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Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay - Easy Day Trip By Ferry From Buenos Aires

Uruguay travel blog by Mark Berman - May 2012 April 2016   » View Photoset (117 Photos)

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for 10yrs!
The historical neighbourhood 'Barrio Historico' of Colonia del Sacramento is one of the most well-preserved old cities that I have seen in South America,
Uruguay Photo - Live music performed while you eat lunch outside, quaint Colonia del Sacramento.
Live music performed while you eat lunch outside, quaint Colonia del Sacramento.
so well-preserved and very attractive to walk around, like Cartagena in Colombia. Colonia is an easy day trip by ferry from Buenos Aires and 2hrs 30mins west of Montevideo. There are plenty of websites that tell you about the history of Colonia and that it was originally founded by the Portuguese in 1680, but changed hands between the Portuguese and Spanish many times before it became part of the independent country of Uruguay. Let me however take you for a good stroll around this fascinating and beautiful place. I stayed in a hostel in the historical center, the morning sun shone through the tall trees lining both sides of the street onto the cobblestone road.

Tourist Office

The tourist office has maps of the area, the office is located beside Plaza 1811 (park) on Manuel Lobo Street.

Cross the Drawbridge

From Plaza 1811 an old drawbridge leads through the city gate with its long stone wall that continues down close to the water. An old cannon guards this area known as the San Miguel Bastion. On the other side of this wall the cobblestone road leads down to the Rio de la Plata. I walked up the grassy bank to be at the top of the wall and to see the beautiful views across
Uruguay Photo - Stone walls and cobblestone street, Misiones de los Tapes, Colonia.
Stone walls and cobblestone street, Misiones de los Tapes, Colonia.
the river.

Street of Sighs

Walking west, the next street along is Calle de los Suspiros (Street of Sighs), it's a sidestreet with an old pink house and yellow streetlamp on the corner. This street is from the first colonial period built by the Portuguese, it has the original cobblestone pavement and has houses on each side.

San Pedro Street

Calle de San Pedro running west adjacent to the river is fascinating with its colored houses with bright red and purple flower bushes outside. The windows are either arched or square with shutters, the doors wide and tall and made from wood - yellow streetlamps, stone walls, tiled roofs, a vintage car sits outside a restaurant, cobblestones. The end of the street comes out at San Pedro Bastion, this is the corner of the historical area beside the river.
Uruguay Photo - Government building and statue of Jose Artigas in Colonia del Sacramento.
Government building and statue of Jose Artigas in Colonia del Sacramento.

Here Comes the Ferry from BA

At this point the street turns to the north. When you look out to the river from here you are looking in the direction of Buenos Aires. I could see the ferry in the far distance coming over. A pair of fishermen stood on the rocks in front of me as the Buquebus ferry became much closer, suddenly it had arrived, it's a quick 1hr journey from Buenos Aires to Colonia on the ferry I did it in 2008, 2013 and 2016.

Historical Center

I was now on the street of San Gabriel. I wanted to see every street. I turned right into the street Misiones de los Tapes, this is the next street back from and adjacent to Calle de San Pedro. This street
Uruguay Photo - A group of birds fly overhead in Colonia del Sacramento.
A group of birds fly overhead in Colonia del Sacramento.
leads to the heart of the historical neighbourhood, there is a lot to see around here. The first place I visited on this street of significance was the house where Hipolito Jose da Costa was born in 1774, he was a Brazilian journalist and was the founder of the Brazilian press. Just a house or 2 up from here is a huge skeleton of a blue whale that grounded on Puerto Platero Beach (approx 20kms east of Colonia) in 1983. Next door to here we have a monument to Argentine Admiral Guillermo Brown - navy hero. On the corner before I came to the main square is the House of Virrey (Casa del Virrey), this was the house that the Governor General lived in, in 1809. The house has a stone wall and original elements from its Portuguese construction.
Uruguay Photo - Window with pots of red flowers, Colonia del Sacramento.
Window with pots of red flowers, Colonia del Sacramento.
Next door is the Municipal Museum, a white building with several cannons outside, this used to be Admiral Guillermo Brown's house. This is Colonia's first museum, it displays objects, documents and artifacts from different periods, social groups and cultures of Colonia. Next door to the museum is the Casa de Nacarello, a pink building with a tiled roof of Portuguese construction from the late 1700's, it exhibits furniture from that time period. At this point is the cultural park called Paseo Cultural and the ruins of the Convento de San Francisco y Faro and the lighthouse. The convent was built in 1694 but destroyed by fire 10yrs later.

