Experience a neighborhood of local fishermen, great food, vineyards, a beautiful national park and a tour of villages founded by German immigrants in this city surrounded by the river.
Only 500 kilometers separate Buenos Aires and Paraná – an hour by plane. When you arrive, the first thing you’ll notice is the constant presence of the river. The capital city of Entre Ríos looks out onto the water from green slopes, beaches and nautical clubs. As a riverside destination, it has a great culinary tradition, particularly noteworthy for fish lovers. The Paraná River is the second longest in South America, after the Amazon. The huge river begs to be explored – when they arrive, many visitors’ first order of business is to take a boat ride.
Paraná Tu Río is a company with various options for nautical and fishing tourism. In one boat trip, we arrived at a quiet, private beach on Puente Island, with nature and beautiful views around us. There, Gustavo “Mono” Goncevatt, who worked for eight years in the restaurant La Locanda in Barcelona, waits for visitors as he cooks bogue and tararira (also known as tiger fish) empanadas and marinated fried fish. The local fisherman from Puerto Sánchez, a neighborhood at the bottom of the hill (next to the Thompson resort) go out in their canoes every morning to supply the city with fresh fish.
In the city
The 44 hectares of Urquiza Park were designed by the French landscape architect Carlos Thays. It’s a huge space with three distinct levels – like a balcony that looks over the Paraná, where many activities and events are held and the city intersects with the natural world. We highly recommend taking a walk along the coastal path.
For a historical site in the city known for its eclectic architecture, check out the cathedral (or Catedral), located in the 1st of May Plaza.
For a less historical site, the Subfluvial Tunnel is a classic Entre Ríos feat of engineering. Finished in 1969, it connects Entre Ríos with Santa Fe beneath the river. Rather than going through the tunnel, it might be more interesting to go to the Sala de Interpretaciones, where you’ll see how it was built and get a guided tour about the history and secrets of this colossal project, which Italy and Germany lent a hand with.
Vineyards of Entre Ríos
Supposedly, Entre Ríos was once the location of very high quality wine and vineyards, but in 1934 then-president Agustín Pedro Justo (who paradoxically was from Entre Ríos) prohibited production outside of Cuyo (Mendoza, San Juan and San Luis) and the vineyards were razed and burned.
Nearly 40 years later, this law was repealed and through hard work small local businesses started to plant new vines. One of these was founded by a couple with no history of wine production, but who owned a plot of land on a hill in Colonia Ensayo, 25 km from Paraná. There they planted Malbet, Tannat, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and other grape varieties, all from Mendoza. They created the bodega and farm Los Aromitos, which produces the Ára label (ára in Guaraní means something like “day, time, era, epoch, sky, universe”). The winery has a gorgeous panoramic view and a constant gentle breeze. It is open to visits and tastings organized by Leandro, one of the founders’ children.
The Paraná River and riverside villages
Along Route 11 on the way to Diamante there’s a series of villages that look like they were frozen in time. This historic area was founded by German immigrants from Volga who arrived in 1878 after living over 100 years in Russia.
The six main villages are Villa María, Salto, Spatzenkutter (or “Sparrow’s Merriment”), Protestante, San Francisco and Brasilera (founded by Germans who first arrived in Brazil).
Local traditions, foods, dances and language are preserved in these places, so it’s quite interesting to walk the streets, talk with the descendents of the German immigrants, admire the local dress, listen to live music – and especially to try the delicious wheat beer, Heim, made by Ezequiel. Also make sure to eat in Munich Bar y Comedor, the area’s true German gastronomic temple, located in Brasilera. And with a bit of luck, your trip could coincide with one of the popular local holidays.
Pre-Delta National Park
Entre Ríos has two national parks: El Palmar (in Colón) and Pre-Delta. The second is one of the smallest parks in the country, at 2,600 hectares. Only about 20 people work there, there’s no entrance fee and there’s a great spot prepared for camping.
Leaving from the marina, excursions navigate the delta and the undulating canals between islands.
You can also walk down two trails with information about local flora and fauna until arriving at the three lakes, through forests and scrubland where you can see animals like otters, broad-snouted caiman, capybara, more than 187 kinds of fish and hundreds of species of birds. The island environment is relaxing – it made us want to stay awhile and rest surrounded by nature and its sounds.
Aerolíneas Argentinas direct flight to Paraná from AR$3445 round trip.
Where to stay
Where to eat
The folk club and fish grill Open Club Open Club.
La Fourchette, a boutique restaurant on the first floor of the Gran Hotel Paraná.
Wellbeing and entertainment
Karaoke night at Live Rock
The biggest costume party in the country takes place in Paraná (as of the past 20 years) – more than 50,000 people attend. In 2019, it will take place on November 17th (www.fiestadedisfraces.com.ar/countdown)