Capital of Entre Ríos Province, across its namesake river from Santa Fe, Paraná is one of the best access points to the upper Paraná Delta’s islands and gallery forests, including little-visited Parque Nacional Pre-Delta. It’s arguably more livable than its sweltering neighbor, thanks to shady streets, lush riverside parks, and better river access. In the city center, authorities have even widened sidewalks to create “slow streets” in a country where motorists usually consider that might makes right.
Paraná was briefly Argentina’s capital, after native son General Urquiza defeated the Buenos Aires dictator Rosas, but it wasn’t even the provincial capital until the late 1880s. It has maintained a high political profile, even hosting a 1994 convention that revised Argentina’s constitution to lift presidential term limits—benefiting the now-disgraced Carlos Menem.
Paraná (pop. about 300,000) is 470 kilometers northwest of Buenos Aires via RN 12 and RP 11 through Gualeguay, Victoria, and Diamante; the distance is 500 kilometers via RN 9 to Rosario and A-008 to Santa Fe, which are better and faster highways. Unlike the low-lying cities along the Río Uruguay, most of Paraná occupies a hilly site above the Río Paraná; on the floodplain, Parque Urquiza stretches over a kilometer of mostly open riverfront.
Getting to Paraná
Paraná has a small airport, but nearly all commercial flights leave from neighboring Santa Fe. The exception is the regional airline Laersa (San Martín 918, tel. 0810/777-5237, www.laersa.com.ar), which flies weekday mornings to Buenos Aires, and also to Mar del Plata.
Paraná’s Terminal de Ómnibus (Avenida Ramírez 2300, tel. 0343/4221282) is opposite Plaza Martín Fierro, about 10 blocks southeast of Plaza 1 de Mayo. There are frequent buses to Santa Fe (45 minutes, US$1.25).
Long-distance destinations, times, and fares resemble those from Santa Fe, but there are more departures from Santa Fe. Among the possibilities here are Rosario (2.5 hours, US$10), Córdoba (6.5 hours, US$19), Corrientes (8 hours, US$29), Resistencia (7.5 hours, US$27), Buenos Aires (6 hours, US$23), Posadas (10 hours, US$42), Puerto Iguazú (14 hours, US$42–60), and Mendoza (15 hours, US$48).
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition