Your ultimate family vacation is just around the corner. Paraguay, situated in one of the most beautiful regions of South America, is a natural paradise that’s perfect for families with kids of all ages! If you’re looking for a unique vacation destination with a lot to offer culturally, historically, and scenically, you want to put Paraguay at the top of your bucket list.
In this guide, we’ll get you up to speed on everything you need to know for the perfect Paraguay vacation. Specifically, we’ll cover the logistics relevant to your trip and go over ten of the best places to see in Paraguay with your kids.
Interested? Keep reading to find out more about what this gorgeous South American nation has to offer you and your family!
Where Is Paraguay Located?
Let’s start with the basics: where exactly is Paraguay located? We can find out easily by looking at a map of Paraguay. As you can see, the nation is bordered to the north by Brazil and Bolivia and is flanked to the south and the west by Argentina.
Paraguay makes use of two different time zones: PYT (Paraguay Time) and PYST (Paraguay Summer Time). The latter is three hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and ends March of every year. PYT is four hours behind UTC and is used during standard time in Paraguay in the non-summer months.
The flag of Paraguay makes use of red, white, and blue colors to symbolize liberty and independence. The front face of the flag shows the Paraguay coat of arms, with the back showing the seal of the treasury, as can be seen below.
What Is the Capital of Paraguay?
The capital and largest city of Paraguay is Nuestra Senora Santa Maria de la Asuncion—Asuncion for short. The city boasts a population of over 525,000 people and is situated on the left side of the Paraguay River, near Argentina. With a national population of 6.8 million, Paraguay is also home to other large cities, such as Ciudad del Este (population 222,274), San Lorenzo (population 204,356), and Luque (population 170,986).
What Language is Spoken in Paraguay?
There are two official languages in Paraguay: Spanish, the language of the colonial settlers who would form the nation-state, and Guarani, the widely spoken language of the indigenous Paraguayan population. Specifically, Spanish is spoken by about 87% of the population, with Paraguayan Guarani being spoken by more than 90% of Paraguayans. A large percentage of non-indigenous peoples, as well, speak Guarani, a unique phenomenon in the Americas.
How to Get to Paraguay
With all this being said, what’s the best way to get to Paraguay? Most international travelers come in through Silvio Pettirossi International Airport, the largest and most frequented airport in the nation. Flights from JFK Airport in New York City to Silvio Pettirossi International Airport (airport code ASU) average around twelve hours, with flights from Miami, Florida (MIA) to ASU averaging between ten and twelve hours.
Travelers from other destinations experience different flight times. UK travelers from London, for instance, can expect an average of fifteen hours getting from the UK to Asuncion. Spanish travelers flying out from Madrid can expect a shorter flight of around twelve hours.
How to Get Around Paraguay
But getting to Paraguay is just part of the equation. You’ll also want to know the best way to get around once you’ve touched down on Paraguayan soil. There are a variety of transportation methods in the nation, but not all of them are advised.
So what’s best for you and your family? Due to the prevalence of drunk driving and other forms of dangerous driving in Paraguay, it’s generally advised that you don’t drive yourself unless you have experience driving in the country. Rather, it’s better to take a taxi from a designated taxi service so that you can get more safely to and from your desired destinations. Keep in mind if you’re driving yourself that only 10% of the roads in Paraguay are paved, with some being impassable in bad weather.
What Is the Currency Used in Paraguay?
So what money will you be using in Paraguay? The official currency is the Paraguayan Guarani (PYG). As of the time of this writing, 1 USD is equivalent to 6,561 PYG. Other exchange rates are as follows:
- 1 CAD (Euro) equals 4,770 PYG
- 1 pound equals 8,048 PYG
Importantly, a few major credit cards are widely accepted in Paraguay: American Express, MasterCard, and Visa. In order to make a purchase with a credit card, individuals must have their passport on hand. ATMs in Paraguay widely accept Cirrus, Maestro, and Visa cards.
Exchanging currency can be done easily in Paraguay, though USD are accepted in certain locations around the country and in big cities. Understanding how your money works is key to having a good time while vacationing in Paraguay!
Is Paraguay Safe to Travel?
It goes without saying that you don’t want to take your children anywhere that’s not safe. So how safe is Paraguay? Fortunately, this South American nation is ranked as “generally safe” for family travel, particularly for those individuals who are staying in tourist-heavy areas. With that being said, all tourists are advised to watch out for pick-pocketers and petty thieves, who make a living on crowded streets. Of course, all tourists are also advised not to go out at night and take general precautions that are recommended under any travel circumstance.
On the UL Safety Index, Paraguay scores a 60/100, a score that’s commensurate with its developing status. This makes Paraguay comparable to other popular travel destinations such as India (63), though the score is noticeably lower than a country like the United States (83). Still, travel to Paraguay can be fun, exciting, and safe when done by the book!
Best Time to Travel to Paraguay
Knowing this, when’s the best time to plan on that Paraguay vacation? The answer truly depends on what you’re going for. Visiting Paraguay in April or any month until September will allow you to soak up the warm-to-hot weather and give you access to tons of fun carnivals and festivals that are sure to be a blast. That being said, Paraguay in September to early December sees cooler weather for those who don’t like the heat and also offers tantalizingly low rates in comparison, as it’s past peak season.
Ten Best Things to Do in Paraguay
Now that we’ve gone over the logistics, it’s time to look at ten of the best things to do in Paraguay with your kids! These ten activities and places are among the best anywhere in South America, so make sure to check them out for yourself!
