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Welcome to Uruguay’s Oldest City!

Colonia del Sacramento is a stunning city (though it feels much more like a small town) with cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and a laid-back atmosphere. Often overlooked as just a rest stop between Montevideo and Buenos Aires, Colonia del Sacramento is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. Founded by the Portuguese way back in the 17th century, this charming town boasts a rich history, delicious food (think fresh seafood!), and a UNESCO World Heritage Site Old Town that’s straight out of a postcard. This may be Uruguay’s oldest city, but it’s arguably the most beautiful as well!

Colonia del Sacramento is a popular day trip from both Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay. We stopped in Colonia del Sacramento on our way from Montevideo to Buenos Aires, which was perfect for us, and if you’re traveling between countries we highly recommend stopping here for at least a few hours! Let’s dive in to the most amazing things to do in Colonia del Sacramento!

Colonia Uruguay Best Things to Do

9 Amazing Things to do in Colonia del Sacramento

1. Get Lost in Colonia’s Charming Streets

If you didn’t want to spend time planning your activities in Colonia del Sacramento, simply wandering its charming streets is an experience in itself. So much so that we’ve placed it as #1 on our list for best things to do in Colonia del Sacramento! The cobblestone streets are wide enough for cars but are by no means overrun or super crowded. The various pastel houses, blooming flowers, outdoor dining, and boutique shops make walking the old town the perfect activity while in Colonia del Sacramento!

Check out this private walking tour if you prefer going with a guide!


2. Check Out the Colonia del Sacramento Lighthouse

The Colonia del Sacramento Lighthouse, or “El Faro,” is the perfect place to admire the town from above. It costs 35 pesos (less than 1 USD) and sometimes has a line, but it’s 100% worth it. The Colonia del Sacramento Lighthouse is definitely the star of the show!

The lighthouse is open from 10 am to 12:50 pm and 2 pm to 4:50 pm from Wednesday-Sunday. It’s closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Lighthouse View Colonia del Sacramento

3. Taste Uruguayan Wine

Tannat wine was first brought to Uruguay in the 19th century, and is now synonymous with Uruguayan wine. Tannat wine is famous here, Argentina, and respected internationally as many of the wines produced in this region have won international awards! There are a few wine and cheese shops in Colonia del Sacramento that you can quickly stop in if you are pressed for time. However, if you aren’t, check out the tours below!

4. Admire the Basílica del Sagrado Sacramento

The Basílica del Sagrado Sacramento is Colonia’s main church, which towers over the Plaza de Armas. This church isn’t overly impressive, but it serves as the perfect complement to the restaurants surrounding it. The dining options here are the perfect place to take a break from exploring Colonia del Sacramento. The restaurants here are in high demand, so make sure to go during off-peak hours!

Basilica del Sagrado Colonia

5. Plaza de Toros (Plaza of Bulls)

The Plaza de Toros is probably the most impressive structure in Colonia del Sacramento. This former bull-fighting ring is the only one of its kind in Uruguay and looks like a mini-Colosseum. You can only enter with a guided tour, which costs 200 pesos (about 5 USD). Make sure to check out La Bodegas Winery, which is actually located inside the building!

Plaza de Toros Sacramento
Photo Credit

6. Enjoy Uruguayan Cuisine

Uruguayan cuisine is very similar to Argentine cuisine, with a huge focus on meat. Parrilla, which directly translates to “grill” involves barbequed meats and vegetables – usually with huge portions. These are more expensive but absolutely worth it! Chivitos (which we are obsessed) are sandwiches with tons of meat, vegetables, and sauces, and they are a classic Uruguayan dish worth trying! Check out the food tours below!

Colonia del Sacramento Things to Do

7. Relax on the Beaches

The Colonia del Sacramento beaches are a nice contrast to the rocky port and marina areas that border old town. Playa Urbana and Playa Ferrando are the two bigger, more popular beaches in Colonia del Sacramento. While there are parts of the Río de Plata that are polluted, people swim here all the time!

