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Colonia del Sacramento Day Trip

Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento Day Trip

Picturesque street in Colonia, Uruguay

SEPTEMBER 2014 UPDATE Below you can read our legendary article (and many comments!) about doing a day trip to Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay while you are visiting Buenos Aires. But first, we have news!

New Tour Offering: Day Trips to Colonia, Uruguay

Here at BuenosTours we have partnered with another top local tour company to offer all-inclusive Day Trips to Colonia in small-to-medium group sizes, with an expert native-English speaker guide. You’ll make the best of your day there, learn a ton of interesting stuff, and won’t have to worry about the hassle of reading this article and making all the plans yourself.

We’ll take care of it all for you, for a price of just $250 USD per person. You will not find another service like this. The full day tour (of around 11 hours, from approx. 7.15am to 6.15pm, although pick-up and drop-off times vary depending on where you are staying in Buenos Aires) includes:

– An expert guide (whose first language is English) with you from start to finish
– Small-to-medium group size (max 12 passengers- average group size is 7)
– Transport to the Buenos Aires ferry terminal
Fast ferry (approx. 1 hour) crossing to Colonia del Sacramento
– A fascinating walking tour of the historical heart of Colonia
– A mid-morning drink & snack break in Colonia’s main square
– Mate lesson and tasting (pronounced MAH-tay, it’s the green tea of South America)
Traditional Uruguayan chivito lunch (beverages included – wine, beer or soft drink)
– Free time to explore, shop, or just take in the peacefulness that is Colonia
– Optional museum/lighthouse viewing platform entry for during your free time (cost included)
– Afternoon ice cream
– Fast ferry (approx. 1 hour) crossing back to Buenos Aires
– Transport from the Buenos Aires ferry terminal

*Note: if you request to book for a date less than a week in advance, there may be a surcharge of 10% added to the US$250 per person cost, to cover the increase in ferry ticket prices at that late stage. We encourage you to book as far in advance as you can, not only to save money, but to ensure availability!*

Please feel free to complete the following form if you’re interested, or have any questions – we’re looking forward to showing you life on the other side of the Rio de la Plata!:




OK, for those of you who prefer to do things the hard way, please read on for the article and sorry for the above distraction…

A Short Hop Across the Rio de la Plata

Colonia del Sacramento may be in a different city entirely – not to mention in a whole other country – but it is such a popular day trip for people visiting Buenos Aires, that it must be considered as an option. Situated in Uruguay, a short hop across the Rio de la Plata, Colonia is a tranquil beach town that provides an often necessary break from the chaotic city of Buenos Aires. It may sound strange that in guide books, websites, forums etc, a regular answer to the common question “what can I do in Buenos Aires, Argentina?” is “visit Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay.” However, if you are visiting Buenos Aires for a fairly long period, or are an expat living here (perhaps in need of a 3 monthly tourist visa renewal), then a trip to sleepy old Colonia del Sacramento does indeed make for a nice day trip, to get away from the craziness of the city and to remind yourself of what the horizon actually looks like.

Yes, that's right, we're going to Uruguay

How to: Buenos Aires to Colonia by Buquebus Ferry

A trip across the Rio de la Plata from Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento is fairly straightforward, and for a while there has only really been one real option: Buquebus. They run quite a few ferries back and forth between Argentina and Uruguay, seven days a week. To use the website you’ll probably have to enlist the help of Google translate, unless you have decent Spanish.

With Buquebus you can choose a fast or a slow ferry to get there (with Seacat all the ferries are fast), and there are usually special offers for both types to be found on their website. There is a fast ferry (“buque rapido”) return crossing (approx. 50 minutes each way) as well as a slow ferry return crossing (approx. 3 hours each way), which is slightly less expensive.

For peace of mind, and an easy life, it is recommended that you book online with a credit card at least a week before you want to make the trip, especially if going on a weekend, when the ferries can get booked up quickly. Then you just have to turn up at the Buquebus ferry terminal (Darsena Norte, in Puerto Madero) about an hour before your journey to pick up your tickets (at the desk immediately on your right as you enter the terminal), check in, and get in the passport control line.

The small city of Colonia only really warrants a single day of exploration, so try to book an early morning crossing going, and a late afternoon/early evening crossing coming back to Buenos Aires.

It is generally best to get a taxi to and from the Darsena Norte ferry terminal in Buenos Aires, because it is not the easiest or safest place to get to for tourists – it is literally “the other side of the (train) tracks”, which are not nice to cross on foot, in addition to some dangerous roads around that area with potentially confusing crossings.

About the City of Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

Calle de los Suspiros in Colonia

Colonia del Sacramento was the only Portuguese settlement along the Rio de la Plata when the Spanish were colonizing this area. It was founded in 1680 with the name Nova Colonia do Sacramento by Manuel de Lobo. Colonia’s founding kick-started a struggle between the Spanish and the Portuguese over control of this area.

For years Colonia was a smuggling port, evading the strict trade measures imposed in the Americas by the Spanish. Due to this situation, the city changed hands many times between the Portuguese and the Spanish. Even Brazil controlled it for a short while, until the new country of Uruguay declared independence in 1825.

An interesting thing about Colonia is that its colonial center (Barrío Historico), offers an idea of what buildings in Buenos Aires might have looked like back in colonial times, before the city was successively modernized down the years. Colonia was recently made a UNESCO heritage site, so it should remain a time capsule of the Rio de la Plata’s colonial past for many years.

A couple of interesting historical sights in Colonia de Sacramento are the Calle de los Suspiros (street of the sighs), a beautiful little cobblestone street lined with colorful houses and Colonia’s trademark yellow lamps (see photo) – and the historical city gate and walls.

