I know, Uruguay – who goes there? That’s what I thought the first time I went in 2005 and I couldn’t believe I just went back! There are only so many day trips out of Buenos Aires worth exploring and Colonia came highly recommended so I bought a ferry ticket on Colonia Express and explored this cute little seaside town.
Colonia is the oldest city in Uruguay and located next to the Rio de la Plata. On the Colonia Express, it was only a short 1 hour and 15 minute ride from bustling Buenos Aires, making it the perfect little daytime getaway if you’ve had your fair share of tango shows, empañadas, and alfajors (gosh, I am amazed at how much the Argentines love their alfajors and dulce de leche!).
The whole town of Colonia is compact and walkable. You can also rent a car or a buggy for the day, but I think its cobblestoned streets are best explored on foot.
I went in winter time so Colonia felt like a sleepy town – not only were the only locals I saw the shop owners, but I kept running into the same people over and over again (the people who basically got off the same ferry as I did!). Despite that, I could totally picture Colonia being the quaintest little town in the summer with its the cobblestone streets, portuguese influence, colorful shops, and the abundance of trees and florals that blanket the buildings and line the streets in the right season. It would be so relaxing to sip a cafe con leche at one of the cafes or take a casual stroll through the town on a bright summer’s day. Given it was winter, I bundled up, admired the architecture, daydreamed about the lively little resort town this place must transform into when the weather warms up, and enjoyed my cafe con leche indoors at a super cute cafe.
Here are some of my pics from my day there:
If you’re planning on going:
- There are several ferries that service Colonia but Colonia Express is the best deal (gets you there fast and it’s cheap! I paid around $70USD for the round trip ticket). You can also get discounted fares if you buy it online.
- All the vendors accept USD so bring that if you can! Then you won’t have to exchange any money into Uruguayan pesos.
- Whatever you do, don’t pay in Argentine peso. Argentina’s going through a lot of economic woes right now and the only way you can pay with the Argentine peso is if you’re ready to get shortchanged on the exchange rate.
- Bring good walking shoes. Colonia has some of the worst cobblestone streets I’ve ever walked on. The streets are cute, but the cobblestones are painful if you wear the wrong shoes!
- The climb to the top of the lighthouse is worth it for the views of the city and the lay of the land.
- Don’t forget your passport!