A quick boat ride across the Rio de la Plata brought us from the busy scene of Buenos Aires to the more laid back cobblestone streets of Colonia del Sacramento. Like many tourists visiting this Uruguayan city, we only stayed a short while. But, we thoroughly enjoyed wandering the streets to experience what it has to offer. This Colonia del Sacramento City Guide will offer some insight to help you plan your trip here.
Getting to Colonia del Sacramento
Though there are no major airports in Colonia del Sacramento, it is still very easy to reach by bus or ferry. If coming from Buenos Aires, the ferry is the most popular option. It isn’t too pricey and ferries run daily between the two cities. The ease of taking the ferry makes Colonia a popular quick getaway among those living in or visiting Buenos Aires. For more detailed information on taking the ferry, check out our post!
Buses are also an easy way to get to Colonia del Sacramento. We traveled along the coast and found the buses to be very convenient. They run frequently between Uruguay’s coastal cities, including Montevideo, Punta del Este, and Punta del Diablo. In Uruguay, it is quite easy to book tickets online in advance. COT and Turil are popular companies, and you can check the bus schedule here.
Getting Around Colonia del Sacramento
Colonia del Sacramento is very walkable, and we think that is the best way to see it! There are quite a few things to do while you’re there, and many of the attractions, accommodation, and restaurants are concentrated in and around the historic center.
For a more speedy way to get around town, there are bike and car rental places. Thrifty offers golf carts and little enclosed golf cart-type vehicles to cruise around town in. Taxis are also an option and are mainly used for transport between the ferry, bus terminals, and accommodation.
Where to Stay
There is a good range of accommodation in Colonia del Sacramento, from budget hostels to pretty suites and entire apartments. Airbnb offers quite a few great options, so we recommend checking that out. We only stayed one night in Colonia, so we opted for a simple hostel. Following are a few good hotel options.
El Viajero Colonia Hostel & Suites – Budget
- A lively hostel in the historic center with dormitories and private rooms and a nice common area great for meeting other travelers.
Solares de Araus – Mid-range
- Apartments with simple kitchenettes and river views just up the coastline from the historic center.
Charco Hotel – High end
- A nice hotel in the historic center with a lovely rustic-modern ambiance, a restaurant, and pretty gardens and river views.
Where to Eat in Colonia del Sacramento
Colonia has some great eateries offering traditional Uruguayan dishes. As you walk the streets, you’ll see many restaurants advertising parrilla, a large grill of meats and veggies, and chivitos, which are tasty sandwiches. Places like Carrito los Farolitos and Mi Carrito offer quick grab-and-go options to give you a taste of Uruguayan cuisine.
For beers, burgers, and other bar eats, try Bocadesanto or Choperia Mastra. Dos 22 and NAPO have great Italian dishes like homemade pastas and pizzas. It’s pretty easy to walk around the city to find something you’re craving, whether it be desserts, certain types of cuisine, or you’re looking for vegan or vegetarian options.
If you’re looking for a very nice meal out, check out La Florida for great seafood, meats, and wines or Comarca, which is a little ways outside of town but offers a wide selection of wines, meat and pasta dishes, and dishes made with their homegrown produce on their lovely grounds.
There are a few tiendas and grocery stores, like Super USA, in Colonia that sell packaged food items, wine and liquor, basic toiletries, fruit and deli meats, which offer an easy and quick way to grab meal ingredients for cooking at your accommodation, packed meals, or other items.
Tours in Colonia del Sacramento are a great option if you want a deeper dive into the culture and history of the city. There are wine tours, city walking tours, hop-on/hop-off bus tours, tours of the countryside, food-tasting tours, and more. If you are staying in Colonia for a few days, there are also day tours to Montevideo and other nearby parts of Uruguay.
Another popular option is to take a tour to Colonia del Sacramento for a day. People visiting Buenos Aires or Montevideo often make just a quick stop in Colonia, and a tour is an effective way to ensure you see the highlights of the city while there. If you want to make your own itinerary or don’t want to pay extra for a tour, you can easily make the day trip from Montevideo or Buenos Aires on your own.
Credit cards are pretty widely accepted in Colonia del Sacramento. However, as with many places in South America, there are some restaurants and shops that only take cash. Where cash was needed, we paid in Uruguayan pesos since we had a bunch of bills from our couple weeks in Uruguay. But many establishments in Colonia also accept US dollars and Argentinian pesos. If you pay in one of those foreign currencies, you may still receive change in Uruguayan pesos. Know your exchange rates so you don’t get ripped off.
There are a few ATMs in Colonia to withdraw money, and they dispense both USD and Uruguayan pesos. You an make exchanges within the banks or at the casas de cambio, or exchange houses.