires street there is a wine bar (Vería Borra amp; Vino), where there is an excellent variety of Salta wines or craft beers that you can try while savoring your empanadas.

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11. Have a wine from Salta at the Vineria Borra Vino

If you are interested in continuing to try the flavors of the region or bring some quality wine to enjoy at home, I recommend the Borra amp; Vino Winery, where they have the  traditional white wines of Torrontés, the variety produced in the town of Cafayate, where the most important wineries in the province are located. To get to this winery after having tried Doña Salta's delicious empanadas, you have to leave the premises and go to your right and in the first street turn right and take Alvarado and again turn right in Buenos Aires where half This Borra amp; Wine block.

The place has more than  400 different labels of at least 60 wineries exclusively from the Calchaquí Valleys. All the wines are presented on visible shelves and have trained personnel to guide you in the style of wine that you can choose according to your tastes, they also offer the possibility of being able to taste some exponents for free and in In the case of wanting to consume them in the place, they have tables inside and on the street.

Other traditional varieties that may interest you are the malbecs, the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The other red and white varieties are also worth trying: Blend, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Syrah, Bonarda, Petit Verdot, Sangiovese and Chardonnay.

In case you want to enjoy  another typical drink, you can try the "Andean beer", known as La Chicha, it is a fermented drink commonly made from corn and sugar water.

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12. Taste the alfajores Los Calchaquitos

When you finish enjoying your wine at the winery, I recommend that you visit the store next to Borra y Vino, the   Dulces y Alfajores shop, where if you are one of those who you like sweets, you have to try the famous  alfajores "Los Calchaquitos"   they are delicious, they come filled with dulce de leche, fruit or quince, dipped in chocolate, the most original are wine. 

Alfajores are produced in its factory in Cafayate , but due to how rich and popular they are, you can find them in most from the kiosks of the center or in specific stores of sweets or alfajores such as  Dulces y Alfajores, which is located on Calle Buenos Aires at 30.

Alfajores The Calchaquitos de vino are the ones that generate the most curiosity in people, they can be  torrontés or malbec   but they are the classic varieties of  dulce de leche   is covered with chocolate or icing. The fruit varieties can be  sweet peach, apple, strawberry, cayote or quince.  The process of these  alfajores are 100% handmade   and are They produce in their own family factory located in the center of Cafayate with more than 30 years of experience. 

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13. Museo de la Ciudad “Casa de Hernández”

After having tried several of the traditional flavors of Salta, we leave the sweet shop and make half a block until we reach Alvarado, where we turn right and make two blocks until we reach the Museo de la Ciudad and is the typical construction between the XXth centuries, a white house with iron and wood balconies accompanied by tall wooden doors.

The Museum offers 18th century furnishings and XIX, architectural elements belonging to buildings already demolished Salta, collection of photographs, clothing, accessories and elements of daily life. 

Uno One of the most interesting sectors is  The Gallery of Intendants, which reflects the institutional life of the city from 1857 to the decade of the 50. This museum is located on La Florida and Alavarado streets.

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14. Mercado de San Miguel

After visiting the last site that makes up the historic center, we left the museum and continued to the left along La Florida Street until we reached the intersection with Urquiza Street where the  Mercado de San Miguel. The markets of the center are another activity that is very enjoyed in Salta and where  you can get traditional products from the area and small handicrafts to take away as gifts.
The Mercado de San Miguel is one of the interesting points for those who want to see and buy  different varieties of fruits , vegetables and spices. The market is quite large and has posters hanging from the ceiling where each sector is organized. In one corner are the  plants, succulents and cacti; right next to the fruits and vegetables part and then the spices part, fishmongers and butchers.
In the  spices sector  There are baskets with coca leaves, corn of different shapes and colors (white, peeled, purple and yellow). There are also organic spices such as chili pepper and paprika, all spices have an intense color and flavor (those from the Calchaquí Valleys are the best). In the vegetable sector there are the famous Andean potatoes of different sizes and shapes with which the most traditional dishes of Salta are made, such as empanadas, locro and different stews.  The beauty of this market is that the who attend the stands are very friendly and explain to each client about their products and guide you on what you are looking for.

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15. Talabartería Barquín

After the San Miguel Market, we walk to the right along Urquiza street until we reach 683, where we will find a small saddlery shop called "Barquín", it is a   emblematic place for gauchos in the area, since several  go through this place to buy what they need for the parades and national holidays that take place throughout the year.  

This shop is characterized by the excellent quality of its products, all handmade by local artisans.  Within the trade you go to find  Salteño ponchos, guardrails, bows, mates and light bulbs, hats, belts, drums, spurs, saddles, horseshoes and daggers.

In addition, they have a  fabrics sector, where you can take a  blanket, sweaters, slippers, socks, gloves and children's clothing.

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16. Objects of Santeria Oratorio San Felipe Neri

When leaving the saddlery, we continue to the right along Urquiza street for two and a half blocks, where we will find on the right hand side a small place called  El Oratorio San Felipe Neri.  It is one one of the most complete shops visited by all those interested in  Santeria. Salta is a destination where the population is mostly Catholic and very believers in the different saints.

