Colonia, Uruguay

A cobbled street at night in Colonia, Uruguay

Colonia del Sacramento is a very small town with not a lot going on, for this reason many backpackers stay only one day or night. However if you linger awhile in this sleepy place, you may find yourself charmed by the nostalgic, almost romantic vibe. Colonial buildings and old fashioned cobbled streets of the renowned Historic Quarter will make you feel like you have stepped inside a real life painting. Built by the Portuguese in 1680, the town was made an official UNESCO Heritage site in 1995.

Also read: Uruguay Backpacking Guide.


Pretty cobbled streets that have remained the same for centuries.

Places to Stay

  • BEST PICK! El Viajero Hostel: In a quiet but central location, the beds are cosy and facilities are good. A short walk away from the main cobbled streets in town.

Things to Do

  • Climb up the old Lighthouse: Visit the Colonia Lighthouse for a view of the small colonial buildings and outer coast sea. (Entrance fee – 20 Uruguayan peso)
  • Check out the Museums: Head to one of the eight museums in the town for modern, historical and cultural exhibits. One to mention is the Portuguese Museum and Museum Municipal.
  • Wander the Historic Quarter: Walk around the old historic city centre for colourful colonial buildings, cobbled streets and delightful restaurants in abundance.
  • Handicrafts Markets: Visit the handicraft markets for some local Uruguayan made treasures. Be sure to buy yourself a ‘mate’ cup and bombilla to blend in with the locals. There are so many designs to choose from – just be sure to learn the mate drinking rituals before participating in your first sharing circle!

‘Mate’ drinking is a national institution in Uruguay and Argentina

  • Try local delicacies: Eat home-made local ice-cream and asado (barbecue or parilla) until you feel sleepy and ready for your siesta in this lazy historical town.
  • Head down to the waterfront: Take in the beautiful sunset by the waterfront. There’s a small sandy bit where you can sit with your mate and relax… The tree besides you holds a flock of birds which appears to fly briefly in and around in patterns in what looks like some sort of gaming exercise. Take pictures!

Nature is all around in Colonia!

Getting There

From Montevideo: You can take a bus which takes 3 hours and goes pretty much every couple of hours. If you are coming from Buenos Aires, you can take the fast or slow boat, ranging from 1-4 hours.

Where to go next?

  • Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay is three-hours south and a gateway to the rest of Uruguay. From here you can head into cosmopolitan Buenos Aires via boat also.

About the writer: Tommy Walker backpacked South America for nine months from 2013-14, traveling Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru. Mad on being connected to the rainforest and jungle, a new addict to diving in the ocean and a keen culture geek, South America has taught him many new things and interests! As well as South America Backpacker, Tommy is currently writing for Matador Network, Clapway and The Buddhahood Culture.

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