8. Check out Colonia’s Museums

Colonia has various museums, mostly history-related that detail the various periods in Colonia del Sacramento’s history. From the Paleontological museum that has million year-old fossils, to the Indigineous Museum and post-colonialism museums, you can spend a full day checking out the museums here. You can find the full list of Colonia’s museums here. Colonia also has an Origami museum, which has nothing to do its history, and seems wildly out of place, yet extremely interesting!

Colonia Uruguay Things to Do

9. Walk La Rambla

The Rambla, or boardwalk in Colonia del Sacramento may not be as long as the one in Montevideo, but it is certainly prettier. Instead of big apartment buildings and mostly-rocky shores, you have sandy beaches and small homes, hotels and stores complemented by various trees. This is a great place to watch the sunset!

Where to Stay in Colonia del Sacramento

When in Colonia, we recommend staying in the old town. This is the most beautiful part of the city and where most of the restaurants and bars are!

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How to Get to Colonia del Sacramento

Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento

Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento by Ferry

This takes around an hour and 15 minutes and costs between 45 and 60 USD. The cheapest ferry tickets we found were on Bookaway.

Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento with a Tour

This tour picks you up from your hotel in Buenos Aires, organizes your round-trip ticket on the Colonia del Sacramento ferry, and has a guide teach you all about Colonia del Sacramento.

Montevideo to to Colonia del Sacramento

Montevideo to Colonia del Sacramento by Bus

To get from Montevideo to Colonia del Sacramento, you can take the 2.5 hour bus from the Tres Cruces Terminal. This costs 496 pesos or $13. You can find the tickets you want on the Tres Cruces website and book them in advance on the website of whatever company you choose.

Montevideo to Colonia del Sacramento by Car

The drive from Montevideo to Colonia del Sacremento is easy and beautiful, even though you don’t drive by the coast. You can rent a car and drive or arrange a private or shared shuttle here.

Montevideo to Colonia del Sacramento with a Tour

If you’re coming from Montevideo and want a guided tour that takes care of transportation and other needs, check out this tour from Montevideo!

Transiting through Colonia del Sacramento

If you’re planning on stopping in Colonia for a few hours between Buenos Aires and Montevideo, we recommend giving yourself at least 4-5 hours of time between bus arrival and ferry departure to explore. Any less than that and you may find yourself pressed for time as you should plan to arrive at the ferry terminal at least one hour before the departure time. We loved Colonia and wish we had spent just one night there to enjoy the town and relax, but more than that may be too much time since there really isn’t that much to do. While you explore the town, you can store your bags at Viaggio, which is right across the street from the port. We paid 2.5 USD per bag for 6 hours of storage.

Check out our post on how to get from Montevideo to Buenos Aires for more information on this trip!

Colonia del Sacramento Uruguay

Things to do in Colonia del Sacramento: FAQs

How Many Hours Do You Need In Colonia del Sacramento?

Two hours is enough time to see the old town of Colonia del Sacramento, but we recommend staying for at least one full day. Doing a wine tour, checking out the Plaza de Toros, and truly experiencing the Uruguayan cuisine require a bit more time!

Is Colonia del Sacramento Worth Visiting?

Colonia del Sacramento is definitely worth visiting. This was our favorite place in Uruguay and is an impressive slice of Europe in South America. We will definitely return!

What is Colonia del Sacramento Known For?

Colonia del Sacramento is known for being the oldest city in Uruguay as the Portuguese first established the colony in 1680. It is known for it’s gorgeous cobblestone streets and colorful houses, making it the perfect day trip from Buenos Aires and Montevideo.

Best Places to Visit in Uruguay Colonia

Keep Exploring Uruguay…

Our Favorite Travel Resources

Accommodations: We use for hotels and HostelWorld for hostels. We also use VRBO or TrustedHousesitters for longer stays.

Flights: We recommend using Skyscanner to find the cheapest and best flights.

Ground Transport: We use 12Go and Omio for buses and private transfers, and and Discover Cars for rental cars.

Activities: GetYourGuide and Viator are the best websites for booking organized tours.

International Medical Insurance: We highly recommend SafetyWing for Digital Nomads and HeyMondo for those not traveling full-time, or who frequently engage in higher-risk adventure activities.

eSIM: We recommend Airalo or Holafly for getting data internationally.

Check out our Travel Resources Page for more of our favorite travel-related products and services!

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