Written by Kieran Proctor

48 Hours In Colonia Del Sacramento Uruguay

A little over an hour from the bustling metropolis of Buenos Aires, across the Río de La Plata, lies Colonia ...

A little over an hour from the bustling metropolis of Buenos Aires, across the Río de La Plata, lies Colonia Del Sacramento. Its historic quarter a UNESCO world heritage site.

For those needing to renew their Argentine tourist visa, or simply looking for a weekend getaway from the chaos of Buenos Aires, Colonia Del Sacramento is the perfect destination. Here’s what I do in Colonia and why you should visit this fascinating town.

How To Get To Colonia Del sacramento

There are two main routes to Colonia Del Sacramento. For those coming from Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, it’s a two hour bus ride. Buses run every 30-60 minutes from Terminal Tres Cruces in Montevideo.

For those coming from Buenos Aires, as part of a weekend getaway or visa run, there is the Terminal Buquebus in Puerto Madero. The Buquebus is a large high speed catamaran, that takes a little over an hour to reach Colonia.

If, like me, you can’t be bothered with bureaucracy and paperwork, a trip to Uruguay on the Buquebus is the easiest method to renew your tourist visa for Argentina. Colonia is the cheapest and easiest destination to get to from Buenos Aires, for those needing to renew their visa for Argentina.

Return packages are available with onward travel to Montevideo by bus. And these larger packages are well suited to those looking to spend longer in Uruguay and to see more, before returning to Buenos Aires.

Currency In Uruguay

Uruguay’s currency is the Uruguayan Peso. If you are traveling to Uruguay from Buenos Aires, with its hyper inflation, you may be surprised by prices.

You will get a lot of Uruguayan Peso for your USD or other home currency. But, the underlying costs in Uruguay are significantly higher than Argentina.

Compared to Uruguay, everything in Argentina is a fire sale. For those travelers from the US or Australia, daily costs in Uruguay are about the same as Australia or cheaper cities in the US.

There is no unofficial exchange rate, blackmarket currency or dollar blue in Uruguay. The rates found on can be used as a guide.

Because there is no unofficial dólar blue rate like Argentina, you should avoid private money changers and exchange shops in Uruguay. Personally, I just use my Wise card to pay for goods and services in Uruguay (but never in Argentina).

ATM’s will dispense Uruguayan Peso and USD in Uruguay. Banco República will be the best for foreigners looking to withdraw cash. As it has no ATM or exchange fees for most travelers. In contrast to Banco República, banks such as Rio Santander will charge largish ATM fees and give lesser exchange rates.

For Australians like me, Banco República is your best option for cash withdrawals in Uruguay.

Where To Stay In Colonia Del Sacramento?

There are many Airbnb and hotels available in Colonia. What you choose will be determined by your style of travel and budget.

I’ve found on numerous occasions that hotels tend to provide better value in Uruguay. Airbnb have tended to be significantly overpriced when I’ve visited Uruguay. And the ones I’ve seen were often much more expensive than a hotel suite.

On my last trip, a suite in the Radisson with a balcony looking past the infinity pool and overlooking the Rio de La Plata, was cheaper than a basic Airbnb in Colonia. Though, my favorite hotel in Colonia was the Hotel Italiano, that I discovered via a Buquebus Paquete.

Deals for hotels can be found on all the major hotel booking sites. tends to be better value than Expedia. Yet, the best option for accommodation in Colonia Del Sacramento, is to look at the Buquebus website for ‘Paquetes‘ (packages). These are package deals with transport and accommodation listed in Argentine pesos.

If you buy one of these Buquebus packages with Argentine Peso acquired at the informal exchange rate, it can save you a significant amount of money. As for an idea of the costs and what you can save using a Buquebus package to visit Uruguay, you can see my cost breakdown by clicking here.

Attractions In The Historic Quarter Of Colonia Del Sacramento

The historic quarter of Colonia Del Sacramento is a UNESCO world heritage site. Having been variously controlled by the Spanish and Portuguese, it’s a fusion of Portuguese, Spanish and post-colonial styles.

Colonial Del Sacramento’s tree lined cobblestone streets and colonial era buildings, make it a wonderful place to explore on foot. Just wandering around in Colonia is one of my favorite things to do, whenever I visit.

Colonia Del Sacramento is a very easily walkable city. Just wear good shoes to navigate the cobblestones in some areas. And be sure to arrive early in the morning to avoid the tour groups, that swarm into Colonia from 10:30am onwards.

Around every corner in Colonia del Sacramento you will find antique motor vehicles on display and local artisans selling their wares. Along with a dizzying array of museums.

