Until very recently I had quite mixed feelings about visiting Colonia, Uruguay. Yes, it’s a beautiful and picturesque town just across the river from Buenos Aires, but in my previous visits to the town I had never strayed outside the historical district and found it a bit overly touristy and with limited things to do. A celebratory trip to the town earlier this month changed my opinion completely about Colonia and has me already planning my next escape across the river.
What to do:
Uruguay is becoming famous for it’s Tannat wine, a French grape that’s name is derived from it’s tannic qualities. While all the wineries in the country are relatively small, the owners are passionate about what they’re doing and love explaining their production and letting you sample their wines. Book a wine tasting tour with Feeling Uruguay that starts (or ends) with a tour of the historical center of Colonia and than heads out to Uruguayan wine country, just 45 minutes by car outside the city. During the afternoon you’ll visit 2-3 wineries to taste wine as well as lunch at a local restaurant.
Where to stay:
Just 10 minutes driving away from the ferry terminal is the Casa de los Limoneros, a small boutique hotel perfect for relaxing and getting away from the city. What looks like a century old building was actually a meticulously designed and crafted hotel built just 15 years ago, surrounded with a lily filled pond, lemon groves, a large pool and blooming flowers. The service is excellent and the food is great making it easy for an evening in.
The old town is best seen by foot since it is so compact and ideal for walking. To get out of the old town, taxis are available by calling or at taxi stands, but renting a car is surprisingly inexpensive, and is likely less expensive than paying for a couple cab rides. All the major agencies have offices in the bus terminal next to the ferry terminal.
What to eat:
While in Colonia make sure to try a Chivito, Uruguay’s national dish. It’s a sandwich with a thin piece of steak, pancetta, melted cheese, lettuce, tomato, a fried egg and mayonnaise. Most restaurants in Colonia offer it, but my favorite is at the El Eslabon food cart. For more gourmet dining Charco along the riverfront is an upscale and romantic option and Don Joaquin serves excellent pizza. If you’re staying at the Casa de los Limoneros, the best option might be to stay in and ask them prepare a homemade dinner and bottle of wine for you.
Colonia, Uruguay is just across the Rio de La Plata from Buenos Aires. Frequent ferries leave from Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires and take around 1 hour. As mentioned in a previous post, the Seacat ferry line is by far the best and most economical option.