The Lighthouse

The lighthouse was built in 1845, but not finished until 1857. It was time to take a walk up to the
Uruguay Photo - A park in the area of the Santa Rita Bastion in Colonia del Sacramento.
A park in the area of the Santa Rita Bastion in Colonia del Sacramento.
top of the lighthouse. An old shiny gold kerosene lantern is on display in the entrance. The lighthouse (Faro de Colonia) is nearly 27 meters tall. I walked up the 118 stairs around and around to the top. The views are great, looking down upon the parks, houses and Rio de la Plata, 360 degrees.

The Main Plaza

Down from the lighthouse is the main square - Plaza Mayor, the largest open space in this area. An artist sat and sketched a picture of the lighthouse. The plaza has trees, gardens and walkways, it's a nice place to relax for a while. On the other side of Plaza Mayor is the Bandera Bastion and a small park with a cannon - Plazuela del Bastion de la Bandera. It's lovely here with the old houses and tall leafy trees all around.

Ruins of the Governors House

Heading north from here 1 block
Uruguay Photo - The Naval Museum, white historical building in Colonia del Sacramento.
The Naval Museum, white historical building in Colonia del Sacramento.
is another important archaeological location in Colonia's historical neighbourhood - the ruins of the governors house. It's of Portuguese construction, only the basement is left, the Spanish destroyed the house in 1777. The ruins are surrounded by a nice park area with many tall trees. Around this park are a few restaurants where you can sit at a table outside on the cobblestone street underneath the trees and enjoy something to eat or drink. You will see also 2 or 3 old vintage cars sitting outside on the cobblestones. One has the inside gutted and replaced with a table and seats where you can also sit and enjoy a meal, another has a garden growing inside coming out of the roof. These vintage cars and the retaurant are located directly opposite
Uruguay Photo - A place to eat and have a drink at the end of a cobblestone street in Colonia del Sacramento.
A place to eat and have a drink at the end of a cobblestone street in Colonia del Sacramento.
the church Basilica del Santisimo Sacramento (Holy Sacrament), it was restored between the years 1957 and 1995 and maintains the original design - Portuguese stone walls and brick, one nave and 2 belltowers.

Portugal Street

Walking down Calle de Portugal and some of its side streets, peaceful and quiet, beautiful facades and another old car of bright red. At the northern end of the neighbourhood, the main street of Avenue General Flores cuts through.

Santa Rita Bastion

I was now in the area of Santa Rita Bastion beside the river. There's more to see here including a monument to San Martin, El Torreon - an old stone tower overlooking the water, the wharf (1866) and yachts. Of course there are more cobblestone streets and old houses.

Theatre and Cultural Center

I now found myself at Carmen Bastion
Uruguay Photo - Twin figures of art peer out from the window of an art shop in Colonia del Sacramento.
Twin figures of art peer out from the window of an art shop in Colonia del Sacramento.
and the theatre and cultural center. There is a tall brick chimney and an old wall here at the back beside the water. Inside the center, paintings were on display. Before this building (built in 1880) was the cultural center it was a glue and soap factory, that explains the chimney.

Many Museums

Nearby, as I continued on, I noticed a museum of old photographs called El Tunel del Ayer (The Tunnel of Yesterday). I had a quick look inside the museum Museo Indigena, it was mainly a bunch of rocks on display. Colonia is full of museums, they are scattered all around the historical neighbourhood. These include: Portuguese Museum - a house from 1720, The Regional Archive - documents, old maps and watercolor paintings from 1840-1865, The Tile Museum (Museo del Azulejo) -
Uruguay Photo - Santa Rita Bastion and the Rio de la Plata, Colonia.
Santa Rita Bastion and the Rio de la Plata, Colonia.
French, Catalan and Uruguayan tile collections from 1840, The Spanish Museum - Spanish ceramics, clothing and coin collection, Paleontological Museum - body parts belonging to prehistoric life and the Naval Museum.

Something for Everyone

Obviously Colonia has something for everyone, so much history in such a small space, I enjoyed it!

Bus to Montevideo / Fray Bentos

From Colonia I travelled 190kms east (2hrs 30mins) for my 2nd time in Montevideo - bus ticket $11USD. In 2016 I came over to Colonia from Buenos Aires on the ferry. I spent just one night (and a half) in town and made a few new photos, the weather wasn't great so I headed north to Fray Bentos where I was lucky to get a couple of sunny days.

