Most people will find that Colonia falls well short of expectations (Read Why You Shouldn’t Go to Colonia). But is it utterly impossible to like? No, not at all. With a suitable readjustment of expectations it’s perfectly possible to pass an enjoyable day trip or overnight stay in this little town on the river AND refresh your tourist visa at the same time.
Without further ado here are three things to like about going to Colonia:
The boat ride is great.
Maybe Colonia itself doesn’t have so many attractions, but oddly enough getting there is half the fun. The trick here is to take the slower Buquebus ferry rather than the faster catamaran. On board you’ll find that you can easily fill a very pleasant three hours as the ferry slowly crosses the river. How is this possible? It’s possible because the ferry is incredible well-equipped, offering live music from a pair of tango singers in a large open space amidships, arcade games, table soccer, reasonable food at reasonable prices, and a large outdoor top deck with a bar. If you’re sleepy from a late night there are lots of comfy seats you can snooze in for an hour or so, and best of all there’s an excellent duty free shop with lots of tempting things to buy (the range of food is particularly good).
It’s pretty and peaceful.
Maybe it’s not so necessary for Colonia to wow you with its exciting attractions. After all, Buenos Aires offers all the excitement you could want; maybe you’ve had all the stimulation you could want lately and you actually just want to get away from it all. Perfect! Go to Colonia on a nice day, take a book and a blanket, find yourself a good spot (maybe in the Plaza Mayor or somewhere by the water), and while away a few hours doing absolutely nothing. There’s no traffic to speak of, and nothing else to disturb you other than the odd stray dog coming to say hello.
When you get hungry the restaurants of the old quarter are only a few steps away no matter where you find yourself. If you don’t know which to choose, Don Pedro is an uncomplicated little spot with nice outdoor seating on the Plaza Mayor. After dinner you can stroll to a one of several ice-cream parlors in the area for a little helado dessert. What’s not to like about that plan?
There are nice places to watch the sunset.
Buenos Aires is so flat and built-up that it’s pretty hard to get a wide view of anything. Not so in Colonia, where the tallest structure is the frankly unimpressive lighthouse, and where there are plenty of places to drink a beer and watch the sun go down over the river. The pub/restaurant La Luna is one of the best places to do this from, or head to El Torreón (the tower) for the elevated view. An added bonus is that at this time of day the low angle of the sun makes the ordinarily dull brown River Plate sparkle silver. All together now: ahhhhh.
Read: Colonia Del Sacramento…Sucks? Why You Shouldn’t Go to Colonia
What are your thoughts? Is Colonia worth going to? Feel free to leave a comment below and let us know!
Another great thing to do in Colonia is to walk along the coast. I did this once from the coast near the Plaza de Toros to the city downtown. The cost is acceptable clean and paceful. It’s nice to lay on the sand and just watch the river.
Thanks again Marcelo for the comment. Also, something I wanted to do but I couldn’t when I went (i forgot my driver’s license) is to rent a motorcycle or one of the Sand Buggie’s and cruise along the beach. You could probably spend a whole day having fun cruising around.
There’s also more to Colonia than just the teeny little historic “old quarter”. There are better restaurants if you go into town, and while there’s nothing major to do, it’s a pleasant city in which to spend a day, as Marcelo has pointed out, just being somewhere different from BA.
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Back when I was an expat I really looked forward to going to Colonia every 3 months. It’s a nice, relaxing break from the city. One time I even took a few extra days and went to Montevideo, which is sort of a miniature Buenos Aires.
I was in Colonia for a whole week, and managed to not be bored!I rented a bike and went all the way and back to the bullfighting ruins, sat at the yacht pier with a book, took a million pictures, made friends with people at my hostel and went clubbing with them (one night was a special party called “La noche de los recuerdos”, worth looking into), did the golf car thing, ate freshly fried churros off a plaza vendor. We did karaoke at one of the bars and enjoyed a more laid back life than what carzy BA has to offer. I only went into a casino to change money! 🙂
Another little known jewel of Colonia is a small tea house valled Lentas Maravillas (on Santa Rita 61) close to the historical quarter. Lovely owner (speaks fluent English) bakes her own wonderful cookies, awesome carrot cake and makes great bagel sandwiches. They serve great tea varieties and Illy coffee. You can sit inside in front of a fireplace in the colder months (lovely mismatched vintage furniture and tons of books to choose from) or sit out in the garden on the river and enjoy the sunset. I think I was there almost every day!
“Most people will find that Colonia falls well short of expectations”.
I find that to be a very arrogant and ill-informed opinion. Who are these “most” people? Has he done a survey? What age-group, nationality, etc? Personally I think “most” people – those who just come on a day trip and, who then wander or follow around with a clutch or crowd of other day-trippers, are missing out on the pleasure and tranquility to be experienced by staying a night or two (I usually do) and enjoying the historic little town in the evening or early morning before the next batch of easily-bored day-trippers arrive.