Seven Days in the North of Argentina
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The North of Argentine offers travellers a different ‘Argentina:’ a land of impressive landscapes, varied cuisine, friendly people and a Latin American atmosphere that you won’t find in Buenos Aires. The best way to explore the North Western provinces of Argentina is by car so here Argentina Travel Planet talks you through a week-long trip to Tucumán and Salta.
Argentina is a vast and varied country. If you’re visiting Argentina for two to three weeks then time is limited and precious. We would recommend that in this time you explore Buenos Aires, Iguazu and squeeze in an adventure up north. One week should be enough to explore this unique part of Argentina if you go by car. From Buenos Aires you can travel to Tucumán by plane or for a more economical option you can take an overnight coach and also enjoy the benefit of saving on one night’s accommodation. Several bus companies offer services to Tucumán and you can find all the details at:
By plane the journey takes under two hours, giving you more time to make the most of your trip, however, flights cost around USD$200.
The city of Tucumán is a vibrant and safe city with plenty to see and do. This is the cradle of the Argentine battle for independence and during the Bicentenary of Independence celebrations (2010 to 2016) there will be plenty of events on in Tucumán city.
However, the really exciting parts of Tucumán province lay just outside the city. Hiring a car in Tucumán is easy and simple. There are several agents near the city centre within walking distance of the main square, Plaza Independencia and at Tucumán city airport.
Movil Renta Rent A Car
San Lorenzo 370
Tel: (54-381) 431-0550 – Fax: 0800-77-73682
Avis Rent a Car
Benjamín Matienzo Airport
Tel: (54-381) 426-7777 – Fax: (54-381) 421-3604
Dollar Rent A Car
Tel: 0-800-444-3466 / (54-381) 430-6154
Tel: (54-381) 426-4112
Crisostomo Alvarez 507
Tel: (54-381) 426-4112
Localiza Rent A Car
San Juan 935
Tel: (54-381) 421-5334/430-0785/421-4100/431-1352
Please be aware that some offices will close for the siesta from 1pm to 5pm, however, many have mobile numbers that you can contact at any time. Tourist information at Plaza Independencia is probably your best bet for the most up to date information and advice. A useful tip is to not book your hire car in advance but instead just head straight to the office. Prices are lower this way and you may even be given an upgraded model of car for a lower price if they do not have the cheapest model available, although during the high season (December to March or in July) it’s best to ring ahead to check availability.
The mountains that overlook San Miguel de Tucumán are well worth a visit. The quaint villages are summer and weekend retreats for the citizens of Tucumán who escape the city’s heat in the breezy hills around Yerba Buena and San Javier. You can take your hire car up the winding hillside roads to San Javier and Siambón, but be warned that this isn’t for the faint hearted driver as the climb up is a gear-changing, white-knuckle ride. If you don’t fancy driving then there is a public bus service or you can do a private tour of the villages at a relaxed pace.
Tucuman is a small city and easy to get around. The motorway that leads out of the city is just 1 km from Plaza Independencia. However, be warned that traffic on weekdays can be quite congested as the streets are narrow and not designed for heavy traffic. This is particularly important to remember when returning your hire car. Make sure you leave plenty of time to return your vehicle so you are not charged another day for arriving late.
The motorway that leads to North of Tucumán and into Salta province is called Ruta 9 (Route 9). This paved road is well maintained and easy to drive on. Things get a little more complicated as the route begins to climb up into the valley. The scenery is breath-taking as you snake you way up to higher altitudes and subtropical environment. This route will lead you through some beautiful sights including the enchanting settlements Tafí del Valle, Amaicha del Valle and the el Mollar dam.
Suggested Seven Day Itinerary
Leave Tucumán city as early as possible. This is especially applicable on a weekday as traffic can get hectic and you don’t want to be stuck in traffic in the city when the open road beckons. We recommend stops in Tafí del Valle, Amaicha del Valle and Quilmes Ruins, however, if you have time you could stay the night in one of these towns to really experience the local sights.
Arrive in Cafayate. Stay overnight here. There is a variety of accommodation options ranging from luxury spa hotels and boutique establishments to camping and hostel accommodation.
Explore Cafayate. Here you can visit local bodegas and nearby waterfalls.
Leave Cafayate. Take Route 40 towards Cachi. There are several wineries along the route that are all worth a visit and you can stop to get a bite to eat as most bodegas have restaurants. Continue to Molinos town and stay overnight here.
During the day you can visit the vineyards surrounding Molinos. Don’t miss the Colomé vineyard which is just 14 km from Molinos. You could also do a horse-riding tour or hike in the surrounding mountains. Stay overnight here.
Head to Cachi via Ruta 40. Visit the town’s mirador viewpoint and pilgrimage site. Visit local church. Stay overnight.
Drive to Salta city via Ruta 33, stopping off at various beauty spots and viewpoint along the winding mountain roads. A visit to Valle Encantada along Ruta 33 is a must. Arrive in Salta City where you can explore the city’s sights and eat out in a variety of restaurants. The city illuminated at night is enchanting.
Option One: return your hire car in its origin to avoid paying hefty surcharge. This journey takes around 3 to 4 hours depending on how fast you drive. This will also make your return journey to Buenos Aires shorter. After you arrive back in San Miguel de Tucumán you can visit tourist attractions around the city, eat out then take an overnight bus or return flight to Buenos Aires.
Option Two: return the hire car in Salta instead of Tucumán (this is only an option with some agencies). Returning the car in another location will cost you around $ 150 US dollars, but it will save you the journey from Salta to Tucumán. It will also allow you to fully explore Salta city and visit the multitude of museums, galleries, restaurant and bars. Then you can return to Buenos Aires in the evening taking an overnight bus or flying.
This suggested itinerary is flexible and can be extended or shortened depending on the length of your stay. If you are enchanted by one of the destinations then you can shorten your stay in other places. Take a look at other useful travel itineraries at Argentina travel guide