Cafayate with its mild, dry climate, abundance of local vineyards, colonial charm and laid-back pace is an ideal place to stay to explore the surrounding Calchaquíes valleys, a highlight to any visit to Salta. This is where you’ll most likely make your overnight stop if you’re on the popular scenic drive, La Vuelta a Los Valles.
The 12,000-person town is named after a local tribe that inhabited the area prior to the arrival of the Spaniards. Cafayate is growing thanks to immigration from surrounding provinces and growing recognition as a ‘wine and golf’ retreat for international home buyers with the introduction of the American-owned La Estancia de Cafayate, a 350-plot luxury homestead with an 18-hole public golf course.
⇒ Book a five-day luxury Salta tour to see Cafayate, the Quebrada de Humahuaca and the Altiplano town of Iruya
When to go:
All year, although it’s chilly in winter and can get pretty warm in summer.Spring is ideal for hikers and bikers.
Buses leave daily from Buenos Aires, Salta, Tucuman to Cafayate.
El Indio (Tel. +54 0387/431439) is a reputable bus company for travel from Salta to Cafayate. Buses leave three times per day. The trip is approximately three hours. All bus tickets can be purchased in Salta’s bus terminal. (Avenida Hipolito Yrigoyen s/n) Tel. 0387/4011143
There are several car rental companies in the Salta airport, including Avis and Hertz. There is an even larger selection of rental car agencies (with slightly better prices) in downtown Salta around the main plaza. Be aware that it can be difficult to find an automatic car and stick shifts are preferred for the curvy — and in some areas — gravel roads.
If you are arriving at the Cafayate airport, be aware that it is about 25k outside of town. You can get a taxi at the airport, or the Ves Patagonia airport shuttle.
Northern Argentina’s Salta region is celebrated not just for its wines but flavorful foods. Ask virtually anyone in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires where to find the best empanadas, and they will tell you Salta. Cafayate has a fine selection of restaurants for a town its size, serving regional favorites and the best local wine.
Av General Güemes & Rivadavia
Tel: (0-3868) 15-4028366
Baco is another popular spot for typical Argentine foods like beef, tamales, humitas, pastas, pizzas and empanadas. Baco also offers a substantial menu of local wines. Prices are good and so is the atmosphere.
La Casa de Empanadas
Tel: (0-3868) 15 454 108
For a taste of the distinguished ‘Salteña’-style empanadas at a good price, try La Casa de Empanadas.
Av General Güemes, Town Center
For a memorable dessert, stop in at Miranda Ice Cream and try some of their much-celebrated local wine flavored ice creams.
Across from Plaza San Martin, town center.
Local arts and crafts and artisan treats. Try the grape jellies and liquors made from local grapes.
The Museo Arqueologico
Colon 191/corner Calchaqui
• Hours: 11am-8pm, daily
• Admission: AR $2/suggested donation
An archeological delight, check out the historian and archeologist, Rodolfo Bravo’s, private collection of pre and post-Colombian regional relics.
Güemes Sur and Colon
Tel: (0-3868)/ 421-125
• Hours: Mon-Fri: 10am-1pm and 5pm-8pm
•Admission: AR $1
For more information on Cafayate’s wine history and culture, visit the Museo de Vitivinicultura (Museum of Grape Growing and Wine-Production)
Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Rosario
As in most small towns in Argentina, Cafayate’s church, is one of the town’s main attractions. You’ll find the circa 1895 cathedral, Nuestra Señora del Rosario, right on the main plaza. When you here the bells on Sunday morning, head to mass to meet locals and get a view into small town Argentine life.
If you have time for a day trip, just an hour drive south from Cafayate, lies Quilmes, home to Argentina’s largest settlement of pre-Colonial ruins, resting quietly in a lonely dessert. Pay 10 pesos to enter the ruins. To get to Quilmes by bus, El Aconquija is a good option. El Aconquija is located at Avenida Güemes and Cordoba, (03868)/ 421-052
The trip to Río Colorado, five kilometers outside of town, is nice if you’re looking for some outdoors activity. Hike upstream for about an hour to two hours to a waterfall with a pleasant area for a swim. An easy enough hike without a tour guide, but guides can easily be found through the tourist office or walking around.
There are five pharmacies in Cafayate. Thanks to a rotation system in place, a pharmacy is available 24 hours a day. Ask a local which pharmacy is open at any given time.
There are several ATMs in Cafayate. One can be found in the main plaza and another half a block away from the main plaza.
Av. Güemes Sur 155
Güemes Norte 197
• Serenade to Cafayate
The Serenade to Cafayate is one of the most important folklore festivals in Argentina. Enjoy regional foods, music, art and merriment. The festival usually takes place the third week in February, ringing in the end of summer and the start of fall.
• La Fiesta de la Virgen is held every year on the 7th of October. On October 10th is the Día de la Tradición another day celebrated with folkloric music and dancing.
• The Torrontés Wine Festival
Enjoy music, dancing, food and, of course, great wine! The Torrontés Wine Festival is held every November when the wines reach their maturation. This is the lower-key version of Mendoza‘s Vendimia Wine Festival which takes place at the same time of year.
Cafayate Tourist Office:
Plaza San Martin (Güemes and San Martin)
Tel: (03868) 422-223
• Hours: 8 a.m.-9 p.m.
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