The Santeria San Felipe Neri is a spiritual oasis for many inhabitants and they find in this place a refuge in faith. The trade is full of objects, you can visit it and surely many pieces will amaze you. In these times, one of the best-selling saints according to the owner of the premises is the  San Pantaleón , he is considered the patron of the doctors and the sick and the  San José Obrero,   employer of the workers. 

Other popular statuettes are those of Gauchito Gil and Difunta Correa.   Al Gauchito Gil every January 8 in every corner of the country a red candle is lit to venerate this vigilant and compliant gaucho who is present on all roads and routes in the country.  He is considered a protector  "miraculous "capable of deflecting" enemy bullets "and saving lives.  

For her part, Difunta Correa is a popular saint from northern Argentina , especially among the popular classes. The woman was the wife of Clemente Bustos, a local from Angaco who was forcibly recruited by Montonero groups to participate in civil wars, and taken to La Rioja, and she tried to go after him with her newborn baby. On a walking trip through the desert, she died of exhaustion, without food or water, and was found the next day by some muleteers, who verified that the child was still alive, nursing from his mother's dead body, which gave rise to the legend. and to the subsequent devotion of faith. The devotees of La Difunta Correa look to her for help and benefits for relatives or close people with illnesses, but above all they ask for the health of children.

In addition to sell all kinds of statuettes, stamps and t-shirts of saints, also   the classic candles, chains with crosses or saints, bibles, tarot cards, cribs  coyas, pictures of saints are offered and virgins. There is a section   of literature and magazines,   where you can find bibles, magazines on the way of the cross and on how to interpret the rosary. In this place you will also be able to understand a little more about what religion mobilizes the people of the north of the country

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17. Cable car to Cerro San Bernardo

A very interesting place to which we are heading our walking tour is El Cerro San Bernardo. After Santeria we continue our way along Urquiza street for about four blocks to Lavalle street where we turn right to take San Martín Avenue where 30 meters away is the entrance area to the cable cars that take you to the top.

Cerro San Bernardo is one of the main attractions because it allows you to see the whole environment that surrounds the city, it is very easy to access.   In the top at 1471.92 meters above sea level there is a viewpoint which can be reached by a path  signposted from the arrival area of the cable cars. In addition to the viewpoint there are several attractions, among which a walk of artificial waterfalls arranged on different terraces stands out. On the hill there is also a small restaurant, where those who want to stop to eat or have a drink can do so, there is also a play area for the little ones and an ecological path of about 5 kilometers, everything is very well marked with their respective signs. .

Some data to take into account about this cable car is that covers an oblique distance of 1046 meters and the route takes about 8 minutes. It has 20 gondolas that can transport about 300 people per hour. 

Once you finish your ride on the hill and return to the base, you can visit the monument of Miguel de Güemes mounted on his horse, this is made of bronze and is surrounded by steps and a pedestal that were built with stones from neighboring hills. Beyond the monument, the beauty of approaching it is the neighborhood of tree-lined streets and imposing houses that surround it.

The monument is located a few meters from the Cable car ascent area, next to the entrance road to make the ascent by car, bicycle or on foot to the top of the hill (10 kilometers).

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18. Eat the traditional dessert with quesillo and cane honey in Viracocha

After seeing the city from the heights in the cable car, we continue towards the well-known Balcarce street, but beforehand we make a stop to try  one of the richest desserts in Salta in Viracocha. To get here we take the avenue that we have near the exit of the cable car (Av. Hipolito Yrigoyen) we walk about six blocks until we take Güemes avenue to the left and we turn right again in Vicente Lópe, where we will see about 30 meters the restaurant. 

In Viracocha in addition to offering the most traditional dishes such as asado, locros, empanadas, they have a fairly extensive menu in which The famous dessert with quesillo and cane honey stands out. It is one of the delicacies of Salta that few can resist. The quesillo with cane honey is an indigenous dessert from the north, you can also order it with cayote sweet and walnuts. Quesillo is a type of cheese  popular in the northwestern regions of Argentina, it is made from cow's milk.   It is curdled and dehydrated milk, no preservative is applied to it, so its duration is considerably less than that of cheese. It needs refrigeration and has a mild flavor and soft texture.

This characteristic cheese is made by small producers and its origin dates back to the Spanish conquest where products and customs were combined European and traditional Creole recipes. 

The quesillo is produced throughout the year because it does not mature, it is a fresh white, white- yellowish that is packaged and can be consumed immediately. 

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19. Visit the peña Los Cardones

After a day of walks, night comes and we choose to close our walking tour in the traditional Belgrano street at  Peña Los Cardones, where you can enjoy folk music and live chamames, while tasting some wines from the valleys and some charqui empanadas.

If you go from our last point of the route (Viracocha Restaurant) you have to follow Vicente López for about four blocks and turn left in Alsina to do five blocks and reach Balcarce, here you turn to the Right and half a block away you will find the rock.

Every night on the Los Cardones stage  there is live music with recognized artists and beginners who play their guitars, drums and tambourines to the rhythm of the music of the north, there are nights where you can listen to folklore, sambas, sayas or chacareras, also the singers go with their pren traditional days and dances are even performed. La peña is a small house that has a patio, where one can sit and listen to the different artists that pass through its stage.

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