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A little port town, which we only really visited because the ferry to Buenos Aires was much cheaper from there than from MVD, Colonia del Sacramento is picturesque, with charming cobbled streets and views of BA over estuary. We spent 3 days here, but only really needed 1 full day. It is entirely possible to visit Colonia from Buenos Aires or Montevideo as a day trip, and this is a very popular option for travellers in the region.
What to do in Colonia del Sacramento
1. Soak up the old town
There isn’t a huge amount to do in Colonia del Sacramento, but that’s ok! Not to be scoffed at is a simple stroll around the old town, dropping into a few coffee shops for a drink and cake. It’s a beautiful place to get lost in a world frozen in time, and to say your goodbyes to Uruguay if you’re about to head to the looming metropolis of Buenos Aires.
2. Get the heebie jeebies at Calle de los Suspiros
A spot not to miss in Colonia del Sacramento’s old town is the ‘Calle de los Suspiros’ or ‘Street of Sighs’ – the most photographed street in Uruguay – which has many myths surrounding the origin of its name, from murdered lovers to prisoners on death row.
3. Lay foundations for a return trip at the Lighthouse
If you don’t mind climbing the 111 steps, take a walk up to the top of the lighthouse, which is open 10am-12:30pm, and 2:30pm-6:30pm (this is a siesta-practicing town!). In fact, legend has is that that whoever stares at the lighthouse for too long will one day return to Colonia del Sacramento, perhaps because they feel they have left something behind.
4. Find peace in the cemetery
Cemetario Municipal was lovely to walk around (and looks a bit like a holiday resort for dead people) but we felt a little awkward as we obviously stuck out as tourists. If you’re looking for a peaceful place around Colonia, there are luckily plenty!
5. Relax at the beach
We chilled out for a few hours at a beach bar on Playa Urbana de las Delicias which was pretty cool. The best thing to do in order to see some of Colonia del Sacramento’s beaches seems to be to hire a golf buggy to drive along the coastline, but don’t expect any paradise white sand!
Getting the ferry from Colonia to Buenos Aires
To get the ferry to Buenos Aires from Colonia del Sacramento, book your tickets online and print them. Check whether you need to go to the company’s check-in desk when you arrive at the port. Turn up much earlier than your departure time.
The ferry port is like an airport, run by people set out to make your life difficult (your first introduction into Porteño customer service). You’ll need to do regular airport scanner checks so make sure you comply with rules. You’ll also have to stand in long queues for passport control, watching all the people who sat at a control desk but decided not to work today.
If you have anything weird in your passport (Saudi Arabia visa for Andy, Russia and China for me), prepare for some light interrogation.
In the lounge, try and get in the queue early for your ferry, as you’ll want to ensure you have a good seat with space for your bags on the boat. Also, expect tens of people to just casually join the front of the line when the ferry is called. SO FRUSTRATING.
Recommended stay to enjoy Colonia del Sacramento: 1 full day
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