Download GPX file for this article
-25.282197-57.6351Map mag.png

Asunción

From Wikivoyage
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Asunción is the capital and largest city of Paraguay. Unlike other capitals of South America such as Buenos Aires, Quito or Lima, Asunción is off the beaten path as it lacks well known tourist attractions. However, the number of visitors is on the rise and those who visit the Paraguayan capital will discover an authentic Latin American city which has managed to keep a quiet atmosphere and preserves interesting sights and monuments of its rich history and colonial past. Asunción is nonetheless a thriving city with an important commercial activity, a rich cultural scene with interesting museums, theaters and art galleries, an active nightlife and some excellent hotels and restaurants.

Understand[edit]

Pink lapacho trees blossoming

The Asunción metropolitan area is home to 2.2 million of Paraguay's 6.9 million inhabitants. It is a cosmopolitan and demographically young city with 65% of its residents under the age of 30.

Many landmarks and historical buildings in the old city centre have recovered their past splendour thanks to Paraguay's bicentennial independence celebrations that took place during 2011 and demanded a lot of restoration works throughout the city. In 2012, a new riverside promenade (costanera) was opened along the Bay of Asunción which added a much needed space for running, walking and family recreation. Around the city tree-lined avenues, small parks and shady squares break up the rigid grid system of streets in the downtown area. In July and August the whole city is drenched in colour with the prolific pink and yellow bloom of lapacho trees, which grow everywhere.

History[edit]

Asunción was founded in 1537 by Juan de Salazar y Espinosa, a Spaniard and member of the Pedro de Mendoza expedition which was set to colonize the Rio de la Plata basin, on 15th August the day of the feast of the Assumption of Mary, that is why is so named. It is the longest continually inhabited settlement in the Río de la Plata basin and in early colonial times it was referred to as Madre de Ciudades (mother of cities) because it was from here that numerous expeditions and missionaries set off to colonize the region founding many other settlements like Corrientes, Santa Fe, Buenos Aires and Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Asunción was established on the eastern bank of a calm bay in the river Paraguay, rendering it a good lookout post. In 1541 the first Cabildo (town council) was created transforming Asunción from a military fort to a civilian town with a local government.

The first president after independence, José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia, who ruled Paraguay from 1814 to 1840, began to put some town planning. Under his successor, Carlos Antonio López, the railway was inaugurated, and some of the handsome 19th century buildings went up. The following president, Mariscal Francisco Solano López, in the short period before he embarked on his catastrophic War of the Triple Alliance, built the grandest of the city's buildings, his own residence, known today as the Palacio de López. The city centre is an old testament to 19th century historic ideals, with names reflecting local heroes and battles. During the Chaco War against Bolivia of 1932-35 many buildings in the city were improvised as hospitals and military barracks.

Since the 1970-80's internal migration from the countryside to Asunción has made the city to increase in size and population until becoming one continuous urban spread comprising more than a dozen different cities that form the Greater Asunción metro area. The most interesting for tourists to visit are Luque, San Lorenzo, Capiatá, Itauguá and Villa Hayes among others.

Present day[edit]

Today Asunción is a bustling, chaotic city with some 600,000 inhabitants within its city limits, and around 2.5 million people in its metro area. However, behind the new tall glassy buildings, corporate headquarters and shopping malls, Asunción retains a laid back atmosphere. When visiting the city a mix of three different architectural styles will be present: colonial style (present in the oldest houses and buildings of the city centre); italianate public buildings and manors (with beautiful gardens) and modern Latin American architecture (including a large shopping malls next to residential houses).

Tourism has become important for Asunción and it is specially visible in the Business District and Villa Morra neighbourhoods where economic growth has resulted in a plethora of new hotels and shops, as well as innovative new bars and restaurants. The majority of visitors are businessmen of neighboring Latin American countries and day trippers from Argentina. They come to enjoy low prices on practically all goods and services from restaurant meals to electronics and even car tyres.

Visitor information[edit]

  • 1 Senatur (National Tourism Board), Palma 468, +595 21 441530, toll-free: 0800 113030, fax: +595 21 491230. The main national tourist information office also called Turista roga (visitors house). It has a visitors information centre and an exhibition hall for sale of traditional arts, crafts and books. Additional information booth at Silvio Pettirossi International Airport.
  • 2 Centro de Información Turística (Tourist Information Centre), Avenida Costanera. Municipal tourist office on the riverside promenade.

Climate[edit]

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 34 33 32 28 25 23 23 25 27 29 31 32
Nightly lows (°C) 23 22 21 19 16 14 13 14 16 19 20 22
Precipitation (mm) 147 129 118 166 113 82 39 73 88 131 164 150

Average high and low temperatures and mean precipitation from Wikipedia

Asunción is just south of the Tropic of Capricorn so the climate is subtropical. That means hot weather especially in the South American summer (winter in the Northern Hemisphere). Between November and March the temperature can consistently climb over 38 °C (100 °F) and the humidity can be high and uncomfortable. Nevertheless, the weather changes frequently from one week to another. When the sun shines you bake and it can be very dry when the rains hold off for just a few days. Rains can be heavy and make the temperature drop precipitously. Then the clouds build and it becomes cold.

