Argentina

Northern Argentina’s Cozy Cafayate: Wine and Wandering

Northern Argentina's Cafayate: Wine and Wandering

I like wine.

That might be an understatement. Last week I figured out that while our biggest monthly expense is rent (pretty normal), our wine expenditures aren’t that much less. Okay, rent in Puebla is pretty cheap, but still.

As you might guess, from the theme of Joy and Journey and the above statements, three of my favorite things in life are travel, budgeting (I’m a sick freak like that), and wine.

Cafayate, Argentina was the perfect combination of all three.

Cafayate Argentina

While EVERYBODY and their brother know about Argentina and its wine, cute Cafayate usually gets left in the shadows of better-known (and much more expensive) Mendoza.

FOR SHAME!

Spending a few days in Cafayate with Lavi was a last minute decision, and the best possible one at that. Cafayate was an absolute blast, and the ultimate chill pill (while being extremely soft on my wallet).

Salta to Cafayate Argentina Bus Ride Salta to Cafayate Argentina Bus Ride
bus ride views from Salta to Cafayate, Argentina

The bus ride from Salta set the mood for the entire trip, with the sunrise lighting up the mountains in the distance, spectacular scenery viewed from the window of my comfortable bus seat, and my best friend sitting beside me.

Wine in Cafayate, Argentina Wine in Cafayate, Argentina

We spent our days wandering through wineries, most of which are conveniently located just a short stroll from the central square, and creating our own DIY wine tour. We sauntered around small, cozy Cafayate, stopping into whatever bodega struck our fancy. Tastings ranged from 20 Pesos for 3 full glasses all the way up to the not-so-pricey 40 Pesos for 4 sips (BOO). Every wine tasting had a beautiful backdrop, whether the wood-paneled interior of a friendly bodega, or the stunning scenery of mountains in the distance.

Cafayate Argentina
catching a bit of a music and dance performance in one of the plaza’s restaurants

We made sure to get in our exercise for the day, walking to wineries to hit those calf muscles, and lifting glasses to our lips repetitively for some important bicep work, and hydration of course. We also strengthened our brains, listening to Spanish explanations of various wines, especially Torrentes and Malbec, which Cafayate is known for. After all that exertion, we’d freshen up before making our way to the big central plaza surrounded by our choice of open air restaurants.

There were very few tourists, which meant we were often the only customers in restaurants and bars (and wineries)… though that doesn’t necessarily translate to faster service (we’re talking Latin America), it did create a very peaceful and serene vibe.


What to Know Before You Go To Cafayate, Argentina

Cafayate Argentina

Cafayate is quite inexpensive

Cafayate Argentina
the super cute (and cost-effective) hostel courtyard

Especially as compared to more famous wine regions, like Mendoza, Cafayate is an absolute steal.

Sample Prices:

Private room and bathroom in beautiful hostel with a simple breakfast – 500P

Bottle of Wine at wine shop – 50P

Bottle of Wine at restaurant – 90P

Lunch – 100P

Bus ride to or from Salta – 180P

WTF Bodega, like those little shops in NYC?

Bodega Nanni Cafayate Argentina

Bodegas are what they call places with wine tastings in Cafayate. I don’t know if we’d translate that to winery, or wine shop, or tasting room. So let’s just call it as they do, bodega.

You don’t need a structured wine tour in Cafayate, just DIY

Wine Tasting in Cafayate Argentina

Aside from choosing our time (explained below), we basically just grabbed a map from a tourist shop, and wandered around haphazardly hitting bodegas as we passed them.

Our favorite was Domingo Hermanos. This place had a beautiful courtyard with outside tastings. For only 20 pesos, you get 3 full glass tastings of torrentes, sweet torrentes, and malbec or cabernet.

Our least favorite was Bodega Nanni, which charged 40P for 4 teeny tiny sips, and was more of a sales pitch than a wine tasting.

Plan your Cafayate bodega-hopping time semi-strategically

Wine Tasting in Cafayate Argentina

Weekday mornings are best, as that’s when most bodegas are open. Weekends are pretty spotty, and almost everywhere closes for at least a few hours, so plan accordingly.

Catcalling continues in Cafayate

Wine Tasting in Cafayate Argentina
the street seem empty, until some catcaller appears out of thing air

Just because this little piece of vineyard heaven is laid back and pretty devoid of tourists (or at least it was in April, when we visited) doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get the hell catcalled out of you.

Aside from that unfortunately typical Argentine annoyance (and that guy who stared us down nonstop our entireeeeeee dinner until someone – not naming any badass names – called his creepy ass out for it), Cafayate feels remarkably safe. We walked around the town, exploring pretty much every inch through to its outskirts, and felt totally fine after dark as well. Practice the normal precautions but don’t be worried.

Stay at the Rusty K in Cafayate

Cafayate Argentina
how cute is this dog though?

The Rusty K hostel is one of my absolute favorite little places I’ve stayed. The price is good (500P for a private 2-bed room with a private bathroom, and breakfast included), and the courtyard is adorable. They even grow grapes on the property.

And to seal the deal, they’ve got a fluffy, friendly dog who hangs out in the courtyard (which you’re welcome to do as well even after you checkout, to use the wifi til you grab your bus).


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Northern Argentina's Cafayate: Wine and Wandering


If you’re not looking to explore Cafayate independently, Viator offers activities and guided tours in Cafayate (including of the wineries!)

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Rachel Clarke
    May 16, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Drinking and exploring… the two best things 😉 I’ve never really heard of Cafayate before reading your post! But it certainly looks like a magical destination, and with those prices how can it not be!! 🙂

    • Reply
      Steph
      May 23, 2017 at 8:34 pm

      Hahaha AGREED!! It is definitely an awesome place, well-worth the visit and just far enough off the main tourist track to be quiet, cheap, and interesting without overly difficult to get to.

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