Ferry Services to Colonia
There are three companies that offer ferry passengers over to Colonia del Sacramento from Buenos Aires. They are Busquebus, 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, pop in to the ticket offices, which are all within a block of each other downtown, or to search on their websites linked below.
Ferries depart three times a day. For Buquebus and Seacat, they depart from the terminal in Puerto Madero (Antartida Argentina 821), not far from the where you can purchase the tickets.
Colonia Express’ boats leaves from Av. Elvira Rawson de Dellepiane 155, Puerto Madero, which is more convenient for those staying in San Telmo. These days the best deals are found online at least a couple of weeks in advance of departure. They are also included if you sign up for an intimate group Colonia del Sacramento day tour.
Ferries to Uruguay from Buenos Aires
Tel: 4316 6500
Tel: 4313 5100
Tel: 4322 9551
For visitors on a day trip, most of the restaurants fall into the ‘tourist trap’ category, at least as far as prices are concerned — in a country already notorious for its expensive food (compared to Argentina). Eating away from the historic neighborhood is sure to save you a few pesos. Many of the restaurants on the Barrio Histórico are worth paying extra for due to their fine locations, but remember to be careful when converting prices into Argentinian pesos or dollars.
Most restaurants will except Uruguayan or Argentine pesos and even USD, but the exchange rates offered can make it more expensive to pay with foreign currency. Visitors should note that to save money, paying with a credit or debit card in Uruguay is best because you won’t be charged the high 22% sales tax.
Ganache Café & Pastries $$
Calle Real 178, old town
Tel: 4523 5895
A small house turned cafe in the Old Town is where coffee fiends are going to want to head for a decent morning cup of java. They also have snack options such as pastries, granola and yogurt and refreshing lemonade. A beat up tom cat keeps watch over the outdoor seating area.
Yacht Club $$$
Santa Rita street, along 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 $$$
Portugal 174 (and Vasconsellos street.)
Like a vacuous model, El Drugstore is all style and little substance. With an ideal location at the corner of the main plaza, directly in front of the basilica, sitting down at one of the tables out on the cobblestones on a sunny day is hard to resist. Even the bohemian interior decor is reminiscent of a hip San Telmo or Palermo rockabilly bar in Buenos Aires. The menu is also refreshing, with a few Asian dishes as well as some interesting sounding pastas and seafood plates. Prices are on the high side, and although sometimes it is worth paying extra for some ambiance, El Drugstore disappoints it in the food department. Dishes are generally lacking flavor and uninteresting. Service is also poor and slow — nobody is in a rush in Colonia, but it’d be nice if they brought the condiments before the meal is over. And just when you think, ‘at least we can listen to some live music while we eat,’ they go ahead and charge you extra for it on the bill. With limited options in town, El Drugstore is probably worth a look — just order something simple such as drinks and dessert and don’t expect a taste explosion.
A better value option is Candela who keep it simple with pizzas, hamburgers and other fast food. Despite showing questionable taste by proudly proclaiming that their food is provided by ‘McCain,’ dishes are abundant and usually enjoyable. It ain’t the Four Seasons, but it’s food and it’s much more affordable than other options. If you’re not in Colonia for the fine dining, a hearty pizza and a pitcher of beer at Candela should do the trick.
Istabul – $$
De San Jose 108 Esq, 8
Tel: 93 876 588
Those looking to take a break from the Uruguayan classic dishes such as paella and chivito could head to Istanbul for traditional Turkish food with a range of vegetarian options. Again, it’s a little more expensive than what one would expect, but not wildly overpriced like some other restaurants nearby. Another good place to find a good cup of coffee in Colonia. Kids under six are not permitted.
Puerto Madera $$$
Santa Rita 87
Another well-situated restaurant which is let down in the food and service departments. Heralded by the flags of Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, and for some reason, The United States (tourist panderers!), tables overlook the water from a raised deck. Cats, dogs and waiters loaf about nonchalantly. The menu is again quite interesting, with some Cuban flavors alongside the usual pizzas and pastas. The food is not terrible, but nor will it blow your hair back. And when the bill eventually comes, you will be left feeling a little bit exploited. The same goes for the nearby Parilla Santa Rita.
Charco Bistro $$$
San Pedro 116
Hours: 8 a.m. -11 p.m
The bistro at Charco hotel offers up tenderloin steak, rack of lamb, grilled salmon, veggie-filled raviolis and even poké in a modern, minimalist ambience. A kids menu means there are a few choices for younger members of the family too. The views of the water and outdoor seating makes this a nice place to linger on the terrace during the afternoon.
Bars, Microbreweries & Wine Bars
Chopería Mastra Colonia $$
Del Comercio 158 – local 9.
Hours: Mon 12—5 p.m.
A little beer house in a historic setting in Colonia’s historic district that offers up a variety of homemade beers including a Belgium blonde ale, as well as other ales, a couple of IPA’s and a bitter American stout with a hint of chocolate. Limited menu on the food front but good options are Uruguay’s national dish of Chivito (also available in a vegetarian version), picadas (meat and cheese platter) and burgers.
Barbot Brewpub $$
Washington Barbot 160
Mon-Thurs 6:00 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 food.
El Buen Suspiro $$$
Calle De Los Suspiros 90
Hours: 11:15 a.m.-12 a.m. everyday
A romantic but rustic little wine bar in one of the city’s original structures built by the Portuguese. This is the perfect place to try Uruguay’s signature wine, Tannat and a picada (meat and cheese platter). The staff and even the house cat are friendly. In the summer you can also enjoys salads on the patio, and in the winter soups by the warmth of the fire. Reservations recommended at dinnertime in the high season, accepts credit cards.
Places to Stay in Colónia del Sacramento
Don Antonio Posada is a nice four-star option a block from Colónia’s historic area and walking distance from the port. Rooms are nice and spacious. All the usual amenities, including wifi, a nice breakfast spread and an outdoor pool.
Don Antonio Posada -$$$
Colonia Del Sacramento
Budget Accommodation in Colonia
Hotel Rivera is a clean, cute and friendly two star hotel near the historic neighborhood. A room goes for under a $100 bucks. A good option for those who don’t want to do the hostel thing, but also don’t want to pay too much.
There aren’t too many hostel in Colonia del Sacramento and now that El Viajero Hostel Suites Colonia bought out a larger hostel in town, it is the best budget option in the historic district for those looking to save money on lodging and meet people. It recently relocated to a beautiful historic building six blocks from Barrio Historico. This well-run hostel has locations in Colónia, Montevideo & Punta del Este. Visitors can chose between a private room, or dorms with four or six people.
El Viajero Hostel Suites-$
General Flores 440
Colonia Del Sacramento
Hot Tip: Some of the hotels in Colonia close down in the winter season, so if traveling in the winter, make sure you check and make reservations beforehand.
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