Talk[edit]

The city, as the whole country, is officially bilingual, with 79% of people speak Spanish as their first language, and 20% have Guaraní as their first tongue. English is not widely spoken outside of hotels and tour operators so without some basic Spanish phrases it might be hard to get by. Public transportation, street signs and all road signalization are in Spanish. Business people and the younger generations have some knowlegde of English. Although locals will appreciate an effort to say a few words in Spanish, they will try to communicate in English if they can. The majority of restaurants have Spanish-only menus and waiters seldom speak other language than Spanish or Guaraní.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Silvio Petrossi International Airport

International flights are available to Europe (Madrid with Air Europa); to Argentina (Buenos Aires with Aerolíneas Argentinas, LATAM and Amaszonas, Cordoba with Air Europa, Salta and Corrientes with Amaszonas); to Brazil (Sao Paulo-Guarulhos with LATAM, Gol and Amaszonas, Curitiba, Porto Alegre and Campo Grande with Amaszonas); to Chile (Santiago with LATAM and Amaszonas, Iquique with Amaszonas); to Bolivia (Santa Cruz de la Sierra with Amaszonas); to Perú (Lima with LATAM, Avianca, and Amaszonas); to Uruguay (Montevideo with Amaszonas); and to Panama (Panama City with Copa Airlines).

Domestic flights are available to Ciudad del Este with Amaszonas; to Encarnación and Pedro Juan Caballero with Sol del Paraguay; and to Concepción, Vallemí, Fuerte Olimpo and Bahia Negra with Setam.

Ground transportation from the airport to the city centre takes 30-45 minutes by taxi, and they charge a fixed rate of about US$25. There is a bus stop 200 m outside the airport terminal where you can catch city bus 30-A that will take you into the city in 1 hour and the fare is GS.3,300. There are no signs to point the way to the stop, but just walk out of the terminal and turn right. Local buses are not suited for carrying big pieces of luggage, and they don't run during the night from 23:00 to 05:00 when many flights arrive and depart. Car rental is available at the airport and many companies have offices in the arrivals floor. Also some major hotels have their own private minibuses.

By bus[edit]

The 2 Terminal de Omnibus de Asunción (bus terminal) is about 5 km (3 mi) southeast of the city centre, so take a taxi or bus (city buses N°8, N°38, among many others) go downtown. The terminal is at the junction of two main city avenues. The Avenida Fernando de la Mora in front of the bus terminal leads west to the city centre. The Avenida República Argentina at the side of the terminal goes north to Villa Morra, Carmelitas, the Business District and the airport.

Ticket offices for all bus companies are inside the terminal on the first floor. It's also possible to buy tickets for some national long distance destinations and international destinations at travel agencies and online at the corresponding bus company website.

There are normally two types of bus services to the largest cities in Paraguay: común and directo. While the first are cheaper, they also stop in every town or bus stop along the way to pick up and drop off passengers and take longer time than the directo which run direct or with fewer or no stops to reach their destination in less time. Directo buses are less frequent having only a couple of services a day generally at midnight or early in the morning or late afternoon.

If time is an issue and money not, it is wise to spend extra to get the better service (e.g. the GS.70,000 bus to Ciudad del Este takes 2-3 hr less than the GS.40,000 services). Food and drink is often served on the more expensive long-distance services, and almost all will stop en route to let someone on selling chipa and cocido.

International buses[edit]

There are several connections between Asunción and Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia, Chile and Peru.

  • Buenos Aires, ~17 hr, several daily, GS.300,000 (Crucero del Norte, Nuestra Señora de la Asunción/Chevallier)
  • Santa Cruz, ~24 hr, US$45-65.
  1. Direct bus: 12:30; AR$350; 2 hr.
  2. Exchanging bus at the border (cheaper and faster):
  • Take a bus from Formosa to the border (San Ignacio de Loyola International Bridge): 07:30, 10:00, 12:20, 15:45, 19:15, 22:10 - AR$150 - 1.5 hr.
  • Cross the border. Do not change money with the vendors standing around right at the border control, their rate is about 10% off the actual/interbank exchange rate. There is an 1 official money exchange a few 100 m further. Get back to the border control building. The bus to Asunción leaves directly 3 next to this building.
  • Take the bus from the border building to the Asunción Bus Terminal (get off early depending on you accommodation): Every hour or so - GS.6,000 - 30-45 min.
  • (Note that some buses from Formosa just go to the 4 Clorinda Bus Terminal (Argentina) without a stop at the Loyola International Bridge, and others go to Loyola, including Clorinda. But there is also a pedestrian crossing across the river into Nanawa (Paraguay) directly from the center of Clorinda near the bus terminal. Formalities should be similar as just explained. The bus stop on the Paraguayan side is 100 m left after the crossing.)
  • Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia) – One bus daily departing from Asunción at night - meaning that you miss out on any views of the Chaco. The bus is extremely slow and occasional roadblocks on the Bolivian side of the border can cause your journey time to double. The trip takes 21-24 hr and costs US$40-60. Consider that a flight might only be marginally more expensive, depending on the time of booking. Any intermediate exit or boarding (like Mariscal Estigarribia or Villamontes) will likely cost the same as the complete trip. But if your nerves are strong, you will get the price down bargaining directly with the bus driver.

By car[edit]

Asunción is very well connected to all the major cities of Paraguay; moreover, as the capital, it is the beginning and terminus of the country's main highways. Route 1 goes southeast for 362 km (225 mi) to Encarnación. Route 2 (which then becomes Route 7 at Coronel Oviedo) goes east for 325 km (202 mi) to Ciudad del Este. Route 3 goes northeast for 460 km (286 mi) to Pedro Juan Caballero. Route 9, better known as the Transchaco Highway, goes northwest for 740 km (460 mi) to the Paraguay/Bolivia border. After 15 km (9 mi) on this route just after leaving Asunción and crossing the bridge over the river Paraguay, a side road goes southwest for 20 km (12 mi) to Puerto Falcón at the Paraguay/Argentina border.

By boat[edit]

Copanatra car ferries link Asunción to Argentina crossing the river Paraguay between the 5 Port of Ita Enramada at the end of Avenida Perón on the southern edge of the city with Puerto Pilcomayo, on the Argentinian side, every 30 min M-F 06:30-17:30, and Sa and holidays 07:00-13:30.

