Colonia de Sacramento is a small Uruguayan city located a short ferry ride away from Buenos Aires. Each day, countless of day trippers arrive to its shores for two main purposes:
1) Legally obtain USD from the ATMs in order to go back to Buenos Aires the same day and make a profit due to the exchange rate and the fact that foreign currency exchange is extremely regulated in Argentina (you can read more about that here).
2) Renew their 90 days Argentina Tourist Visa. Similar to the Thailand border run that existed up until recently, in Argentina you can renew your 90 days visa just by exiting and entering the country by any of its border, the one with Uruguay being the closest from Buenos Aires (you can read more about that here).
But did you know that Colonia de Sacramento is actually a very cool place on its own? Enjoy a complete day here and visit its many off the beaten path attractions!
How to reach Colonia de Sacramento from Buenos Aires
There are two main ferry companies departing for Colonia, one is BuqueBus and the other one is Colonia Express. Unfortunately, Colonia Express is located in the Boca district so it’s not advisable for you to depart from there, especially since there’s a chance that you might come back later at night (La Boca is not exactly safe after the sun sets in).
The departure point in Buenos Aires for BuqueBus is in Puerto Madero and from there you can take either the 3 hour or 1 hour ferry to Colonia de Sacramento. The 3 hours one is fairly cheaper and is also bigger so you can leave early in the morning, take a nap and arrive to Colonia all freshened up to explore the city!
What to do and see in Colonia de Sacramento
As its name implies, Colonia de Sacramento is…well, a Colonial town. Here you will find Spanish and Portuguese influence in the churches, fortified walls and lighthouses that are spread throughout the city. The city itself is fairly small and it shouldn’t take you more than two hours to completely explore it.
I definitely advice you to arrive at noon and just wander around the city in order to watch the sunset before taking the BuqueBus back to Buenos Aires. I have seen many sunsets at the Ocean before in my life and the one of Colonia definitely has a place in my top 5. It’s hard not to fall in love with this sight!
Bear in mind that if you’re traveling with Argentinian pesos these will be severely depreciated so instead of exchanging currency, your best choice is to just withdraw USD and pay with them.
Of course, it is best if you just arrive with your own lunch all the way from Buenos Aires since restaurants in Colonia are over-priced anyways. In the end, I would not recommend you to stay overnight but you should definitely give it a go in order to experience a new country and to obtain those USD!
From Colonia to Uruguay and beyond?
In case you’re interested in continuing forwards to Uruguay’s other cities, you can schedule a bus transfer directly with Buquebus. The time from Colonia de Sacramento to Montevideo is 2 and a half hours while going from Colonia de Sacramento to Punta del Este takes about 5 hours. Are you ready to explore Uruguay?
I hope that these travel tips for visiting Colonia de Sacramento are useful to you during your travels to South America and remember to share your thoughts to let me know what you think! 🙂