Salto, Uruguay –More than a Stopover En Route to Iguazu
Despite its diminutive size, Salto is actually the second most populous city in Uruguay. A quiet area on the banks of the Rio Uruguay, the city is occupied by around 100,000 residents and has good facilities, with banks, hotels, restaurants and internet cafes.
During the peak of summer in January and February, temperatures can reach above 40 degrees Celsius. The scalding streets, lined with dishevelled art deco period housing, are quite desolate during the day; many of the shops are empty or shut, giving Salto the eerie air of a ghost town.
Things come alive at night however, as hordes of pickup trucks, cars and scooters congest the main street of Calle Uruguay, an avenue that runs right through the city all the way to the water’s edge. It is hard to imagine where all the traffic comes from in such a tranquil area, however, the destination tends to be the same: down to the banks of the Rio Uruguay to drink mate.

Calle Uruguay - Salto
Stroll down Calle Uruguay and get a feel for the real Salto

Transport to and from the city
Salto is around 300 miles northwest of Montevideo. Buses leave daily from the Tres Cruces terminal in the capital for Salto. The journey costs some 650 Uruguayan pesos and lasts around 6 hours.
From the Omnibus Terminal in Salto, the city centre can be reached on foot by taking Avenida Blandengues, before heading west down Calle Uruguay for around 15 blocks. The city is safe; however, attention should be paid when walking along the main road during early morning as it can be busy with traffic.
Apart from bus, the easiest way to leave the city is by boat. Just a short journey across the Rio Uruguay is Concordia in Argentina; from here, direct buses to the famous Iguazu falls are available. Crossings from Salto can be booked for 90 Uruguayan pesos at the port office located at the bottom of Calle Uruguay. It is important to note that there is border control both on departure from Salto and arrival in Concordia.
Hostels are thin on the ground in Salto; however, among the rather expensive hotels in the city stands Hotel Tia. Far from extravagant, the small guesthouse, located at 566 Avenida Brasil, is a bastion of functionality. Perfectly pleasant staff (in general), 24 hour reception, plenty of fan cooled rooms, a small courtyard and free Wi-Fi make the 300 pesos a night stay very reasonable. Breakfast is not included but there are shops close by.
Growing in popularity, Salto has a recently established tourist information centre on Calle Uruguay, located around one block down from Plaza Artigas. Inside, dormant staff stir in the presence of guests, helping visitors to orient themselves and to learn about local attractions.
The biggest draws in the area are the two thermal water parks: Las Termas and Acuamania. They are located side by side in Dayman, an area just outside the city of Salto. Las Termas features a number of hot pools and water fountains. Acuamania, meanwhile, has water slides, music, fountains, an artificial river, inflatables and a cafe. Entrance for either attraction is around 90 Uruguayan pesos, with private lockers available at an additional cost.
Take a dip at Termales de Dayma
Take a dip at Termales de Dayma

Regular bus services to the hot springs pick passengers up from a stop outside a newsagent one block down from Hotel Tia. Normally clearly labelled with Las Termas, the buses arrive every half an hour or so, before taking a route through pleasant countryside. Buses back to Salto stop outside Las Termas. The pick up point can get quite busy in the late afternoon, so a waiting is normally necessary; however, orderly queuing appears to be part of the culture in Uruguay which helps the line to move along as efficiently as it can.
Despite being the birth place of a number of well known footballers, most notably Liverpool forward Luis Suarez and Paris Saint Germain striker Edinson Cavani, Salto does not have a professional team. However, two local amateur sides, Salto Futbol Club and Ferro Carril FC, play at the Estadio Ernesto Dickinson and the Estadio Luis T. Merazzi respectively. The clubs may be of interest to football aficionados curious about how the grassroots system works in one of the world’s great footballing nations.
The city is also home to a zoo, the Zoologico de Salto, located at the meeting point of Avenida Harriague and Calle Rincón. Among the animals kept at the zoo are big cats, marine animals and birds. Living conditions for the animals appear reasonable, while entrance for visitors is free.
Salto is not a typical haven for backpackers; however, the quiet city has more to offer than simply a convenient location between the popular Atlantic Coast of Uruguay and the celebrated tourist destination of Iguazu in Argentina.
Andreas Ambarchian is a freelance journalist from England. He writes about a