Nestled on the eastern banks of the mighty Parana River, this bustling port city attracts more traders than travelers. Nevertheless, for tourists determined to get off the gringo trail, Parana offers a fascinating insight into an aspect of Argentine life rarely seen by the international crowd. Here’s what to see and do in town.
Tunel Subfluvial Parana – Santa Fe
Travelers who make it to Parana are almost certainly coming to or from Santa Fe. And what better way to get between the two than on the country’s longest underground tunnel? Built back in 1969, its construction was an awe-inspiring feat of engineering at the time.
Straddling the Parana River, this expansive park is a superb spot to relax at and people watch on a warm day. Expect to come across plenty of lush vegetation as you stroll along its numerous trails which pass restaurants, sports clubs, and a bustling skate park.
This surprisingly attractive stretch of sand is a fun place to hang out at on a hot summer’s day as hordes of locals descend here to swim, sunbathe, or play a spot of beach volleyball. Numerous beachfront restaurants provide punters with deliciously fresh barbequed fish.
Provincial Fine Arts Museum
Although perhaps not as impressive as the fine arts museum in neighboring Santa Fe, Parana’s Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes is still a worthy attraction for the art lovers among us. This stunning pink colonial building overlooking the leafy Plaza Alvear hosts a substantial collection of contemporary pieces from provincial artists.
Catedral de Parana
As the city’s most important Catholic church, the twin steeples of the Catedral de Parana that tower over the main square are a much loved local landmark. The interior isn’t that impressive, so most travelers prefer to admire the structure from the plaza.
Provincial Natural Science and Anthropology Museum
A decent collection of taxidermied local wildlife specimens can be found in this downtown museum, as well as some displays outlining the unique culture of the region. It probably could use some renovations, but the staff certainly do their best with what they’ve got.
Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
To the southeast of the cathedral lies Parana’s second most important church, the beautiful yet straightforward Iglesia del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus. It overlooks the pleasant Plaza Sáenz Peña which is often full of locals walking their dogs or battling away at an outdoor gym.
Parque Nacional Pre-Delta
About an hour south of town lies Parque Nacional Pre-Delta, one of the region’s most pristine nature reserves. With several trails winding their way past lagoons and through birdlife rich vegetation, it’s an idyllic spot to walk, run, or cycle. Keep an eye out for the enormous waterlilies.
Provincial Museum and Craft Market
Those looking to pick up some souvenirs should head to the Museo y Mercado Provincial de Artesanias, a small colonial-style artisanal market with an attractive exterior facade. Inside, expect to find a plethora of ponchos, instruments, textile art, paintings, and pottery, all for very reasonable prices.
Martiniano Leguizamon Provincial History Museum
History buffs should check out this provincial history museum which boasts a sizable collection of historical artifacts from the region. Entry is free although you won’t find much information in English.