A Day in Colonia (Uruguay)


On Saturday I took a day trip to Uruguay. What can I tell you? It was an impulse purchase.

You can get a ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia. There are a few companies that do it but I went with Burquebus, swayed by their promise of free internet for the journey (although the day I travelled this didn’t seem to be working for me. No biggie; it is only an hour).

The fast ferry takes an hour (there is a cheaper one that takes three hours, but that wouldn’t really work for day trips). It’s quite good because they check you out of Argentina and into Uruguay before you board, so when you get there you can just walk off the ferry, free to enjoy the delights of Colonia. This does mean you have to arrive at the terminal early enough to be processed and fingerprinted though.


There are plenty of tours available, but it’s quite easy to wander around by yourself.  Simply walk along this disused railway line for around half a kilometre and you will get to the walled city.


Colonia (Colonia del Sacramento is its full title) is an old smuggling port. Founded by the Portuguese, it then bounced around between Spanish and Portuguese rule for a few years.

It’s a popular choice for Buenos Aires ex-pats needing to renew their tourist stamp for another three months. Be prepared to sacrifice a whole page in your passport though.

Another good reason to go is because you can get US dollars from the ATM.

IMG_5770.JPGThe walled city is now a UNESCO heritage site. It’s quite small and you can easily walk around it in a few hours.


Entrance to the barrio histórico




Not so sure about the beach

There is also a bullring. Built in 1910, it hosted just 8 fights before bullfighting was outlawed two years later. Since then it has stood empty in an increasing state of decay.

I love abandoned buildings, however it is around 4-5 kilometres away and by the time I had wandered around the walled city and sussed out the transport options to get there it was getting a bit late and I was worrying about getting there and back in time for my ferry. If you have longer to spend then that would be a good option. Or you could just get the bus on to Montevideo, which is only around 2-3 hours away.


The night before my trip I googled what to do in Colonia, which was a mistake because I came across a few blogs saying how dull it was. It’s a bit like reading bad cinema reviews before going to see a film (I usually never read reviews before I do something; I like to make up my own mind).

I guess if you’re going somewhere every three months, then it will seem very dull. Also maybe it’s an introvert/extrovert thing; some people seem to find everything boring.  I’m not sure what they’re looking for. I’m happy enough that I got to ride in a boat, walk around a little town for a bit, have a nice lunch, sit in the sun for an hour, restock with US dollars and still get back to Buenos Aires in time for dinner.

I could have easily spent a weekend there (more than that would have been too much though, even for me).

15 replies »

  1. Hi Sarah
    Uruguay how cool is that. I had to look on a map to see where it all is. I told you I don’t do South America. It all sounds and looks very exotic. I liked the artwork. Did you have to pay to enter the country? Or was it just paperwork. Perhaps you could go back for a longer stay, if you decide you need to renew your visa for Argentina? Let’s face it, it is a far better trip to the ATM than I have lol. Love and hugs xxxx

    • No there’s no visa, they just stamp you out of one country then stamp you into another. I wish I’d had longer now, although not sure what else there is to see and do. The capital is 3 hours on the bus and there are some nice beaches not so far away I think.
      I knew they had dollars in their machines (we’re not allowed them here) and I’m always chasing dollars, so I saw the ferry and thought ‘why not?’ But if I go back I’ll take longer and venture a bit further

  2. I wasn’t that impressed with Colonia but I think a big part of the reason is there is just so much to see in Buenas Aires. But it was good to check off another country.

    • Yes I know what you mean; compared to Buenos Aires it isn’t that exciting. But I didn’t think it was that bad either. Wouldn’t want a week there, but for a day trip I think it’s pretty cool.
      Like you say, it is another country to add to the list too.

  3. Looks like a cool little town! We were in BA recently and would have gone there but my girlfriend needed a visa — pretty annoying!

  4. I’m happy enough travelling that way aswell. Some people are picky and judgemental about everything. It sounds likr you had a great time, and I love that you just popped over to Uruguay for a day trip haha.

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