Five Tips for Enjoying a Day in Colonia

1. Take the chance to relax a little…

Colonia del Sacramento is a world apart from the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires city, instead offering you an opportunity to relax in its peaceful, idyllic, old-world environs. Take that chance while you can, because at the end of the day you’ll be back in Argentina’s big smoke, dodging the taxi drivers on the streets once more (in Uruguay most drivers actually stop when you cross the road, rather than speeding up, what a novelty)

2. Cough up for the fast ferry…

Buenos Aires Skyline viewed from the Buquebus

With such a small pesos price difference between the 3 hour buquebus ferry and the 50 minutes one, paying that little extra for the faster boat when taking a day trip to Colonia de Sacramento is well worth it. Otherwise, over 7 hours of your day will be spent either traveling in the ferry, or getting on and off it, and that sure is a large portion of the day to waste, meaning less time for relaxing in Colonia.

3. Hire some nifty transport…

Thrifty Car Rentals, Colonia

A popular Colonia pastime, hiring a scooter and whizzing around the almost deserted coastal and country roads of Uruguay for the best part of a day can be invigorating, fun, and ever so slightly dangerous – what more could you ask for on a holiday? The best place to hire scooters in Colonia, and indeed other forms of transport, from bikes to golf carts to cars, is at Thrifty car rentals, whose office you will find as you walk out of the ferry terminal in Colonia (see photo above). Prices are reasonable and blocks of time are flexible (JUST REMEMBER: you will need your driving license and a credit card). Hiring transport will also give you easier access to parts of Colonia that you otherwise might not get to see, like the more secluded beaches pictured below.

4. Go to the beach…

Playa Ferrando, Colonia

Now you have that scooter (or golf cart for group travel!), you’ll be wondering where to go. Head out to Playa Ferrando, a very scenic beach in a small bay about 15 minutes scooter ride out from the city center. Make sure you get a map from Thrifty Rentals when you go, as the way to Playa Ferrando is marked clearly on there, in addition to other places to visit in and around Colonia. It’s the perfect place to lie down and take in a little sun, if there in summer (and even spring or fall), or go for a nice walk if visiting during winter. And yes, if you fancy a paddle, the water is safe to enter on this side of the Rio de la Plata – that murky tinge to the water is just sediment from the bottom of the riverbed.

5. Eat some cheap and cheerful junk food…

Burgers in Colonia

If the beach-front restaurants don’t tempt you, there is a great little hole in the wall place along Colonia’s main avenue (Av. General Flores), a couple of blocks or so away from the old city center, that does simply amazing hamburgers with everything (egg, ham, cheese, pickled vegetables, and all kinds of interesting and/or spicy toppings and sauces). It’s called Los Farolitos (see the last photo below), and it certainly won’t be reading about in any of the guide books. The problem with the traditional restaurants in Colonia del Sacramento is that none of them come even close to impressing, so this small purveyor of unhealthy comfort food remains an excellent choice – so pull up one of the eight or so dodgy plastic chairs outside it on the sidewalk and dig in.

More Pictures of Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

And finally, here are a few more sufficiently random photos from trips to Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay.

Colonia Cow Action Paddling in the shallows on Playa Ferrando

Scooter fun in Colonia del Sacramento Los Farolitos Burger Stall in Colonia

Hope you enjoyed this post and have a great time on your day trip to Colonia!

If you liked this blog post, then you'll love our private guided walking tours of Buenos Aires - the best way to see the city up close and personal. For more information and booking details, just click here.

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Comments

68 Responses to “Colonia del Sacramento Day Trip”

  1. Brittany on March 30th, 2008 9:38 pm

    Thanks for all the great tips! I can’t wait to go!

    [Reply]

  2. Susan Rosenthal on March 31st, 2008 3:04 pm

    I don’t know if I am allowed to ask questions here – but… Iam trying to assist a client who wishes to visit colonia in January 2009. It appears that it is too early to do anything about it on the Buque site. Do you have any idea how far in advance they open up their reservations????

    [Reply]

    Alan Patrick Seabright Reply:

    It appears that Buquebus open up reservations about 4 months in advance.

    [Reply]

  3. Mario Muniz Pinot Rios on July 8th, 2008 2:02 pm

    Ole, Alan Patrick, pues voy a Argentina el medio de augusto y voy a Rosario y Buenos aires. Business and Pleasure. And then seven days of my own. Your info is so good, so helpful, amable.
    Thanks.

    [Reply]

  4. Tony Swartz on August 8th, 2008 6:52 pm

    […] This is roughly what we’re planning on doing in Colonia, Uruguay one day in the next few weeks… […]

  5. G on October 14th, 2008 9:07 pm

    Do you know if a visa is required to take a ferry into Colonia? Or is that part ok without a visa(kind of like the Foz de Iguazu area)?

    [Reply]

    Alan Patrick Seabright Reply:

    No advance VISA is needed for entry into Uruguay for most nationalities (for example the US, Canada, EU countries). You get a 3 month tourist VISA stamp on entry into Uruguay.

    [Reply]

    Stuart Reply:

    Hi Alan,

    Quick question – How much does it cost roughly to hire a moped for a day in Colonia?

    Thanks in advance for your help

    Stu

    [Reply]

    Alan Patrick Seabright Reply:

    Hi Stuart,

    It’s been a while since I hired a moped/scooter in Colonia, but checking online it seems that at the moment it costs around US$25 per day (i.e. morning to evening) or US$30 for 24 hours.

    Hope that helps!

