Day Trip Guide:

Colonia, Uruguay

Uruguay Guide:

Day Trip to Colonia

Dates Visited: November 2018

Taking a day trip to Colonia from Buenos Aires, Argentina is super easy since it's only about a 1.5 hour ferry ride between the cities. We will go over how to get to Colonia, Top 5 things to do, and our all-in-all recap of the day.

Coincidentally, we ended up in Buenos Aires during the G20 summit so we met quite a few Argentine citizens that were escaping to Uruguay for the weekend. This made for a a bit of a hectic departure to the small historic town. Nonetheless, once we were there the town seemed quiet enough for a tourist destination and the city itself was absolutely beautiful.

How to get to Colonia

We took the ferry from the Buquebus terminal in BA for our day trip to Colonia. Their office is located on Av. Antártida Argentina 821, about a 40 minute walk from our Airbnb in Recoleta. We compared prices with Sea Cat and Buquebus to find the best deal. You can usually do one of three things with either company:

  • Only Round Trip Ferry round trip from Buenos Aires to Colonia
  • Round Trip Ferry + a walking tour of the town
  • Round Trip Ferry + walking tour of the town + lunch

Both Seacat and Buquebus are reputable ferry companies that we found in Argentina that run back an forth between Buenos Aires and Colonia. Below are a breakdown of their prices and what they offer. Spoiler alert: we ended up choosing Buquebus, mainly because we booked the tickets last minute and SeaCat had already sold out for the day we needed to go. SeaCat actually seemed to have a better value for your money.

Buquebus
  • Basic Round Trip: $63+ USD
    • Return Ticket: Depart Buenos Aires ➳ Return Colonia
  • Day Tour Basic: $72+ USD
    • Return Ticket: Depart Buenos Aires ➳ Return Colonia
    • Guided walking tour of the Historic District
  • Historic Circuit Package: $83+ USD
    • Return Ticket: Depart Buenos Aires ➳ Return Colonia
    • Small Lunch onboard the Ferry
    • Guided walking tour of the Historic District
    • Ticket for the Tourist Bus from port to El Centro
SeaCat
  • Cologne with Guided Walk: $63+ USD
    • Return Ticket: Depart Buenos Aires ➳ Return Colonia
    • Guided walking tour of Historic District
  • Cologne with Food: $72+ USD
    • Return Ticket: Depart Buenos Aires ➳ Return Colonia
    • Small Lunch onboard the Ferry
    • Guided walking tour of the Historic District
  • Cologne with Tourist Bus: $79+ USD
    • Return Ticket: Depart Buenos Aires ➳ Return Colonia
    • Ticket for the Touristic Bus tour of old town

5 Things to do in Colonia

The historic district of Colonia is super small - making it the perfect day trip from Buenos Aires. We opted to do a walking tour, which turned out to be a bus tour due to the rain. It lasted about 15 minutes so we were able to get a lay of the land and briefly learn about the history of the city.

The bus dropped us off in the middle of El Centro, the main part of historic Colonia. The guide recommended we go to the Colonia del Sacramento Lighthouse first to get a better view of the city from above.

1. See the Colonia Sign

Well you made it to Colonia, why not take a picture of the sign to let everybody know where you went. In all honesty, it's really not that much to see since you're looking at it here. However, there are some cool beaches just to either side of the sign. Anyway, if you decide to do the walking tour through Buquebus then this will be one of the stops.

Day Trip to Colonia: Colonia Sign

2. Climb the Colonia Lighthouse

The perfect spot to begin your day trip to Colonia is the historic lighthouse. Construction of the Sacramento del Colonia Lighthouse finished in 1857. At the time it was of great importance for ships navigating through the tricky Río de la Plata. It's now open to the public everyday from 10:00am - 12:30pm and 2:30-6:30pm. However, it will close during rainy weather because the steps are quite slippery when wet.

The cost to climb to the top is 30 Uruguayan Pesos (less than $1 USD) and the ticket is good for the whole day which is absolutely worth it. From the top of the lighthouse you can basically see the whole town and pick the major spots you want to hit.

Day Trip to Colonia: Lighthouse
Day Trip to Colonia: Lighthouse

3. Visit Basílica del Santísimo Sacramento

A short walk from the main square, and visible from the top of the lighthouse, is the Basílica del Santísimo Sacramento. It’s beautiful on the outside, no doubt. But make sure you take the five minutes to walk inside and enjoy the art and statues along the sides of pews.

Open to the public and free of charge, it is actually part of the UNESCO World Heritage site which encompasses the old city of Colonia. The church's parish is one of the oldest in the country, established in 1680 where they gathered in a makeshift mud ranch. However, the present day church dates back to 1810 and has been restored several times. The most recent restoration took place in 1976[1].

Day Trip to Colonia: Church
Day Trip to Colonia: Church

4. Wander through the streets of El Centro

Colonia is an absolutely gorgeous city. Pair this with the fact that the main part of El Centro is quite small and walkable, and you have yourself a perfect spot for a day trip. Founded in 1680 by the Portuguese, this small city is packed full of history. It traded hands multiple times between the Spanish and Portuguese over the years and is now listed as a UNESCO World Hertiage site. [2]

We highly recommend taking at least a few hours to just wander the cobblestone streets as part of your day trip to Colonia. You may find some great artisan crafts in its small shops or stalls along the streets. Whether you're window shopping or looking for a great place to eat, you are bound to find either of these within a five block radius.

Uruguay Guide: Wander the Streets
Uruguay Guide: Wander the Streets
Uruguay Guide: Wander the Streets
Uruguay Guide: Wander the Streets
Uruguay Guide: Wander the Streets
Uruguay Guide: Wander the Streets
Uruguay Guide: Wander the Streets
Uruguay Guide: Wander the Streets
Uruguay Guide: Wander the Streets
Uruguay Guide: Wander the Streets
Uruguay Guide: Wander the Streets
Uruguay Guide: Wander the Streets

5. Grab a bite to eat

The restaurant, El Drugstore, was recommended to us as one of the best places to eat in Colonia. In all honesty, it was a bit overpriced and the food was fairly decent. We figured we would give it a try since we had heard such good things. The free bread and sauce you get with an order was actually our favorite food we got, but their 12 page menu has endless choices.

However, the atmosphere and location of the restaurant are definitely make it worth a visit. It's actually right across the street from Basílica del Santísimo Sacramento so you could easily kill two birds with one stone and see both quite quickly.

Nonetheless, our favorite food we got was some gelato on the way back to the shuttle taking us to the ferry terminal. You can practically find this delicious dessert anywhere, but we found a nice little place on Gral. Flores, the main strip of El Centro in Colonia.

Uruguay Guide: Best places to eat
Uruguay Guide: El Drugstore
Uruguay Guide: Best places to eat
Uruguay Guide: Best places to eat

Where to stay in Colonia

From our experience, we like to use Hostel World to check out potential hostels, then check other booking websites like Booking.com to make our reservations. Sometimes we also message hostels directly to get a better price. We also like to use Airbnb to book accommodations if its a better deal than hostels. Clicking on either of the icons will give you a deal with either of the sites, but are affiliate links so we earn a small commission.

If you want to do more than just a day trip and are looking for somewhere to stay in Colonia, we don't blame you. We really wish we could have stayed for longer than a day, it's definitely a relaxing seaside town with loads of history. Below are a few places of where to stay in Colonia in case you decide to stay a bit longer.

Dorms: $12.00+ USD

Private Rooms: $44.28+ USD

Amenities: Free Wifi, Self-Catering Facilities, Bar/Restaurant, Luggage Storage, Tours/Travel Desk, Outdoor Terrace

Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com

Dorms: $15.00+ USD

Private Rooms: $59.00+ USD

Amenities: Free Wifi, Kitchen, Tours/Travel Desk, 24 Hr Reception, Security Lockers, Adapters available

Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com
Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com

Private Rooms: $32.00+ USD

Amenities: Free Wifi, Free Breakfast, Bicycle Parking, Self Catering Services, 24 Hr Reception, Luggage Storage, Outdoor Terrace, Coffee/Tea, Free City Maps

Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com

All-in-All

If you're in Argentina (especially Buenos Aires) it's definitely worth making the day trip to Colonia. To be completely honest, we were itching to add another passport stamp to our collection and weren't expecting much. However, after talking to a few Argentine citizens living in Buenos Aires, they seemed quite fond of Uruguay in general.

One woman from BA even told us that she thought Uruguayans are much more cultured than Argentines. She was taking the ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia, and then a bus onwards to Punta del Este, or East Point. Only a four hour bus ride from Colonia, this small resort town on the Atlantic is a popular destination for many Argentines. It seemed like almost everybody riding our ferry was heading there to escape the G20 for the weekend. After hearing such great things, we wish we would have stayed a few days longer in Uruguay so we could have made the trip down there.

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By |2019-11-06T08:59:48-05:00November 30th, 2018|Day Trip Guides, South America, Travel Guides, Uruguay|0 Comments

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