Argentina | 5 Reasons to Visit Cafayate, Argentina’s Quiet Escape

When I first read about Argentina’s wine country in National Geographic’s 50 Places of a Lifetime, I was transfixed. It just looked so… relaxing. So, after our accidental arrival and subsequent stay in northern Argentina, we decided to start exploring the grape-covered landscape.

An uneventful bus ride resulted in our very prompt arrival in Cafayate, a town which is in no way larger than our first colonies, but irresistibly, oh-so-very cute. After spending several days wining and dining ourselves at the numerous parrillas and other vineyards, we have decided that we like it here quite a lot, and here’s why:

  1. The Quiet: Cafayate takes most of the positives of Argentina’s wine world and plops them in a charming community, the length of which can be walked in less than 20 minutes. There are no Mendoza-like tourist groups crowding the bodegas, and hardly any people wandering outside the square. Here, you can sample some peaceful, European-style leisure at a fraction of the cost; Cafayate is full of tranquil days, long meals, and quiet siestas.
  2. The Vineyards: The best way to explore the local bodegas is probably on a bike, but, being terrible cyclists, the journey was a bit awkward. Not to mention, the popular wine museum was closed for construction. Nonetheless, it was rather enjoyable and sometimes even solitary. If you can take a little sun, there are plenty of vineyards to visit, all of which boast their own label of the famous Torrontés and Malbec wines. Torrontés, while a little sweet for me, is an agreeable and fresh white wine that dominates the Salta region. The mild weather and low humidity contribute to the success of wine production in the area, and many of the estates host free tours, though you sometimes have to sign up in advance. With so many wines being grown at Cafayate’s doorstep, it’s not a wonder that the town’s restaurants offer splendid house wines for remarkable prices.
  3. Cabras de Cafayate: Despite feeling that anyone can be converted, I (reluctantly) realize that not everyone is as obsessed with goat cheese as I. However, a relatively short bike trip takes you down a sandy dirt road to Cabras de Cafayate, which is quite a pleasant day trip. A guide will show you around (though only in Spanish), let you hang out with the goats, and give you samples of the various cheeses produced here, as well as some dulce de leche. Even if you’re not a fan of traditional chèvre, there are many mild varieties sure to please any cheese enthusiast – which, let’s face it, who isn’t a cheese enthusiast?
  4. La Casa de las Empanadas: If you’ve ever imagined a locals’ empanadas dive, this is surely it. Here, you’ll find the rare (and coveted) mixing of locals and tourists alike, all of who gather for the delicious finger foods and ambiance of what seems to be a local legend. In case you weren’t aware of how many people have graced the casa with their presence, thousands of signatures, poems, and doodles cover the walls from floor to ceiling, including some impressive caricatures of backpacking empanadas. It’s the perfect place to order local mom and pop dishes, including tamales, humitas, and, of course, empanadas. The service is friendly, the crowd plentiful, and the food top notch.
  5. The Shopping: For a fashionista’s paradise, all one has to do in Cafayate is walk around when the shops are open. (This, admittedly, is more difficult in unpredictable Siesta Land, where hours are not declared and most of the week seems optional.) The place is also stuffed with brilliant craft fairs, at least two of which are permanent and offer anything from interesting sculptures carved out of dried cactus to piles of appealing, unique knitwear. There is also a hint of gaucho culture in many of the designs, including custom jewelry, belts, and metalwork. All of this combined = Happy Urte.

2 Responses to “Argentina | 5 Reasons to Visit Cafayate, Argentina’s Quiet Escape”
  1. Erin says:

    Cafayate was one of our favourite places in Argentina. We loved the wineries (we just walked to some of the nearest ones) and Casa de la empanadas too! The scenery in the surrounding area is also incredible. We drove from Salta-Cafayate-Cachi-Salta and it’s one of the best road trips we’ve ever done.

    • ciaourte says:

      Ah! That’s sounds GREAT. If we had had more time… (we may have just stayed there forever). Are you two headed south at some point? I am just now updating Ushuaia blogs…

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