Why did we visit Colonia, Uruguay??

No, really…why? I mean I mostly know. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and I have a habit of tracking those down if they are near where I happen to be. I like tracking places I’ve visited and they’re usually a good list to check off items on. Still, when everyone told me that it was small and without much to do I figured there had to be a secret something there, a vibe or a feeling or a site or some attraction which would make it worthwhile. I think my friends were all correct.

I can see Argentina from here! - Colonia, Uruguay
I can see Argentina from here!

The sights of Colonia are, well, limited. There is a circuit of ~9 things to see, mostly centered at the tip of the peninsula, and they really are there, but there isn’t actually all that much to see. The old city gate and wall is still on show, for example.

The old city gate - Colonia, Uruguay
The old city gate

And then there’s the view from atop the lighthouse. It is the best view in town, but that’s not really saying all that much.

View from atop the lighthouse - Colonia, Uruguay
View from atop the lighthouse


We were there on a weekend so there were other tourists visiting, too. Most of them seemed to be from the area rather than foreign tourists; I suppose that makes sense given that it was very much off season when we were there.

Enjoying a mate (the drink) with a mate (the friend) at sunset - Colonia, Uruguay
Enjoying a mate (the drink) with a mate (the friend) at sunset

Still, I don’t think that visiting during the season would have changed much, other than the level of crowds in the area. On the plus side, there was a kick-ass sunset that night which I watched from the local yacht club.

Sunset at the Colonia Yacht Club - Colonia, Uruguay
Sunset at the Colonia Yacht Club
Sunset at the Colonia Yacht Club - Colonia, Uruguay
Sunset at the Colonia Yacht Club

And I won’t say that the visit was completely a waste.

The hotel was both cheap and quite nice, though it wasn’t exactly pool weather in mid-winter there.

Great pool area at our hotel, the Don Antonio Posada - Colonia, Uruguay
Great pool area at our hotel, the Don Antonio Posada

We ended up having a phenomenal dinner at a small restaurant down in the old city area:

We got lucky when we stumbled into this place for dinner. We mostly chose it because they accepted CCs; turned out to be a phenomenal meal.
Inside the restaurant. Dark, but great atmosphere.
My steak dinner. It was cooked perfectly, which is to say barely. Incredibly tender, juicy and delicious.

The meal alone was almost worth the visit.

And, to be fair, it wasn’t like Montevideo was a happening town with a ton to see and do, though it did offer more than Colonia. Damning with faint praise, I know.

Street art - Colonia, Uruguay
Street art

If you’re in the area and have time to kill I suppose Colonia is a reasonable day trip. But that’s assuming you really have nothing else going on.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. I went there on a day trip (ferry) from Bs.As., I too felt it was worth it just for the chivito (sandwich) I ate – it was about the best thing I’ve ever tasted.

  2. I found rural Colonia a refreshing break from urban Buenos Aires. But then again, I am not much of a city person. I enjoyed the bird sounds and Rio de la Plata river views.

    The Sheraton Colonia was empty during my winter stay and the outdoor hot tub was fun in the cold weather.

  3. I live in Buenos Aires and find colonia is a great place for a 2/3 day getaway… It’s really amazing how the vibe and the culture changes in such short distance… Food is really amazing. Believe me. Uruguayan meat is better than Argentinian. Thou it hurts me to say. In Argentina we export most of our best meat. In Uruguay you can enjoy it everywhere. And I mean everywhere, from the fanciest restaurant to a “chivito” cart in the street… Colonia is about getting there, relaxing and enjoy the magic within the city… Get lost in the streets and imagine you go back in time… Everything there, the people, the culture, the cars, the costumes are from an era where globalization didn’t exist… Colonia is truly a gem in “rio de la plata” river…

  4. Echoing what everyone else said — I visited it from Buenos Aires and felt it was totally worth the half day trip

  5. I really enjoyed a wee half day trip here before picking up my hire car and driving up to Carmelo- a very pleasant drive and a nice relaxing stay at the Four Seasons there on an FHR rate 🙂

  6. I felt it was a nice stopover between Buenos Aires and Montevideo. I took the ferry over, spent the rest of the day in Colonia, then a bus to Montevideo in the morning. It’s not a high importance must-see destination, just a nice, laid-back change of pace between metropolises.

  7. I absolutely loved Colonia as a day trip from Buenos Aires – and most particularly my chivito at El Drugstore!

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