Rosario is the third-largest city in Argentina, birthplace of Che Guevara and Lionel Messi, and home to artists and thousands of students. It’s just a 4-hour bus ride from Buenos Aires to this super livable and chilled out place full of friendly locals, known as Rosarinos, and warm, sunny weather.
Located along the Paraná River, the city has lots of green spaces and a few beaches where people love to congregate and socialize. Known for its neoclassical buildings, great food, and fantastic waterfront, here are several things to do in this patriotic city.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Rosario:
1. Monumento a la Bandera
This monument to the national flag of Argentina is a great place to begin your exploration of Rosario.
The flag was first unveiled in Rosario after its design, and this is one of the city’s few real tourist attractions.
With wide open spaces, an enormous flag, and an eternal flame in memory of the armed forces, it’s quite impressive and patriotic.
You can climb to the top of the main tower for great views, or just take photos amongst the huge columns made out of stone from the Andes.
If you come in the morning, you can watch the raising of the flag at 8:15 AM each day.
2. Parque Urquiza
After stopping by the flag memorial, have a wander through this waterfront park where you can snag a few churros from a nearby vendor or relax with some mate, the traditional, hot, tea-like drink you see Argentines sipping out of special gourds (also called mate) with a metal straw (or bombilla). Do some exercising on the trails and equipment here, or bring some snacks for a picnic.
There’s an amphitheater where occasional performers play and an astronomical observatory within the park.
There’s also a playground for children and lots of bars and restaurants on its edges.
3. Eat Ice Cream
Quite unexpectedly, Argentina’s ice cream is some of the best in the world.
And Rosario is actually the national capital of artisanal ice cream.
The helado here is more like Italian gelato than the ice cream in the States, and dulce de leche is a popular flavor.
There’s plenty of places to taste test it in the city – you’ll have your pick of over 100 heladerías – and plenty of parks to eat it in.
Each year in October there’s an artisanal ice cream festival where over 20 local makers pass out tastings of their delicious handmade products.
The rest of the year, try a couple of flavors at Heladerías Esther (reportedly the best), Yomo, or Touche de Crème.
4. Kayak or Cruise to Explore the Paraná River and Delta
Rosario is proud of its river location.
One of the best ways to see what the Paraná River and delta have to offer is to rent a kayak and get out on the water for the day.
Sure, the river might be a little brown (it’s just silt!), but it’s the second-longest in South America after the Amazon.
It widens around the city and has several islands set within its delta.
Paddle around the city’s waterfront and sandy beaches, or head out and stop for lunch on one of its islands.
Alternatively, you can take a motorboat tour or a cruise from Estacion Fluvial to see more of the canals, agriculture, and rural life just outside the city.
5. Eat Fresh Fish From the River
Argentina might be known as the land of steak, but Rosario’s location on the Paraná means that you should eat some fresh river fish while you’re here.
There are four varieties of freshwater fish available – Surubi, Pacu, Boga, and Dorado.
You can have yours cooked traditionally, over the embers of a wood fire, known simply as pescado a la parrilla.
Or you can have it grilled a little more elaborately, opened up and topped with a variety of accoutrements like vegetables and cheeses.
Pretty much everybody recommends Parilla Escauriza for its fantastic barbecued fish, but there are plenty of smaller fish restaurants in the beachy Florida area.
6. See the Birthplace and Statue of Che Guevara
Rosario is the birthplace of the famous Argentine revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara, and you can walk past his former home within the city.
It’s located in a neoclassical building on Entre Rios 480, though it’s a private apartment now so you can’t go inside.
There’s also a 4-meter tall statue made from 75,000 pieces of donated bronze that was erected in his memory located along 27 de Febrero.
It’s set in a plaza named in his honor.
If that’s not enough for you, there are always plenty of the ubiquitous t-shirts with his likeness on them in Argentina.
7. Museo de Arte Contemporáneo
Also known as the “MACRO,” this museum houses what’s possibly the most important collection of contemporary artwork in the country.
The museum itself is based in an old restored grain silo complex by the river – the creators wanted to preserve the original building.
The 8 silos have been painted different colors and there’s a glass elevator on the exterior that goes to the top.
The museum has 10 stories of artwork, much of it by local artists, and there are great views of the islands from the top floor of the building.
On the ground floor, the sleek riverside cafe Davis offers 180-degree views of the river and is great for drinks afterwards!
8. Visit Isla Espinillo
This is one of the places where locals spend their weekends, and you can get here by public ferry or private boat from the Estación Fluvial.
Arrange to spend the morning horseback riding on the island or trying some water sports like jet skiing or windsurfing.
Then have lunch or drinks at one of the restaurants or bars located there.
From light salads to a full Argentine asado (barbecue), you’ll have options because the island can get pretty lively with visitors.
It’s actually home to about 20 families who live there too.
After lounging in the sun all day, you can take the ferry back to the city in the evening.
9. Teatro El Círculo
Inaugurated in 1904, this historic theater was renovated in 2004 to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
It now functions as a cultural center and stage for many international performers from rock bands to operas.
It has room for 1,450 people within its five levels and the dome of the main room is painted with magnificent frescoes.
Even if you’re not seeing a show here, you can take a guided tour of this elegant theater, which includes a peek at the backstage area.
Rumor has it that the acoustics are great, and they sell champagne and empanadas during intermissions.
10. Parque de la Independencia
This is the city’s largest park, and it contains gardens, a lake where you can rent paddle boats or feed the ducks, and fountains that put on a great “dancing waters” show.
It’s also home to various food vendors, a history museum, a fine arts museum, and a children’s play area.
Also located within the boundaries of the park, you’ll find the fútbol stadium, Estadio Marcelo Bielsa, home to Newell’s Old Boys.
It has its own museum which you can wander inside, but it’s not open on match days.
11. Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes Juan B Castagnino
Located in the Parque de la Independencia, this fine arts museum is named for one of the city’s most important art collectors.
It contains exhibits that change regularly in addition to permanent collections by European, Argentine, and local artists.
The museum has over 3,000 works spread across its 35 rooms, many of which were donated from the private collections of local aristocrats.
Some of the works date back to the 15th century, and the current collection includes paintings by famous artists like Goya, El Greco, and Ribera.
12. La Isla de los Inventos
This is THE place to visit if you have kids with you while traveling through Rosario.
“The Island of Inventions” is an old train station that’s been converted into a place for children to explore, learn, and investigate the sciences, arts, and technology.
There are shows, courses, presentations, and exhibits, but the most popular are the hands-on learning stations.
Kids can try paper making, clay throwing, sawing, soldering, and painting.
There’s also interactive wood-block printing, stargazing, and sand and slides to play on, so kids from very young to teenagers will be entertained.
13. Go to the Beach
Spend an afternoon on one of the city’s sandy riverside beaches.
There’s Catalunya and the slightly nicer La Florida beach where you can lounge, rent chairs and umbrellas, and purchase snacks from vendors.
Or if you’re feeling exclusive, head to one of the nearby private clubs like the Rosario Yacht Club where, if you’re not with a member, you’ll need to pay for a visitor’s day pass.
With that you’ll get access to their bar, restaurant, and amazing swimming pool overlooking the river.
Walk along the water, have drinks at Mojito Beach Bar or Nenina Cocktails, or grab a meal at one of the many casual fish restaurants nearby.
14. Mercado de Pulgas del Bajo
Every city needs a good flea market and Rosario is no exception! Started in 1982, the Mercado de Pulgas del Bajo is one of the oldest markets of its kind in the city.
Just next to the National Flag Memorial, visit on Saturdays and Sundays to see the stalls of more than 50 artisans and craftsmen.
They sell things like small handicrafts, leather goods, silver, candles, incense burners, and mate gourds.
Many of these artisans live solely off the sales of their works, and you’ll see things made from ceramics, metal, paper, and glass.
Grab a choripan (sausage sandwich) from a food cart and do some people-watching; this is a great place for a wander.
15. Explore Rosario’s Dining and Drinking Scene
Locals in Rosario love to go out, and the city itself has a burgeoning culinary scene, with great traditional Argentine fare like steak and Malbec at one of the many parillas in the city, as well as international options like Italian, Spanish, and sushi.
The streets of Avenida Carlos Pellegrini and Pichincha have tons of restaurants serving all types of cuisine.
For a bar with some history check out El Cairo, home to intellectuals and artists, which was written about by the famous cartoonist Roberto “Negro” Fontanarrosa.
Before dinnertime, be sure to try Rosario’s typical aperitif, the Amargo Obrero.
In April, the city hosts an international food festival, with all sorts of meats, wines, confections on offer, and it just recently held its first food truck festival.
16. Museo Histórico Provincial “Julio Marc”
Also located in the Parque de la Independencia, this museum is good for getting some background on local, regional, and national history.
Its collection includes artifacts from several South American cultures, with more than 30 rooms of things like textiles and tools from indigenous peoples, weapons, coins, medals, and Hispanic art.
There’s also a large display about mate and its accoutrements.
And you can learn more about the colonial times and Argentina’s struggle for independence.
17. Spend Time by the Waterfront
A favorite pastime of Rosarinos, spending time by the newly revamped riverside area is fabulous during the day or night.
La Costanera, as it’s called, is filled with grassy spots and sandy beaches where you can have an ice cream and catch some impromptu fútbol matches or street performers.
The promenade is great for a walk, and there are lots of restaurants and bars that line the shores of the river.
This 15-kilometer stretch used to be filled with run-down warehouses, but now it buzzes with establishments and crowds.
After a day out on the water, have some sunset drinks at one of the bars by Estación Fluvial or in the trendy area near the National Flag Memorial.
18. Museo de Arte Decorativo Firma y Odilo Estevéz
Not your average museum, this was once a privately owned house that’s been donated to the city.
The Estevéz family lived here with the elegant and opulent decorations, art collections, and imported furniture and carpets that they accumulated throughout the years.
Along with pieces of Spanish and French furniture that date back centuries, there are many European paintings, sculptures, and works made of glass, ivory, porcelain, and jade.
Unfortunately, you can’t take photos inside, but this “house museum” will transport you to another time.
Check their schedule because they often host performers like flamenco dancers, guitarists, and singers.
19. Alto Rosario Shopping
For some shopping that’s not part of the outdoor market scene, venture to one of Rosario’s newest malls.
It’s been uniquely designed within the structure of a former factory that the English constructed while building the railroads in Argentina.
It has a variety of shops inside the modern building, from clothing to bookstores, with many restaurants and a supermarket too.
It’s a great place to have a look at all the Argentine brands.
There’s also a kids museum and movie theater in this complex.
20. Head Out For Some Nightlife
There’s no shortage of bars and clubs in Rosario, and just like the crowds in Buenos Aires, the locals do love their nightlife.
The large student population keeps the city cool, and you can usually just ask one of them to find out where the best party is that night.
For a serious club atmosphere, head to Madame – it’s (supposedly) one of the biggest nightclubs in South America – with multiple dance floors, a basement, and a huge outdoor patio and terrace.
They play a variety of music like cumbia and reggetón, and they have a stage for performances.
If you prefer a calmer bar or pub atmosphere, head to McNamara or Café de la Flor which now frequently host comedians on the weekends.
21. Mercado Retro La Huella
This “retro” outdoor Sunday market is great for antique collectors, window shoppers, or anyone interested in seeing some old and intriguing goods! The city requires that items sold here be at least 25 years old.
Each week, it draws hundreds of folks looking for treasure amongst things that look like they’ve been emptied from vendors’ attics.
Located along the waterfront near the contemporary art museum, you can find jewelry, clothing, European tableware, old records, cameras, and typewriters amongst the near 70 stalls here.
22. Basílica Catedral de Nuestra Señora del Rosario
A bit plain on the outside, this cathedral is ornate and beautiful on the inside.
As you’re wandering the streets of Rosario, head inside for a quick look (or attend a service if you like). The Italian marble altar is magnificent, as is the architecture of the domes, and the frescoes painted on the ceiling.
Located in the oldest part of the city, the tree-lined Plaza 25 de Mayo is right out front, and the church itself is just next to the municipal building, el Palacio de los Leones.
This area is part of the original settlement of the city, and the first parish was built here in 1731 when Rosario was just a tiny village on the river.
23. Play Golf
There are several great golf clubs and courses in the area, including the historic Rosario Golf Club, the English-style Jockey Club Rosario, and the Molinos Country Club.
They’re known for holding international tournaments and have fabulous facilities and challenging terrain.
Plus, their location along the Paraná River means that golfers will be accompanied by plenty of birdsong and fresh air.
24. Gamble at the City Center Casino
Okay, it’s no Vegas, but the Hotel Pullman built a kind of oasis here for games and gambling.
There are over 3,000 slot machines, 80 table games like craps, blackjack, and roulette, plus a poker room with exclusive tables for Texas Hold ‘Em.
There’s also a bar with flat screen TVs and a restaurant with regular live music and shows.
They typically have taxis waiting outside to take you to the city or back to your own hotel.
The Pullman property also has a big swimming pool and tennis courts for guests of the hotel.
25. Rent a Bike to See the City
If you’ve already explored Rosario by water, then hop on a bike to see the rest of it! From the tree-lined streets and plazas to the neoclassical buildings, you can cruise the city center and the full 15 kilometers of the waterfront area.
It’s one of the most popular ways to explore the city, and this way you can see some of the outer neighborhoods and perhaps check out a viewpoint from one of the bridges.
Bike tours usually last around 3 hours and with a guide you’ll get to learn a little more about the culture and history of the city.
You can even arrange a kayak-and-bike tour of Rosario if you’re feeling really active.