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Step Back in Time: Exploring Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

Updated: Jun 18

Colonia del Sacramento: a journey back in time to the colonial era

Just 1 hour from Buenos Aires is Colonia del Sacramento, a charming city founded by the Portuguese in 1680. 

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with preserved Portuguese and Spanish-influenced architecture. Calle dos Suspiros, a typically Portuguese street, is a beautiful example of this architecture.

The history of Colônia do Sacramento is marked by disputes between the Portuguese, Spanish, and French. The city was founded by the Portuguese in 1680 but was conquered by the Spanish in 1705. In 1777, the city was returned to the Portuguese and remained under their rule until Uruguay's independence in 1828.

Colonia Del Sacramento

Tourist attractions: things to do in Colonia del Sacramento

Colonia del Sacramento offers a variety of tourist attractions that can be visited in one day. The historic center, Barrio Histórico, is within walking distance of the bus station and port.

Visitors can explore the city on foot, by bicycle, electric car, or scooter.

To enter the city, go through the city gate. This was rebuilt between 1968 and 1971 and is one of the city's major historical landmarks. It preserves the remains of the old wall and wooden drawbridge.

Avenida Rambla de Las Américas, which borders the River Plate, offers a beautiful view of the landscape and the city's modern and contemporary architecture.

Walking approximately 5 km along the avenue, the visitor arrives at the Plaza del Toros, where eight bullfights were held until they were banned in 1912.

Colonia Del Sacramento Beach

Wander the romantic Calle de los Suspiros (Street of Sighs) and delve into the town's past at museums like the fascinating Museo Municipal.

Climb the 19th-century lighthouse for panoramic Rio de la Plata views.

Swim on the Rio de Plata. Although the color of the water is browner, it is clean and safe to swim. 

After the tour, before boarding back to your starting point, sit down in one of the restaurants on the banks of the La Plata River, enjoying the view, tasting wine, and savoring the local cuisine.

Colonia Del Sacramento Beaches

Colonia del Sacramento Beaches Map

Those seeking some beach time won't be disappointed either. While the beaches here may not boast the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, they offer a relaxing and scenic alternative to sightseeing. Here are some of the best beaches:

  1. Playa Ferrando: This is the closest beach to the historic town and a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking. The wide swath of golden sand is backed by a lovely promenade with benches, cafes, and restaurants. Playa El Calabrés: Located a little further east of Playa Ferrando, El Calabrés offers a more natural and secluded setting.The beach is lined with dunes and backed by rolling hills, making it a great choice for those seeking a tranquil escape.

  2. Playa Real de San Carlos: This sprawling beach is located about 12 kilometers west of Colonia del Sacramento and is a popular destination for windsurfing and kitesurfing. The beach is backed by dunes and offers stunning views of the Rio de la Plata.

  3. Playa del Real: where the tide creates natural sandbars that reflect the sunset's colors


Colonia del Sacramento offers a delightful range of dining options, from casual cafes to waterfront bistros with stunning views.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Bohemia Bistro: offers a delightful ambiance and is known for its delicious food (price range $$). Check their hours, as they are closed on Wednesdays and Mondays.

  • DOS22: They offer a lovely dining experience and delectable dishes. They are closed on Tuesdays, so keep that in mind when planning your visit.   

  • Las Liebres Restaurant: fine-dining experience in a charming 1920s neoclassical house. The place is surrounded by a beautiful garden and boasts an organic vegetable patch.

The Architecture of Colonia del Sacramento

Colonia Del Sacramento Streets

The architecture of Colonia del Sacramento is one of its main attractions. The city preserves the Portuguese and Spanish influence, with stone buildings, narrow streets, and cobblestone sidewalks.

Calle de los Suspiros is a typically Portuguese street with colorful houses and wooden windows. It is one of the most famous streets in the city and is a great place to appreciate colonial architecture.

Other important buildings in the city include the Fort of San Miguel, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, and the National Historical Museum. Fort San Miguel is a fortress built by the Portuguese in the 17th century.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption is a Catholic church built by the Spanish in the 18th century. The National Historical Museum houses a collection of artifacts that tell the city's history.

Where to stay: Hotels

Colonia Del Sacramento: Las Liebres
Las Liebres Restaurant & Hotel

If you decide to spend a night, there are numerous accommodation options. We stayed there 5 nights and didn't regret it.

We chose LAS LIEBRES RESTAURANT & HOTEL, a little away from the beach. The structure is good, the rooms are spacious, the place is calm and peaceful. It has an excellent restaurant.

Or choose yours on or, the two most comprehensive websites for finding the perfect hotel.

Recommended tours

If you decide to extend your stay, it's worth spending a day in Carmelo. Carmelo is a Uruguayan city located about 70 kilometers from Colonia del Sacramento. The city is known for its wineries and its natural beauty.

It is also considered the new Punta del Este due to the number of Argentines who spend seasons there due to its proximity. And, without a doubt, the beautiful beaches.

We had lunch at Narbona Wine Lodge, one of the first wineries in Uruguay. The food is good, and the view and atmosphere are sensational!

Visit (and/or stay) the Hyatt Carmelo Resort and Spa on the banks of Rio de La Plata.

How to go to Colonia del Sacramento from Montevideo

Sunset Colonia Del Sacramento

Bus is the most budget-friendly option. The ride takes about 2.5 to 3 hours, with departures roughly every hour from Montevideo's Terminal Tres Cruces. Several companies operate this route, including COT and Turil. While not the fastest option, it's a comfortable way to travel and enjoy the passing Uruguayan countryside. 

The car offers the most flexibility for your journey, taking approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes. The route is well-maintained and scenic, following Route 1 along the coast. Tolls may apply on some stretches. 

You can stop on your way to some winery and grab a snack. 

Renting a car in Montevideo is a breeze, with several international car rental companies to choose from. We always use RentalCars to compare and get the best price.

How to get from Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento:

When coming from Buenos Aires, you will go through immigration for both Argentina and Uruguay. Therefore, ensure your entry documents (either ID and/or passport) are ready when you disembark your flight.

If you plan on exploring by foot or local means of transport, purchase the transport section only for travel from Buenos Aires to Colonia or from Montevideo to Colonia, without any excursion included. 

Thrifty Car Rental (Na General Flores 172 Centro) rents bicycles, electric cars, and/or scooters.

Buquebus is the most popular ferry! You can take your car and purchase your ticket at tourist agencies, online, or at the embarkation port. It works very well, and the surprise is the duty-free onboard. It's cheaper than at Buenos Aires airport, making this time more pleasant!

Seacat - Online or by telephone, or at points of sale to be consulted

Colonia Express - online

Whether you're a history buff soaking in the colonial charm or an adventurer seeking waterfront delights, Colonia del Sacramento is the place to go!

So, pack your bags, lace up your walking shoes, and get ready to experience this captivating Uruguayan gem.


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