Colonia del Sacramento Guide for Backpackers
I’m not sure there is a town in the world that more perfectly describes the word “quaint”. Colonia del Sacramento sits just across the Rio Plata from Buenos Aires, Argentina and is only a couple hours by bus up the road from Montevideo however it really seems to be a whole world away. Colonia might be one of the most photogenic cities in the whole of Eastern South America as well. Tiny brightly coloured houses line the cobbled streets as classic cars seem to be the only challengers to the tourists that otherwise dominate the streets. Rich in charm it is easy to spend a day just wandering the streets or people watching from a cafe or park bench. You can do Colonia on a day trip from either capital, but there is also plenty of accommodation if you want to spend the night or two away from the rush of the city.
Time needed: 1 Day
Budget: $45 a day
Things to do in Colonia
Colonia del Sacramento isn’t going to blow you away with an array of exciting activities. However, if you’re the type of person who likes to wander slowly and take lots of photos you could spend an entire day doing only that here. If you’re looking for a little bit of history and culture, you can also find plenty to keep you entertained in that regard.
- Museums: There are plenty of little museums to wander through in Colonia. You’ll only have to pay a couple dollar fee that coveres almost all the museums rather than paying for each and every one. My personal favourites were Museo Portugues, which has an excellent selection of old maps, and who doesn’t like old maps, the San Francisco Covenant and lighthouse, and the Puerta de Campo.
- Churches: For such a small town there are plenty little churches. Most of the buildings are small but charming. Of all the churches the one you’ll surely not want to miss, as well as the most important historically, in town is Iglesia Matriz which was built in the late 1600s. There are also the ruins of a former Jesuit chapel called Capilla Jesuitica in town.
- Sights: Your eyes will likely dance through town as inspect the old houses, beautiful doors, and the colonial street sidings. On top of that you should head down and check out the Old port, the fort and the old theater (Teatro Bastion del Carmen).
Where to Eat in Colonia
There are no shortages of places to eat in Colonia del Sacramento. Just to be warned, however, the prices are inflated because of the high level of tourism activity. If you are on a really strict budget and just coming up for the day you might want to pack a lunch and eat down in front of the river or in one of the parks. I only had one meal in Colonia as I visited on a day trip.
- El Torreon: On a recommendation from one of the guide books I ate here because I was promised great views. The food was excellent and the views were great as promised. I paid just over $10 for a fish dinner and a beer. Be warned, whatever you pay for your meal you’ll be tacked on a “service charge” since the host brought you peanuts. You’ll have to add a tip on top of that as well.
Where to Stay in Colonia
I didn’t stay the night in Colonia so I can only go on recommendations heard from friends and not first hand experience.
- El Viajero: I stayed with them in Montevideo and Punta del Este and they were fantastic. I’m sure they’d also be good in Colonia. They are the most popular option in Colonia and also have a B&B if you’re looking for that style of stay.
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