It has been well noted (on the internet and otherwise) that one of the “must-do” activities on offer in Buenos Aires, Argentina is (quite ironically) to literally leave the country! Yes, the short ferry-ride across the Rio de la Plata to Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay, is a favorite excursion for tourists. It is easily done in one day.
Well, just how does one go about it? And is it worth the fuss? May the following help you find answers to those questions:
How To Do It
In the past, most travelers intending to make the trip to ‘Colonia’ would automatically head toward the large Buquebus terminal on Av. Antártida Argentina. It’s true that if money is no object, but flexibility is, Buquebus is your best bet. They have multiple ferries – some fast, some slow – and they operate a schedule that will most likely fit in with your plans. And one has to admit that their terminal is rather impressive.
However, from personal experience I would have to say that you shouldn’t overlook the operator named Colonia Express, located at the complete opposite end of the Puerto Madero district (the southern end) on Av. Don Pedro de Mendoza. Colonia Express offers a “daytour” ticket, which includes round-trip ticket on their ferry, a light breakfast of coffee and “medialunas” (small, sweet croissants), and even tour-guides who speak English or Spanish upon arrival at Colonia del Sacramento. The tour only lasts about 45 minutes, but is an ample introduction to the historical town.
The catch is that there is only one schedule for this service. The ferry departs Buenos Aires at 8:00am, and leaves Colonia at 5:00pm. The journey lasts about an hour and a half. If this schedule doesn’t work in with your travel plans, you’ll need to find another option. However, if a 30% saving on your ticket price means anything to you, you should probably try to fit in with Colonia Express!
Is It Worth All The Fuss?
The attraction of Colonia del Sacramento has much to do with it’s history. Spain and Portugal long fought over the town due to it’s strategic location along the Rio de la Plata. Domination of the small peninsula shifted back and forth between the two colonial powers, which is evidenced by their obviously differing influences on building architecture and street design in the town.
Some people describe Colonia del Sacramento as an absolute highlight of their vacation in the area. It’s true that the town certainly has an interesting history, and the quaint cobble-stone streets and painted buildings are quite photogenic. On a sunny day, a quiet stroll around Colonia is certainly relaxing and memorable. There is also no shortage of Uruguayan beef to be had, although it of course comes at a price.
If you’ve never been to a well-preserved or reconstructed Spanish colonial settlement (in this case a Spanish/Portuguese fusion), you will probably be completely enchanted by Colonia del Sacramento. However, seasoned travelers to Latin America might find it all just a little overrated and expensive.
All that said, after a few days of hustle and bustle in Buenos Aires, Colonia del Sacramento might be just what the doctor ordered. There’s certainly something to be said for the tranquil old-world ambience of this little gem across the “River of Silver”. In any case, and whatever your final judgment of Colonia del Sacramento might be, you’re unlikely to regret that you took the time to visit.