By train[edit]

There is no longer any train service to Asunción. The beautiful 19th-century train station building next to Plaza Uruguaya is now a museum and cultural events venue.

Get around[edit]

The historic centre of Asunción is small enough to be explored by foot. However, some of the attractions, such as the Jardín Botánico (Botanical Garden) are a bit outside. In addition to the city's historical core - which is essentially between the streets Colón and Antequera - the Carmelitas area has become a hub for retail and entertainment, containing several large shopping centres and North American-style bars and restaurants. East-west street names change at Independencia Nacional, and North-South ones at Avenida Mariscal López.

By bus[edit]

City bus in Asuncion

Buses are ubiquitous, cheap and an experience in themselves (be careful while exiting, since many only slow down, rather than stop completely for the passengers to get off). They go more or less everywhere in the city - destinations are displayed on boards on the front window, if in doubt just shout your intended destination at the driver when he stops and he'll tell you yes or no. There are sometimes a few different versions of each bus number - 16, 16.1, 16.2 etc. which often have completely different routes from each other, so watch out not to accidentally get on the wrong one. There aren't many official bus stops in Asunción, you can just stick your arm out and flag down a bus pretty much anywhere. No bus schedules or maps are available, but the locals know which buses go where, so just ask. (You'll need some knowledge of Spanish to do that.) The fare is GS.3,600 if the bus is air-conditioned (con aire), GS.2,200 if it isn't (as of 2018).

Some useful bus routes:

  • Centre (Oliva) to Shopping del Sol: 28, 30
  • Centre to Shopping Mariscal Lopez/Villa Morra: 18, 26, 28, 30.2 (from Oliva), 56 (from Haedo)
  • Centre (Oliva) to the Botanical Gardens: 1, 13
  • Centre (Oliva) to the Bus Terminal: 8, 36
  • Centre (Haedo) to Mercado 4: 2, 21, 25, 27, 29, 133
  • Centre (Oliva) to the airport: 30A

Btw. on OpenStreetMap (which is used by mobile apps like OsmAnd and MapsMe), many bus stops are marked with the number of the buses passing by. This can give you a pretty good feeling of bus routes by searching for a bus number. Or just look up a destination and which bus numbers go there, then search for your nearest bus stop with any of the identified numbers.

By taxi[edit]

Asunción taxi

Taxis are also available and reasonably inexpensive. Many of the taxis are old, lumbering diesel Mercedes, which can be a fun throwback. A 30% surcharge is added on late at night (after around 22:00) and on Sundays. Tipping isn't expected. Make sure that drivers use the meter, or arrange a fare beforehand.

From the bus terminal walk up the stairs marked "SALIDA", then down the stairs into the car park. Ignore the taxi touts and catch a taxi from the rank. A taxi into the city centre during the day should cost around GS.40,000. From the airport taxis in front of the terminal charge a flat, non-negotiable rate of GS.100,000 to the centre. It is possible to get a cheaper fare by walking up to the main road and taking a yellow cab from there, though you're unlikely to save any more than about GS.20,000.

By car[edit]

Downtown Asunción street scene

Driving a car is an excellent way to explore the city and visiting the sights as many of them are off the downtown area (microcentro). It's strongly recommended using a GPS when renting a car since the city streets and avenues lack good signaling and finding your way around can be challenging. Traffic in Asunción has become chaotic specially during the rush hours from 06:30 to 09:00, at 12:00, and from 17:00-20:00 on weekdays. Consider that going into/out of the city can take no less than 1 hour. Highways to places nearby are in good condition. Car rental companies can also provide drivers.

Parking in the city centre is properly signalized on every block, although it could be hard to find a free place to park the car in the mornings. Parking costs US$0.40 per hour in the microcentro streets but only in the mornings (from 08:00 to 13:00) and only on weekdays. In the afternoons and on weekends parking is free. A special situation comes up when you are parking your car on the street, some people called cuidacoches (car watchers) (men and women, young and old) will approach you and offer you to look after your car when you leave it parked, after that they would expect you to tip them (no more than US$2) when you return to your car. This is a common situation throughout the city specially around major sights (including city parks) and restaurants. It could be annoying at first, but locals are accustomed to this practice and it will be better for you to accept the offer and, by doing so, avoid any kind of trouble. If you prefer not being bothered leave your car in a parking lot. There are many of them scattered around the city centre. Major shopping malls offer valet parking.

By boat[edit]

The old 6 Port of Asunción is at the riverside end of calle Colón and El Paraguayo Independiente, where small motor boats and car ferries make the 25-minute river crossing to Chaco'í, a small town on the other side of the river where good views of Asunción can be observed. Make sure to return by sunset as there are no accommodation facilities or reasonable places to eat in Chaco'í.

The catamarán Aguas del Paraguay offers one and two-hour touristic trips along the bay of Asunción and the river Paraguay. It departs from and returns to the same point in the costanera and only on weekends.


See[edit]

Centro Cultural El Cabildo
Palacio de (los) López
The former railway station

Asunción may not have many conventional tourist attractions, but if you are willing to be your own tour guide, Asunción can be an interesting place to visit.

Every July there is a trade fair with exhibition booths, food, music and liquor. This is a good way to learn about what goes on in the country, the exhibitors range from agricultural suppliers to liquor manufacturers. Keep an eye out for the many free samples of food, soap, drinks, etc.

