I always loved and enjoyed Asuncion’s downtown area (many people may not agree with me), I try to spend more of my days while in Asuncion in downtown, maybe it attracts me because of its historical architecture or because of different kind of situations and movements I observed there, probably a mix of both.
In downtown you can observe very nice and new buildings next to abandoned colonial buildings, you can see how the different styles blend and also the passing of years just by looking at its architecture, old and new, antique and modern, perfection and decadency that gives Asuncion its personality and makes it a unique place with more than to see with a lot to admire.
The woman selling chipa with the basket on her head, some man having terere on the park just sitting there and playing cards (some of these men work as a currency exchangers on the street, also called (cambista), people wearing suits holding suitcases waiting on the bus stop, some kids trying to convince you to have your shoes polished, very colorful street vendors selling all kind of imaginable and non imaginable stuff, from fruits to counterfeit DVD and Gucci counterfeit bags, there are multiple colorful situations in downtown that are hard to see else where, during the day downtown is full of people, at night or on weekends it seems like a ghost town.
Here I came up with a list of things i enjoy to do in downtown Asuncion, If you enjoy something I’m missing here please feel free to add more and more so we will have a complete great list soon.
1- Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana) i has a museum inside, very interesting
2- Central Train Station (Ferrocarril, i has a nice museum and the last vapor coal train that usually makes a trip to Aregua every 2 weeks.)
3- El cabildo (the ex Parliament) it is a museum now, they have a nice Jesuits and Franciscans collection.
4- The new Parliament a multimillion dollar building for our politician, it is a very modern and new construction.
5- Palacio de Lopez (Goverment Palace) That’s my favorite construction, just a piece of art!
6- Manzana de la Rivera is a great museum with many simultaneous art exhibits, it is also used for cultural events.
7- Casa de la Independencia (House of independency) it is a small and meaningful museum
8- Iglesia de la Encarnacion (this church is just magnificent a piece of art, located in Herrera and 15 de agosto)
9- Calle Palma, Estrella and Oliva (3 main downtown streets where you can find cafes, restaurants and stores)
10- Bay part where you can see Paraguay River and Mbigua club on the other side, also the Chacarita which is a marginal neighborhood in downtown…just be careful around there.
For shopping there is a department store called Unicentro another one is Asuncion Super Centro which is a mall with a cafe on the first floor and Mall Excellsior a bit war further way but still in the downtown area.
There are 5 very nice hotels in downtown which are Hotel Excelsior, Hotel Granados Park and Hotel Las Margaritas, all have excellent cuisine, also Hotel Guarani an icon for Paraguay, that one has a lot of history and the Crown Plaza a bit further way.
A really nice Cafe that I enjoy is Cafe Literario a cute small place on Calle Palma where you can read books, have coffee and a mixto caliente and enjoy a good chat among friends.
DO NOT MISS: Lido bar (have a Caldo de pescado, a fish soup, or an EMPANADA), Lido bar is my favorite, it is one of the oldest traditional food places still in town. BAR SAN ROQUE, it is a very traditional restaurant, the food is price but excellent. Another good choice is NA EUSTAQUIA a Paraguayan food traditional restaurant on calle Palma very well located, there you can savoir a taste of Paraguayan typical cuisine. For a more fancy ambience you can have lunch at the YASY restaurant in recently renewed Hotel Guarani. There also have great restaurants at Las Margaritas and Granados Park Hotel.
PLEASE send me comments about what you like to do or eat while in downtown Asuncion, thanks.