Cobblestone streets, old cars and an abundance of colourful buildings ⏤ this is exactly what you’ll find in Colonia, Uruguay.
A beautiful, riverside city in the southwest of Uruguay; Colonia del Sacramento is a quaint, incredibly picturesque place with more charm than… Harry Potter! Founded in 1680 by the Portuguese, Colonia still stands with charisma and authenticity from its distant past.
Now, the historic quarters of the city are labelled as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I mean, who doesn’t want to see that?
For those that have never been to Colonia ⏤ or Uruguay for that matter ⏤ this country and Buenos Aires (Argentina) are divided by the mouth of the Rio de la Plata river; a one-hour journey by ferry and you’re in another country! Crazy right?
In my instance, I visited Colonia via this ferry from Buenos Aires. In just one short hour we landed in a beautiful, quaint city full of colour and allure. It’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of a major city and enjoy some peace, quiet and ultimate tranquillity.
Here, the centre of the old city is filled with beautiful, old-style houses, delicious restaurants and small little shops that are bound to fill your pockets with Colonial treasures. It doesn’t take long to walk around this part of town without stopping, as literally every turn is the perfect photo opportunity.
The city is luscious; the streets are lined with trees and the houses are vibrant in texture and colour which gives a truly authentic feel to what is said to be a total mix of influence – that we can now call the literal ‘old colonial style’.
One of the cutest things about this place is the colourful vehicles, historic train systems and genuine carriages. What can make a city more charismatic than that? It really is like stepping back in time.
When this city was founded, its primary use was as a post and port city. But strangely enough, the custody changed hands 12 times over a period of a century, primarily between the Spanish and Portuguese.
Their influence is evident throughout the entire city with a disarranged street plan and old architectural style reflective of the Portuguese, and a mix of ceramic tiles influenced by the Spanish.
A city that you could get lost in for hours on end.
Things to see:
- Portón de Campo – The City Gate
- Old Colonial Centre
- Local Market
- Plaza de Toros Real de San Carlos – Bull Ring
- Playa Oreja de Negro – Local Beach
- Iglesia Matriz – Oldest Church in the Country
To be honest, walking around this city is enough in itself; I could have spent a long time wandering around the beautiful cobbled streets for hours on end without any true sense of direction.
If you really want to enjoy the quiet, there are a lot of hotels out of the city centre that you could visit if it suits you ⏤ but in my opinion, a day trip is more than sufficient.
Once you remove yourself from the common destination of the old centre, people-watching is a must. Watching the dogs play in the water and the locals sell in the tiny market is really interesting ⏤ even more so in a place that is often swarmed by tourists.
And although some might say the visitors take away from the charm, I would have to disagree. Yes, it’s preserved to stay in its original form, but in no way does Colonia feel anything other than authentic.
If you’re in the area, I really couldn’t recommend Colonia enough. Its old-style and utter appeal makes this city worth every second of your precious time. A day trip is all you’ll need to experience the total beauty of Colonia del Sacramento.
So, please… Don’t hesitate! Get yourself to this charming city in Uruguay.
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I feel like almost every place in Europe has super authentic places like this, just hidden away for people to find- if they aren’t overwhelmed by tourists, that is. Travelling is something I am saving up for for my twenties, and when that time comes, it’ll be a dream to travel to places like this 🙂
Kyia at WANDERLUSTGIRL// Lifestyle & Beauty
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You’re right! Europe is full of small, quaint towns like this – but Colonia was so interesting because it’s so unlike the rest of South America! There are amazing places all over the world, it’s just up to us to explore them 🙂
That’s so exciting Kyia; travel is the most rewarding experience and I’m so so happy that you’re planning on exploring the world in the near future. I wish you all the best and I hope your dreams of visiting beautiful places comes true XXXXXXXX
Great description on Colonia! And great pictures ? However, I must confess that I (unfortunately) belong to the group of people that found the historic center of Colonia a bit too touristic. However, the great thing is that you can still find cozy (not too pricey) places outside the center. Enjoyed your post! Well done!
Hi Becci! I do agree that it can be a little touristy, especially when visiting during the busy season; although when I visited there were hardly any people, a lot of the shops were closed and it felt really authentic! Everyone’s experience is different I suppose, but I totally see where you’re coming from! Thanks so much for stopping by X