Just across the River Plate from the capital of Argentina, the picturesque town of Colonia makes a perfect day trip from Buenos Aires. Porteños (residents of Buenos Aires) have known about this UNESCO World Heritage Site for years, popping across the border to Uruguay for a relaxing weekend away from the summer heat in the big city.
How to get to Colonia from Buenos Aires
The Uruguayan town of Colonia del Sacramento is only 76 km (48 miles) across the River Plate from the Argentina capital. The easiest way to get to Colonia is by ferry, which leaves from the port in the north of Buenos Aires’ Puerto Madero district. The cheaper option is the slow ferry, which takes three hours, but if you’re only going for a day trip, it makes sense to take the one-hour fast ferry in the morning and return later in the evening the same way. Make sure you book your ferry tickets for a Colonia day trip from Buenos Aires in advance as they can sell out, especially on summer weekends.
Crossing the border between Argentina and Uruguay
Argentina and Uruguay have made the border crossing for a day trip to Colonia from Buenos Aires a fairly quick process; there are immigration officials from both countries on each side, which means only one queue! Many nationalities qualify for a 90-day tourist visa for Uruguay, whereas things are a little different for Argentina. The reciprocity fee in Argentina means that holders of US, Canadian and Australian passports need to have paid the fee online and bring the receipt with them in order to re-enter the country. The situation does change from time to time, however, so always check the latest visa requirements for both countries before travelling to Colonia from Buenos Aires.
What is there to do in Colonia?
Colonia’s Barrio Histórico (historic quarter) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a delight of 17th Century colonial buildings and shady plazas built by the Portuguese. It is incredibly picturesque, with trees and cafes lining the gently sloping cobbled streets. As well as looking charming, Colonia’s unhurried pace offers the perfect antidote to sightseeing in bustling Buenos Aires. Settle down in a pavement café with a glass of Tannat (Uruguay’s most prominent wine); enjoy a typical lunch of a chivito steak sandwich; climb the old lighthouse for views across the town; and take a moment of quiet reflection in the Portuguese colonial-style church. Renting a bike, scooter or golf buggy is also popular – remember to bring your driving license and a credit card with you if you want to do your Colonia day trip from Buenos Aires on wheels.
Booking a day trip to Colonia
For the most hassle-free experience, you can ask our travel consultants to book your ferry tickets, transfers and even a guided tour of Colonia as part of your South America holiday. Get in touch – they’ll be happy to help!Making a Colonia Day Trip from Buenos Aires by Katherine Walker