With only few days on our hands we haven’t seen much of Uruguay, so we stuck to the common Buenos Aires – Colonia del Sacramento – Montevideo – Buenos Aires route. If you ever get a change to get more time, visit Punta del Este, which is said to be lovely, and discover the rest of Uruguay – it has a lot more to offer. We, however, only had 3 days in this beautiful country, so we decided to stay for an extra day in Montevideo instead.
How to get there?
Most expensive and least popular option is flying. I, honestly, don’t see the benefits of it, because even if you’re in a rush and need a quickest way, it might not be the best choice. The direct ferry between Buenos Aires and Montevideo costs a bit less than a flight and takes two hours, while the flight takes a little less than an hour. However, to board the flight you have to be there earlier than for ferry boarding. Also the airports are further outside the city than harbours. So, if time is your priority, I would suggest to consider both options, depending on where in the city you are staying.
The most popular way to get from Buenos Aires to Montevideo is by ferry and/or bus. Direct ferry takes a little over 2 hours, but if you have time, consider going through Colonia del Sacramento. A ferry to Colonia is a 75 minute ride, and from there you can take a bus directly to Montevideo. You can also choose to get your tickets separately and shortly explore Colonia. For ferries between Buenos Aires and Uruguay refer to this website.
The good news is that border control is super easy. It’s quick and you only have to do it before you board the ferry. They have representatives of both countries on each side, so you get two stamps before the ride begins. And then – voilà – you are in Uruguay!
What to do in Colonia?
Colonia del Sacramento is a very small town; it’s cozy and picturesque. Its old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a favourite spot for many photographers. Some time ago we posted about our experience in Parati, and I feel like what we were lacking there, we have found in Colonia. While they both are beautiful intimate towns, for us Colonia was clearly a winner. But if you are short on time, half a day there is enough – it’s not that big and doesn’t offer many activities.
Take a stroll around old town
It was established by Portuguese in 17th century, but lately was lost to Spaniards. This explains Colonia’s Old Town becoming a fusion of different architectural styles. See the old gates, lighthouse and the seaside; have a cup of coffee in one of the charming street cafes.
Get some food in the local parilla restaurant
Uruguayan parilla is quite similar to Argentinian (read about it here), but be aware that in Colonia it’s hard to get descent dinner before 8 pm, unless you want pizza.
Take time to practice your photography
Bring your camera, as Colonia del Sacramento has plenty of photo opportunities, not only for your travel gallery, but also if you are interested in the other types of photography.
Watch sunset at the seafront
You can see many people gathering in the evening with their friends and families and mate cups. If the weather is nice, it could be a perfect opportunity to spend your evening before heading down for dinner.
What to do in Montevideo?
Rent a bike and bike around the city
For me, it’s one of the best ways to explore Montevideo. The roads are not always nice, but drivers are mindful of bicycles and it’s quite easy to get around. Plus, the city isn’t that big, so you can get by bike pretty much wherever you want.
Check out the Ciudad Vieja
Ciudad Vieja, or Old City, is not very big, but there you can find some nice architecture. Visit the meat market (nice place to eat, but on the expensive side) and Plaza Independencia, which separates the Old City and the New City.
- Visit one of the many theatres for a performance
- Take a walk at Rambla during sunset
- Get your chivita fix and enjoy all the fruit and veggie markets