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Asunción, Paraguay

Walking tours and nearby sightseeing

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Asuncion at dusk

Asuncion at dusk

Bobby Haas / Getty Images
For a time, Asunción was an important city to the Spanish colonial administration. It was an easier sail from Spain: across the Atlantic, up the Río de la Plata, hop over to the Río Paraguay and use the growing port as a staging area to the rest of the South American heartland.

Asunción developed along the river bank. To the east of the river, fertile land supported the growing population and the city thrived. Buildings from the colonial period attest to the prosperity of the city the Spanish enjoyed as almost a vacation resort.

Since then, the city has gone through a number or changes. Isolated and insulated for a time, Paraguay closed itself off to visitors. Wars, political upheavals and dictatorships made the country, and the capital city, a less desirable tourist destination. In recent decades, however, Asunción is once again drawing visitors to the tropical climate, the friendliness of the Azuceños, and the gateway to the Gran Chaco.

Depending on the length of your stay in the city, you can limit yourself to the city's sights or extend your visits to other areas of the country. See the images in A Sampling of Paraguay.

In Asunción:

Much of the historical section, with its charming colonial buildings and plazas is near the river and is easily walkable. You should see:

  • Plaza de los Héroes with the Panteón Nacional de los Héroes, characterized by its pink dome.
  • Casa Viola was renovated, courtesy of the Spanish government, to mark the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America. It is a prime example of early colonial architecture.
  • Casa de la Independencia, where revolutionaries met in secret to plan their battle for independence, houses relics from the 1811 revolution.
  • Plaza de la Independencia, where you'll see the Palacio Legislativo and the Catedral Metropolitana. The cathedral dates from 1687 and is notable for the very large gilded altar and religious art.
  • Casa de los Diputados, once a military college and museum, and Palacio de Gobierno, which is not open to visitors, but you can admire the neoclassical facade.
  • The Museo de Bellas Artes contains paintings and sculpture by Paraguayan and other South American artists, plus many historical documents. Beyond the city center:
  • The Parque de Museo de Historia Natural is being revitalized and contains a small zoo, golf course, and camping area. The museum has exhibits of wildlife.
  • The Gran Hotel del Paraguay was once the home of a mistress of Solano López, dictator between 1862-1870. The oldest hotel in Asunción, it has beautiful tropical gardens and a fine collection of furnishings and art. Tip: Asunción has a mild climate for most of the year except the summer months (October to March) when you should avoid touring in mid-day.

    Excursions from Asunción:

    • Itauguá is the place to buy ñandutí, the lacework for which Paraguay is famous.
    • San Bernardino, on Lago Ypacaraí, is popular for holidays and weekends and packed druing the summer. It's ideal for water sports or sunbathing on clean, white sand. Across the lake, Areguá is quieter. Handmade clay items and ceramics are good buys.
    • Villa Florida is in ranch and agricultural land watered by the Río Tebicuary, known for its beaches and fishing.
    • Mission Ruins in southern Paraguay
    • Caacupé with the imposing Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Milagros, draws hundreds of thousands of people each December 8 for religious observations.
    • Iguazu Falls
    • The Pantanal
    • The Gran Chaco is South America's Last Frontier

    Enjoy your trip to Asunción and Paraguay!

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