You will discover the colonial history of the city by visiting seven small museums. They are situated in Barrio Historico and can be visited in a couple of hours. This little museums consist of just one small building which are worth having a look, with a couple of exhibition rooms inside.
For your convenience, there is a common ticket which enables you to visit all seven museums for the price of 25 Uruguayan pesos (1,25 Us$, December 2007): Museo Municipal, Museo Indigena, Museo Espanol, Museo Casa de Nacarello, Museo del Azulejo, Museo Portuguese and Museo y Archivo Regional.
You start on Plaza Mayor where Museo Municipal and Museo Portuguese are located. Here you can also buy the ticket.
Museums are open daily 11:30am - 5:30pm.
On the walk from ferry terminal into town, you come across Colonia's main tourist office. It can be found in a rustic shed on the corner of Avenida General Flores and Calle Rivera and is open Mon-Sat 8am-8pm and Sun 9am-5pm.
phone number: 052 26141
Fortunately Colonia is small enough that you can explore it by yourself. The helpful staff is all too eager to offer maps and leaflets and even a friendly lunch recommendation. Talk to someone from the tourist office if you want a guided tour of the town - they can arrange it as well.
While you can change money on arrivel in Colonia, you'll really only need Uruguayan pesos (UR$) to buy stamps or make telephone call, elsewhere you can pay with Argentine pesos or US dollars; many prices are even displayed in dollars (1 US dollar = 19,7 Uruguayan pesos, April 2008).
Colonia's main areas of interest are easily accessible on foot. The historic center (Barrio Historico) is packed with mostly one-storey buildings lining the peaceful, cobblestone streets. Many of these structures date back to the late 17th century and stand today as historical markers of the time when Colonia del Sacramento was a wealthy Portuguese settlement.
You can easily visit all of the main sights within the historic center on foot in only a few hours.
Colonia del Sacramento was settle by the Portuguese in 1680 and evidence of their presence can still be seen today in some of the architecture and artifacts located in the historic center. If you've ever been to Portugal (or Spain, for that matter), then you are familiar with azulejos (painted tiles). This one is a map of Colonia's historic district.
There's a Museo del Azulejo on Calle Misiones de los Tapes.
Meeting Mark, of course!
We spent a nice sunny afternoon, wandering around and having a chat... I was not a good guide, because I did not visit Colonia del Sacramento for a looooong time, but I hope he also enjoyed the stroll...
¡El encuentro con Mark, claro!
Pasamos una tarde linda y soleada, caminando por allí y charlando... No fui una buena guía, dado que no visitaba Colonia del Sacramento desde hacía muuuuucho tiempo, pero espero que Mark haya disfrutado el paseo...
Favorite thing: The historic district is located at the southwestern corner of town right on the coast. It's really a great location with the water and quiet lanes and historic buildings. Plaza Mayor is the heart of the district where I snapped this picture of a tree covered in lichens (sometimes likened to an "old man's beard"). The scientific name for those green, stringy things is Usnea (thanks to andal13 for letting my know that!).
Favorite thing: Quaint and quiet is how I'd describe this place. It was a gorgeous day with a blue sky and moderate temperatures. Coming from bustling Buenos Aires with its ubiquitous taxis and ever-present traffic and exhaust fumes, Colonia is literally a breath of fresh air.
Favorite thing: But what kind of water is it? I asked Andrea and she said that there is a bit of a debate about that. In Buenos Aires, the Argentinians will refer to it as a river, but not in Uruguay. It's really more of an estuary, but in most of the literature I've read it's referred to as the Rio de la Plata. Actually, if you look on a map you'll see the Rio Uruguay comes from the northwest and where it widens near Colonia it is called the Rio de la Plata which flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
Favorite thing: Most visitors to Colonia del Sacramento make it a day trip from either Montevideo or Buenos Aires. Since it's a relatively short ferry or bus ride to either one of those larger cities, it makes for a great getaway. The peace and quiet and the beautiful location are really relaxing.
Since Alex suggested the idea of taking a day trip to Uruguay, I was all for the idea. You never hear anything out of Uruguay- like you never hear from Andorra, Liechtenstein, and Luxembourg. I became more in favour of the idea when Alex said he thought he could get a price of under $50 A POP (each). The $36 deal included the ferry ride and lunch at a restaurant in Colonia, but on drinks, we were on our own steam.
27 December came up and I felt like I was dragged through a knot hole- twice. I didn't sleep worth shucks the previous night due to the cold. Summer colds are harder to SHAKE (get rid of) than Amway salesmen, revenuers, and I.R.S. agents. I felt about as much like going to Uruguay that morning as I felt like pushing a peanut all the way there with my (stopped up) nose. However, the tickets were non-refundable and non-transferrable, so I needed to be in hospital to get out of this trip although I thought that might be where I would end up if I pressed on. Before leaving, I had misplaced my watch and I would not have gone without it because it was an important tool to have on a day trip for obvious reasons. It turned up behind on Alex's computer desk.
We went to the harbour to check in early and pass through immigration. An Argentine and a Uruguayan agent sat side by side stamping for passengers ready to board the Eladia Isabel. The ferry was scheduled to leave at 9.15, but was delayed and didn't shove off until 9.48. The 3-hour cruise across the Río de la Plata was crowded. Finding a seat was like trying to find a flea in a grain silo. Alex wanted to catch some sun on the deck. With my cold and without my sun block, I didn't want any part of that, so Alex and I agreed on a place to meet if we didn't see each other before we made port. I met an American guy on board named Hernan who studied in New York. He was the first American I met since passing through customs at Rio de Janeiro more than a week earlier. We made port at 1.00 spot on.
Favorite thing: The sunsets in Colonia are spectacular and as good as any I've seen before. A popular place to catch the sunset is at the western end of the old town, from where there are good lookout points over the sea. There are some cafes here too where you can watch the sun go down with a cold beer, but most people just gather on the promenade. Another popular spot to take it in from is the top of the lighthouse in the old town, though you have to pay a small entrance charge for the privilege.
They have 2 offices. One near the Buquebus as you start to walk out of the port..on your right. They had no information for me, just a woman telling you ....I think where the downtown part of Colonia was. (There is a bank to get URU money right near there though if you need.) Go straight to downtown Colonia and use the bigger Tourist Center there.
Location, on the corner of General Flores St and Rivera St. They have maps of the old town, and maps of the rest of the city with other things to see. They speak minimal English, so Spanish comes in handy. You can also reserve a hotel here, but there are plenty to find just by walking past them and they are visible.
Location: Right on the main street, on your right side as you walk up the hill.
Favorite thing: They have two tourist info offices and I was extremely amazed at the fact that neither had staff on hand that could speak any English. I was interested in finding out about tours around the area, but all I got was some very blank stares and "no English"
Colonia del Sacramento is in Uruguai, but if you are in Argentina, Buenos Aires, it´s very easy to get there. It´s a small city, romantic, and nice to walk. you can look at a beautiful view every corner of the town.
Fondest memory: We had lunch in a very good restaurant named Viejo Barrio, it´s on Governador Vasconcelos street, 169. It´s on the main street of Colonia.
Colonia is such a small town that the only important thing to see there is the old colonial town. It is only few blocks from the Boat Pier.
The Day trip and city tour that they take you on is almost worthless. They take you thru some housing colonies and show you some dilapidated stadiums and the beach with is almost not worth seeing.
The restaurant where they offer a buffet is terrible with very little vegetarian selection and the food isn't that great even if you order stake.
So the additional money that you pay for the tour is really worthless. I shoud have known better.
Fondest memory: Most definitly The beautiful colonial town has to be my best memory. Its also a nice place to spend a few days laid back.
Very very cheap.