The capital of Paraguay, Asuncion, is one of the most unknown Latin American capitals, yet it is a city well worth a visit. The capital of Paraguay is one of those little visited national capitals in Latin America where you can find contrasts from corner to corner.
Old buildings that fall from old, near office complexes whose facades are appointments in cement and glass of the architectural avant-garde , near sidewalks that seem to be overlapping in the public road, as in a puzzle of changed pieces.
And, in the background, Spanish and Guarani mixed in the air of the city forming a melody that can be felt with every serene talk of the Asuncionians.
In recent years, Asunción has been seduced by the chic hotels , by the cosmopolitan cafeterias now neighboring those of all life.
Some of these cafeterias and retros restaurants retain environments that seem stranded in the 1950s.In them, the neighbors eat their fish stews with yucca made in the style of any neighborhood house.
Asunción is not among the preferred destinations of European travelers and that is precisely why it can be an attractive trip for those who dislike places with large concentrations of tourists.
Of course, that is why, because it is a city for people , not for the masses, Asuncion is well worth a vacation with the desire to have the authentic close by.
The best areas to stay in Asuncion
The best areas for to stay in Asuncion , for security, tranquility, for the proximity to the main attractions of the Paraguayan capital and for offering a greater variety of hotel places are preferably, Villa Morra , the area around the Paseo de las Carmelitas , the district of Villa Luque , also the sector of the Asuncion Airport, but, above all, the historical center of the city.
We go with the description of the downtown of the Paraguayan capital, with what there is to see and information where to sleep in the area.
1.Historic Center of Asunción
The historic center of Asunción is relatively small It is the original place where the Paraguayan capital was founded in 1537.A location from which to start a walking tour of the highlights can begin in the Plaza de la República Uruguaya.
It is a large green area that has to its side what was the first railway station in Latin America (1861) .In the station, there is a very interesting railway museum.
Many events in the history of Paraguay took place in the esplanade of the square. For the Paraguayans, it is a symbol, as it is the monument to General Artigas that presides over the place.
The Metropolitan Cathedral of Asuncion (1845) is one of the must-see places in the centre of the capital, with its silver-lined high altar under the interior lighting.A show.
Another key place in the centre is the Pantheon of the Heroes of Asunción (1936), where some of the fathers of the country rest.
Another place that must be seen in the center of Asuncion is the House of Independence It is a building from the end of the 18th century that treasures objects, furniture and not few documents from the colonial period.
Other buildings worth visiting in the surroundings are the Cabildo and the Palacio López and the area called Manzana Rivera.The Lopez Palace is the seat of the Government of the Republic.
The Manzana Rivera is a block, as they say in South America, where a series of old traditional houses full of typology have been maintained.Today, it is also a cultural center with a theater, exhibition halls and a bar.
Asuncion has a river port on the Paraguay river. The Avenida Costanera is the equivalent of a maritime avenue and serves as a promenade as in any city by the sea. The Costanera Avenue leads to the charming neighborhood of San Jeronimo, one of the oldest areas in the city center.
In San Jeronimo , you have to touch closely the Paraguayan gastronomy , in any of its restaurants, preferably those that lean out (or hide) between the corridors and the passages.
In these small temples of the local gastronomy, you should order, as a starter, sopa guaraní , a curious dry soup made of corn flour, cheese, eggs and onion. chipa guazú has a lot of similarities with sopa guaraní , at first sight.It is a corn cake that is browned in the oven, a very compact dish.
More… The chipa is another specialty, a kind of large bun made with manioc, cheese, milk, eggs and salt.Like bread in Spain, The Vori-Vorí is made of beef or chicken balls in sauce.
And something curious that surprises many travelers, the Paraguayan cocido is not a stew made as it might seem, is a type of drink equivalent to tea that is made with the bushes of a plant called tereré.
A note to keep in mind at lunch time, cassava is, at the Paraguayan table, the equivalent of bread.
To move in the area with great use of time and effort, something interesting, the tourist bus that runs through the center of the Paraguayan capital allows you to see the most important in about three hours of travel and very comfortably.
