Uruguay, part 1: Colonia del Sacramento

We spent a week in Uruguay and on its coastline this August. We had on our plan three places to visit, in the following order: Colonia del Sacramento, Montevideo and Punta del Este. We were also hesitating to go further to Punta del Diablo, but finally it didn’t fit into our schedule.

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We came from Buenos Aires via a ferry operated by Buque Bus and arrived at our first destination, in Colonia del Sacramento. “Uruguay was inhabited by the Charrúa people for approximately 4,000 year, before the Portuguese established Colonia del Sacramento in 1680.”

The ferry ride was surprisingly comfortable with its two floors, and 74 meter long and 26 meter wide interior space. It has bars, social areas, VIP deck, WiFi and plenty of comfortable seats, the time flies indeed very fast. Before entering the ferry you need to go through the mandatory passport control and security control, so after arriving in Colonia del Sacramento, you just need to collect your luggages, it functions the same way like on the airports, you can have check-in luggages and we just decided to check-in our backpacks, it was just much more comfortable without them on the board. You can purchase your ferry tickets online, on their website or just at the port at their huge station in Buenos Aires. You can actually choose from multiple destinations, you can reach also Montevideo or go even further as they are operating with both ferries and bus services on land. Due to this service we decided not to rent a car in Uruguay and we used the public transport during our whole visit in Uruguay. It’s not cheap but since car renting is overall quite expensive in Uruguay, it was worth it.

We hadn’t booked accommodation in advance, so on the ferry we took a look on the potential places, where we could stay for the night. The connection was not secured so we have decided to go to the chosen Posada directly and ask them in person if they have a free room for us for the night. It was extremely cold when we arrived and this Posada was just 5 minutes walk far away, but suddenly we really felt like that we have arrived to the winter. I even smelled snow, but finally it was not snowing. Anyhow the short walk was really nice, we were walking on little, cute streets, old timer cars everywhere, and cozy restaurants around. When we arrived to the Posada de la Flor, we were surprised how cute the place was. Therefore we decided to change the plan and ask for two nights. They gave us their last available room, and it was just perfect.

We could rent bikes directly from the Posada 🚲

The breakfast was with a wide selection of different local, homemade cakes, with a lot of Dulce de leche 😋 in a beautiful interior.

Breakfast in the winter garden ☀️
They were serving afternoon snacks free of charge 😋

Regardless it was very cold, we decided to rent their bikes and explore the town this way. There were many random dogs on the streets, following us while biking, while walking, waiting for us in front of the shops, bars. 😊 Colonia del Sacramento is a beautiful town, with very friendly people. We left our bag at one of the coffee shops accidentally and realized it an hour after (!) but it was still there, the waiter kept if for us. Even tough it was sunny, after a while I needed to buy a blanket size scarf to cover myself, well anyhow, such a nice souvenir for myself! 😊

You can find many Argentinian tourists here, some of them are also living here, having summer houses, since Colonia is located on the country’s east coast, it’s just a one-hour ferry ride from Buenos Aires across the Río de la Plata. The historic quarter of Colonia del Sacramento, the Barrio Historic is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is the type of a historical place where simply wandering or biking around, enjoying the local places, even on a winter day is very relaxing.
Even though it was originally founded by the Portuguese in 1680, the town passed between Portuguese and Spanish rule for decades, and the influence is visible from both sides with vibrant streetscapes, and colonial architecture.

We also visited the Colonia del Sacramento lighthouse. After paying $1 admission, we could climb 111 steps up a narrow staircase to the very top, and look around and down to the town.

Peaceful, picturesque streets with the lighthouse in the background and with an old timer car

Old timer auto enthusiasts will be happy to know that all around the town you can find vintage cars, some to rent, some just as a design element to the street, in front of a random posada, they are parked all around the historic quarter.

Randomly you can find super cute places to eat, coffee and mate houses, as actually the people of Uruguay consume the most yerba mate per person in the world. “In Argentina 5 kg of yerba mate is consumed annually per capita; in Uruguay, the largest consumer, consumption is 10 kg.”

One of our favorite places was Ristorante Gibellini, very close to our posada, a family run place, with many antique pictures inside, that creates an amazingly cute and friendly atmosphere. If you are that much into chess as we are, it’s your place, they have several old boards to pass the time over a nice bottle of Tannat.

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