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San Bernardo hill, a Saltenian icon

San Bernardo Hill

When visiting a new city, it’s always a great idea to see it from a nice viewpoint. Luckily, Salta has a beautiful natural balcony: San Bernardo hill. Located to the east of the city, this little green jungly mountain allows us to enjoy a stunning view from the top, almost 300 meters above Salta.

This hill is part of the Cordillera Oriental, a pre-Andes chain of mountains and an area that was part of the seabed 400 million years ago. As time went by, earthquake activity started to elevate the floor and created the mountains we see nowadays. In fact, it’s still possible to find marine fossils, such as trilobites, from that time.

There are three ways to get to the top of the hill, one for every taste and budget. If you happen to have a car, there is a 2km pavement road that climbs the hill and is easily accessible from the Portezuelo neighborhood, right next to the bus terminal. Salta also has a cable car that, even when it’s not the best plan for a claustrophobic person, takes you to the top of the hill in about 8 minutes and it’s a great way to enjoy the peculiar view above the buildings built next to it. The service costs $55 each way (children under 5 for free!) and you can buy them individually, which is great because it allows you to combine with a descent on foot. The cable car is open everyday from 10am to 7pm.

The best alternative, however, is to walk up each of the 1070 steps that take you from the Güemes Monument (right next to the Anthropology Museum) to the top. This is an ideal 30-45 minute plan to get to the top enjoying the view from within the regional vegetation that covers the hill. The stairs also contain 14 stations of a Via Crucis, a religious parade celebrated every first Sunday in May, reflecting the heavy Catholic heritage of the city.

Once you made it to the top, you can enjoy the awesome view of the city and the whole valley from the balconies and terraces built with stone from the area. The mountains to the West are the pre-Andes and they also offer a nice view during the sunset. There is a nice cafè and a handcrafts fair which offers great deals if you want to go back home with some souvenirs.
The City Tour includes a visit to this viewpoint and is a great opportunity to enjoy the city and its surroundings.
San Bernardo hill has always inspired musicians, poets and artists and is a fundamental part of Salta’s life.