In order to visit the museums, you must first buy a single ticket from the Municipal Museum. This ticket will get you into all of the other museums and it can only be purchased from the Municipal Museum.

There are museums dedicated to the Portuguese and Spanish, natural history of the area, indigenous cultures, maritime conquests and local industries, such as ceramics and tiles. Each museum is relatively small and it takes 30-45 minutes to properly see each one.

Colonia Del Sacramento
Be sure to stop and admire the old colonial architecture, when moving between museums.

My personal favorite tourist attraction in the historical quarter of Colonia Del Sacramento, is the ‘Old Cars Culture.’ A series of antique cars scattered all over the historic quarter.

Travel Tip: Wear a hat and lots of sunscreen when visiting Colonia del Sacramento. It can get quite hot, particularly in summer. And there’s not a lot of shade.

Things To Do In Colonia Del Sacramento

In between visiting museums and stopping at all the little bars for a cold drink, it’s worth seeing Bastion San Miguel and its historic gate called Puerta de la Ciudadela. Along with the ruins of the lighthouse, it’s one of the original stone structures of Colonia Del Sacramento.

Puerta de la Ciudadela Colonia Del Sacramento
Puerta de la Ciudadela

Near the Puerto de la Ciudadela is the famed Street of Sighs, called Calle de los Suspiros. It’s a picturesque little street that’s lined with houses dating back to the first colonial period.

A few of the houses along Calle de los Suspiros are private family homes. So don’t climb on the fences or intrude on their privacy by peering in through their gates.

Wear comfortable shoes with plenty of grip if you’re going to traverse this street. Calle de los Suspiros gets quite slippery.

Calle de los Suspiros
Calle de los Suspiros

It’s worth walking around the outside of the point on which Colonia is located and enjoying the view out over the Rio de La Plata. Coming back up to Plaza Mayor from the waterfront, you can visit the old lighthouse.

The ruins of the lighthouse are located on the opposite end of Plaza Mayor from the Puerta de la Ciudadela. The original lighthouse burnt down in the 1700s. But its old stone walls still remain.

Basílica del Santísimo Sacramento (Basilica of the Holy Sacrament), which is a Roman Catholic Church, sits next to the ruins of the Governor’s mansion and both are worth exploring between museums. They’re not time sensitive and they can be visited after the museums close.

For the Australians, it’s worth noting that the former governors mansion (now in ruins) was once occupied for a short time by Governor Phillip before he sailed to Australia.

After A Day Spent Exploring Colonia Del Sacramento

Once you’ve had your fill of museums and cobblestone alleyways, sit and have a drink overlooking the Río de La Plata and watch the sun set. Reina Cafe-Bar on the waterfront has one of the best sunset views, if you’re wanting to visit a bar.

Otherwise, just do what the locals do and pick a spot along the waterfront in any of the small parks or promenades. The sunset in Colonia Del Sacramento is spectacular from everywhere along the waterfront. And as the sun sets, the colors change from a bright gold to a deep pink.

To finish off a day in Colonia the real South American way, wine and barbecued meats can be had all over town. But as with Argentina, your best options for dinner are after 9pm.

Off the Main Street in Colonia you’ll find a lot of little bars and restaurants. In the cooler months (May to October) these little restaurants will have indoor fireplaces to keep warm. And during the warmer parts of the year, outdoor dining is beautiful in Colonia and there’s a cool evening sea breeze most nights.

Conclusions | Other Things To Do In Colonia Del Sacramento

Apart from visiting all the museums and galleries in the Old Town, there are also private museums that aren’t part of the official ticket. And there are plenty of opportunities for shopping in Colonia, which is duty free for tourists.

My favorite unofficial museum is the Museo del Origami. It’s nothing to do with the history of Colonia, but it tracks the history of Origami and has works from some of the worlds masters. I found it fascinating to learn about the different paper folding techniques. And the works by masters were spectacular.

Duty free shopping in Colonia is handy. Particularly if you’re returning to Argentina. And you’ll often see the Argentines making their way to the local mall in droves.

Yet, for those of us who’ve visited Colonia before, wandering the streets and relaxing at the various cafes and bars is itself a great way to spend time. It’s such a quiet and relaxing little town. And leisurely strolling through the streets and stopping off at all the little bars and cafes is often how I spend my time.

If you want to see more of Uruguay, check out my article on how to spend 48hrs exploring Montevideo Uruguay. And if you’re heading across to Buenos Aires, read my Complete Buenos Aires City Guide.