    Alan

  6. Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay « Adventures on August 12th, 2012 11:23 pm

    […] to be horrible, Buquebus let me exchange my ticket for a different day without any extra charge.) This site also recommended that if possible you keep the Buquebus site in Spanish because the prices may rise […]

  7. Erik on August 29th, 2012 5:39 pm

    Hi Alan, thanks for all the info. I’ll be visiting Buenos Aires this coming January and planning a day trip to Colonia del Sacramento. I absolutely loathe driving especially in foreign places. Is Colonia accessible by foot or are there any bus tours available?
    Thanks
    Erik

    [Reply]

    Alan Patrick Seabright Reply:

    Hi Erik,

    You’re welcome! Colonia is totally accessible by foot, it’s a very small town and easy to get around, you’ll be able to pick up a map in the ferry terminal or the tourist office by the entrance gates to the old city, and see the town in less than one day on foot. No need for a bus tour.

    Let me know if you have any other questions!

    Alan

    [Reply]

  8. Michael @ Changes In Longitude on September 25th, 2012 10:01 am

    Thanks for the tips. We’re going there today!

    [Reply]

  9. Jody Hanson on October 23rd, 2012 12:33 pm

    Thanks so much for the helpful advice — much appreciated. I have to scoot across to renew my 90-day visa.

    Best,
    Jody Hanson

    [Reply]

  10. Jeff C on October 27th, 2012 5:55 pm

    I’m looking at reservations for mid-January on the Buque Rapido between Buenos Aires and Colonia on the home site of Buquebus. It’s showing me that a round trip, for one adult, leaving in the morning and coming back that same evening….is $624. That sounds really expensive….is that really what it costs for the round trip boat?

    [Reply]

    Alan Patrick Seabright Reply:

    Thanks for your question Jeff. That does sound a little expensive! Prices go up and down, depending on demand for travel on each date, and January is busy for tourism here, so perhaps that explains it. I would recommend looking for ferry prices with Seacat (http://www.seacatcolonia.com) and Colonia Express (http://coloniaexpress.com) too, they are often cheaper than Buquebus. Enjoy Argentina/Uruguay, and best of luck!

    [Reply]

  11. Rolando Rodriguez on November 7th, 2012 5:47 pm

    Hi! To Jeff C: The prices in Buquebus website are in argentine pesos, not US dollars, and taxes are included. I checked the site today (I’m going there in dec) and the buque-rápido roundtrip is $523 pesos, about US$ 110. I don’t know if they have different prices for each country (I live in Peru), but I don’t think so. Anyway, there’s a difference with the 3 hour trip, which is only US$75.
    To Allan: The Playa Ferrando pic looks amazing!! According to the map, it’s not that far away from the Buquebus port, and even in walking distance from the city center, it that right?
    Thanks for your comments.

    [Reply]

    Alan Patrick Seabright Reply:

    Hi Rolando,

    Thanks for your comment and the helpful advice. Yes, it is good for everyone reading to note that in Argentina the $ sign signifies Argentine Pesos, NOT US Dollars. A price is only in US Dollars when it is displayed as US$ or $US.

    Personally I would recommend to anyone visiting Buenos Aires for a short time that they pay the extra with Buquebus to do the rapido (1 hour) crossing rather than the 3 hour slow ferry crossing, which makes for a long day of unnecessary travel if doing a day trip.

    Rolando, in regards to Playa Ferrando, it is fairly close to the old city, perhaps 30 minutes to an hour walking, depending on how fast you go. But in my opinion it’s more fun to hire bicycles or mopeds to get there :-) Each to their own, of course!

    All the best!

    Alan

    [Reply]

  12. Sarah Andrew on November 18th, 2012 6:20 pm

    Hi

    This has been great so far! Was wondering if you had three days in Uruguay- where would you go?

    Thanks

    Sarah

    [Reply]

    Alan Patrick Seabright Reply:

    Hi Sarah,

    If I had 3 full days in Uruguay I would go to Colonia and Montevideo. If you like snazzy beach resorts, perhaps substitute one of those for Punta del Este.

    But ideally I would try to have 4/5 days in Uruguay and go straight up the Atlantic coast (past Punta del Este) to places like La Pedrera, Valizas, Cabo Polonio and Punta del Diablo, which are all beautiful and off the usual tourist track.

    Good luck planning!

    Alan

    [Reply]

  13. mike on December 9th, 2012 4:32 pm

    Im planning to go there in December, 24 till January first.
    do you think that Ill have a problem finding a ticket if I go there on the 25th to buy it for for the 29th ???. I want to buy it in person. But Im worry about not finding anything during the Christmas holiday.
    thank you very much.

    I love all of the info you provided here….you are a nice guy

    [Reply]

    Alan Patrick Seabright Reply:

    That does sound very tight Mike, I would guess that might not have availability at such short notice and at one of the busiest times of the year for tourism. You could try to book online before then? If not with Buquebus, then try Colonia Express and Seacat.

    [Reply]

  14. Brenna on January 6th, 2013 8:24 pm

    Hi Alan! What is your opinion about going in June? Would the weather be too cool? At this point in my trip, I will have been traveling for about a month (including one week in BA) and some relaxation sounds nice. Or do you think somewhere else would be better?

    [Reply]

    Alan Patrick Seabright Reply:

    Hi Brenna,

    Having visited Colonia year round myself, I enjoy it in all conditions. It is beautiful whatever the weather. Have fun!