  • 1 National Congress of Paraguay (Palacio Legislativo), +595 21 414-5198. One of the more impressive new buildings in the city. It was built in 2002 with $20 million donation from the Republic of China (Taiwan) government. Paraguay is one of the few countries and also the only country in South America that recognizes Republic of China (Taiwan) as opposed to mainland China (People's Republic of China). Most striking is its mirrored façade, which reflects the nearby slums along the bank of the river. You can ask for a tour in English - and maybe get one. Be sure arrive there by 13:00, so that you will be able to visit a small museum inside.
  • 2 Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana). The national cathedral. Next to the broad and picturesque plaza Independencia. Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, Asunción on Wikipedia Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, Asunción (Q23890126) on Wikidata
  • 3 Panteón Nacional de los Heroes, Palma esquina Chile. Houses the tomb of the unknown soldier along with other national heroes from Paraguay's history, also commemorative plaques for heroes of the Triple Alliance and Chaco War. Changing of the guard occurs every other day.
  • 4 Centro Cultural El Cabildo, Avenida República y Alberdi (at one edge of Plaza Independencia), +595 21 443 094, e-mail: . Tu-F 09:00-20:00; Sa-Su 10:00-17:00. One of the few museums that open on weekends it's in an old colonial building that was the Congress Palace until 2003. Near the riverside costanera it has various exhibition spaces. The Sala Museo del Barro is one of the sections which presents pieces of indigenous art from native groups of Paraguay and Latin America. Another permanent exhibition space is the Sala Agustín Pío Barrios - Mangoré, which treasures the life and work of the great composer of the Paraguayan guitar. Another section is the Sala de la Escena Paraguaya - Edda de los Ríos which aims to disseminate everything related to the performing arts in Paraguay. There are also works from potter artist Julia Isídrez exhibiting a variety of clay works, in dark tone, with designs of faces, animals and nature figures. The Cabildo also incorporates works from traditional Christmas cribs by local artists such as Lucy Yegros, Gabriela Zuccolillo and Carlo Spatuzza. Free. Cultural Center of the Republic on Wikipedia Cultural Center of the Republic (Q532157) on Wikidata
  • 5 Casa de la Independencia, 14 de Mayo esquina Presidente Franco (one block down from Palma Street), +595 21 493918, e-mail: . M-F 08:00-18:00; Sa 08:00-13:00. Historic house built in 1772 where the independence of Paraguay was secretly planned in 1811. Well preserved historic museum furnished with items of historic and artistic interest. Free.
  • 6 Palacio de López (Government Palace). Houses the Paraguayan executive branch government. Very well lit at night. The interior is not open to the public.
  • 7 Estación Central del Ferrocarril (Central Railway Station). Paraguay was the first country in South America to have a steam-powered train. It now houses a museum, but more impressive is the building itself and old wagons. free.
  • 8 Teatro Municipal. Renovated; check for regular shows. Nice cafe at one of theater's corners.
  • 9 Manzana de la Rivera. Cultural and exhibition complex in a series of interconnected old colonial houses comprising an entire square block. Has a nice outdoor cafe overlooking the Palacio de López. free. Manzana de la Rivera on Wikipedia Manzana de la Rivera (Q3300173) on Wikidata
  • 10 Iglesia de la Encarnación. Big church with a big pipe organ, the only one in the country.
  • 11 Mburuvicha Roga. The name translates as "the chief house" in Guarani language. It's where the presidential family lives. Not open to the public. Only the exterior is visible from its main entrance on Avenida Mariscal López.
  • 12 Museo del Barro. Best museum in town. Displays of Paraguayan art, dating from pre-colonial ceramics and textiles to avant garde contemporary art.
  • 13 Parque Seminario. 07:00-22:00. Lively park where people performs jogging and walking. It belongs to the Archdiocese of Asunción and it has a nice brick church, the Capellanía del Migrante, with English services. US$0.50 pedestrians, US$1.50 cars..
  • 14 Plaza Uruguaya, between 25 de Mayo, México, José de Antequera y Castro, and Doctor Eligio Ayala. A nice shady park with bookstores and some old buildings around it. Free wifi!
  • 15 Mirador Ita Pyta Punta, At the end of Calle Doctor Montero in Ita Pyta Punta neighbourhood. The name means red stone rock in Guaraní. Pleasant small park at one of the edges of the city. Attractive lookout over the river Paraguay with nice views of sunsets in the afternoons. Better accesible by taxi.

Do[edit]

  • 1 Ñu Guazu. Spend the day or enjoy a picnic at Ñu Guazu, Asunción's biggest park. Full of ponds, and people playing sports.
  • Running, Parque Ñu Guazú. Lots of elite Asunceños work off the stresses of their days at Parque Ñu Guazú, just outside Asunción in the city of Luque, on the way to the airport. There's a great paved 9-km loop for jogging or walking.
  • 2 Jardín Botánico y Zoológico. Visit the botanical garden and zoo - it's a very peaceful place filled with trees and nice paths. Find a nice shady spot and enjoy a picnic lunch. Inside the park you can visit Madame Lynch's house, very beautiful example of Paraguayan colonial architecture. Botanical Garden and Zoo of Asunción on Wikipedia Botanical Garden and Zoo of Asunción (Q9010970) on Wikidata
  • Dusk walk. Walk the main roads of the center in Asunción between 15-17:00 for beautifully illuminated alleys and colored buildings for some great pictures.
  • Soccer. Watch a soccer match at one of Asunción's stadiums. The classic rivals are Cerro Porteno and Olimpia.

Historic centre (walking tour)[edit]

To start walking the microcentro of Asunción go to the bottom of calle Colón, just before it corners with El Paraguayo Independiente, are the colonial façades of La Recova, an array of shops selling local arts and crafts. The river port and Aduana (customs) building are just in front. Continue east along calle El Paraguayo Independiente to the Palacio de López (government palace) from 1857. It was built in the style of Versailles by Alan Taylor as a palace for Francisco Solano López. Directly opposite the palace is the Manzana de la Rivera, a museum and cultural centre complex comprising ten colonial era houses, some of them date back from the 1700s and have been nicely restored. They include the Casa Viola, reportedly the oldest house of Asunción, which now houses the Museo Memoria de la Ciudad with historical photos and city information. Casa Clari with exhibition halls and a nice bar which has the best views over the government palace. Other spaces in the complex are the Miguel Acevedo cultural centre, the Ruy Díaz de Guzmán auditorium, and Casa Vertúa, which houses the municipal library.