There are stops in different streets of the center that are visible by exclusive vertical signs, the departure is in Shopping del Sol.
The center is, for practical reasons, the most recommended part to stay in Asuncion, by the near the monuments visitable, but also by the wide range of hotels of all categories.
To stay in Asuncion in its historical center is proportionally cheaper than in other cities national capitals South American .
Villa Morra is a residential and commercial area in downtown Asuncion, south of the Carmelitas neighborhood, which belongs to the La Recoleta district.
It owes its name to Francisco Morra, an Italian emigrant who, in the 19th century, owned the tramway service in the Paraguayan capital and who, at one point, parceled out land of his own in this part of Asunción for residential use.
147 blocks that today are part of the street map of Villa Morra.the neighborhood is arranged around the avenues of Paseo de Carmelitas , Lillo, Mangoré and Le Marché Food Park.
In Villa Morra, it is possible to find churrascarias , which are locally called espeto corridos, restaurants that offer buffet meals and charge per person. The «espetos corridos» are everywhere in Asuncion.
The reference in the capital is the Paulista Churrascaria and grill in the Avenida General Jose San Martin , in the south part of Villa Morra
Places to go shopping in Villa Morra?The shopping Villa Morra and Mariscal Lopez .In Villa Morra, you can find the most luxurious and also the most expensive hotels for accommodation in Asuncion.
The bus lines 15-1, 15-2, 15-3 and 15-4 have stops in the area, facilitating mobility and connection to the center of Asuncion.
– Accommodation in Villa Mora
The area of Las Lomas – popularly known as Carmelitas – is a mainly residential and commercial neighbourhood located in the north of Asunción, immediately west of Villa Luque.
This is a small uptown neighborhood, less than 1.5 square kilometers in size, and there are two areas in the district, one upstairs, the upper area, and the other downstairs, the lower area of Carmelitas.
A number of small shops are well distributed along the avenues that dominate the urban fabric of the area.As emblematic buildings of Carmelitas, we must mention the Central Bank of Paraguay (a modern architecture complex) and the chapel and convent of Las Carmelitas .
By the way, the convent of Las Carmelitas Descalzas, which is located on Carmen Street, gives, as it cannot be otherwise, the name of the neighborhood.The nuns live their life in the convent and you can talk to them in the chapel.
On the other side of the Avenida de los Aviadores del Chaco, you will find the Museo del Barro (calle Grabadores del Caibuchí), a permanent ethnographic exhibition that includes art pieces by modern Paraguayan artists, and at the same time offers a tour of ceramic works from pre-Columbian times.
Between General José San Martín Avenue, Doctor Felipe Mola López Avenue and Aviadores del Chaco Avenue, which serves as a roundabout, there is also a series of large shopping and leisure centres that can become places where you can stop on your way to visit the important things in Asunción, to have something to eat and, why not, to go shopping.
Some of the best known shopping centres in the area are Shopping del Sol, Carmelitas Center or Paseo La Galería , the latter with a series of themed restaurants, both of which have spaces for small children and are accessible for people with reduced mobility.
There is an outstanding park in Carmelitas, La Salud, located next to the National Aquatic Center , in front of the Banco de Paraguay and not far from the Central Hospital, a perfect place to have a picnic.
To move in the area of Carmelitas and to move to and from the place in the direction of other districts of Asuncion, you have to take as a reference the bus lines 7, 16, 28 and 37 that have stops in all the avenues.
In the area, there is a great presence of hotels of international chains , as well as of aparthotels, all at prices equivalent or inferior to their European urban counterparts of the same category.
Villa Luque, or simply Luque, is a residential district located to the northeast of the city of Asunción, about 16 kilometers from the center .It is a very extended population and totally in plain at the east of the Paraguay river.
This flat surface without obstacles makes that the orography does not help to relativize the effects of the wind and the cold in the southern autumn and winter.Luque is a quiet area where you should not be surprised by the apparent mania of its neighbors to paint everything in blue and yellow.
