Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay is an hour (50km) by ferry from downtown Buenos Aires. This makes it a great day trip destination for Argentinians and for weary travellers to spend a long weekend.
I realised I was in need of a break after walking around Buenos Aires, and feeling slightly teary about everything. So much to buy! So many choices! A classic sign of reverse culture shock. Luckily my plans already pointed to Uruguay; all I needed to do now was upgrade my hostel bunk bed for a large fluffy hotel bed with plenty of pillows, housekeeping and a view.
There is not a lot to do in Colonia. Once you have eaten, window shopped, found the beaches, visited the lighthouse and the city gate and wandered around the historic old town, you have done it all. But for someone low on energy and sleep, these activities can actually take a restorative 3 days.
Colonia is a gorgeous city, home to 27,000 people and is one of the oldest cities in Uruguay. It sits on the eastern bank of the Río de la Plata river Plata and so occupied a strategic position (almost exactly opposite Buenos Aires) during the ongoing skirmishes in the 1800s between Portugal and Spain. From 1680 to 1811 the city changed between Spanish and Portuguese ownership 8 times! In 1811 it was claimed by Brazil, then Portugal (1817), back to Brazil (1822) and then finally it was part of Uruguay from 1828.
The old town is UNESCO listed which adds to the city’s charm – hot pink and purple bougainvillea framing pastel-coloured buildings with iron fretwork and peeling paint. The beaches around the city are all within walkable distance and apparently in summer there is not a spare cm of sand to be had.
However by far the best thing to do in Colonia is to sit outside in the sun at one of its many cafes and restaurants, strong coffee in one hand and book in the other, cake on the table, staring out at these magnificently relaxing views:
How could you be stressed here?