Santa Fe is the capital city of the eponymous province in Argentina. Its riverside bars and nightclubs, chic restaurants, the beauty of the landscape, and the various attractions that tourists enjoy make this a popular region in which to spend holidays. Visitors also come for hunting, fishing, excursions, walks by the river, practising water sports on the River Paraná (18 km away via Nº168 National Road), visiting the Space Observation Centre or the Zoo- Experimental Station of "La Esmeralda" Farm.
Its population is about 390,000 people, with 650,000 in the metro area (2010). Santa Fe is the commercial and transportation center for a rich agricultural area that produces grain, vegetable oils, and meats. The city is the site of the National Technological University – Santa Fe Regional Faculty, Catholic University of Santa Fe (inaugurated in 1959), and the National University of the Littoral.
Winters are generally mild, though minimum temperatures can fall below 0 °C (32.0 °F) on cold nights during the winter. Summers are generally hot and humid. During the most extreme heat waves, temperatures have exceeded 45 °C (113.0 °F). Temperatures have exceeded 35 °C (95.0 °F) in every season).
Rainfall can be expected throughout the year though summer is usually the wettest season. Thunderstorms can be intense with frequent lightning, powerful downdraughts and intense precipitation.
Watch out for voracious mosquitoes that will make a meal out of you, especially along brackish retainment pools of water or even the Rio Santa Fe.
From Buenos Aires (Retiro) there are plenty of bus companies that will take you there. Some of them are FlechaBus, Basa and Pulqui. The trip is 6 hours long or a bit less, so many people travel by night. The last bus in the night leaves from Buenos Aires at 00:30, or from Santa Fe to Buenos Aires at 01:50. Some of the services include meals, most of them have very comfortable seats. Santa Fe's bus terminal, 1 Estacion Terminal de Omnibus Gral. Manuel Belgrano is four streets from the city centre. You will find many bars and fast food restaurants. There are personal pay-per-view television screens and free WiFi service.
Santa Fe's airport is in the near location of Sauce Viejo and its international code is SAAV (local code SFN). Aerolíneas Argentinas flies daily (except Saturday), with a trip time of 50 minutes, departing from Buenos Aires domestic airport (Aeroparque).
Being a middle size town, avid pedestrians are to have a good time in Santa Fe. Still, when extending the tour outside downtown and the south area ("barrio sur") distances and with of the streets suits better a car or motorcycle. Beware of the traffic which can get heavy around downtown on week days and the sudden lane switching.
Most of the points of interest (that is Historical and Architectural landmarks) are on the southern end of town, pretty close to downtown, very well within walking distance.
The other grand attraction Santa Fe offers is its shore on the east side of town. The "Laguna Setúbal" is rated among the biggest in the world and is absolutely lovely. Grab a patio chair, cold beverages and just relax. Although stay away of it on Sundays and holidays since it get really crowded.
Santa Fe is a small firepot of cultural activity. On a bi-annual basis, the National University (Universidad Nacional del Litoral) hosts a week long music and arts festival which is very well known and appreciated among the youth. Other week-long events are hosted around the year, specially in theater, poetry, dances and choirs. It's really astonishing the amount of cultural events happening on a daily basis for such a small town.
The local rock music scene is quite restless also, despite the scarcity of stages. It is also very rich as it spans almost any sub-genre of the rock music, from completely ethnical (or Folklore-like rock music) to heavy and even trendy or experimental and "peñas folkclóricas" are a must if you come across one, they are basically one of the truest form of local culture: empanadas and wine, music (Zambas, Chacareras, Gatos, Cielitos, Pericón, etc.) and dancing.
Standard package of museums is to be found as in any major city: Rosa Galisteo, Etnográfico are the 2 biggest, both in the southern area.
- 1 Plaza de las Tres Culturas, San Martín 1490, ☏ . In this park, you'll find a microcosm of local history in the form of the Templo y Convento San Francisco, Franciscan in nature c. 1688; the Museo Histórico Provincial de Santa Fe; and the Ethnographic Museum Colonial Juan de Garay, with excavated findings from the original Santa Fe settlement, among other things. You can also potentially see some exhibits about Pope Francis at the Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepción next door, where he went to school from 1964-1965.
- 2 Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes Rosa Galisteo de Rodriguez, 4 de Enero 1510, ☏ . Open W-Sa. Here is a place to see some various works of art. free.
- 3 Museo de la Constitución Nacional, 1º de Mayo y Av de la Constitucion, ☏ . Sa-Su 09:00-12:00, 15:00-18:00. Describes the story of the formation of the Argentinian Constitution that consummated here, in an interactive way, with some nice emblematic sculpture along the riverfront outside.
- 4 House of the Aldao, Monseñor Zazpe 2861. House museum of a former Argentinian brigadier general.
- 5 Provincial Museum of Natural Sciences "Florentino Ameghino", Primera Junta 2859, ☏ . Natural history museum; great if you are wanting to see loads of taxidermy on display, but a very detailed coverage on the subject nonetheless.