    Alan

    [Reply]

  15. Dolf on February 9th, 2013 11:45 am

    Hi Alan,
    In 2 weeks we do a 1-day visit to Colonia (fast ferry!) from BA.
    My question concerns the currency: can we pay in Arg pesos or should we buy Ur pesos (ATM in Colonia?).
    What is your advice?

    [Reply]

    Alan Patrick Seabright Reply:

    Hi Dolf,

    I would say to get Uruguayan pesos out of an ATM in Colonia, if you have time. The Argentine peso is accepted in Uruguay, but like all places abroad, at a very bad exchange rate.

    Or if you have US Dollars, take those, they will accept them in Colonia at a good exchange rate.

    Have fun!

    Alan

    [Reply]

  16. Oli on May 8th, 2013 3:21 pm

    Hi Alan,

    I believe you are missing two important points here.

    1) To TRULY enjoy the beauty of Colonia… stay at least ONE night !! You will then enjoye a beatiful night out .. and next day … the beatiful an quiet morning Colonia has to offer !

    2) The SLOW boat … is actually a much nicer trip ! ( yes.. it takes 3 times as long .. BUT … it has a gorgeous outside deck, where you can have a drink whilst enjoying the river’s breeze !! AND it is cheaper ! ;-)

    [Reply]

    Alan Seabright Reply:

    Hi Oli,

    Thanks for your input.

    As a walking tours company, this blog is written with tourists and short-term visitors in mind. Most do not have the time to take the slow boat (which takes up well over 6 hours of your day) and/or spend a night in Colonia.

    Granted, if you have time, do take the slow boat to save money (although it really isn’t much of a saving) and definitely stay a night in Colonia. But most people reading this blog probably won’t have that time available.

    Cheers!

    Alan

    [Reply]

  17. ryan on June 17th, 2013 3:27 am

    seacat is cheaper

    [Reply]

    Alan Seabright Reply:

    Thanks Ryan. Indeed you can get better deals on Seacat and Colonia Express these days. These Seacat tickets sometimes even are on the same Buquebus boats that you pay more for with Buquebus.

    People should also bear in mind that although Colonia Express can be the cheapest option, their terminal in La Boca is less convenient, and their small boats can lead to very bumpy crossings. Plus their online booking systems can be difficult to navigate. But it’s good to have options :-)

    [Reply]

  18. DENISE on June 25th, 2013 4:46 am

    Hi Guys, I am visiting Buones Aires for 6 days, am planning to visit Colonia and Montevideo for 2 days. No sure if I should stay overnights in Uruguay or make them day trips?

    Also I’m a solo traveller and have always preferred the freedom of independent travel, not sure if those cities are easy to walk around or should I go with an arranged tour?

    Any advice would be appreciated!

    Thanks,
    Denise

    [Reply]

    Alan Seabright Reply:

    Hi Denise,

    I would recommend staying a night in Uruguay rather than doing two day trips, to avoid the extra time wasted traveling back and forth. I would probably recommend going on a ferry early one morning to Colonia (about 1 hour on fast services), spending the day there and then either stay overnight in Colonia and get a bus to Montevideo the next morning, or possibly better, get an evening bus to Montevideo and stay overnight there. Then after your day in Montevideo you can get a ferry direct from there back to Buenos Aires (about 3 hours). Or you could do all that in reverse.

    Ferries to and from Montevideo are only with Buquebus I believe. To and from Colonia you could go with them or check out Seacat and Colonia Express for cheaper/alternative options.

    I would definitely recommend walking around Colonia on your own, that is easy. Get a map from a tourism office and go explore its small historical heart. Stop and relax in one of these lovely cafes: http://blog.encounterargentina.com/2013/05/14/cafe-recommendations-in-colonia-uruguay/

    In Montevideo it is a little harder to work things out on your own, but you will probably want to focus on the historical city center and the port area (have lunch in the Mercado del Puerto, with “medio y medio” wine!), and that can be walked on your own with a map. Although be a little more wary about pickpockets etc than you will need to be in Colonia.

    Have a great time!

    Alan

    [Reply]

  19. Jimmy on July 11th, 2013 12:35 am

    Hi Alan.

    Thanks for your posting about Colonia. I’m at a juncture of deciding if i should make a trip to Colonia. I have been to the Buquebus webiste which i have seen the ferry prices fluctuate quite a bit within a few minutes timeframe. Almost doubled.

    My question is… would they stop me from boarding when they find my ticket isnt a tourist ticket since i may have bought it at lower price via Spanish website, as opposed to English website. Being an Asian tourist, this is quite obvious to them.

    There’s no way that i have an intent to cheat, but i’m just not sure if the pricing discrimination for tourist is really reinforced or the pricing difference is just for ignorant web users.

    Thanks so much Alan.

    [Reply]

    Alan Seabright Reply:

    Hi Jimmy,

    Thanks for your comment. I just had a look at the Buquebus website and them asking for your country of residence seems to be a new thing… I haven’t seen it before. However when I chose different countries of residence, and different languages, I still always got the same prices. Strange.

    Anyway, if you are concerned about having a problem, I would avoid buying a ticket after having selected Argentina as your country of residence. Select your home country. There is the possibility (I don’t know how likely as I haven’t been through this situation myself or head of anyone who has with ferry trips here… however I have heard of similar for flights which definitely do have different prices for non-Argentine residents vs locals) that they will check your ticket and passport before boarding and either make you pay the additional or buy a new ticket completely.

    Or better yet, book with another company such as Seacat or Colonia Express – I just checked and neither asks you for a country of residence on visiting their website, so I doubt either would have any differences in pricing.

    Apologies if I don’t have a more complete reply… this is something new with the Buquebus website.

    Have a great time in Buenos Aires and Colonia!