A block away east from the government palace is the Congreso Nacional, built in 2013 in steel and glass representing a huge ship moored on the river bank and incorporating part of the old congress building. Next to it, on Plaza de la Independencia there is a small memorial to those who died in the struggle for democracy in 1999. On the other sides of plaza are the old Cabildo building (1844-54) now the Centro Cultural de la República with permanent exhibitions of indigenous and religious art, the Catedral Metropolitana (mid-17th century, rebuilt 1842-49) with an altar decorated with Jesuit and Franciscan silver. From the plaza turn right onto Alberdi and to your right is the Correos (post office) building, known previously as the Palacio Patri. It has a beautiful inside courtyard and a small philatelic museum. One block south at Alberdi and Presidente Franco is the Teatro Municipal fully restored to its belle époque glory. Walk east on Presidente Franco for six blocks and there will be the Estación del Ferrocarril (old railway station) at Eligio Ayala and Mexico. It was built in 1861-64 with British assistance. Paraguay had one of the first passenger railways in South America. There are no more trains running but there is a small museum featuring the old ticket office, machinery from Wolverhampton and Battersea and the first steam engine in Paraguay, the Sapucai from 1861. In front is the Plaza Uruguaya with its shady trees and a handful of bookstores. From here take calle Mariscal Estigarribia west towards the Plaza de los Héroes where there will be the Panteón Nacional de los Héroes at the corner of Palma and Chile, which is based on Les Invalides of Paris and finished in 1937. It contains the remains of former presidents, national war heroes and the unknown soldier. Plaza de los Héroes is actually made up of four separate squares with different names. These include Plaza Libertad and Plaza de la Democracia.

On Plaza Libertad there are covered market stalls selling traditional Paraguayan arts and crafts in wood, cotton and leather. Along Palma indigenous women sell colourful woven bags, beads and baskets. A few blocks further along Palma turn right at 14 de Mayo to reach the Casa de la Independencia (independence house) built in 1772 with a historical collection; it was the place where the 1811 independence revolution was plotted. The huge Iglesia de Encarnación is three blocks up 14 de Mayo at its intersection with Víctor Haedo, where the Museo Papa Francisco is. A small museum with all the relics related to the Pope Francis visit to Asunción in 2015.

Architectural tour[edit]

If you are particularly interested in architecture, the following are some important highlights:

  • 16 Loma San Jerónimo
  • Mirador Ita Pyta Punta (see above)
  • 17 Colégio Experimental Paraguay‑Brasil (CEPB) – by Affonso Eduardo Reidy
  • 18 Cultural Center of Spain Juan de Salazar
  • 19 Fundacion Texo – (open Thursdays)
  • Museo del Parro (see above) – (open Wednesdays)
  • 20 Teletón Children’s Rehabilitation Center – by Solano Benítez, in Lambaré (Asunción)
  • 21 Paraguayan Association of Golf (APG) – by Javier Corvalán (near the airport)

Learn[edit]

  • IDIPAR, Manduvirá 963 between Colón and Montevideo, +595 21 44 78 96, e-mail: . Offers courses in Spanish and Guarani for foreigners and several other services.

Work[edit]

Teaching English is a possibility, but without a visa it can be difficult and wages are low. In a country such as Paraguay with widespread underemployment, obtaining paid work is almost impossible for foreigners. Volunteer work in poorer areas of the city is easy to come by.

Buy[edit]

The cost of buying goods and services is amazingly cheap, especially electronics. Some goods may be refurbished items, or cheaply made, or could be pirated or smuggled items. Always ask for a legitimacy or warranty certificate and if you have any doubt or do not trust the vendor, just go to another store. Commercial activity in the city centre closes from Saturday afternoon to all Sunday and the city may appear fairly deserted, but the bustle is in the neighbourhoods of Villa Morra, Carmelitas and the Business District where the main shopping centers, department stores, boutiques, cafés, fast food, restaurants and cinemas are, and they don't close on weekends.

  • Indigenous crafts and artisan work are available such as tooled leather, carved wood, pottery and a particularly Paraguayan lace based on a spider's web called "Ñanduti". Check out the artisan shops in Plaza de los Heroes. Most goods are in fact locally made.
  • Shopping malls There are two main malls in Asuncion: Shopping del Sol on Aviadores del Chaco and Shopping Mariscal López on Avenida Mariscal Lopez, exist in the suburbs of Villa Mora and Carmelitas. Take buses 28 or 30 to reach them. Mall Excelsior on Chile, and the more basic Asuncion Supercentro on the western end of Oliva are both in the centre. These "Shoppings" are useful as places to eat on Sunday evenings, when many more central places are closed.
  • Palma Street, Calle Palma. The main shopping street. Pretty much everything you can buy here, you can get cheaper in one of the parallel streets.
  • Mercado 4, along Avenida Sivio Pettirossi. A chaotic market where you can buy just about anything very cheaply, it is particularly good for counterfeit clothing and pirated CDs and DVDs (of varying quality). Most Paraguayans still shop at local produce markets, but you can buy everything at great prices. Good street food and some foreign, mostly Chinese, restaurants.
  • Sunday flea market, along calle Palma. From early morning until noon approximately. Several old men set up their tables selling trinkets, photographs and books.

Typical souvenirs from Asunción would include guampas/bombillas, T-shirts, traditional lace, or leather goods.

Traveller's cheques[edit]

  • American Express traveller's cheques can be changed at Banco de la Nacion Argentina (at Plaza de los Heroes). Above average exchange rate, US$3 commission. It will take a while though - time to experience the place which could be a sight in itself. BBVN supposedly does as well. Casa de Cambios don't. All banks close by 13:30. Also can be changed at Maxicambios which are in all main shopping malls.