- 6 Suspended Bridge Eng. Marcial Candioti. Possibly the landmark that most defines Santa Fe aside from the river, this suspension bridge can be fun to walk or drive over. Also, on the western embankment sits the Brigadier Estanislao López Monument, with the general on horseback, along with a long river walk, the Costanera Santa Fe.
- 7 Plaza Pueyrredón, Bv. Pellegrini 1600. This could be a fun little plaza just for experiencing daily Argentinian life in this city. Plus it is well visited and safer than some of the other outdoor locations.
- 8 La Redonda, Arte y Vida Cotidiana, Salvador del Carril, (in Parque Federal), ☏ . This old locomotive workshop building in the shape of a rotunda has some architectural flare.
- 9 Basílica de Guadalupe. In case you are into Catholic churches dealing with the Guadalupe theme.
- 1 Casino Santa Fe, Dique 1, ☏ . A place where you can throw some money away.
- 2 Paseos Náuticos La Ribereña Guardianes del Río, Francisco Miguens 225. This location offers short boat ride tours enabling you to appreciate Santa Fe from the water as well as Laguna Setabal itself. Contact info is a little lacking.
- 3 Costanera Este Santa Fe. It's like the closest thing to a beach in these parts, and it's along the Rio Santa Fe. But don't let it sound disappointing, as the sand is decent and it has Santa Fe's impressive suspension bridge in the foreground.
- 4 Reserva Ecológica de la Ciudad Universitaria - UNL (sits just across from the Costanera Este Santa Fe), ☏ . Some fun hiking paths here in the bottomlands of the Rio Santa Fe.
- Cinemark Santa Fe, Dique I (in La Ribera Shopping Center).
- 1 La Ribera Shopping, Dique 1. Contemporary shopping mall uniquely situated on the harbor jetty, featuring a theater and restaurants like Johnny B Good in addition to the requisite stores.
As almost everywhere in Argentina, grilled meat or barbecue (also known as "asado") is a must; always joined with assorted salads and red wine. The local specialty must be the fish, caught fresh from the surrounding rivers. There's a large number of species in the area but due to depredation issues, only a few seem to be available in a given season. It's specially good the "chupín", a sort of soup of fish with potatoes and tomatoes, do try it!
Otherwise, the Italian and Spanish roots among the locals take special place in the menu of every restaurant, with minor additions of almost every European culture (from Greek to Armenian and French to German). Hindu and Japanese dishes are actually very hard to find, if at all.
- 1 Patio de la Cerveceria Santa Fe, Calchines 3198, ☏ . Enjoy a beer and some appetizing food at this courtyard attached to the local brewery.
Beer (cerveza) is considered the most popular drink in the area. In fact, the city has one of the biggest brewers in the country (chilenean owned Cervecerías Unidas) producing the Santa Fe, Schneider, Budweiser and Heineken brands. Allegedly, the local brewer produces a over million liters daily and a good portion of that production is consumed within the city. One of the best ways of enjoy such goods is out of a straight glass (called "liso") while sitting at a table in any of the many bars in the city, preferably outdoors in the hot days of January and February. Locals prefer to have the beer cold (within 0ºC and 5ºC).
There's a wide range of Hotels, starting from very cheap but comfortable accommodations around the bus station to the Holiday Inn, Río Grande, Hostal and Conquistador hotels (all 4 stars) in centre town, a Holiday's Inn (5 stars) and one in the harbour area (Los Silos, 5 stars), right next to the Casino.
A small number of aparthotels exist, and campers have some camping areas within few minutes of the city, but accommodations and the quality of the services might vary.
- 1 Ámbit Boulevard Hotel Boutique, Blvd Galvez 1408, ☏ . Small hotel in an historic building along one of the main boulevards.
- 2 Los Silos Hotel, Dique I (adjacent to Casino Santa Fe), ☏ . A playful conversion of Santa Fe's historical grain silos into one of its most premier lodging accommodations. This establishment features a rooftop pool, indoor hot tub, river and city views, restaurant/bar, free breakfast, and casino.
- 3 Hotel UNL ATE Santa Fe, Ruta Nacional 168, ☏ . This one is good if you like sleek steel and glass engineering feats, or want to be within walking distance of the "beach".
At the bus terminal there is a free wireless Internet connection at the restaurant. This kind of services is to be found commonly in many restaurants and coffee houses. Local Energy Network is 220 V so many appliances brought from Europe might work. Appliances brought from USA won't. Check before plugging in.
- 1 Santa Fe Archaeological Park La Vieja (Cayastá Ruins), RP 1, Km 78 (about 78 km northeast of present-day Santa Fe), ☏ . Here you can find the remnants of the original settlement of Santa Fe (mostly submerged), along with the grave of the first American-born governor in South America.
There are direct buses to Paraná (Entre Ríos), Córdoba, Posadas (Misiones), Corrientes, Resistencia (Chaco) and many other provincial capitals, as well as to other interesting cities in the province like Rafaela, Esperanza, San Carlos, San Javier, San Justo.