     

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Itineraries / Routes: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008



Distances & times (if available) from Colonia del Sacramento (Uruguay) to:


Map location: Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay. A leafy historic neighborhood with cobblestone streets, lighthouse tower, ruins, cafes, museums, old houses, restaurants, bars and cafes! It's quite an expensive place, I have been here twice!
 A : Buenos Aires to Montevideo - Uruguay 46 kms 46 kms straight distance | 41mins 41mins by car (49 kms) | 49mins 49mins by bus (49 kms) (49 kms)
 B : Carmelo - Uruguay 66 kms 66 kms straight distance | 1hr 6mins 1hr 6mins by car (79 kms) | 1hr 19mins 1hr 19mins by bus (79 kms) (79 kms)
 C : Buenos Aires - Argentina 68 kms 68 kms straight distance | 3hrs 29mins 3hrs 29mins by car (103 kms) | 4hrs 10mins 4hrs 10mins by bus (103 kms) (103 kms)
 D : Mercedes to Carmelo - Uruguay 108 kms 108 kms straight distance | 1hr 57mins 1hr 57mins by car (142 kms) | 2hrs 20mins 2hrs 20mins by bus (142 kms) (142 kms)
 E : Montevideo - Uruguay 141 kms 141 kms straight distance | 1hr 51mins 1hr 51mins by car (162 kms) | 2hrs 13mins 2hrs 13mins by bus (162 kms) (162 kms)
 F : Mercedes - Uruguay 134 kms 134 kms straight distance | 2hrs 27mins 2hrs 27mins by car (179 kms) | 2hrs 56mins 2hrs 56mins by bus (179 kms) (179 kms)
 G : Fray Bentos - Uruguay 154 kms 154 kms straight distance | 2hrs 48mins 2hrs 48mins by car (213 kms) | 3hrs 21mins 3hrs 21mins by bus (213 kms) (213 kms)
 H : Maldonado - Uruguay 265 kms 265 kms straight distance | 3hrs 47mins 3hrs 47mins by car (301 kms) | 4hrs 32mins 4hrs 32mins by bus (301 kms) (301 kms)
 I : Punta del Este - Uruguay 270 kms 270 kms straight distance | 3hrs 57mins 3hrs 57mins by car (308 kms) | 4hrs 44mins 4hrs 44mins by bus (308 kms) (308 kms)
 J : Colon - Argentina 249 kms 249 kms straight distance | 4hrs 4mins 4hrs 4mins by car (336 kms) | 4hrs 52mins 4hrs 52mins by bus (336 kms) (336 kms)
 K : Paysandu - Uruguay 240 kms 240 kms straight distance | 4hrs 17mins 4hrs 17mins by car (339 kms) | 5hrs 8mins 5hrs 8mins by bus (339 kms) (339 kms)
 L : Rosario - Argentina 317 kms 317 kms straight distance | 5hrs 58mins 5hrs 58mins by car (368 kms) | 7hrs 9mins 7hrs 9mins by bus (368 kms) (368 kms)
 M : Tacuarembo / Durazno - Uruguay 348 kms 348 kms straight distance | 5hrs 7mins 5hrs 7mins by car (418 kms) | 6hrs 8mins 6hrs 8mins by bus (418 kms) (418 kms)
 N : Chuy - Uruguay 411 kms 411 kms straight distance | 6hrs 10mins 6hrs 10mins by car (505 kms) | 7hrs 24mins 7hrs 24mins by bus (505 kms) (505 kms)
 O : Parana - Argentina 394 kms 394 kms straight distance | 6hrs 47mins 6hrs 47mins by car (537 kms) | 8hrs 8mins 8hrs 8mins by bus (537 kms) (537 kms)
Driving times are accurate but approximate and are listed in the order of driving distance! Drive times are always affected by weather conditions, the terrain, time of day, altitude, dinner and bathroom stops, animals on the road, protests, a fast or slow bus driver, police checkpoints, border and river crossings, dropping off and picking up passengers etc. These drive times are obtained from Google Maps and are meant as a guide. Note however, times quoted in the main text of this page are exactly as the author experienced it.


My Hostel & Hotel Reviews for Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay:

Hotel Romi, Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay - Large Photo
Hotel Romi, Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay (April 2016 - 2 nights) - An over-priced hotel in a town full of over-priced hotels at $35USD per night. Room was ok with private bathroom, tv and wifi and they serve a basic breakfast in the morning. Located close to the historical part of town.
El Espanol Hostel, Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay - Large Photo
El Espanol Hostel, Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay (May 2012 - 1 night) - Big, open and spacious. Lockers are located in the main office so the security is good. Situated in the historical center. Reasonable price. Recommended.

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Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay - Easy Day Trip By Ferry From Buenos Aires. A leafy historic neighborhood with cobblestone streets, lighthouse tower, ruins, cafes, museums, old houses, restaurants, bars and cafes! It's quite an expensive place, I have been here twice!

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