Eat[edit]

Shopping del Sol mall

At lunch time there is no shortage of cheap restaurants to dine in or take away - you can't miss them. The places where you help yourself and pay by weight are usually very cheap and a decent option besides the slightly more expensive restaurants with their daily menu. At dinner time only very few eating places are still open and finding a good deal - especially if you are budget-conscious - is a lot harder.

Budget[edit]

Most shopping malls have decent food courts with a variety of restaurants, however, they are away from the centre. Bigger supermarkets often have a cheap self-service restaurant inside.

Eat a streetside lomito- these vendors are found throughout the city, with high concentrations near Casa Rica and the Ñu Guazu. It is a sandwich, with mayo, veggies, cheese and a fried egg. You can choose between beef or chicken. Some also offer lomito arabe (shawarma), hamburgers and chorizo. It is a popular hang out place at nights and after a night of heavy drinking.

Don Vito is Paraguayan fast food at its best. Home of the Paraguayan empanada, they have been in business for over 30 years. The original spot is just behind the Iglesia de san Jose, and if you are lucky enough to be in Paraguay around May–June, you can order a pastel mandi'o, which is made of mandioca and beef. Best enjoyed with a cold pulp, a Paraguayan soft drink made with natural fruit juice.

  • 1 Burger King, Palma between 14 de Mayo and 15 de Agosto. If you fancy something you know. Also open in the evening.
  • 2 Ña Eustaquia, 421 Palma, past Lido's and the hall of martyrs, near Burger King. Very busy for lunch, you may need to wait for a table. Main lunches cost GS.15,000-25,000. Great juice bar there too.
  • 3 Seoul, Chile, near the intersection with Oliva (Plaza de los Heroes) and opposite an Esso petrol station. Open for lunch and dinner (19:30). Korean buffet, with lots of vegetarian options where you fill your plate and pay per weight.

Mid-range[edit]

  • 4 El Bolsi, corner Estrella and Alberdi, +595 21 491841, e-mail: . Daily 24 hours. Opened in 1960, it's one of the oldest restaurants in town. It has a café and pastry section, and a separate restaurant section. Also an outdoor section on the sidewalk which is pleasant in the evenings. International and local dishes. Very popular among locals and tourists.
  • 5 Lido Bar, corner of Palma and Chile (opposite Panteón del los Héroes), +595 21 447332. 06:30-01:30. Established 1954 in the style of a contemporary American cafe-bar, Lido Bar has hardly changed since. It was the first place Anthony Bourdain visited when he made his tv program on Paraguayan food. All the customers sit around a big circular bar. The menu offers Paraguayan foods, pasta, meat and a selection of desserts and fruit juices. The fish soup (sopa pescado) is famous and recommended. Very popular during peak times, particularly lunck and dinner.
  • 6 Hacienda Las Palomas, Senador Long 1481 (100m from Shopping Villa Morra in Villa Morra neighbourhood), +595 21 605-111. Really good Mexican food (not "chips & salsa Tex-Mex"). The margaritas are particularly good, but the food is even better.
  • 7 Shangri-La, Aviadores del Chaco c/ San Martín (near Shopping del Sol), +595 21 661618, e-mail: . Good Chinese food.
  • 8 Bar San Roque, corner of Eligio Ayala and Tacuary (near Plaza Uruguaya Green building.). Open all day. One of oldest restaurants in town. A mix of traditional and fine cuisine. Excellent food and service in a very traditional feeling atmosphere. Really fantastic beer on tap, served in their chilled Oktoberfest steins.

Splurge[edit]

For a traditional Paraguayan meal, visit "La Paraguayita." Don't miss a Brazilian steak house called a "churrasqueria."

  • 9 Acuarela, Avenida Mariscal López 4049, near Avenida República Argentina (in Villa Morra neighbourhood), +595 21 609 217. Brazilian-style barbecue and steak restaurant.

Drink[edit]

General[edit]

Bars and clubs[edit]

Night in Asunción
  • 1 Britannia Pub, Cerro Corá 851 (next to Hotel Crowne Plaza), +595 21 443 990, e-mail: . Tu-F from 19:30, Sa-Su from 20:00. Popular hangout for locals and foreigners. Try their microbrewed Britannia Beer and the chicken platter.
  • 2 904 Bar, Cerro Corá 904 (in front of Hotel Crowne Plaza), +595 986 230963. M-Th from 18:00, F from 17:00, Sa from 19:00. A lot like Britannia: similar food, similar drinks, similar prices. Has a pool table, and occasionally puts on live-music shows.
  • 3 Coyote, Sucre 1655 (100m from Avenida San Martín), +595 21 414 111. Dance club, fashionable but loud
  • 4 Hollywood Dance, Independencia Nacional and Teniente Fariña (One block away from Mall Excelsior), +595 981 906494. F and Sa from around midnight. Dance venue for mostly gay people.
  • 5 Glam, Av. San Martin 1155 and Agustin Barrios (near Avenida Aviadores del Chaco), +595 21 663 121. Th Fr Sa from midnight. Glamorous dance club
  • 6 Paseo Carmelitas, +595 21 608226. from morning till late. Food plaza with a selection of bars and restaurants to go at noon for lunch and after office until late at night. One of the most popular places in Asuncion during the night and on weekends.
  • 7 La Tabernita, Chila 1179 between Avenida Ygatimí and Jejuí (near Plaza Italia), +595 21 453620, e-mail: . 07:00-15:00 and 18:30-late. A cafe bar with good atmosphere, good music, drinks and very friendly staff (if you like 1970s, 80s, 90s rock & pop).
  • 8 Casa Clari, Ayolas and Benjamin Constant (inside Manzana de la Rivera complex in front to Palacio de López), +595 21 496 476. Really nice views of the López Palace. Good food/drink menu, but slightly pricier than other bars in the centre.

