At first, we weren’t expecting much from Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay. This small town located less than an hour’s ferry ride from Buenos Aires has proven to be the perfect place to stay for a few days away from the big city.
Most travel books will recommend that you do not spend the night at Colonial del Sacramento, making it just a day getaway. Not us! We enjoyed wandering around the streets of Colonial del Sacramento, eating in the small restaurants. But above all, we were glad to take quality time away from the big city’s hustle of Buenos Aires.
Colonia del Sacramento—Uruguay’s oldest city—is the perfect place for a two-day getaway where history and culture are yours to discover at your own pace.
A HISTORICAL CITY
Colonia del Sacramento was founded in 1680 by the Portuguese. Located at the end of a short peninsula in southwestern Uruguay, this small town of just over 20,000 people used to have a prime location by the banks of the Rio de la Plata just on the other side of Buenos Aires.
To this day, you can explore the magnificent old streets of Colonia del Sacramento, where several small one-storey colonial houses made of stones can be found.
WHAT TO SEE
The historical centre
The greatest attraction of the city of Colonia del Sacramento is to explore its historic centre on foot. It’s very small and magnificent—I’d even say it’s romantic. You can see the ruins of historical houses, walk through the small stone streets along the river, take a break in a café and enjoy the beauty of each building. It’s really quiet and pleasant!
Porton de Campo
Porto de Campo is where the Colonia del Sacramento Tourist Office is located. It is very impressive to see the great wall of defense open with the help of a portico. You almost feel like in tale where the princess awaits her prince to come and rescue her from the great evil dragon.
Yes Haha! A little like that except that in fact, it is a real historical barrier of the city from 1745. I invite you to enter the old city through this door, it will add to your experience!
One of the attractions of the city is this beautiful, impressive lighthouse. You can visit it for 25 RU$, which is $1 Canadian. After climbing more than a hundred spiral stairs and a small unsafe ladder, you will be surprised by the view of the city this lighthouse has to offer.
You can even see Buenos Aires in the background! If you’re like me, you might take a few pictures and hurry back down as soon as possible! I’m usually not afraid of heights, but the narrowness of the lighthouse is something else!
THE MUST-TRY RESTAURANTS
This town is full of little gems. What I like most is that every building is different, a detail that will contribute to your culinary experience.
Puerta 81, Paseo de San Miguel, 70000 Col Del Sacramento, Departamento de Colonia, Uruguay
The perfect place to relax on the terrace and enjoy a delicious hamburger. For real, it doesn’t look like much from the outside, but I invite you to walk through the restaurant to get to the terrace. Its decoration is stunning with all those little green plants.
We spent several hours tasting their home-brewed beers, their Campari made with homemade orange juice and eating their delicious hamburgers! Their menu also offers veggie burgers!
70000 Colonia del Sacramento, Colonia Department, Uruguay
If you want a fancier multi-course dinner, I strongly recommend the Charco Bistro. We went there for a romantic evening. Their seasonal menu will please many people. We opted for provolone cheese grilled and served with herbs and balsamic, their most popular starter.
I continued with the vegetarian option of homemade pumpkin ravioli—a delight—whilemy loved one opted for a huge piece of pork, which he said was delicious. The dessert menu seemed excellent, but with all the food and the bottle of local red wine that accompanied our meal, we were more than full!?
Calle de los Suspiros 90, 70000 Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
Beware of the 4′ 5″ door frame! Hahaha
Once you have taken up the challenge of walking through the door, you enter this charming restaurant. I invite you to eat at the terrace where you can sip a gigantic glass of wine (CAD 5) and taste their cheese and sausage platters. The perfect combo to enjoy your afternoon with a lover or friends!
18 de Julio 267, 70000 Col Del Sacramento, Departamento de Colonia, Uruguay
It’s the first Neapolitan pizzeria in Uruguay! Their pizzas are delicious with their perfectly not too thick crust! If you’re in a hurry one night or want to eat in the park, Napo is the place to be! Besides, it’s really not expensive, you’ll pay about $200UR (CAD 8) for a 10″ pizza.
SOME OF THE BEST HOTELS
It all depends on your budget, I advise you to choose a hotel with a swimming pool during the hot season. It is very hot in summer and having a large pool at your disposal will add to your experience.
Washington Barbot 283, 70000 Colonia del Sacramento, Departamento de Colonia, Uruguay
Price paid: $190/night
We stayed at the Radisson Hotel, mainly for its outdoor space. We rented a room with a balcony overlooking the river. The room was fine, but nothing more. On the other hand, we really enjoyed relaxing by the pool and in the hot tub in the evening. We paid $190 per night, which is still expensive for a small town like Colonia del Sacramento.
We were also recommended to try:
It’s located in the heart of the old town while facing the river
LET’S TALK ABOUT MONEY!
The cost of living in Uruguay
We were surprised to see the big difference between the cost of living in Argentina and Uruguay. Uruguay is much more expensive. To give you an idea, a glass of wine (yes, wine is my ultimate comparison tool ?) in Uruguay costs about CAD 5.50, while in Argentina you pay CAD 3.50. You’re going to tell me that’s only a $2 difference! In fact, it costs almost 50% more. So everything is more expensive: food, hotels, taxis. That’s something to consider!
Do I bring pesos or American money?
Ha! You can bring anything in Uruguay! Of course, people prefer to be paid in Uruguayan pesos, but most merchants will accept Argentine pesos in addition to American dollars.
Get 20% off if you pay with your credit card
What? If I use my credit card I will save money? Yes! You got that right! When paying with a Canadian credit card, you get 20% off your purchase. This discount is applied to encourage tourists to buy local and if you do so, they won’t charge you taxes! That’s pretty awesome!
VISIT ON FOOT!
The city of Colonial del Sacramento is the perfect size, allowing you to walk everywhere. Most of the places we visited were less than a mile away on foot. Besides, once in the historic centre everything’s close by!
I advise you to take your time to visit Colonia del Sacramento. We spent 2 days in the city and we loved it. Visiting the old city and then relaxing by the pool at our resort-style hotel was the perfect match for us!
The calm of the city makes it also pleasant to explore.
Vamos en Colonia del Sacramento!
This post was translated from French to English by:
My name is Aimy and I am a second year-student in translation studies. I discover my truths through my passion for literature, arts and culture. I have a keen eye for beauty, a lust for life. For me, every day is a chance to acquire knowledge and create. As Einstein once said, “creativity is intelligence having fun.”