Blue is the parish church, is strangely painted in that color; yellow are the pews of the Plaza de Villa Luque and its museum and, even more, those of the Mausoleum of General Aquino.
Tranquility, because it is the colors of the Club Sportivo Luqueño, and the fans, never better said, go by neighborhoods. The CONMEBOL , the entity in charge of the management of the South American soccer, has its headquarters in Luque.
In its facilities, there is a South American Football Museum that can be very interesting for the lovers of this sport and especially for those who are seduced by the exploits of the goal scorers and the teams of the subcontinent.
Its permanent exhibitions are full of history and the surprisingly modern and spacious facilities of the museum are located 3 kilometers from the international airport.
Villa Luque is also known for the craftsmanship and filigree preferably in gold (but also in silver and diamonds) as evidenced by the large number of jewelry stores that are open in the center of the district.
Any of them can offer quality work that can be turned into perfect gifts with which to return home and entertain family and friends.If the plan is to go shopping around, you can choose to go to Los Jardines , where they sell and handcraft harps and guitars
More in Luque A place to enjoy the tranquility of a large green area is the great park Ñu Guazú A Guarani name that could be translated by ‘Campo Grande’, something that is obvious.
The Ñu Guazú is a great lung that oxygenates Asunción 24 hours a day This natural environment has limited spaces where some tree species grow that are distinctive of the original Paraguayan vegetation The park has tennis courts, basketball and baseball.
The district of Luque is located on the shores of Lake Ypacarí .An extension of fresh water, 48 kilometers from the center of Asuncion, and 90 square kilometers in area (24 kilometers from north to south and 5 to 6 kilometers from east to west).
The lake is a leisure area, perfect for the practice of water sports The place welcomes families and groups of friends especially on weekends.The water area, which has beach areas , is surrounded by high hills and abundant vegetation that makes the landscape even more beautiful.
The most surprising thing, however, is that the average depth of the lake is minimal, just 3 meters.
There is an offer for to stay in Asuncion very popular in apartments and hostels at modest prices throughout the district.However, the difference is to be found in the accommodation plant that can be enjoyed in the surroundings of the lake Ypacari.
Bungalows, quality apartments and houses to sleep in Asuncion, or near the city, in the best conditions.
In contrast, in Villa Luque, it is also possible to find a acceptable offer of accommodation for backpackers .
Transport To get from Luque to Asunción and back, the best option is to use the Vanguardia buses (a local transport company).
The colours of the buses (blue, red, yellow and green) have alternative itineraries with the same destination.30 passes through the Asunción Central Railway Station, which improves train connectivity to other cities in Paraguay.
The 30 passes through Silvio Pettirossi International Airport and the Football Museum.
– Accommodation in Villa Luque
5.Asunción Airport Zone
The Silvio Pettirossi International Airport is located in the district of Luque, within the Ñu Guazú Park.
The airport, its terminals and the hotel area are very well connected to Asuncion and to the city center thanks to the Ñu Guazú highway that connects later with the Costanera Norte and Artigas avenues that allow, in turn, access to other destinations in the metropolitan area.
The airport, however, has no train connection with the capital.The area has an important offer of hotels for executives and for professionals who wish to stay in Asunción near the terminals for a practical matter for their business trips.
Among them, there are urban hotels with basic services , for short stays, which can be, perhaps, a good offer for savings if you go economically fair.
However, there is also a short list of four and five star hotels that are specialized in providing coverage for events and conventions and especially accommodation for the CONMEBOL South American football representatives.
The airport is located ten minutes drive from Asunción’s financial district and less than a mile from several shopping centers and the World Trade Center, a business complex located on Avenida de los Aviadores del Chaco.
– Airport accommodation
Asuncion, for those looking for a good dose of authenticity in a big city in South America
If you are travelling in the area besides this post about the best areas to stay in Asuncion we recommend you: Where to stay in Buenos Aires, where to stay in Montevideo, where to stay in Punta del Este