The three companies that ferry passengers over to Colonia are Buquebus, Colonia Express and Seacat. All offer a fast ferry, that takes approximately 50 minutes, and a cheaper ferry that will get you there in about three hours. Prices are usually very similar, and can vary depending on the season or special offers, so your best bet is to ring and find out, or just pop in to the ticket offices which are all within a block of each other downtown. Ferries depart several times a day from the terminal at Puerto Madero (Antartida Argentina 821), not far from the where you buy the tickets – the vendors will give you exact instructions on where to show up on the day of your trip.
Tel: 4316 6500
Tel: 4313 5100
Tel: 4322 9551
For visitors on a day trip, most of the restaurants you are likely to encounter fall into the ‘tourist trap’ category, at least as far as prices are concerned. Many are almost worth paying extra for due to their fine locations, but remember to be careful when converting prices into Argentinian pesos or dollars.
Yacht Club $$$
Santa Rita street, by the pier.
When you’re in a nice little seaside town, you can’t help but crave a nice little seafood meal once in a while. Such simple pleasures prove unusually hard to find in Colonia, but that’s where the Yacht Club comes to the rescue. At the foot of the peer, the Yacht Club offers indoor or outdoor dining, but big windows ensure the view is a gorgeous one no matter where you sit. Prices are just as expensive as most other Colonia restaurants, but at least here you feel you are getting some value for money. Seafood pastas or paellas are the menu highlights. You know it’s good because it’s where the locals are eating.
El Drugstore $$$
Portugal 174 (and Vasconsellos street.)
Like a vacuous model, El Drugstore is all style and little substance. With an ideal location at the corner of the main plaza, directly in front of the basilica, sitting down at one of the tables out on the cobblestones on a sunny day is hard to resist. Even the bohemian interior decor is reminiscent of a hip San Telmo or Palermo rockabilly bar in Buenos Aires. The menu is also refreshing, with a few Asian dishes as well as some interesting sounding pastas and seafood plates. Prices are on the high side, and although sometimes it is worth paying extra for some ambiance, El Drugstore disappoints it in the food department. Dishes are generally lacking flavor and uninteresting. Service is also poor and slow — nobody is in a rush in Colonia, but it’d be nice if they brought the condiments before the meal is over. And just when you think, ‘at least we can listen to some live music while we eat,’ they go ahead and charge you extra for it on the bill. With limited options in town, El Drugstore is probably worth a look – just order something simple such as drinks and dessert and don’t expect a taste explosion.
A better value option, Candela keeps it simple with pizzas, hamburgers and the like. Despite showing questionable taste by proudly proclaiming that their food is provided by ‘McCain’, dishes are abundant and usually enjoyable. It ain’t the Four Seasons but it’s food. If you’re not in Colonia for the fine dining, a hearty pizza and a pitcher of beer at Candela should do the trick.
Puerto Madera $$$
Santa Rita 87
Another well-situated restaurant which is let down in the food and service departments. Heralded by the flags of Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, and for some reason, The United States (tourist panderers!), tables overlook the water from a raised deck. Cats, dogs and waiters loaf about nonchalantly. The menu is again quite interesting, with some Cuban flavors alongside the usual pizzas and pastas. The food is not terrible, but nor will it blow your hair back. And when the bill eventually comes, you will be left feeling a little bit exploited.
Charco Bistro $$$
San Pedro 116
Hours: 8 a.m. -11 p.m
The bistro at Charco hotel offers up tenderloin steak, rack of lamb, grilled salmon and veggie-filled raviolis in a modern, minimalist ambience. A kids menu means there are a few choices for younger members of the family. The views of the water and outdoor seating makes this a nice place to linger during the afternoon.
Bars, Microbreweries & Wine Bars
Chopería Mastra Colonia$$
Del Comercio 158 – local 9.
Hours: Mon 12—5 p.m.
A little beer house in Colonia’s historic district that offers up a variety of homemade beers including a Belgium blonde ale, as well as other ales, a couple of IPA’s and a bitter American stout with a hint of chocolate.
Washington Barbot 160
Mon-Thurs 5:30 p.m -2 a.m.
Fri-Sun 12: p.m.-3 a.m.
Another tiny beerhouse with a great variety of delicious microbrews to choose from including a pumpkin ale, Kölsch, ‘Dublin stout’ and a ‘Mumbai IPA.’ There is sometimes live music on weekend nights. Outdoor seating is a bonus. On the menu are passable pizzas and tex-mex style mexican food.
El Buen Suspiro -$$$
Calle De Los Suspiros 90
Hours: 11:15 a.m. -12 a.m. everyday
A romantic but rustic little wine bar in one of the city’s original structures built by the Portueguese. This is the perfect place to try Uruguay’s signature wine, Tannat and a picada (meat and cheese platter). The staff and even the house cat are friendly. In the summer you can also enjoys salads on the patio, and in the winter soups by the warmth of the fire. Reservations recommended at dinnertime in the high season, accepts credit cards.
Places to Stay in Colónia del Sacramento
Don Antonio Posada is a nice four star option a block from Colónia’s historic area and walking distance from the port. Rooms are nice and spacious. All the usual amenities, including wifi, a nice breakfast spread and an outdoor pool.
Don Antonio Posada -$$$
Colonia Del Sacramento
Hotel Rivera is a clean, cute and friendly two star hotel near the historic neighborhood. A room goes for under a $100 bucks. A good option for those who don’t want to do the hostel thing, but also don’t want to pay too much.
Check prices for Hotel Rivera on Hotels Combined.
There aren’t too many hostel in Colonia del Sacramento but El Viajero Hostel Suites Colonia is a good option in the historic district for those looking to save money and meet people. This well-run hostel has locations in Colónia, Montevideo & Punta del Este. Visitors can chose between a private room or dorms.
El Viajero Hostel Suites-$
Washington Barbot 164
Colonia Del Sacramento
Check prices for El Viajero on Hotel Combined.
Some of the hotels in Colonia close down in the winter season, so make sure you check beforehand.
← cont. from: Colonia del Sacramento, The Uruguayan Getaway