A little over 100km surrounding the capital, there is a zone known as the “Golden Circuit”, since it holds unique landscapes and cultural landmarks, enchanting and historical towns, as well as beautiful art and crafts.
This area is perfect for rural tourism, eco-adventure and discovering traditional Paraguayan cuisine such as the delicious vori vori (a soup with cornflour balls), so’o apu’a (meatballs), pastel mandi’o (yucca empanadas), payagua (fried yucca and meat patties), mbeju (cornstarch and cheese tortillas), among others.
Visitors travelling to the Central Department, merely 12km from Asuncion, can visit the city of Luque, where its many jewelry stores sell delicate Paraguayan filigree made in gold and silver. 20km away from Asuncion, in the city of Capiata, visitors can find the Ramón Elías Mythological Museum, the only mythological museum in Latin America, which also includes historical pieces, family religious niches, and other antiques.
Visitors can also visit the towns of Lambaré, San Antonio, Ñemby, Villeta, Itá, among others.
Another unavoidable stop can be found only 30 km from the capital: Itauguá. This is the city of the peculiar and renowned ñanduti embroidery, which imitates spider webs. Here, tourists can also visit the Cultural and Artisanal Center “Ñanduti Weaver”, which was created to promote this ancestral artisanal weaving technique, and exhibit and sell the ñanduti made by the Itaugua weavers.
A visit to Areguá, the capital of the Central Department, and also known as the “Strawberry Capital”, is always an excellent choice. There, you can find ceramic crafts, and striking, historical buildings frozen in time. Some of the city’s highlights include its urban heritage buildings, the old train station, the Candelaria church on the hilltop, the old manors on the main avenue, the Street of the Artisans, the famous Strawberry Expo (which takes place from August to October), and its beaches on the Ypacaraí Lake.
In the Cordillera Department, Caacupé is the “Country’s Spiritual Capital”, due to the fact that Paraguay celebrates its most important religious festivity in the city’s Shrine of the Caacupé Virgin every December 8th
Nearby Tobatí is known as the Paraguayan capital of crafts and ceramics, and where visitors and can see and buy pottery, wood carvings and leather work. In addition, you can venture into exploration and tourism by climbing its steep hills, or hiking on the Kavajú, Yvytúsilla and Arco hills, the latter used as a platform for paragliding
Forty-eight km from the capital, on the shores of Lake Ypacaraí, the city of San Bernardino is a must-see destination.
The city features late 19th century architecture from the German, Italian, Swiss and English immigrants who founded it, as well as modern residences.
Tourists can visit San Bernardino all year round, and especially in the summer, to see Lake Ypacaraí and take a boat ride, tour the old town, the museums, the pedestrian street, enjoy the tranquility of its spaces, or let loose at its pubs, discos, luxury hotels and restaurants that line the cobbled and shaded streets of the eastern shore of Lake Ypacaraí
For the more daring tourists, the city is ideal for water sports and adventure, as adrenaline and excitement will make your visit a unique experience. One can enjoy all sorts of nautical activities, such as skiing, boating, kayaking, pedal boats, fishing, etc.
The city has a wide range of accommodations ranging from luxurious hotels and boutique hotels, to hostels, and tourist inns.
The Paraguarí Department is home to the city of Yaguarón, one of the first Franciscan reductions in Paraguay and the Río de la Plata region. Founded in 1586, it houses the San Buenaventura Church, a beautiful architectural work built with lapacho wood, decorated with altarpieces carved in wood, and covered with gold sheets. The dyes, which prepared by the indigenous people using local plants, remain brilliant on the images carved in wood until today. The pulpit is particularly beautiful. You can also visit the José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia Museum and the Cerro Yaguarón, which according to legend, was visited and preserves Saint Thomas’s, a disciple of Jesus, sandal footprints.
An unmissable attraction in this region is its isolated hills for hiking, zip-lining, or rappelling, as well as its protected wild areas such as the Ybycuí National Park, the Macizo Acahay Natural Monument, the Reserve Area for the Ypoa Lake National Park, and the Mbatoví Ecological Reserve, where one can see the beautiful Cristal, Mina, Guaraní or Mbocarusu Falls.
The Ybycuí National Park, 150 km from Asunción, combines nature and history. The historic cultural site La Rosada, one of the first iron foundries on the continent and a symbol of the great development of Paraguay in the mid-19th century, which was unfortunately destroyed during the Triple Alliance War (1865-1870) can be found within the park. The complex was restored using its original plans and foundations and was declared a national monument.
The mythical Salto Cristal (Cristal Falls) lies within the thickness of its forests. It has a 45- meter drop, which ends in a fresh and crystalline natural pool.
The Department’s cities treasure a variety of handicrafts that are perfect to purchase as either gifts or souvenirs. In Caapucú, Carapeguá, Paraguarí, Pirayú or Yaguarón, the visitor can find leather and guampas (mate gourds), cotton fabrics woven in looms, encaje ju (fine laces), wool articles, ao po’í (fine fabric), hammocks, poyvi rugs (a particular technique that dates back to the colony), hats and basketry made of karanda’y (palm) fibers.
Regarding accommodation, the Department has hotels and rural lodgings, tourist inns and cabins, which offer a beautiful experience of peaceful country life.
The Guairá Department is the perfect place to enjoy nature and adventure tourism. It is home to the Ybytyrusu hill range (Cerro Grande). This includes the Acatí hill, which rewards its visitors with an extensive view of the city of Villarrica; Cerro Tres Kandú (Three Kandu Hill), the highest point in Paraguay (840 meters above sea level); Cerro Corá with its plateau summit that offers a full 360° view that can be enjoyed from its main viewpoint; and the Salto Suizo,(Suizo Falls) a beautiful 41-meter drop in the middle of virgin forest.
Yataity del Guairá is the city of the famous and legendary ao po’í weaving (fine fabric). It is a district that seems to have stopped in time, with its old mansions and its peaceful streets, where carts and men on horseback still travel through. The town’s entire economy (with 8,000 inhabitants) revolves around the ao po’i garments craftsmanship, a typical Paraguayan embroidery that has passed down from generation to generation since the 19th century. This fabric is a heritage of Yataity artisans.
A fantastic lodging option for visiting these cities are the so-called tourist inns, promoted and supervised by the National Tourism Secretariat (Senatur). These are family homes that offer standardized basic services at reasonable prices for tourist accommodation. Here, visitors have the opportunity to experience the local culture, including customs, traditions, gastronomy and natural and cultural attractions firsthand, which will surely be an unforgettable experience.
Among Itá Letra’s walls, caves and grottos in Villarrica are authentic relics: 2,000 to 5,000 -year-old prehistoric writings that witnessed the arrival of the first human settlements in the region.