Sleep[edit]

The lodging scene in Asunción has greatly improved. The hostel range, previously nonexistent, started business in the past decade and since then has seen a lot of new openings, especially in old houses of the historic city centre. On the other hand, many new modern hotels, including some luxury properties of international brands, have opened their doors in the new business district of Avenida Aviadores del Chaco and Avenida Santa Teresa. Finding a bed should not be difficult for the common traveller. The highest concentration of hotels from budget to splurge can be found in the historic city centre and the new business district. There are also quite a number of cheap places near the bus terminal, though you normally get better values in the city centre.

City Centre[edit]

The centro histórico is where the traditional hotels are found, some of them occupying beautiful buildings from the 1960s and even from the 19th century. This is also where the hostels are, so backpackers and budget travellers are normally found in this area.

Hostels[edit]

Hostel in an old downtown house
  • 1 Arandú Hostal, 15 de Agosto 783 casi Humaitá (in downtown), +595 21 449712, e-mail: . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Single bed in male/female/mixed dormitory room US$12.00; double room w/bathroom US$27.20.
  • 2 Black Cat Hostel, Eligio Ayala 129 casi Independencia Nacional (At the heart of city centre. One block north from main square. One block south from cathedral.), +595 21 449827, e-mail: . The first hostel for backpackers in Asunción. Breakfast included in room rate, fully equipped kitchen for the guests and WiFi Internet, luggage storage and safety deposit. Swimming pool and a beautiful terrace with a grill for cookouts. Single private room with a/c US$20; double private room with a/c (double bed or twin) US$35; double private room en suite with a/c (double bed) US$45; 8-bed mixed dorm with a/c US$12 per person; 14-bed mixed dorm US$9 per person.
  • 3 El Nómada Hostel, Iturbe 1156 casi Avenida Rodríguez de Francia, +595 992 272946, e-mail: . Breakfast included in room rate. In a quiet neighbourhood 6 blocks from downtown bustle. Single US$30, double US$40, single bed in 4-bed dormitory US$13.
  • 4 El Viajero Asuncion Hostel & Suites, Alberdi 734 casi Humaitá, +595 21 444563. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 10:00. Single US$26, double US$30, bed in dormitory room US$9.
  • 5 Giuseppe Hostal & Suites, Eligio Ayala 1037 (near downtown), +595 21 211479, +595 21 200397, e-mail: . Check-in: 14:00. Breakfast included. double US$41 w/private bathroom.
  • 6 Hamaca Paraguaya Hostel, Hernandarias 1247 casi Ygatimí (7 blocks south of historic downtown), +595 21 482690, e-mail: . Check-in: 09:00, check-out: 11:00. Bed in 6-bed female/mixed dormitory room US$9; bed in 10-bed mixed dormitory room US$8.50.
  • 7 Hostal El Jardin, Azara 941 between Estados Unidos and Tacuary, +595 985 807007, e-mail: . Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. Situated in a historical building in downtown Asuncion. Clean, comfortable dorms as well as privates rooms. Toilets and showers separated for men and women w/ 24h hot water. Common area w/ cable-TV, rustic fully equipped kitchen, free breakfast and free Internet/WiFi. Double rooms comes with a double bed and a/c. 4 bed dorms come with a/c or fan. Standard double bed (shared bathroom) US$32. Standard 6 bed mixed dorm US$10.
  • 8 La Casita de la Abuela Hostal Verde, Hernandarias 1074 between Jejuí and Manduvirá, +595 981 468090, e-mail: . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Nice place around 10 blocks from the city center. Run by a dedicated young owner. Good atmosphere with a very nice garden serving as the common area. US$25 double private en suite.
  • 9 Ñande Po'a, Manuel Dominguez 489 esquina Mexico (near downtown), +595 21 449480, e-mail: . Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 10:00. double w/ private external bathroom US$27.
  • 10 Urbanian Hostel, Montevideo 1029 entre Jejuí y Manduvira (near downtown), +595 21 441209, e-mail: . Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. Single bed in 8-bed dormitory room US$13; single bed in 6-bed dormitory room US$15; Single bed in 4-bed dormitory room US$17.

Budget[edit]

  • 11 Hotel La Española, Herrera 142 casi Yegros (At city centre. Three blocks from main square.), +595 21 447312, e-mail: . Air conditioning, cable TV, free WiFi, parking. Continental breakfast included. US$30 doubles.
  • 12 Hotel Rosa II, 25 de Mayo 352 casi Caballero (between the Plaza de los Héroes and the Plaza Uruguaya), +595 21 446 093. No breakfast. Big patio with trees. The rooms are basic but spacious with private bathroom. US$20 doubles.
  • 13 Hotel San Diego, Colon 356 entre Palma y Estrella (in downtown), +595 21 490786. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 10:00. Single US$30; double US$36.
  • 14 Posada Colonial, Pai Pérez 637 entre Herrera y Azara, +595 21 200821, e-mail: . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. No sign outside of the hotel Single US$20, double US$30.

Mid-range[edit]

The Asunción Palace Hotel occupies a building from the mid 19th century

Splurge[edit]

Hotel Guaraní

Las Mercedes & around[edit]

Mid-range[edit]

Historic Gran Hotel del Paraguay

Villa Morra & Carmelitas[edit]

Mid-range[edit]

Splurge[edit]

Luxury hotel in Villa Morra

The Business District & Santísima Trinidad[edit]

Mid-range[edit]

Splurge[edit]

New hotel in the business district

Near the Bus Terminal[edit]

Budget[edit]

Mid-range[edit]

Outer Asunción[edit]

The Bourbon is the closest hotel to the airport
  • 69 Hotel Mabel, Ruta Transchaco esquina Corrales, Mariano Roque Alonso, +595 21 753823, e-mail: . 17 km from Asuncion city centre in the northern suburb of Mariano Roque Alonso. Single US$36, double US$54, triple US$72.

