While Buenos Aires is a lovely city it can be nice to get away from the hustle and bustle for a bit (and get another stamp in the trusty passport) by taking a quick day or weekend trip over to Uruguay by ferry. You can get to the capital of Uruguay, Montevideo, if you’d like but I opted to just visit the quieter, calmer coastal city of Colonia del Sacramento.
Colonia del Sacramento is a UNESCO world heritage site and is completely touristy, which is not typically my thing. However, if you’re in Buenos Aires I highly recommend the trip as a way to get away and relax as the town is adorable. I visited in winter so I’m not sure if the relaxation may be tempered slightly by the summer crowds, but my visit was lovely and refreshing.
There are a few ferry companies that will take you from Buenos Aires to Colonia on either a slower ferry, which takes multiple hours, or the speedy ferry, which is about an hour. Most people seem to mention Buquebus on forums around the internet but Seacat and Colonia Express are less expensive. They all leave from various spots along Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires and are pretty easy to get to.
I took Colonia Express going and returning on the same day and it cost me about $80-$85 USD roundtrip. You can (and should) reserve and pay for your ticket online, but remember that you have to be able to print it out yourself or you will incur an extra fee to have it printed at the port on the morning you depart.
Obviously, as you’ll be headed to a different country, you’ll need your passport as well as your receipt for the Argentinian reciprocity fee (if you’re from the U.S.) but the immigration process is very smooth: they have both the Argentinian and Uruguayan agents together at the beginning of each leg of the journey so you will get your Aregntinian exit stamp and Uruguayan entrance stamp at the same time (and vice versa on the way back).
For me, the day trip was perfect, though others will argue that you need to spend the night. There isn’t much to the old part of the city so if you stay longer it will just be to enjoy the calm while catching up on a good book. One afternoon is certainly enough to explore as much as you’d like and most every restaurant and shop accepts Uruguayan pesos, Argentinian pesos, or U.S. dollars so you don’t have to worry about changing money for just one day – check in on the exchange rate each vendor is using beforehand though so you don’t get a surprise when the check comes.
Check out the video below to see a bit of what the old city looks like: