This post contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you book or purchase through these links. You can read my full disclosure policy here.During my Patagonia trip this past spring, I added on a few extra days to explore Buenos Aires, Argentina. And, since there was easy access, I decided to take a day trip from Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay. It was too close to pass up seeing yet another beautiful, Spanish-speaking country in South America! In case you missed the other articles or you are a new reader of my blog, I have absolutely fallen in love with Latin America! 🔥😍
Uruguay Fun Facts
• Regarded as one of the safest, cleanest, most stable countries in South America
• Nearly 95% of its electricity comes from renewable energy
• Ranked first in Latin America in democracy, peace, low corruption
• Ranked first in South America with press freedom
• Contributes most troops per capita to the United Nations peacekeeping missions
• Ranks first in South America for the absence of terrorism
• Regarded as a high-income country by the United Nations
• Ranked second in South America for economic freedom and income equality
• Perceived as one of the most socially advanced countries in Latin America
• Ranks high globally for the measures of personal rights, tolerance, and inclusion
I will admit that I didn’t exactly choose Colonia del Sacramento willingly. I originally wanted to visit Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. There’s more to see there for obvious reasons. However, there’s something to be said for the underdog. That quiet, unassuming town can sometimes become a surprise knockout which is exactly what happened with Colonia del Sacramento. Allow me to show you around!
About Colonia del Sacramento
Colonia del Sacramento…the oldest city in Uruguay has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995. It is a beautiful, picturesque town that sits on the Río de la Plata facing Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The ruling of Colonia del Sacramento bounced around among Portugal, Spain, and Brazil before Uruguay finally declared its independence in 1825.
Day Trip from Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento
Getting There and Back
We took the Seacat Colonia with service classified as “buque rapido seacat” which in English means the “Seacat express ferry”. The ride is approximately one hour each way and honestly didn’t even seem that long. For booking, we used Colonia Ferry which is a booking service only.
A few reasons I liked them:
- We booked via email with an agent which made for easy understanding and swift ticketing. They have fantastic customer service.
- We didn’t have to print our tickets and could show up with our passports and the gate agent printed them. *We printed ours anyway and I highly recommend this because you just never know.
- They use the fast, one-hour ferries only.
- They use ferries going out of Puerto Madero (main port about 10-15 minutes from the cruise ship terminal) vs the port in La Boca which is way out of the way and not the safest of areas.
- We could pay using PayPal.
We left for Colonia on the noon ferry and returned to Buenos Aires on the 8:45 pm ferry. Our round-trip fare was 108 USD. The ferry on the way over didn’t have many people at all, but the ride coming back was pretty full for obvious reasons.
• Do NOT forget your passport. You will go through customs as you are crossing borders.
• Get to the terminal at least 1 hour in advance. This way you will avoid LONG lines to check-in and go through customs. Also, people start queueing up pretty early and you will want to have your choice of seats.
Things to Do in Colonia
El Torreón is actually an old tower mill converted into a restaurant. We didn’t eat there but I liked its windmill aspect.
The Church and The Plaza
Located in the Plaza de Armas, don’t miss the Basílica del Santísimo Sacramento or The Basilica of the Holy Sacrament. A Roman Catholic parish, it’s apparently the oldest church in Uruguay and retains some of its original stone structure. Because it is located in the historic district, it is included in Colonia’s UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.
View of the Basílica from the lighthouse
Go Between Old and New
Portón de Campo is the city gate and wooden drawbridge built back in the 18th century by the Portuguese governor to protect the city from intrusion. Also known as Puerta de la Ciudadela, it marks the border between Barrio Histórico and the newer part of the city.
Visit the Most Photographed Street in Uruguay
La Calle de los Suspiros or “Street of Sighs” is the most photographed street in all of Uruguay. I’m not surprised that honor would go to a street in this picturesque city. I mean, the most photographed street would have to be in the most picturesque city, right?
La Calle de los Suspiros is in the historic district and therefore a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Running from Plaza Mayor down towards the Rio de la Plata, it has its original cobblestones, is without sidewalks and open to foot traffic only.
Climb El Faro
El Faro de Colonia del Sacramento or Colonia del Sacramento Lighthouse was built in 1857 over the ruins of the San Francisco Convent. For the first time on January 24, 1857, it turned on its lights to help guide ships along the river in the night.
The shining jewel of El Faro is the 360º views of the city and the river from the top. I highly recommend climbing to the top for these views especially near sunset. They are gorgeous!
El Faro Tips
• Must be able to climb around 150 steps to the first (of two) stops
• Cost (as of 2019) to climb is 55 Argentine Pesos (1 USD)
• Cash only
Even if you don’t tour Museo Municipal (we didn’t), you have to at least walk by to see the enormous whale skeleton they have visible from the street! The museum apparently houses all kinds of exhibits from the city’s prehistoric to modern times.