    Alan

    [Reply]

  20. Carlos Pandis on July 15th, 2013 3:53 pm

    Hi Alan. I am Argentino and US citizen. Once I retire in 2014 I am thinking of buying a little house or land where to build a loft style house in Colonia. Do you have any info about it. You think that life in Colonia is cheaper than Baires? Thanks. Carlos

    [Reply]

    Alan Seabright Reply:

    Hi Carlos,

    Thanks for getting in touch. They sound like some nice retirement plans. Unfortunately I have no knowledge of real estate/land purchase myself, but I recommend getting in touch with these guys, who do: http://investba.com/

    Life in Colonia is currently NOT cheaper than Buenos Aires. Uruguay has a higher cost of living still, although with inflation in Argentina I would say that Buenos Aires is slowly catching up.

    Saludos!

    Alan

    [Reply]

  21. sharon Grose on July 29th, 2013 5:43 pm

    HI Alan,
    Do the three ferry companies all depart from the same area in Colonia del Sacromento and arrive in the same area in Buenos Aires?

    Someone mentioned in passing that tourists need to be on the look out when they arrive in BA as it might not be the best area?
    We are in the process of planning a trip. Thanks for assistance.

    [Reply]

    Alan Seabright Reply:

    Hi Sharon,

    Thanks for your question. In Colonia del Sacramento, all three companies use the same terminal.

    In Buenos Aires, Buquebus and Seacat both arrive/depart from the same ferry terminal in Buenos Aires, which is known as the Buquebus terminal to most (including taxi drivers… you’d probably get a taxi there). It is at Darsena Norte in Puerto Madero, at the eastern end of Avenida Cordoba.

    In fact, Seacat is owned by Buquebus. It is their “budget” company to compete with Colonia Express. The funny thing is, you often pay less on Seacat than Buquebus, and then end up on the same boat! Although on busy days they have separate boats.

    The Buquebus/Seacat terminal is in an OK area… no problem if arriving in the day. It is not the nicest area at night, but I have walked from there many times with no problem… it is certainly not the worst of areas either. If you have doubts, take a taxi.

    Colonia Express boats arrive/depart from their own terminal in Buenos Aires, in the neighborhood of in La Boca. It is on Avenida Don Pedro de Mendoza, near the corner of Juan Manuel Blanes (underneath the raised freeway, just across from the floating casino). Not a good area at all for tourists to be hanging around in, and definitely not at night. If you need to use this terminal at night, definitely take a taxi. In the day, I would say probably the same too!

    I hope this helps with your planning. Let me know if you have any other questions!

    Alan

    [Reply]

    sharon Grose Reply:

    Thanks kindly ‘
    Alan

    One more question, I have heard people state there a different types of taxis and some are safer or regulated?

    Any suggestions on how we as a tourist would know which taxi to use.
    Also what is the approx rate of a taxi ride from Buquebus terminal to the Retiro, Buenos Aires bus station.
    Do taxi drivers want payment in Argentina pesos or American dollars?

    How much do you tip taxis?

    Thanks for taking the time to answer all the questions. It is awesome to converse about this up coming trip with someone in english.
    Kind regards!!

    [Reply]

    Alan Seabright Reply:

    Hi Sharon,

    It is the “radio taxis” that people say are safer. They are the ones with radio taxi written on the side doors, or on the top of the taxi. In truth, any taxi that is obviously part of a company, and not unmarked (apart from the circle with the taxi license number on the door), is going to be more trustworthy, IN GENERAL.

    To get the full benefit of a radio taxi, you have to call them in advance. However that costs more money and isn’t always convenient. Hailing a radio/company taxi on the street is a good compromise, and I have never had a problem in my 8 and a half years living here. The reason these taxi drivers are generally more trustworthy is they have a boss to answer to – they don’t work for themselves. So they are less likely to take you round the houses or try some kind of scam.

    You should also check out this article about general safety here, which has some mention of taxis:

    http://www.buenostours.com/buenos-aires-safety

    The approx. cost of a taxi from the Buquebus terminal to the long distance bus station in Retiro would be about 20 to 25 pesos. You will almost certainly have to pay in Argentine pesos.

    Argentines don’t really tip taxis, you just sometimes round the amount up a little to make things easier for the taxi driver with change.

    Glad that I could help with your questions!

    Alan

    sharon Grose Reply:

    ONe more question, how long does it take to get from Ferry Port Buquebus terminal to Retiro bus terminal by taxi?

    You mentioned you walked- how long a walk?

    Thanks

    [Reply]

    Alan Seabright Reply:

    Hi Sharon,

    It should only take a few minutes by taxi.

    I wouldn’t walk. The bus station is right by a big shanty town. Not the best place for new visitors to the city to be walking around. DEFINITELY take a taxi if you are going to the long-distance bus terminal in Retiro. You’ll be fine, no need to worry at all if you take a taxi there :-)

    I hope that helps.

    Take care,

    Alan

  22. Pinky D on August 1st, 2013 10:31 pm

    Hi Alan,

    Are the ferries (specifically Buquebus fast ferry) operating on Christmas day (Dec 25 or even Dec 24)? Is it possible to make an enjoyable day trip to Colonia on Christmas day or will everything be shut down and be like a ghost town?
    Thanks.
    PS Do you also hold private tours on Dec 24/Dec 25 2013?

    [Reply]

    Alan Seabright Reply:

    Hi Pinky D,

    Excellent question. I have no idea!

