When I revealed Camp Mom South America many commenters objected to my decision to stay two nights in Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay. “It’s no more than a day trip from Buenos Aires, You’ll be bored” was the general consensus. I’m happy to report that we loved our two nights in Colonia and would have stayed longer. I also understand why you might be underwhelmed if you don’t do it right.
What Turned “Meh” Into Wow? This.
Our original plan was to use up Club Carlson points at the Radisson. Other points options include a Sheraton and a Days Inn. I’m so glad we re-thought that plan as we would have been in a cramped room- even with a “suite” upgrade you’ve got a family of four in a tight space. But I’ll come back to lodging. First let’s chat about why you should visit Colonia del Sacramento in the first place:
Colonia is famous for sunset- in that way it reminds me of a really low key Key West. With marijuana legal in Uruguay it also smells a bit like Margaritaville. The town is not oceanfront- that’s the 110 mile wide Rio de la Plata- but as you can see it is definitely more bay feeling than river. Even in July- deep winter- temperatures were comfortable in the 60s during the day and 50s at night. In Summer Colonia is known as a temperate getaway from Buenos Aires.
I understand why as getting there from BA is a piece of cake. The hour long ferry ride is easy and comfortable. A number of lines ply the route but the most affordable is Colonia Express. Prices go up closer to departure- we paid about $50/person for a round trip bought two months out. There is no need to pay $300/person for a day tour.
Once you get to Colonia there’s not much to do. In fact, I don’t know that I’d even bother with a day trip unless you planned around sunset. You can get a new passport stamp, shop tchoktes, eat overpriced and underwhelming food, and generally walk around a nice setting. (I realize if you only read the last paragraph you’d wonder why I bothered to write about the place).
But that’s not the point. Colonia is not a “do place”. It’s a “be place”. I’ll explain. To me, some places are “do” places, where I feel the need to explore. Others are “be” places, where I want to just absorb everything around me. That’s why where we stayed made the trip- and the Radisson would have broken it.
Our House Was the Place Tourists Photographed.
It’s a shame they only saw the outside…for them. For us the house WAS the destination. Our Airbnb rental felt like the stuff of fairy tales. At less than $150 a night (and using a $40 invite credit) the three bedroom house with a courtyard, backyard, and rooftop terrace was an absolute steal. We even earned Delta miles.
We spent hours in the house tending two fires, reading books, playing cards, and just feeling snug as a bug in a rug. The kitchen hearth became grand central as we enjoyed orange-yolked eggs for breakfast, empanadas for lunch and fresh baguettes with “queso Colonia” (local cheese) for dinner. We stayed till the last possible minute (thanks to the accommodating owner) and enjoyed a third sunset from the terrace before heading back to civilization.
We especially appreciated Colonia del Sacramento after a hectic ten days in Iguazu Falls in Buenos Aires. I’d recommend Colonia as your down time in the rhythm of your trip. I would also only recommend a historic house such as the one we visited- Colonia’s charms are lost if you stick to the Radisson.
Have you visited Colonia? What did you think? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments.
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