The mighty Río Paraná is an attraction in itself, with its lush islands, delicious fish and relaxing aquatic landscapes. Anyone looking for urban pleasures should head for Rosario, the country’s third-largest city, whose famously handsome people, active cultural life and fascinating architecture make it one of Argentina’s most attractive cities. Nearby Santa Fe, the much-overshadowed provincial capital, is at first sight less enticing, but its faded grandeur and revived dock area merit a stopover. Opposite, the dynamic city of Paraná shares not only its name with the river, but also its slow pace and a certain subtropical beauty. To the south, since it was linked to Rosario by a splendid bridge, the traditional town of Victoria, famous for its monastery, has been opening itself up to tourism. Some way to the north is the provincial capital of Corrientes, named for the strong currents in a sweeping loop of the Paraná. One of the region’s oldest and most dynamic cities, it is also the gateway to the Gran Chaco.
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Sensual, sultry, subtropical and sitting on a bend in the Río Paraná, CORRIENTES is one of the region’s oldest and most attractive cities, founded in 1588 as an intermediary port along the river route between Buenos Aires and Asunción. Its charm is derived largely from the number of traditional correntino buildings in its crumbling – but very handsome – centre, based around the Plaza 25 de Mayo. These Neocolonial edifices, with overhanging roofs supported on wooden posts, are interspersed with more elaborate late nineteenth-century Italianate architecture. Corrientes’ modest museums, most notably the original Museo de Artesanía, where you can see fine examples of the province’s distinctive crafts, are given added appeal by being housed in these traditional buildings, and its central streets make it a pleasant place to just wander around for a day or two. If you visit from November to February, though, be aware that both temperatures and humidity can be very high. As a result, locals take the siesta very seriously, not emerging from indoors until dusk on the hottest days: if you must hit the streets on a summer afternoon, head for Corrientes’ attractive Costanera, curving for 2.5km around the northwest of the city centre where native lapacho trees, with exquisite pink blossom in spring, provide a welcome bit of shade – though mosquitoes like it here, too.
Corrientes is linked to Resistencia, the capital of Chaco Province, 20km to the west, via the Puente General M. Belgrano, a suspension bridge across the Río Paraná. The city itself is reasonably compact: all the major points of interest lie within the streets north of Avenida 3 de Abril, which runs east–west through the city towards Puente General Belgrano. The whole of this approximately triangular area is bordered to the northwest by the Avenida Costanera General San Martín. There are two centres: the centro histórico, with Plaza 25 de Mayo at its heart, lies to the north and is where you’ll find most of Corrientes’ historic buildings and museums, while the less interesting Centro Comercial is focused on Plaza Cabral, ten blocks southeast of Plaza 25 de Mayo and Corrientes’ main pedestrianized shopping street, Calle Junín.