    Seriously though, although I have never looked myself until now, I would bet that they do have ferries (Buquebus fast) on Dec 24 and 25. They are not showing now on the Buquebus website as they only have details available to book up until the end of November. I imagine that if you check back in September they will have details for December (or if not, then they will soon after – there is usually no need to book much more than a month or so in advance).

    I imagine that almost everything in Colonia will be shut down from the evening of the 24th through to some point in the afternoon on the 25th. Just like Buenos Aires – so take your pick really, it will be similar in both places. That said, Colonia on a weekday is usually a bit of a ghost town, and I like it that way – to best enjoy the historic center and the river coast. But whether or not there will be any places open to eat/drink (apart from hotels) or any place to hire bikes/golf carts etc, is another matter entirely. There could be, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

    In Buenos Aires we will be holding private tours as usual on December 24th. We MAY be running private tours on 25th (and Jan 1st), but that is something we will have to confirm closer to the time (say 1 month before) with our tour guides. If we do have tours, there will not be as much availability as usual.

    I hope this has helped in some way! Let me know if you have any other questions.

    All the best,

    Alan

    [Reply]

  23. Pinky D on August 2nd, 2013 8:30 pm

    Thanks so much for replying Alan! Much appreciated.

    Good to know you are running tours on Dec 24.
    I’ll be in touch for that once I have our schedule figured out.

    What to do in BA on Christmas day then?

    [Reply]

    Alan Seabright Reply:

    You’re welcome Pinky D! Ah, the eternal question of what to do in Buenos Aires on Christmas Day.

    Most Argentines don’t do an awful lot, as the big Christmas celebration happens on the night of the 24th. There will be lots of fireworks and champagne (or more likely, sidra, a cheap sweet fizzy cider that comes in a wine bottle) at midnight, and the fireworks and celebrations go on into the night. It is basically like a practice for NYE a week early! Then locals will probably sleep in and laze about on Christmas day. You could do the same. If you want to see fireworks on the night of the 24th, either stay in a place (apartment building or hotel) that has a terrace on top where you can go up to see the fireworks all over the city (a great experience), or go down to the Puerto Madero area, which is beautiful and safe at night, and usually has a fireworks display. You’ll have trouble finding a taxi to get back though… so perhaps only an option if you are walking distance.

    To be more active, and take advantage of the good weather (these two days are often up there with the hottest of the year… last year on the night of the 24th the temperature index was in the 40s centigrade, for example), you could spend a day walking around the green areas/parks of Buenos Aires. This basically means Palermo, where if you look at a map you will see lots of green areas. The 3 de Febrero part with the boating lake is a nice area. There are also Japanese Gardens, Rose Gardens, Botanical Gardens, the Zoo and the planetarium, but not sure how many of those if any will be accessible on the 25th. But walking around there in the morning and bringing a picnic could be a very pleasant day.

    If you want to bring a picnic on the 25th, make sure you buy EVERYTHING you will need during the day on the 24th. Shops will close that evening and not open again until the afternoon of the 25th (and even then, not everything will be open).

    If you walk around the parks of Palermo and have a picnic, then by the afternoon some cafes etc will have opened up in Palermo Soho. So stroll over there (the area around Plaza Armenia and Plaza Serrano) see what is going on. It is quite a cool area and I’m sure there will be activity by the afternoon. By the evening most restaurants and bars etc will be open again.

    I hope this helps! Feel free to email if you decide to take a tour on the 24th.

    All the best,

    Alan

    [Reply]

  24. Pinky D on August 4th, 2013 6:16 pm

    Wow thanks Allan!!!
    Excellent advice for Christmas day in Buenos Aires!

    [Reply]

  25. Ana on September 10th, 2013 2:42 am

    Hi!

    I will be visiting BsAs next week and am interested in the day trip. I am Nicaraguan and want to know if i will need a visa to go to Uruguay. Where can i look up that info?

    Thanksss!

    Ana

    [Reply]

    Alan Seabright Reply:

    Hi Ana,

    Thanks for your comment. On the following Uruguay government webpage (updated in August) it says that people from Nicaragua do not need a visa to enter Uruguay:

    http://www.dnm.minterior.gub.uy/visas.php

    Buen viaje!

    Alan

    [Reply]

  26. jordan on October 21st, 2013 11:53 pm

    hola ! alan estoy planeando ir a buenos aires 12 dias entre ellos visitar colonia unos 5 dias , quisiera saber que recomendaciones de hospedajes y que tio de utr ralizar . gracias :) !

    [Reply]

    Alan Seabright Reply:

    Hola Jordan!

    Perdon pero nunca pase la noche en Colonia del Sacramento. Si me podes avisar un rango de precios tal vez podria buscar unas opciones para vos?

    Y no entiendo lo que significa “que tio de utr ralizar”, tal vez un error de digitacion?

    Saludos!

    Alan

    [Reply]

  27. Lance Deutsch on October 27th, 2013 8:26 pm

    Hi Alan,

    Great website! My wife and I are are going to be in BA in a couple of weeks, and I’ve been trying to get tickets on the fast ferry to Colonia. I’m having trouble filling in the form on the BuqueBus web site. Even in English, it has four fields on the bottom left: “Tipo Doc. Fact.”, which has three options: CUIT, CUIL, or DEXT. Then it has a field, “Pais emisor de Tipo Doc. Fact.”, with a bunch of countries in dropdown list, but the United States or Estada Unidos des America is not among them. The next field is labeled “CUIT/CUIL” and wants a number (I think) in the form of xx-xxxxxxxx-x, and then there’s a field labeled “Num. Id FISCAL” with a blank. I don’t know what these are, and I’ve tried leaving them blank, but the site will not let me continue without filling them in. Can you help? Thanks!

