River beaches and hungover pedalo rides in Rosario, Argentina
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A vibrant student city, Rosario Argentina is known for its beautiful, youthful population and great LGBT-friendly nightlife. People in Rosario are so so friendly, and when they see your giant backpack they can’t wait to talk to you and find out where you’re from. We found that the hostel staff were much more friendly than what we’d become used to in Buenos Aires and very happy to help with whatever we needed. The climate in Rosario is lovely, and the city feels fairly clean.
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Rosario loves a good festivity, and when we were there we were lucky enough that there was a ginormous food and entertainment festival that was celebrating all the different groups of immigrants that settled in Rosario. Each country had a food tent, bar and stage for music and dancing. We had the pleasure of seeing such blunders as Scottish bagpipes playing the Game of Thrones theme tune in the Irish section, and a tent in between Israel and Peru for the country of ‘Africa’, which served ‘Africa Food’.
And whilst the food in most tents was generally on point, beer was pretty much the same in every tent, just with a different name (same old generic craft beer problem as Buenos Aires). We met a barman in the German tent who was obsessed with England and so gave us 6 free beers for no other reason than for talking to him in our English accents. Great success!
But between all the partying, Rosario really is just a lovely relaxed city in which to chill the hell out. For us, it was a great break from 2 weeks of the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires.
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7 brilliant things to do in Rosario, Argentina
1. Kayak on the Paraná River
Rosario sits on the banks of Rio Paraná, and is surrounded by a cluster of small islands to be explored. Pretty much every hostel will be able to hook you up with a kayak river tour in Rosario, but you will usually need to book 24 hours in advance (we missed out because of this, boo!).
Now, this does obviously require some exertion and we understand that not everyone is about that life, however you can still explore the river from the relaxed confines of a riverboat tour.
2. Flag down the history
Rosario is famously the birthplace of the Argentinian flag, so there is a large monument to mark the grave of the man who designed it (aptly named Monumento de la Bandera). This is a pretty cool bit of architecture with all sorts of columns, ponds and flames, so it’s worth a gander. If you’re up for learning more about the history of the city, this would be covered in this private walking tour.
3. Pedalo around Independence Park
On our hangy days, we whiled away the hours in the Parque de la Independencia. It is HUGE, and it has some beautiful water fountains, flower beds, Roman columns and a massive lake with pedalos and boats. We wouldn’t recommend the motorised boat option as you just go round really slowly twice; everyone looked super bored, but we took a pedalo out for half an hour and loved chilling among the terrapins. You can also take pleasant strolls around Parque de España or Parque Urquiza.
4. Sunbathe on a river beach
North of the city, you can plonk yourself down on one of the beaches created by the riverbanks of the Paraná. Balneario La Florida is said to be the best of the river beaches; it’s serviced and has a 100 pesos entry fee. Let’s not pretend this is a wonderful beach, but it’s a good city escape on a hangover. To get there, head down the street of Córdoba to where it meets Corrientes in the city centre and take the 153 Roja bus.
5. Dive into some natural history
We also went to the Natural History Museum (Museo Nacional de Historia Natural), which we found super interesting as it took us through the prehistoric evolution of South America to now. It was free to enter, and a great use of 2 hours. It is, however, only written in Spanish, and although the volunteer staff were more than happy to answer any ad hoc Spanish question, we’re not aware of any English tours.
I stupidly didn’t take any pictures of the museum itself, but for reference this is a part of the beautiful National University of Rosario, which is opposite the Natural History Museum:
6. Shop cheap fashion
There are thousands of small clothes shops to browse in the city centre of Rosario. You’ll find cheaper prices here than lots of other Argentinian cities, and the student population keeps things fashionable, so it’s a great place to revamp your wardrobe if you’ve been on the road a while.
Keep in mind that Argentina is quite annoying in its watch-the-customers’-every-move-at-close-range shop assistant style. In truth, it’s less about theft and more that they just want to be there to get you what you want asap, but to foreigners it can feel quite uncomfortable at times.
For nightlife, there is actually more slightly north of the centre than in the centre itself. Rock&Feller’s is always packed, and we loved Growler Garage, a tiny bar that serves beer in these (excuse the sign behind this bloke):
There are also several clubs in this area that play reggaeton until dawn, such as Russia Bar, as well as glittery gay bars. On that note, people seem pretty at ease to be openly gay in Rosario and Buenos Aires, and we went out with a gay man in drag who had zero problems at night – really refreshing to see!
Remember that nightlife in Argentina starts and ends a lot later than it typically does in North America or Western Europe, with people heading to bars at around midnight.
Where to stay in Rosario
We stayed for 5 nights in La Casa de Arriba. Despite lots of stairs in the entrance, it was a really lovely place. For the first 3 nights, the atmosphere was fantastic and we made loads of Argentinian friends (this city’s student and trans-friendly reputation means it’s a popular destination for Arg-nationals).
Unfortunately, on night 4 a phone got stolen from one of our new friends, and some cash was taken from a woman’s bag in our dorm, and judging by the CCTV showing us going into and out of our own dorm and the fact that we went outside (to the shop) at the time they realised the phone was missing, staff there sadly concluded that it was us that stole both items.
Needless to say, it absolutely wasn’t us; we have no need for money, wouldn’t have a clue how to sell a stolen phone in a foreign country and quite frankly, we’re not arseholes. This definitely tainted our stay, but we kept calm like adults and tried to enjoy the rest of the time we had there. A shame!
How to get to and from Rosario, Argentina
As the third largest city in Argentina, Rosario is very well connected with the other urban areas of the country. From the bus terminal, you can easily pick up buses to and from Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Mendoza, etc. You can also book bus seats ahead of time online at busbud.com, but do be mindful that you’re definitely booking it from the terminal itself for ease.
On our way out of Rosario, we (ahem, Lozzy) accidentally booked ours from a random bus stop on the side of the road, 20 minutes outside the centre. Not entirely sure how that happened, but a very friendly taxi driver knew where to drop us off, and another very friendly bus passenger confirmed that we were at the right place.
Rosario is also connected to Buenos Aires an Córdoba via the night train that departs daily, and other destinations are only a short internal flight away from ROS airport.
Recommended stay to enjoy the things to do in Rosario, Argentina: 3 days (over a weekend)
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