Street Photography of Colonia
Colonia del Sacramento is the perfect, phenomenal location for street photography. If that’s your thing, you most definitely need to visit this historic, gorgeous city! Street photography isn’t easy and definitely requires “an eye”. I’m working on my “street photography eye” as I tend to have a better eye for wildlife photography and aerial photography. However, Colonia del Sacramento is, in my opinion, so picturesque it doesn’t need much help.
Go on, take a look below and you’ll see what I mean!
Calle Portugal with Basílica of the Holy Sacrament in the background
Walking along Calle Portugal
Sycamore tree with a palm tree in the middle
The tree-lined streets are gorgeous and provided shade. I’m pretty certain I’ve never seen sycamore trees and palm trees side by side!
On Calle de los Suspiros
How unique is this flower? I still have no idea what it is!
Colorful buildings in Colonia del Sacramento
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Windows and Doors of Colonia
Everywhere I turned there were beautiful doors and windows that photographed nicely!
Outside of Restaurant Rio de la Plata
Cool doors and windows on Calle de los Suspiros. I love the cat painted beside the door on the red walls!
Corner of Calle de los Suspiros closest to the Rio de la Plata
Beautiful door featuring bougainvillea
This black door on a pink exterior was one of my favorites and is located right across the street from the rust-colored window on brick.
Beautiful Hotel La Misión in Colonia del Sacramento
My other favorite was these pinks walls with the bike which led right into a cool brick building with the sunset in the background!
Cars of Colonia
Colonia del Sacramento is actually known for its old cars. We didn’t see as many as we had hoped for, but we did get an interesting bonus.
I just liked this street view with the motorcycle in the foreground. There is a hint of the interesting bonus in there though. Can you find it?
If you guessed this red machine, you are correct! I’ve never seen anything like it before and so I proceeded to photograph it from all angles. I’m sure the owner was amused if he was watching!
Finally, an old car…with plants in its open trunk!
This was probably my favorite of all the cars we saw!
Animals of Colonia
C’mon…if you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you didn’t think I’d leave out a chance for animals did you?
This is the “You Lookin’ At Me” pigeon sitting on the ruins of the Convent of San Francisco
Lucky cat enjoying a fresh catch…literally!
I just loved this dog looking down Calle de Los Suspiros
Restaurants of Colonia
While you’re there you gotta eat or I would recommend that you do anyway!
We ate lunch at Vintage Resto. They have great food, indoor/outdoor seating, and friendly English speaking employees. My friend and I shared this margarita pizza and some fries (I was just in the mood) and they were fantastic!
• They take Argentine Pesos, Uruguayan Pesos, Visa and Mastercard
A little later on in the day, we stopped in at Cali (next door to Vintage Resto) for an afternoon treat. When in Argentina and Uruguay, dulce de leche people. Dulce. De. Leche. It’s amazing. So we had the dulce de leche ice cream. I’m not a huge ice cream fan, but I ate dulce de leche every chance I got!
I even bought jars (yes, plural…don’t judge) of Uruguayan dulce de leche to bring home. I brought back Argentine dulce de leche too but we’ll save that for another post. 😉
While we did not eat there, Restaurant Rio de la Plata is cute and looks like a great option.
Trendy OPB dressed up for St Patrick’s Day and getting ready to party!
One of the trendiest, chicest places I’ve seen anywhere I’ve traveled is OPB which is Orientales La Patria y La Birra, a name that’s a nod to the Uruguay national anthem. See that Chevy? It plays an interesting role and you will want to read the unusual story.
Returning Back to Port
It was finally time to head back to Colonia Port which I must say had a ton of seating, was air-conditioned, and even have multiple places to eat. BUT…even though there was a ton of seating, there were a ton more people.
If you are taking a return peak-time ferry, I recommend getting there at least an hour before departure, but really 1.5 hours is best unless you want to be in a long security line and then be in the back of the LONG queue that (again) starts quite early.
On the way back we saw the old train station, the first in Colonia. I loved the sunset reflecting off it. There’s also a large Colonia sign (letter-style) here too.
It was a calm, relaxing day. We didn’t have to start our day crazy early and we didn’t have an ultra-late return. It was the perfect amount of time to enjoy the sights and food. Definitely make the day trip from Buenos Aires to the gorgeous, historic town of Colonia del Sacramento a priority on your itinerary!
Have you been to Colonia? If so, what was your favorite part about it? Let me know below! 😊
‘Til next time…
Leave a Reply - I Love Comments!
Sam Sees World says
Wow, this looks like such an exciting adventure! Everything is so colorful and vibrant, looks like a trip thats right up my alley. Also, I am a huge ice cream fan and just seeing the photos of the dulce de leche made my mouth water. I think I would be eating that multiple times a day!