1) Itaipu Dam
Kick off your Paraguay adventure by taking a trip to one of the seven wonders of the modern world. Itaipu Dam, considered a marvel of engineering, separates Paraguay from neighboring Brazil and houses the world’s most productive power plant.
In the Guarani language, Itaipu means sounding stone—a fitting name for this towering structure that stands in the place of the world’s former largest waterfall. A look at this incredible dam and the surrounding lake should be included on any family vacation to Paraguay.
2) YBYCUI National Park
Located just 150km away from the capital of Asunción, YBYCUI National Park deserves a high-ranking spot on your bucket list. Home to a number of quality hiking trails, the La Rosada iron foundry ruins, and several distinct waterfalls that are sure to take your breath away, the YBYCUI National Park has everything you want—and more—in a tropical getaway destination.
While you’re there, make sure to check out the beautiful Salto Mina and Salto Guarani waterfalls. These top attractions could just be the highlight of your vacation!
3) Saltos del Monday
Saltos del Monday makes the perfect vacation destination. Located near Ciudad del Este Park, this grand waterfall is one of the top sites in all of South America.
You and your kids will be amazed by the majesty of the plunging falls, which can be accessed by safe hiking trails that are great fun in and of themselves. Just make sure you all bring a camera so you can get that perfect shot.
Looking for something quiet but fun? This town off the beaten path may be just what you want! Encarnacion boasts incredible Jesuit ruins that are great for an afternoon trip and make for the ultimate educational fun. If that’s not enough, it contains the great San Jose Beach, which the whole family will enjoy. Soak up the sun after a morning learning the history and culture of Paraguay!
5) Cerro Cora National Park
One of the more recent national parks in Paraguay, this visually stunning wilderness will make your jaw drop. Cerro Cora National Park boasts stretching savannahs and towering highland terrain. Stand on Muralia Peak and look out at the expanse of breathtaking land.
While you’re there, you may even get a chance to see the native tribes people, who still call the land home. This makes it a great location for a more intimate look at Paraguay and its culture.
6) La Santisima Trinidad de Parana
Alternately known as the “Most Holy Trinity of Parana,” this 18th century relic offers tourists a chance to dive headfirst into the heart of Paraguayan culture. The site was originally home to Jesuit missionaries and indigenous Paraguayans who came together to learn and grow in the Christian faith. Once a vibrant community, the site exists now in ruins, but it still remains one of the most visited historical sites in all of Paraguay.
A trip to La Santisima Trinidad de Parana, which is located in the Parana River area near the Argentina border, is a great way to not just learn but also to feel the history and culture of Paraguay, so make sure to take your family during your next trip to this South American paradise!
7) Triple Frontier
Looking for the best of both worlds? A trip to Triple Frontier gives you even more than that, as you can see up close the junction formed at the barrier between Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil! This incredible location is located near the Itaipu Dam and allows a great view of the surrounding scenery, which includes the breathtaking convergence of the Iguazu and Parana rivers.
Don’t worry—outside of the location itself, there are a number of nearby attractions to check out. Start by visiting the city of Ciudad del Este, the second-largest city in Paraguay!
8) Ypacarai Lake
Ypacarai Lake is actually a huge, tree-studded lagoon complete with beaches and incredible boating opportunities. Take your family out on the water and enjoy the Paraguayan weather in style. Ypacarai Lake is one of the top summer activities in the nation and is perfect for families with kids of all ages.
To make things even better, charming towns such as Aregua are nearby to offer spectacular arts and crafts exhibitions and events. Without a doubt, you’ll want to make this famous destination a part of your upcoming trip!
9) Botanical Garden and Zoo of Asuncion
Around seventy diverse species of animal call the Botanical Garden and Zoo of Asuncion home. This 270-acre park located in the capital city gives you and your kids the chance to see mammals, reptiles, and birds up close while also exploring a diverse range of South American fauna. The site also boasts a natural history museum and a golf club that make it even more primed for fun. Don’t miss out on your chance to visit this one-of-a-kind location!
10) Palacio de Lopez
Palacio de Lopez offers you a chance to add another dimension to your Paraguay vacation. Take your family to see the presidential office and government seat of the nation which boasts incredible 19th century architecture flanked by a number of beautiful palm trees.
The building rests in the center of Asuncion, Placio de Lopez also boasts fantastic night lighting and overlooks a gorgeous bay of water. You’ll want to take a lot of pictures of this grand national building!
Expert Travel Tips
Make your visit to Paraguay smoother and more fun by keeping the following information in mind:
1) English Fluency Is Rare
If you’re looking to get the most out of your trip, you’ll want to brush up on your Spanish before going. While those in the tourism industry will know enough English to give you a serviceable trip, the best way to interact with the locals and get a true feel for the culture of Paraguay is to speak the language of the country.
2) Meat Is King
Vegetarian? You’ll want to know your culinary options before leaving for Paraguay. This meat-loving country is known for consuming all kinds of meat, and even many salads aren’t fit for vegetarians. Of course, delicious foods such as chipa are fine for vegetarians (if you don’t mind lard, that is). You may find it hard to find strictly meat-free options in Paraguay, so you’ll want to be flexible and really know your options before departing.
These tips can help you and your family have the trip you’ve been dreaming of. As such, make sure to keep them and the information in this guide in mind as you plan your Paraguay vacation.