Entre Ríos’s biggest party town, Gualeguaychú hosts Argentina’s top Carnaval celebration—not quite Rio, but worthwhile if you’re in Buenos Aires instead of Brazil. Dating from 1783, Gualeguaychú has a smattering of colonial constructions, but it is most popular with Argentines for access to its namesake river.
To the east, the Puente Internacional General Libertador San Martín offers the southernmost bridge access into Uruguay, to the city of Fray Bentos. In recent years, though, anger over a proposed pulp mill on the Uruguayan side has brought roadblock demonstrations by Argentine environmental activists and less savory opportunists.
Gualeguaychú (pop. about 100,000) is 220 kilometers north of Buenos Aires via RN 14 and an eastbound lateral road that leads directly to the central Plaza San Martín, a square occupying four full blocks. To the east, the Río Gualeguaychú, a tributary of the larger Uruguay, meanders southward.
Sights and Recreation
Dating from 1914, Gualeguaychú’s only national historical monument is the Teatro Gualeguaychú (Urquiza 705). It’s still the principal high-culture venue, with theater, music, and dance performances.
At the northeast corner of Plaza San Martín, Gualeguaychú’s oldest construction (1800) is the Solar de los Haedo (San José 105, 9 a.m.–11:45 a.m. and 5–8 p.m. Wed.–Sat., 9 a.m.–11:45 a.m. Sun., free), which Italian patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi used as his headquarters during the Uruguayan struggle against Rosas.
José S. Álvarez, better known by his pen name Fray Mocho, resided at the Casa de Fray Mocho (Fray Mocho 135), which awaits restoration as a museum. Álvarez founded the early-20th-century satirical magazine Caras y Caretas, the counterpart of England’s Punch.
On the grounds of the former Estación Ferrocarril Urquiza (railroad station, Avenida Rocamora and Avenida Irazusta), the enclosed Corsódromo is the main site for the midsummer Carnaval parades. The station also contains the open-air Museo Ferroviario, with antique steam locomotives, dining cars, and other rolling stock.
Entertainment and Events
The landmark Teatro Municipal (Urquiza 705, tel. 03446/427989) remains the principal performing arts locale.
Oriented toward visitors from Buenos Aires, Gualeguaychú’s Carnaval del País (www.carnavaldelpais.com.ar) celebrations takes place weekends in mid- to late summer, depending on the Lenten calendar. If bad weather intervenes, though, the final weekend may even be pushed back in Lent. Admission to the Corsódromo costs around US$16 pp, with the best reserved seats an additional US$10 pp.
Gualeguaychú is always a popular summer destination, but on Carnaval weekends accommodations are at a premium, reservations almost imperative, and prices rise. Most choices are central, but lower-end places lack air-conditioning.
Residencial Amalfi (25 de Mayo 571, tel. 03446/42-6818, amalfi [at] hotmail [dot] com, US$16 s, US$27 d) is in an attractive older building but is otherwise plain. On summer weekends, though, prices more than double.
Its Bavarian exterior looks utterly out of place in subtropical Entre Ríos, but the simple Hotel Alemán (Bolívar 535, tel. 03446/42-6153, www.hotelaleman.com.ar, US$ 53 s or d) offers good value.
Hotel Puerto Sol (San Lorenzo 477, tel. 03446/43-4017, www.hotelpuertosol.com.ar, US$68 s or d) is a solid midsize hotel with midsize rooms, some with balconies and others whose windows face the interior gardens. The service is outstanding in its price range.
Other possibilities include Hotel Berlín (Bolívar 733, tel. 03446/42-5111, www.hotelberlin.com.ar, US$73 s or d), which has improved services, but the rooms are still on the small side. Hotel Embajador (3 de Febrero 115, tel. 03446/42-4414, www.hotel embajador.com, US$85 s or d) is a more modern construction.
Hotel Aguay (Costanera 138, tel. 03446/42-2099, www.hotelaguay.com.ar, US$79 s, US$111 d), a four-star entry overlooking the river, has become the best in town.
For fish fresh from the river, don’t miss Dacal (Costanera and Andrade, tel. 03446/42-7602), and there are several others along the waterfront including Lo de Carlitos (San Martín 206, tel. 03446/43-2582).
One block west of the Costanera, authorities have turned Calle Alem into a shady cobbled street with planter boxes and wide sidewalks where a number of restaurants, mostly pizzerias, have taken hold. The most popular are Águila Club (3 de Caballería 300, corner of Alem), which also has live music, and El Galpón de Mi Viejo (Alem 377, tel. 03446/42-7252).
For ice cream, the best choice is the riverfront Bahillo (Costanera and San Lorenzo, tel. 03446/42-6240); it also has a downtown branch (25 de Mayo and Italia, tel. 03446/42-7349).
Getting to Gualeguaychú
Gualeguaychú’s shiny new Terminal de Ómnibus (Avenida Artigas and Bulevar Jurado, tel. 03446/44-0688) is at the southwest approach to town. Buses to Fray Bentos and other Uruguayan destinations are suspended until further notice because of the pulp mill controversy.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition