Rosario is located 300km (186 miles) Northwest of Buenos Aires, on the Western shore of the Paraná River in the province of Santa Fe. It's around 3-4 hours drive from the big capital or 4-5 hours by bus. This makes it the ideal weekend getaway from Buenos Aires, or a nice way to break up the journey if you're heading West to Córdoba or Mendoza.
Rosario rivals Córdoba as the country's 2nd city. It has around 1.3 million inhabitants and has always maintained a very relaxed and tolerant attitude, which is what makes it so gay friendly. What other reason to come to Rosario? (Other than being the birthplace of Che Guevara and Lionel Messi…?)
“The ice cream of course!”
The locals proudly boast of having the best ice cream in the world (outside of Italy) and certainly the best in the country. This is our gay travel guide to Rosario based on our own experience, which includes details about the gay scene, best places to stay, things to do, where to eat, travel tips and more.
Gay travel to Rosario at a glance
Overall, gay travel to Argentina is safe. Whilst some homophobic chauvinistic “machismo” attitudes prevail in the more rural areas, places like Rosario are very gay friendly.
Rosario has long been a well known gay haven in Argentina. For example, whilst there are no anti-discrimination laws for sexual orientation or gender identity nationwide, Rosario is one of the few provinces which has sexual orientation in their civil rights and all anti-discrimination laws.
In addition, it has a rainbow crossing near the main Bandero Square, a “Paseo de Diversidad” square honouring the LGBTQ community located in Plaza Roberto Arlt, and even an LGBTI rainbow house at Córdoba 3650 that you can visit for information, guidance and advice on LGBTI rights.
As a gay couple, we felt very welcome in Rosario and never had any problems booking double beds. In relation to the gay scene, it's a lot of fun. Whilst not as big as the gay scene of Buenos Aires, you'll still have a great time.
Gay hotels in Rosario
Most hotels in the city are very open and welcoming to LGBTQ travellers. These were the ones that we either have first-hand experience of or were highly recommended by locals and fellow gay travellers we met:
Hotel Plaza del Sol
Why we love it
- Budget and gay friendly option
- Rooms come with private balconies
- Sauna, spa and swimming pool
- On-site restaurant and bar
Plaza del Sol is located on San Juan Street, which used to be the original gay cruising area around 50 years ago before there were any real gay hangouts.
Locals will also be quick to point out this is Ricky Martin's hotel choice when visiting the city!
And why wouldn't he, with private balconies and hydromassage baths in the rooms, as well as a sauna for relaxing?
We found it to be an excellent budget gay friendly option in downtown Rosario, close to the Bandera Monument and other popular attractions. You'll also be close to La Fluvial where you can catch a ferry to the nearby beaches and islands in the Paraná River.
Guests at Plaza del Sol can avail themselves of the spa facilities and fitness room as well, or perhaps enjoy a meal in the on-site restaurant. The indoor swimming pool has views across the city from the windows, and the lobby bar is a lovely spot for a drink before going out for the night.
STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL
Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, voiding any nasty surprises when you check in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off our first booking.
Puerto Norte Design Hotel
Why we love it
- Quirky design hotel
- Rooftop pool and sundeck
- Lovely spa and sauna
- Stunning views from all rooms
With a very quirky outside appearance built around old silos, Puerto Norte ticks all the boxes: sexy design, rooftop swimming pool, central location and welcoming service.
It's located in the scenic riverside area of Rosario offering impressive views over the Paraná river.
The interior is very sleek and stylish with big comfortable bedrooms.
Our room at the Puerto Norte Design hotel offered stunning views over the river as well as their gorgeous restaurant. A yummy breakfast is served daily in the restaurant Fausta Cocina and you can work out in the gym, swim on the rooftop pool or just relax on the sundeck. Bar service is also available on the rooftop, perfect for a romantic cocktail at sunset!
Hotel Pullman City Center Rosario
Why we love it
- Huge rooftop terrace and pool
- On-site casino, restaurant and bars
- 5-star hotel and spa
- Fitness centre and tennis courts
Famous for its casino, the Pullman Hotel within the Rosario City Center complex is actually a chain brand and, despite the name, is located a good 25 minutes taxi ride south from the heart of town.
It's worth the drive though; arriving here you feel like you're James Bond about to set foot into Casino Royale!
There are three different bars and a central entertainment room that hosts live music performances.
This is also a famous venue for marrying couples to come for photo shoots or receptions; in fact, superstar football player Lionel Messi married his childhood sweetheart here in 2017.
We also love the fact that the Pullman has a large fitness centre with a modern gym, tennis courts, as well as both an indoor and outdoor pool. There's also a spa offering massages, a sauna and a variety of relaxing treatments.
Go on a romantic boat cruise
One of the best ways to see the beauty of Rosario is from the Paraná River on a very romantic boat cruise. See how much native wildlife you can spot as you sail between the numerous islands as well.
Rosario Global House
Why we love it
- Colourful and friendly budget choice
- Free breakfast included
- Lovely terrace for relaxing or socialising
If you're travelling to Rosario on a budget then look no further than the Rosario Global House, a colourful and gay friendly hostel.
Close to the city centre and all the main sights, you'll also only 900 metres away from Rosario's main bus station.
You can choose from sleeping in a bunk in the dorms, a private double or a room with four beds if you're travelling with friends/family.
There's a large lounge area where you can watch TV and meet other travellers as well as a lovely leafy outdoor terrace to relax, socialise or have a BBQ. The well-stocked kitchen for doing your own cooking is another way to keep costs low.
It's also pet-friendly, which is rare for a hostel! Staff are very friendly and willing to help you with recommendations or organising your onward travels.
Gay bars in Rosario
Most of the bars in Rosario are gay friendly, attracting a mixed crowd. With regards to exclusively gay-only bars, sadly, the country's economic recession hit the gay scene of Rosario quite harshly, causing many of them to either close down or to become “mixed” in order to survive. These are our favourite bars in Rosario for the city's queer community:
- Kika Arte Restobar: Kika used to be the official gay bar of the city but is now more “mixed”. It's decorated in a kitsch, quirky style, just like the Pedro Almodovar film, “Kika”. We found it a great place to come to start the evening with a few cocktails. It will usually have a drag show (in Spanish) before it becomes a big dance floor. Kika is open Thursday-Sunday from 9pm and also hosts the city's annual pride in February. You'll find it at 1580 Urquiza.
- Bar del Mar: a plush and chic gay friendly bar, open Thursday to Saturday from 8pm until 6am. Serving up tapas and a variety of cocktails they have regular parties with live DJs as well as nights where they host magic or comedy performers! Bar del Mar is located on the corner between Balcarce and Tucuman streets.
- Bar El Cairo: a large and historic bar located in an old mansion. El Cairo is famous for being a meeting place of local, national/international artists and intellectuals. It's since been renovated and become a location for cultural events, milongas and live music performances. Bar El Cairo is located at Santa Fe 1102 and is open Monday-Thursday from 8am until 1am, Friday/Saturday from 8am until 2am and on Sundays from 5pm til 2am.
Experience Rosario's history and art
Rosario is an interesting and lively port city, make sure you explore it! One of the coolest spots we love is the “Arte a la Vista” which is an urban museum area with huge murals.
Gay clubs in Rosario
Argentinians do everything late. Dinner is after 10pm, drinking in bars after midnight and clubs don't get busy until at least around 2am, so be sure to factor in a disco nap before heading out! These are the main gay clubs and parties to look out for in Rosario:
- El Refugio: one of the longest-running gay clubs in Rosario, El Refugio (the Refuge) aims to be a unique space where you are socially free. They have regular shows and also host voting parties for the Miss Trans competition. It attracts a wide mix of the LGBTQ family and gets busy after midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. El Refugio is located at 847 Laprida.
- Fiesta Puerca: this is a popular Saturday gay party from Buenos Aires, which takes place in Rosario every few weeks at a new location. They play fantastic music, which is a mix of the best Latino tunes, and have cute go-go boy dancers leading the dancing. Entry is 250 pesos ($14) per person and includes free drinks.
- Fiesta Plop: this is the other big fortnightly Saturday gay party which alternates with Fiesta Puerca, to ensure there's always a big event happening on the weekend. Location changes, so follow their Facebook page to keep up to date.
- La Casa de Cristal REPORTED AS PERMANENTLY CLOSED: La Casa de Cristal has three different bars spread out over the building with different DJs, lighting and vibes in each section. This is a fun place to come to dance the night away and they often have 2-for-1 specials. They're open on Friday and Saturday nights until 5.30am and located at 1159 Avenida Pellegrini. However, as of mid-2020, La Casa is reported as closed. Whether this is due to Covid19 or not, we will keep monitoring and keep our guide fully updated.
Gay events in Rosario
Whilst there are no outrightly gay events in Rosario, these are some of the city's best annual festivals worth checking out when planning your trip here:
- Carnival (February): Carnival is a big deal throughout Argentina and in Rosario it's no different. Parties take place in the local clubs, there are parades in the streets and even costume competitions. With incredible outfits and music everywhere you go this is definitely a fantastic time to visit the city. Keep an eye on the pages for the bars and clubs we've mentioned here to see what they will be doing for Carnival!
- FIAR (April): The Rosario International Food Fair takes place over four days in April every two years. While this is partly an industry event, if you happen to be in town when it takes place you can also visit to experience tastings, free cooking seminars, master classes, lectures and workshops on everything from bartending to food styling to photography. Definitely an event for the hardcore foodies!
- National Flag Day (June): On the 20th of June people all around the country commemorate the death of Manuel Belgrano, the man who designed Argentina's flag. The first time this flag was raised was on one of the islands facing Rosario (opposite where the monument now resides) so, of course, the city has a huge parade and celebration in honour of this. You can also witness a few hundred locals carrying the largest Argentine flag in the world through the streets.
- Latin American Video Festival (September): In September Rosario hosts the Latin American Video Festival which makes this is the perfect time to visit if you're a bit of a cinema buff. The event takes place over a week with film screenings, competitions, conferences and lectures held in different locations throughout the city. Keep an eye on the Rosario tourism website for specific dates and details.
Things to do in Rosario
Since Rosario is Argentina's third largest city there's plenty to do and see, although it's refreshingly not as touristic as some places. Most of our favourite things are clustered near the riverfront, which in itself is a great area to explore. Here are our top picks of things to do in Rosario:
The Bandera Monument
Rosario is famous for being the city where the flag of Argentina was first raised in 1812. And of course, the Argentinians not being the type of people to shy away from a bit of drama, they created this enormous beautiful monument dedicated to its memory. Argentinians come here from afar to pay their respects to their country's flag and it's creator Manuel Belgrano. We were amazed by the immensity of the monument. You can climb to the top of the tower for stunning views over the city and this is also the best spot to experience the National Flag Day celebrations on the 20th June (see the events section above).
A great way to explore the waterways of the Paraná Delta is via a boat or kayak tour. Kayaks can be rented as part of a group tour or individually, and are a lovely way to explore as you float along keeping an eye out for wildlife. The Paraná River is brown due to silt, not pollution, so you'll be almost guaranteed to see plenty of birds, turtles, lizards and fish on your excursion, which can also include lunch. Kayak and boat hire can be organised through the city's Estación Fluvial (River Station).
Eat some ice cream!
Remember we said that Rosario's ice cream is the best in the country? It's so popular that the Association of Ice Cream makers has their annual conference here every August. At least that's what every Rosarian will tell you. What better excuse than to just test it out for yourself – you won't regret it! If you happen to be here in February there's also an ice cream festival take place where you'll get to taste lots of delicious flavours for free. Read more about our favourite food of Argentina while you're at it.
Our favourite park in the heart of the city is also the biggest: Parque Independencia. Here you can rent your own paddle boat to ride around in the small lake and make friends with the local ducks. There are various gardens, follies and fountains to discover as you wander in the park or perhaps relax with a picnic. If you don't feel like a picnic there are plenty of food vendors within the park too, along with the Newell’s Old Boys football club/stadium and a children's playground area. Make sure you also check out the Museo Histórico Provincial here to learn about Rosario's history.
Che Guevara's Legacy
Rosario is the city where famous revolutionary Che Guevara was born before his family moved to Alta Gracia near Córdoba where he grew up. ‘Che' fans can visit a 4 metre-tall statue in his memory at a small park between 27 de Febrero and Laprida. The statue is made out of 75,000 bronze keys donated by Argentines nationwide and weighs 2.7 tons. You can also visit the house where he was born, Entre Ríos 480; although you'll only be able to take photos from outside as it's now privately owned.
It's pretty incredible how close to the city the Paraná River's array of small islands are. During our stay in Rosario, we took a 2-hour boat cruise along the Paraná River, passing by some of those islands with beautiful views of the city. It's a fun way to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon with a group of friends, nursing a hangover from Fiesta Puerca! You'll also be able to see lots of wildlife and enjoy the sun if you're visiting during the summer. This boat tour through the Paraná Delta is the perfect combination of adrenaline and relaxation.
Argentina is famous for its wines with different growing regions spread throughout the country. In Rosario, we went on a ‘virtual wine tour of the country' by sampling the differences between a variety of wines (and grapes) that come from the high altitude vineyards of Mendoza to the cooler plains of Patagonia. This wine tasting session is a great way to get to know the best white, red, and sparkling wine varieties of Argentina, paired with some yummy snacks as well!
Discover the city's history
While Rosario might not be as big and vibrant as Buenos Aires, this port city is filled with interesting historical sites to explore. The main landmarks such as the Old Customs House and National Flag Memorial are well worth a visit, as are the huge murals at the “Arte a la Vista” Urban Museum area. Make sure you take some time to learn about Rosario's most famous former residents as well as discovering the beautiful colonial architecture on an informative walking tour, or by visiting some of the local museums.
Explore the art museums
Aside from the amazing murals to be seen outdoors in the Arte a la Vista area of Rosario, the city is also home to a couple of very cool art museums. Located in what used to be grain silos (as you can see in the picture) is Rosario’s Museum of Contemporary Art or MACRO. It features ten floors of modern art, mostly by young local artists. The viewing area at the top of the building is also a great spot to see wonderful views over the city and river. If you're more interested in classical art then the Municipal Museum of Fine Arts Juan B. Castagnino is considered to be the best fine arts museum in the country, outside of Buenos Aires.
Relax on the beaches and islands
Even though Rosario is located on a river, there's a surprising number of sandy beaches and small islands that are popular among locals and visitors. From the Estación Fluvial you can catch a ferry 15-minutes north of the city to the main beach areas or islands. The water is only brown because of silt so if you can get past that it's a delightful area for swimming, relaxing or partaking in fun activities such as kayaking and kite-surfing. There are also plenty of restaurants, cafes and places to rent chairs etc. The most popular island is El Banquito de San Andrés, while the beaches of Catalunya and La Florida are also worth a visit.
Gay friendly restaurants
Alongside the classic Argentinian parrillas (steak houses), Rosario is a city dominated by the Paraná River, so freshwater fish like surubí, pacu and boga feature prominently in the diet. Here are a few of the best restaurants we found and loved in Rosario:
Sunderland Bar is one of the city's highly rated restaurants, filled with an eclectic mix of memorabilia covering the walls. It has an old style (working) telephone box from the early 1900s, which made Sebastien nostalgic for another era. Every table features a sheet telling you all about the history of the place and sometimes one of the staff will play on the piano to provide a truly romantic ambience. The food is also superb; if you're all steak-ed out they also do a mix of homemade pastas and a delicious goat cheese provoleta.
Escauriza Parilla is one of the best fish restaurants in the city. You should call and book in advance because it gets very busy. Boga fish is the local specialty, which is served like a pizza with lots of melted cheese and tomato on it. A healthy delight! There are also delicious seafood empanadas, paella and meat dishes available. We loved the views from the open-air gallery looking out over the river. Staff are very attentive and portions are large, so just keep that in mind when ordering.
Pasión por las Brasas
Pasión por las Brasas is an excellent parrilla for bife de chorizo (sirloin steak), delicious wines and homemade empanadas. The brainchild of local chef Damián Delorenzi, Pasión por las Brasas specialises in traditional Argentinean cooking on coals, as well as incredible desserts like a chocolate volcano! While it gets busy here (make sure you book your table ahead of time) the ambience is lively and the service is also excellent. Chef Damián also has a youtube show if you're interested in learning how to recreate some of the dishes at home.
Negroni Bistro Bar
Negroni Bistro Bar: for something different, try this ‘Sex and the City' style bistro bar, popular for their creative cocktails and gourmet sushi. This place offers a real fusion of cuisines, along with the sushi many dishes are a blend of Italian/American cuisine, such as antipasti and paninis. Come here for a delicious meal or just some fancy drinks before hitting the bars and clubs. On Sundays Negroni also serves up an extensive brunch menu from 12.30pm until 4.30pm; a fabulous and delicious way to nurse that hangover from the night before!
Punto Mercado Holistico
With so many meat and fish options in Rosario you'd be forgiven for thinking there's nothing here for vegans and vegetarians but you'd be wrong! Punto Mercado Holistico is a really cool vegetarian restaurant and market with plenty of vegan options. The decor is cute and cosy, sort of a cross between an old fashioned cafe and your grandma's house. You can purchase lots of organic goods, natural cosmetics and healthy food products, sit down for a delicious meal or get something to take-away. On top of all that Punto is an art gallery as well!
Before you go
We've put together some handy hints and tips to help you plan your own trip to Rosario. Read on to find out everything the gay traveller should know before they go.
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How to Stay Safe Whilst Traveling?
As gay travelers, safety is our #1 priority! This is why we've put together our Ultimate Travel Safety Checklist for LGBTQ travelers.
Visa requirements: if you're travelling to Argentina from most EU countries, USA, Canada or Australia then you don't need a visa to stay in the country for up to 90 days as a tourist. You'll still need a valid passport, of course, and proof of onward travel if you arrive by plane. Check your personal visa requirements here if you're unsure.
Getting around: the main centre of Rosario is easy to get around by walking and there's a local bus system which can be navigated using the Movi Rosario App. Rosario also has an extensive public bike scheme called Mi Bici Tu Bici if you'd like to explore the city by bicycle. The cycling network is almost as large as the one in Buenos Aires, so cycling is a great (and fun) option for exploring.
Power Plugs: in Argentina, there are two main types of power plugs used; type C which is common in Europe and type I which is mainly used in Australia, New Zealand, China and the South Pacific. If you're travelling from another country such as the United States then you will need to bring a travel adaptor with you.
Travel insurance: make sure you have travel insurance for your trip to Rosario, as you can always encounter difficulties like cancelled flights, theft, injury or illness. We always use WorldNomads Travel Insurance because we know we will be well looked after in case something goes wrong. It's easy to make a claim online and their coverage is very comprehensive.
Vaccinations: there aren't really any vaccinations that are required when travelling to Argentina but you should be vigilant about using mosquito repellent as mosquitoes can be carriers of many diseases. The CDC does recommend that travellers to Argentina be vaccinated for Typhoid and Hepatitis A though, especially if you will be travelling to rural areas. For more detailed information check out the CDC website here.
Currency: the currency used in Argentina is the Argentine Peso, which is abbreviated to ARS. €1 is worth around 48.50 Argentine Pesos and $1 is about 43.25 pesos.
Tipping culture: Argentina is not a country with a real tipping culture so don't feel like you need to tip. You can do so if you really want to show appreciation for good service in a restaurant or for your tour guide, for example.
Internet access: most hotels, restaurants, cafes and the like will have free WiFi although it might not always be the fastest or most reliable service in Rosario. If you want to make sure you will be able to get online easily take a portable WiFi device with you or pre-order a local sim card.
Online privacy: Argentina is one of the most gay-friendly countries with very progressive laws. You will not have to worry about using gay dating apps like Scruff or Grindr when visiting Rosario. If you do prefer to keep your online activities private then we recommend ExpressVPN as it's a reliable and affordable way to get online with privacy.
Accommodation: if you want to see some more accommodation options for Rosario then make sure you check out the Booking.com website. We love to use Booking.com because they have the best prices, excellent customer support (24/7) and it's easy to book online.
Sightseeing and adventure: for more things to do in Rosario check out GetYourGuide which we use to find the best tours and activities whenever we travel. They also have wonderful 24/7 customer support, the booking process is very easy and there are so many choices available.
When to visit: Rosario experiences quite warm summers and fairly cold winters, so if you want to time your visit with summer remember that the summer months are December, January and February in the southern hemisphere. If you want to time your visit to one of the best events in the city, then check back to our events section!
Gay map of Rosario
We've put together this map for you of all the gay hotels, bars, clubs, restaurants and things to do that we've mentioned in this article. Use it to help plan your own fabulous gay holiday to Rosario.
For more inspiration:
- Use our detailed LGBTQ travel guide to Argentina to help you plan your trip.
- Find out more about what it's like growing up gay in Argentina in our interview with Juanjo from Buenos Aires.
- Find out more in our best traditional foods to try in Argentina.
- Read more in our interesting facts about Argentina you didn't know.