Located just a short boat ride away from metropolitan Buenos Aires, Uruguay’s Colonia del Sacramento offers the anti-thesis of “big city” in a quaint, historic seaside town rich in colonial architecture. Home to Uruguay’s oldest church, full of historical treasures and with long stretches of beautiful beaches, Colonia del Sacramento is an affordable getaway for those seeking a respite from the modern day world. See the following article from International Living for more on this.
I love living in Buenos Aires. The city offers world-class culture, architecture, and entertainment at a bargain price for dollar-earners. But whenever I need a break from Argentina’s capital, I just take a short boat ride across the Rio de la Plata…
Colonia del Sacramento, in Uruguay, is the antithesis of “big city”. This little seaside town is as quaint as they come, especially in the barrio historico (the historic quarter), where cobbled streets and sleepy squares offer the perfect antidote to urban anxiety.
Just one hour after departing from Buenos Aires’ restless port, you find yourself transported back in time by some of the continent’s best-preserved colonial architecture.
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The Portuguese settled here back in the late 17th century, building the uneven cobblestoned alleyways that today’s tourists still trip over. For more than a century the town bounced back and forth between the Spanish and Portuguese empires, until Uruguay’s declaration of independence in 1825.
Thankfully, the scars of this drawn out conflict are few and far between, and the Old Town remains delightfully charming. There are even some surviving original features, including the old gateway to the city, the photogenic Calle de los Suspiros (Street of Sighs), and the well-restored Iglesia Matriz, Uruguay’s oldest church.
The classic 1930s automobiles parked outside period homes suggest a refreshing resistance to modernization.
Meanwhile, the lack of traffic in general makes it easy to rent a motor scooter ($18 a day) or buggy ($50) and explore the long stretch of beach and abandoned bullring to the north of the barrio historico.
Since coming to Buenos Aires two years ago, I’ve visited Colonia a half-dozen times, whiling away sunny afternoons wandering through narrow passageways or reading a book under a tree on the riverbank. I always return to the city feeling revitalized (and with a fresh 90-day tourist visa in my passport—a useful bonus for those without Argentine residency).
Two ferry operators—Buquebus and Colonia Express—can get you from Buenos Aires to Colonia within the hour (a trundling three-hour boat is a cheaper option for those without time constraints). Day-trip fares are broadly comparable, and range from around $30 to $60, depending on the type of boat and the day of the week.
These packages sometimes provide the option of lunch and a guided walking tour of the barrio historico, though I generally prefer to make my own way through the passageways. One-way fares (with no same-day return) can cost as little as $10, though only if you buy online and reserve your ticket far in advance. In any case, early bookings are essential in the peak summer season (January-March) and on most weekends.
This article has been republished from International Living.