Just a hop, skip, and a jump across the river from Buenos Aires, a little tranquil town allows for a lovely escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Perfect for a day trip, or at most a weekend, Colonia is one of the oldest towns in Uruguay, originally settled by Portugal in 1680. With it’s historic quarter being a UNESCO world heritage site, it’s a lovely step back in time.
We arrived on a sunny but chilly Saturday afternoon, and whiled away the day wandering the town. The Muelle del Porto de Yates, the wooden pier, is worth the windy walk for views along the sparkling river.
All through the Barrio Historico, there are adorable cobbled alleys and winding streets to get lost in. Le Calle de los Suspiros, the street of the two whispers, is the most famous and littered with tourists taking pictures (like me).
We stopped in at El Cali Heladeria for an amazing artesenal gelato, and continued wandering and shopping, picking up some gifts and souvenirs to take home.
That evening, we headed to Charco – with great reviews and a view out to the water. The restaurant is gorgeous, entirely white, minimalist, and modern, a sharp contrast to the rest of the town. We tried wild mushroom ravioli and beef tenderloin with roasted vegetables. Very good indeed, and washed down with a local chilled Rose wine.
After dinner, eager to make the most of our single night in town, we checked out two Cerveceria Artesenals – craft beer breweries. Mastra is huge and hopping – completely full of people perched around beer barrels and chattering away. We tried a few samplers here before heading to Barbot, equally busy but smaller. The beers were great – with interesting combinations and new flavours.
The next day arrived with high winds and frigid temperatures. We checked out a few more sites, including the lighthouse and two of the city museums, but eventually needed to warm up again and headed into El Buen Suspiro for lunch, the most adorable and miniscule little wine cellar I’ve ever seen.
If you’re taller than 5 feet, you’ll need to duck to get into this place, which is little more than a few small tables crowded between shelves and shelves of dusty local wine bottles. There is a cheery fireplace crackling away and smiling staff ready to make recommendations.
We sampled a local Tannat from Uruguay and had a delicious cheese and meat plate to go along with it – warm crusty bread, local creamy cheeses, chorizo, chutney, and olives. Just the ticket to hide from the stormy day outside.
Our ferry took us back to the city and reality that evening, but the day and a half in Uruguay was perfect and highly recommended for anyone looking for some tranquility after Buenos Aires!