    Lance

    [Reply]

    Alan Seabright Reply:

    Hi Lance,

    Thanks for your comment and the kind words about our website, glad that you’re finding it useful.

    I think that you’ve been on the Argentine version of the Buquebus website… which now only sells tickets to Argentine residents, due to a law change that I won’t go into here.

    If you go onto the Uruguayan version of their website (http://www.buquebus.com.uy/BQBWebV2/web/Home) then you should be able to book. Please bear in mind that the prices may now be shown in Uruguayan pesos, not Argentine pesos.

    You should also consider Seacat (http://www.seacatcolonia.com/index.php?sitelanguaje=ES&sitecountry=AR), as they generally offer the same service as Buquebus, at better prices.

    Best of luck and enjoy your trip!

    Alan

    [Reply]

    Sean swift Reply:

    Alan, my name is sean I live in Alaska and I’m taking my motorcycle to Argentina but have a job lined up in Uruguay, my question is, can I take my motorcycle on the ferry?

    [Reply]

    Alan Seabright Reply:

    Hi Sean,

    There are some Buquebus ferries where you can pay to take your car. So I am sure a motorcycle is also possible. Best to pop into the Buquebus office on arrival in Buenos Aires and ask about the service, but I am sure it will be possible.

    All the best,

    Alan

  28. Rui Costa on November 1st, 2013 4:47 pm

    Hi Alan,
    Your website sure is helpful and sharp and you do appear to be the right person to advise of the following:
    We are a Portuguese family planning to spend one December Sunday afternoon in Colónia de Sacramento, arriving from Montevideo by bus around noon and departing to Buenos Aires in the evening by ferry.
    At the risk of you saying that the answer to this question depends from our walking ryhthm, tastes, interests, etc… would you reckon that we shall be able to see and feel most of the old colonial streets and buildings in say, 5 hours?
    Would you recommend us to stay after sunset and leave as late as possible (I understand there is a ferry leaving at 22.00) or can we leave earlier (around 17.45)?
    Your contribution to our visit shall be greatly appreciated.
    Obrigado, and all the best !
    Rui

    [Reply]

    Alan Seabright Reply:

    Oi Rui, tudo bem?!

    Thanks for your comment, glad you find the website helpful.

    You can definitely explore the historical center of Colonia del Sacramento in 5 hours, it is a very small area. I’d also recommend spending some of that time sat on a streetside (or river-view) cafe or restaurant for a drink or something to eat, to take in the relaxing atmosphere of the old town.

    That said, Colonia at and after sunset is also very beautiful, when all of the vintage streetlamps are turned on, and it feels like you’ve gone back in time to a bygone era, the soft light reflecting off the cobblestones. So if you have the time and like the sound of that, you might also consider staying for the later ferry,

    But if you are in more of a rush, yes 5 hours is enough to see Colonia, no problem.

    Abraco,

    Alan

    [Reply]

  29. Andrés Magré on November 8th, 2013 12:01 am

    Hi, Alan, congratulations for the website and all the useful information it contains for visitors, I am recommending it to a couple of U.S. friends encouraging them to visit B.Aires and probably Colonia. I am Argentinean , resident in B.Aires. One item I don´t see discussed here, is the big difference in value between OFFICIAL and PARALLEL (called “blue”) dollar in Argentina.

    In Uruguay you may go to any exchange agency and obtain approx. 20 $UR for your dollar, and you may ask at the hotel for other options, but I think there will be no difference.

    In Argentina, this is pretty different. In Airports, your dollar will be valued approx. 4.50 $AR, and you will find everything too expensive. In a bank or exchange agency, your dollar will be 5.50 $AR, big difference but not recommended. IN THE STREETS, or by means of some friend, your dollar will be 9.50 $AR today. Yes, that´s a difference !! A good dinner with excellent wine will cost you 10 dollars per person, A leather jacket in Murillo street (in Palermo) probably 100 dollars, a pair of nice men shoes 70 dollars, a ticket to opera approx. 15 dollars, and so on.

    You can google “dolar blue hoy” in Argentina, and you will see the actual rate. Try to contact the buyers through someone who is trustable to you. You may sell your dollars to anyone in Florida street, but there is always a risk of obtaining some fake bill. They are called “arbolitos” (small trees) because many years ago they started their business making the transaction behind a tree.

    Enjoy the culture and beauty of our city and forgive these abnormalities. Best Regards – Andrés

    [Reply]

    Alan Seabright Reply:

    Hi Andrés,

    Thanks for your comment, glad that you like our website!

    We haven’t mentioned the blue dollar on our website yet as we believe it is a controversial subject to comment upon publicly, especially when changing money on the parallel market is in theory illegal (although we understand that everyone does it). That said, we will be publishing a post that touches on the issue soon, and attempt to keep our readers and clients as well informed as possible.

    We apreciate your contribution, and would like to echo your suggestion that visitors to Buenos Aires, if they decide to try to change money at the “blue dollar” rate, only do so through a trusted contact (such as a local friend, or your hotel, etc), rather than just walking down Florida street and finding someone to change with there, which has all kinds of risks beyond just getting fake peso bills.

    Thanks again for reading!

    Saludos!

    Alan

    [Reply]

    Laraa Reply:

    HI Alan ,
    I will be visiting Colonia next week.. this is the best site ever – thank you sooo much for all your wonderful postings. I am traveling alone and was wondering if hailing a taxi at nite when I return from Colonia to BA ferry terminal at 10 pm is unsafe ? Also, what tips do you have for single women in Buenos Aires while hailing a taxi at night ? I am anxious about this , if you could give any feedback that would be awesome.
    Also, where could I go in BA to insert a local SIM card for my GSM phone ?
    Thanks,
    Lara

    [Reply]

    Alan Seabright Reply:

    Hi Laraa,

    Thanks for your comment, glad that you like our website.

    It should be fine to get a taxi from the ferry terminal, even as a woman traveling on her own. You should see the usual Buenos Aires yellow and black taxis outside the terminal. Just make sure they put the meter on when they start moving, otherwise they may make up a higher fixed price when you get to your destination.

    Generally getting taxis is safe in Buenos Aires, even at night, however of course I am a man and not a woman. But a lot of my female friends also get taxis alone here, Argentines and foreigners alike, at different times of day and night. The most you generally have to worry about is them trying to con some extra pesos out of you. If you want to be extra safe/sure, especially at night, you should call for a radio taxi, or ask the place you are at (hotel, restaurant etc) to call one for you. However that should not be necessary from the ferry terminal.

    You can go to almost any cell phone office (Personal, Movistar & Claro are the 3 main companies, in that order of preference in my opinion) to get a local SIM card. You just need to have at least a photocopy of your passport for them to take down your details. It is very cheap. Ask them for advice on activating the SIM card. If you let me know where you are staying more or less, then perhaps I can suggest a cell phone office nearby.

    Hope that helps and let me know if you have any more questions.

    All the best,

    Alan

  30. Wife got short term (3-4 week) assignment to Buenos Aires - give me your tips (leaving soon) - airfare, hotels, car rental, backpacking, resorts, cruises, vacations, airplanes, international... - City-Data Forum on November 25th, 2013 4:20 pm

    […] Uruguay by ferry: Buquebus Ferry between Argentina and Uruguay – Buenos Aires Colonia Montevideo Colonia del Sacramento Day Trip | Buenos Aires Tours How do you find the cost of living? Seems like the exchange rate is awful and getting […]

  31. Constantino on February 8th, 2014 6:22 pm
  32. Derek on September 15th, 2014 9:08 pm

    Hi Alan,

    Thanks for the great article. I’ve read thru all the posts and noted that you did mention if one wanted to go from BA direct to Montevideo and back that Buquebus was the only option. Their website is a bit confusing, as the direct BA to Montevideo ferry takes 3 hrs but the return ferry is listed as only taking 1 and 15 mins (maybe the BA to Mont one actually stops in Colonia 1st even though it isn’t indicated on the site). Total for 2 people round trip on the fast ferry from BA to Montevideo and back is around $310 according to the Buquebus site. Does that sound about right?

    I do want to spend half a day in Colonia and though it would be easiest to just go straight to Montevideo via ferry, stay there a few nights and take a day trip to Colonia, it seems decidedly cheaper and with more options to initially go to Montevideo via Colonia, stop over, and take the late evening bus to Montevideo. But none of the sites offer the ability to delay the connection to the bus portion of the trip that takes you from Colonia to Montevideo. Is this difficult to book/arrange online ahead of time.

    Would it be best to book the straight Mont to BA return via ferry now online and leave the BA to Colonia, holdover for a few hrs, and then take a separate bus to Montevideo later when I get to Buenos Aires?

    Sorry for the long message.

    Thanks, Derek

    [Reply]

    Alan Seabright Reply:

    Hi Derek,

    Thanks for your comment, no worry about it being lengthy, matches my blog post quite well in that respect! Sorry on my part for the short delay in replying.

    I think that with the BA to Montevideo return trip you are looking at on their website, the return ferry journey is certainly Colonia to Buenos Aires, with a bus from Montevideo to Colonia first included in the price. Their website can be a bit confusing/annoying in how they don’t always explain exactly what is involved in each trip option.

    I would definitely recommend going to Colonia first from Buenos Aires by ferry, and spending at least half the day there before then taking a bus on to Montevideo. You can then of course book another single ferry journey from Montevideo back to Buenos Aires.

    I am pretty sure that Buquebus don’t offer the flexibility of booking a ferry-to-Colonia-bus-to-Montevideo trip that allows you to delay the connection to the bus portion of the trip. So my suggested solution would be to just buy the ferry journeys from Buquebus (or you could even consider another carrier for the BA – Colonia part), and then when in Colonia, buy a bus ticket for later that day direct with a bus company. They always have availability on the day, especially if buying a few hours before, so you won’t have any problems. It isn’t possible to book it online, as far as I know.

    The bus terminal in Colonia, where you also buy the tickets (there are several counters for a few different companies, with the destinations and times displayed behind them), is located right by the ferry terminal. You walk out of the ferry terminal, through the car park, out onto the main street, head to your right, and the bus terminal should be one of the first things you see. It’s quite small.

    Also, although I am not 100% sure of the payment methods accepted, I would recommend having pesos cash on you ready to pay at the counter. If you need to exchange money, I’m pretty sure there are exchange places both in the ferry and bus terminals.

    Finally, there’s a great outdoor food cart pretty much across the road from the bus terminal, where you can get a very good chivito uruguayo al pan – the perfect Uruguayan fast food. Highly recommended.

    Any other questions, just let us know here.

    All the best,

    Alan

    [Reply]

    Derek Reply:

    Hi Alan,

    Thanks so much for the great advice. It is very much appreciated. We will be in BA for quite a few days and I will be sure to take some of the walking tours offered by BuenosTours.

    Thanks again, Derek

    [Reply]

    Alan Seabright Reply:

    You’re welcome Derek, have a great trip and let us know if you have any questions about booking our private walking tours! Alan

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