Hi Sam-That dulce de leche was absolutely amazing! Colonia is definitely colorful and vibrant so you would enjoy it. Thanks for reading! 🙂
Love seeing how vibrant it is over there. The food looks great and would to try it myself someday. Your photos made me feel like I was there, loved how through this post was!
Hi! So glad you enjoyed the post and I hope you get to go soon. Thanks for reading! 🙂
Christine | The Traveloguer says
Colonia del Sacremento looks so pretty, especially Calle de los Suspiros. I love dulce de leche SO much, I’d be eating it non stop!
I really enjoyed reading your facts about Uruguay, too, I had no idea about the renewable energy.
Hi Christine-I was surprised at what all I learned about Uruguay as well! Calle de los Suspiros is beautiful and the dulce de leche…yum, I wish I was there now to get some more! Thanks for reading! 🙂
You brought up so many memories with this post, Hubby and I did this trip 12 years ago on our honeymoon. Thank you
Hi Ania-Glad it allowed you to reminisce! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Wendy P says
I have to admit I have never even heard of Colonia del Sacramento. After reading your post I definitely want to visit. It seems like you got to so much with only doing a day trip. The town looks beautiful. I think my favorite part would be the Lighthouse views they are gorgeous. The ferry ride even sounds like fun. How was the heat? Would going during colder months be just as great?
Hi Wendy-Colonia was definitely gorgeous. It wasn’t immediately on my radar either. I was intending to go to Montevideo. But I’m so glad I did Colonia! The ferry ride was fun and fast. The heat wasn’t bad actually. But I’m from Alabama where even now mid-September we’re still rocking nearly 98 degrees with an heat index of 110 and 80-90% humidity so I’m not a good one to ask on that. I felt the heat was pretty great for March (which is starting their fall). I also love winter and touring in winter months so for me it would be great too. So if you like the cooler months, then definitely go when it’s cooler! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Everything looks so quaint and charming in this town. I like the cobblestones in the Calle de Los Suspiros, no wonder this is the most photographed street in Uruguay! When I stayed in Buenos Aires many years ago, I could see the coast of Uruguay from my window, it looks as this place had a view of Argentina as well!
Hi Delphine-Yes the cobblestones of Calle de los Suspiros are beautiful! And also correct, you can see Buenos Aires from Colonia. I have a photo of it in the post, but I think I forgot to label it as such so thanks for the reminder and for reading! 🙂
Travel with Mei and Kerstin says
Colonia looks like such a charming town. Both Uruguay and Argentina are on our bucket list, so we hope to visit these countries soon. And when we do we’ll try to make a day trip to Colonia too. The whale skeleton that you saw from the street is awesome, we’re looking forward to visiting the museum too. By the way, love your photo of the beautiful cat enjoying its daily catch! It looks a bit like our kitten Maya, except that he’s not allowed to eat fresh fishes. haha…
Hi Mei and Kerstin-You will LOVE Argentina and Uruguay. I fell in love with South America starting with Peru and Argentina and Uruguay just continued that love! Yep, whale skeleton and that museum will be right up your alley. There are lots of kitties in Colonia but I couldn’t believe we caught that one eating that fresh of a catch. I have dogs but they wouldn’t be allowed to do that either! LOL! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Mohana Das says
Such a detailed and informative post, covers all the bases and piques the reader’s interest too! Colonia Del Sacramento looks like an eclectic mix of everything a destination needs to be, quiet and vibrant, elusive yet ever-present with its charm. The view from the top of El Faro looks amazin!! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Hi Mohana-Yes, you have described Colonia perfectly as it is all those things! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Nancy Williams says
I love old cobblestone streets – so picturesque! This looks like a great trip. I also love the pictures you have taken of the windows. You have a great eye! OMG the Dulce looks like it could be worth the trip alone!
Hi Nancy-Thank you so much! I absolutely love photography and old windows and doors. The dulce de leche was to die for!! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Kevin | Caffeinated Excursions says
I am so glad you had the opportunity go to check out Colonia, Heather!! It is so lovely and you’ve done an amazing job capturing its more subtle details in this post. Even though I went earlier this year, I still learned quite a lot by reading this; for example, I had no idea that La Calle de los Suspiros was the most photographed street in the country. I was also expecting a ton of old cars like they have in Havana, but I think I might’ve only seen one the entire day. That little red buggie is definitely an interesting alternative, though!
Hi Kevin-Thank you! Yes, we were definitely expecting more old cars. My friend has been to Havana too and was thinking it would be like that and we didn’t see many, but the little red car was interesting! La Calle de los Suspiros is beautiful isn’t it? Thanks for reading! 🙂