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10 Things to Do: Asunción, Paraguay

1. Support indigenous culture. Paraguay is home to about 500 indigenous communities or villages, including five different linguistic groups. To learn about their cultures, visit Museo Boggiani in San Lorenzo, about 18 miles (30 kilometers) from  Asunción, where the director, Jorge Vera, is likely to guide your tour.

2. Bask in the glow of the Palacio de los López. The stunning all-white nineteenth-century presidential palace is best viewed after dark—when it is aglow with bright lights—from across the street at the patio bar of the Manzana de la Rivera cultural center.

3. Eat at the Lido. Easily Paraguay’s most famous eatery, the Lido Bar, located in the heart of downtown Asunción, boasts a small army of uniformed waitresses who shout out orders of the traditional Paraguayan fare served here since 1953.

4. Explore Paraguay’s (old) politics. The tragic and often-violent history of the country’s 35-year dictatorship is on display at the Museo de la Memoria (1066 Calle Chile), established in 2006 as part of an effort to bring to light human-rights violations.

5. Beat the heat. Find a shady spot at the city’s central Plaza de los Heroes. Look for a woman selling tereré, a cold tea made with fresh herbs and sipped through a metal straw.

6. Catch a show. Tickets at Asunción’s Municipal Theater, which first opened in 1889, usually sell for less than $10 a show. Any performance featuring a harp is a must-see: the instrument is Paraguay’s musical forte.

7. Try the local brew. Never mind the brand; asuncenos seek out whatever beer is coldest and many find their way to Brittania Pub. For a more exclusive experience go to Planta Alta, an art gallery and bar in a restored downtown space.

8. Stroll an open-air market. Asunción’s largest and most chaotic outdoor market features vegetable stalls, a large butcher, scores of pirated DVDs, electronics, and other household goods. Enter at the intersection of Avenida Petirrosi and Calle República Francesa.

9. Become a fan. Watch the traditional rivalry between Asunción’s two largest professional soccer teams—Club Olimpia and Club Cerro Porteño—play out at one of their regular games at the city’s Defensores del Chaco stadium or at one of the clubs’ private fields.

10. Cool off by the lake. Lake Ypacaraí, near the hillside town of Aregua, is a 13-mile (20-kilometer) trek from Asunción and a favorite place for in-the-know asuncenos to relax from the city heat.

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Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.


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