Stay safe[edit]

The National Police has a highly visible presence. Because the dictator in the 1980s did not tolerate crime in any form, crime is not prevalent, although the perception of crime is that it runs high since the dictator's fall in 1989. Some houses are protected by 20 ft (6.1 m) high walls topped by barbed wire and electric fence or razor wire, and those who can afford it have a full-time guard on their grounds. Despite the locals' rather high perception of crime, Asunción is one of the safer capitals in South America and violent crime is very uncommon. Because there are few tourists in Paraguay, visitors are not likely to be specifically targeted by criminals. Key things to watch out for are petty thieves (watch your pockets on crowded buses) and taxi drivers trying to rip you off (make sure they use the meter). Pickpocketing is said to be prevalent in crowded downtown streets near expensive hotels.

Prostitution is rampant and obvious after dark on the main avenues in the outskirts and in small parts of the city center's oldest parts near the port. Transvestite prostitutes are common around many areas, and are best avoided as they are known to cause trouble occasionally. Female travellers will receive a lot of unwanted attention from Paraguayan men -this is mostly intended as innocent banter in the form of shouts or wolf whistles, etc., but can sometimes be accompanied by touching, especially in clubs. This sort of attention is best just ignored. Liquor is easily available but not widely abused, there are a fair few street drunks in some parts of the city, but they are invariably harmless.

Be extremely careful when crossing streets in Asunción. Most drivers consider stop signs and traffic lights to be merely suggestions, even if police are nearby. Buses will stop for almost nothing, so be very careful.

The United States Centres for Disease Control recommends that all visitors to Asunción receive a typhoid vaccination prior to travel. Dengue fever is frequently a risk one takes when travelling to Asunción; there is no vaccine for this. To avoid insect-spread diseases, ensure that you use bug spray at all times of the day, without exception.

The "Chacarita" area by the river, next to the Palace is an extremely impoverished and dangerous part of the city, and is definitely not a place to go exploring.

Connect[edit]

Many restaurants, shopping malls and some public squares have free Wi-Fi.

Cope[edit]

Flies, ants and especially mosquitoes (but no large, creepy bugs) are everywhere. There are no screens, windows and doors are simply flung open for ventilation. Air conditioners do exist but most people depend on less expensive fans. Heaters do not exist, though on the chilliest days they would be welcomed. The soil is bright red and as many streets are unpaved dust becomes a problem. There are trees (some in the middle of roads!) for shade, but palm trees are planted everywhere. Dogs and farm animals of every description are all over the roads. There is no humane society to care for wild dogs and some are pitifully mangy. It is not uncommon to see pigs wallowing in a mud puddle in the middle of a road, chickens are everywhere, horses, donkeys and cows run loose and can be found in anyone's property.

It is brutally hot in Paraguay's summer. If you've ever wondered why Latin culture has a "siesta" where everything closes down at noon for a few hours, you'll soon know why if you spend time in Asunción during the summer. You'll also understand why people eat dinner so late and stay out partying all night: it's too hot during the day to enjoy being outside.

Embassies[edit]

  • Panama 15 Panama, Carmen Soler 3.912 esquina Radio Operadores del Chaco, Barrio Mburicaó, +595 21 211-091, fax: +595 21 211-091, e-mail: .
  • Republic of China 20 Taiwan (Republic of China) (Embajada de la República de China), Avda. Mariscal López 1133 casi Vicepresidente Sánchez, +595 21 213361, fax: +595 21 212373, e-mail: . 08:00-12:30 and 14:00-17:30. Not to be confused with the People's Republic of China as Paraguay is one of a handful of countries in the world to officially recognize the Republic of China (commonly known as Taiwan).

Go next[edit]

  • A visit to an Estancia makes a good day off or so from Asunción (some are within easy reach of public transport). Horesriding, fishing, swimming, guided nature walks are among the activities offered. Those that participate in APATUR (get the booklet from the tourist information) have generally a high standard. Some can only be visited during the day others have accommodation (expect about 80 US$ per night incl. all food and activities). Bookings can be made through TACP (021-210 550) or by contacting the Estancias directly. Travel agencies also offer trips to Estancias and typically include private transport back and forth.
  • Circuito de Oro (Golden Circuit) is a day-trip itinerary to a series of historical towns in the vicinity of Asunción.
  • Aregua is a lakeside town about 20 km from Asunción and makes a good day trip. There are buses going there costing the standard fare, e.g. GS.3,300, from the Bus Terminal passing by the Shopping del Sol. There are a series of art galleries and museums to visit.
  • San Bernardino - Paraguay's liveliest balneario, a summer destination for the young and beautiful. Originally settled by German immigrants, you can still see some houses remaining from that period. The Lago Ypacarai used to be known as the blue lake, is no longer blue, but filled with people doing water sports during December–February.
  • San Lorenzo - Museo Etnografico Guido Bogiani- indigenous wood carvings and feather pieces. Nice and cheap store selling indigenous handicrafts. Call before going. It's in nearby San Lorenzo: be sure to take a taxi driver who knows the place, as most people in San Lorenzo do not know of its existence.
  • Encarnación - On the way, stop at ruins and churches along the Jesuit trail. Santa Maria de Fe is a small town where you can see women embroidering in a sisterhood community.
  • Pilar - Riverside city is where the country's biggest cotton manufacturing industry is. Very relaxed atmosphere.
This city travel guide to Asunción has guide status. It has a variety of good, quality information including hotels, restaurants, attractions and travel details. Please contribute and help us make it a star!