Referring to itself as the “Heart of America,” Paraguay is a landlocked country dwarfed by its larger South American neighbors, Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia. Divided in half by the Paraguay River, the country is made up of two distinct regions: Parana (Eastern) and Chaco (Western). The thick green forests of the eastern plains turn into soggy marshes in the western grasslands, meaning the former appeals more to city dwellers and the latter to nature lovers. Independent from Spain since 1811, the country is known for its rigorous preservation of classic architecture and stunning natural wonders.
6 Must See Places in Paraguay
When planning your vacation, consider these six must see places in Paraguay:
The capital city of Asuncion, on the western border, is one of the oldest cities in all of South America. It has been called the “Mother of Cities,” having served as the starting point for adventurers who eventually founded communities that survive today as Buenos Aires, Corrientes, and several others. Because of this rich heritage, it has many beautiful buildings from the Spanish colonial period and some of Paraguay’s best museums.
In the southeastern corner of the country, Encarnacion is nestled on the Parana River across from Posadas, Argentina. Known as the Carnival Capital of Paraguay, it has a reputation for lively nightlife and a vibrant music scene. Those looking for more of a cultural excursion will want to take a day trip to the ruins of La Santisima Trinidad de Parana, a city founded during the 18th century by the Jesuits as a Catholic education center for indigenous tribes.
Once the gateway to Gran Chaco, the grassy and humid plains of northwestern Paraguay, Concepcion is the place to go if you’re looking for a nature adventure. Though filled with beautiful statues and classic Spanish forts, the city is frequently a staging area for those planning to hike in the Paso Bravo hills or paddle down the rapids of the Apa River.
Regarded by many as Paraguay’s second city, Villarica is known as a cultural center in the heart of the country. Visitors often enjoy the sunshine in Manuel Ortiz Guerrero Park, a large outdoor expanse on the city’s northern edge, then head to one of the many theaters and museums. Though the Instituto de Cultura Hispanica and Teatro Municipal are considered major attractions, Villarica has a reputation for keeping the storytelling traditions of the Guaira natives alive.
Just a short train ride from Asuncion, you’ll find Aragua on the banks of the Ypacarai Lake. Once a summer town for wealthy families from the capital, it is now considered a quiet retreat for tourists and locals alike. At the base of rolling hills and rocky outcroppings, the area has gorgeous colonial architecture and cobblestone streets. Visitors can take relaxing strolls through craft shops and enjoy the delicious fruits of neighboring farms – Aragua is Paraguay’s “City of Strawberries.”
Just outside of Ciudad del Este, Iguazu Falls is an impressive collection of 270 small waterfalls on the “Triple Frontera” between Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil. Travelers often spend the day walking jungle trails for picturesque panoramic views, sometimes taking a trip to the Itaipu dam nearby in Brazil.