The Colonia Del Sacramento is a quaint little town in Uruguay that’s easy to visit by driving from Montevideo, and you can even visit it on a day trip by ferry from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Founded in 1680, Colonia is one of the oldest towns in Uruguay, and its historic quarter is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its architecture and history.
It’s safe, easy, and inexpensive to visit Colonia Del Sacramento on a day trip from Argentina, and aside from enjoying this nice town and everything it has to offer, there’s also the novelty of seeing another South American country and renewing your visa.
This travel guide will explain how to get to Colonia Del Sacramento from either Buenos Aires or Montevideo, which tours and ferry companies to use, and everything else you need to know before you go!
Where Is Colonia Del Sacramento?
The town of Colonia Del Sacramento is located on the southwestern coast of Uruguay, near the meeting point of the Rio De La Plata river and the Atlantic Ocean, and across from the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
It’s about 180 kilometers by road from Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, or less than 50 kilometers by sea from Buenos Aires.
How To Get From Montevideo To Colonia Del Sacramento Uruguay
From Montevideo, you can get to Colonia by car, bus, or tour. The drive takes 2 to 3 hours.
There are multiple bus companies offering this route with regular departures, and they have air-conditioning, toilets, and reclining seats. You can book your tickets in advance on Bookaway.
If you want to simplify things even further, GetYourGuide has day tours to Colonia from Montevideo that include hotel pickup and drop-off, and a trilingual tour guide to show you around the town of Colonia Del Sacramento. They also have private tours from Montevideo.
We’ve used GetYourGuide for lots of tours and activities around the world, and they’re great. Highly recommended!
Book Now: Colonia Tour From Montevideo / Private Tour
How To Get From Buenos Aires To Colonia Del Sacramento
From Argentina, you can get to Colonia by ferry from Buenos Aires. The harbor is in Puerto Madero, to be exact, and there are multiple ferry companies you can choose from.
The ferries advise to be at the harbor 1.5 hours before departure time, although in my case I would’ve been fine with less than an hour. I’m sure it depends on the day and the season.
All of the ferry companies have daily departures going back and forth in the morning and evening, so doing this as a day trip is no problem, although it’s a good idea to book your tickets in advance. Sometimes they do sell out.
The ferry ride is safe, comfortable, and relaxing, and only takes about 1.5 hours of sailing in either direction. I even found an electric outlet to charge my phone battery on the way back to Argentina.
Immigration is pretty easy on both sides of the border. As a US citizen, I didn’t need any visa for Argentina or Uruguay, so it was very easy to do this as a day trip, but remember to check the current visa requirements for your nationality in these countries, and don’t forget to bring your passport!
Best Ferry From Buenos Aires To Colonia Del Sacramento
The two main ferry companies from Buenos Aires are Buquebus and Colonia Express.
They both run similar schedules to Colonia Del Sacramento, and there’s not much of a difference in quality between them, so you can just go with whichever company has seats available for your travel dates. A third option is SeaCat, although they don’t seem to be quite as well liked.
You can book tickets with Buquebus on Bookaway, or Colonia Express on GetYourGuide. The advantage of the latter is that they have a walking tour with a bilingual tour guide, and an optional winery visit.
It’s also possible to buy tickets on the official websites for the ferry companies, but they’re written in Spanish and the sites have a lot of glitches, so this is one time when it’s actually easier to book with third party companies.
Things To Do In Colonia Del Sacramento Uruguay
Once you arrive in Colonia Del Sacramento, the historic quarter is within walking distance from the ferry harbor, and it’s small enough to get around the whole area on foot. There’s no need for transportation at all.
Colonia is a peaceful and attractive town with cobblestone streets, quaint old buildings, and a mixture of Portuguese and Spanish cultural influences thanks to its colonial history.
Here are some of the best things to see and do in Colonia Del Sacramento:
- City Gate & Wall. The first thing to see in Colonia is the 1745 AD stone gate, wooden drawbridge, and defensive wall at the entrance to the historic quarter. You can climb up to the wall and see an old cannon, and then walk along the wall for more views of the waterfront.
- Street of Sighs. This is one of Colonia’s most photogenic streets, with colorful old buildings and a cobblestone road. It was one of my favorite picture spots.
- Basilica of the Blessed Sacrament. A historic Catholic church from the 1800s with arched ceilings and other noteworthy architecture.
- Colonia Del Sacramento Lighthouse. This 1857 AD lighthouse was built on the ruins of a 17th century chapel, the Convent of San Francisco Javier. The light guided sailors to safety for centuries, and it’s still operational today. You can pay a small cash fee to climb to the top of the tower for panoramic views above the town.
- Pietra Minerals of Uruguay. This is a nice little rock shop with semi-precious stones like agates, quartz, and amethysts. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s a great place to look around. When I was there, the owner was even handing out small rocks for free to every visitor.
Last, but not least, there are a bunch of interesting museums in Colonia to see, including a Portuguese Museum and a high-rated Origami Art Museum.
After its founding in 1680, this town bounced back and forth between Portuguese and Spanish control for a century, so both countries left a mark on the culture of Colonia. There are even some beaches you can visit nearby if you rent a bike!
How Long To Stay In Colonia
A day trip is enough time to see the best highlights of Colonia Del Sacramento, although you could easily stay longer if you enjoy the laidback feel of the town.
There are plenty of hotels and restaurants to keep you comfortable in town for several days, and you could use the extra time to explore every inch of the historic quarter and see all the museums at your own pace.
More Tips For Colonia Town
- What To Wear: This part of Uruguay has the same climate and temperatures as Buenos Aires, so you can usually wear summer clothes most of the year.
- Where To Stay: Two good hotel options in Colonia are Posada del Angel or Posada Boutique Las Terrazas.
- Restaurants: Eating places in Colonia tend to be a bit overpriced because of tourism, but the food is good. Check out Charco Bistro or Casa Viera.
- Cash: You can usually pay for things with US Dollars or Argentine Pesos, so there’s no need to change money to Uruguayan Pesos, especially on a day trip. Some places even accept Euros or Brazilian Reals. The only exception is the museums, which have a small entrance fee that can only be paid with Uruguayan cash, nothing else. There are several ATMs in town if needed.
- Credit Cards: Most places in town accept credit cards, including restaurants and hotels, so this is generally the best way to pay for everything. Small souvenir stands may be cash only.
- WiFi: The town has good phone reception and you can find fast WiFi in many restaurants and hotels. Staying connected is no problem.
Is Uruguay Safe?
Colonia Del Sacramento is a safe and tourist friendly town.
Even though the country of Uruguay doesn’t have a perfect safety record, the quiet little town of Colonia is traveled by lots of international tourists every day, and I’m not aware of any bad incidents that have ever happened here.
When I visited Colonia, I carried my camera all over the historic district taking pictures, and I saw lots of other photographers doing the same thing with setups that looked more expensive than mine.
Overall, I felt perfectly safe in Colonia Del Sacramento. Just take normal precautions and you shouldn’t run into any issues at all.
Is Colonia Worth It?
Yes, I’d say Colonia is worth it. Even though there aren’t a whole lot of things to do in Colonia Del Sacramento beyond a day trip, I still think it’s an enjoyable town to visit.
My trip to Uruguay was a good experience in every way, and it was fun to see a new country and cross it off my bucket list without paying for any expensive flights.
Best of all, Colonia was easy and relaxing, since I was already worn out from lots of hiking and sightseeing in Patagonia and Iguazu Falls!