Colonia del Sacramento now has a circuit of wineries, new restaurants and inns: why go back to the classic Uruguay

Colonia del Sacramento, the classic getaway to the Republic of Uruguay, has been renovated. After the coronavirus pandemic, the city had to reconvert. In the absence of tourists, it sought an ally in the Uruguayan public to survive and today reopen with more force than before.

Thus, to its historic streets were added new restaurants, inns, coffee shops, grow shops and a brand new circuit of wineries with wine tourism proposals.

“During the pandemic we prepare for the Turist, who used to come to Cologne for a day, stay longer. We have many options that already exist in the city but that were not known: wineries, wine tourism, scenic routes and culturally rich towns,” says Martn De Freitas, Director of Tourism for Colonia, to El Cronista.

Next, all the novelties of a classic escapade whatnow without entry requirements or antigen tests involved, seduces the Argentines again.

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Wine Route

Colonia del Sacramento has a Wine Route which can be visited at any time of the year. Especially in the Carmel area. One of the most interesting wineries to visit is San Juan Hills. Founded in 1854 by the German Lahusen family, it is the first and oldest in Uruguay.

In 2019, with the help of new owners (the same as Colonia Express), Cerros de San Juan began a renovation process. Vineyards were recovered, new vines such as Albario and Pinot Noir gris were planted, and the latest technology from Italy and France was invested in to improve production. The objective? offer a high-end product.

Cerros de San Juan, founded in 1854

Even so, the winery maintains its colonial structure and for this reason it has been declared a “Historical Monument”. Its restaurant is located in the old general store of the town, which was modernized maintaining that period aesthetic. Undoubtedly, the star of the place to try is the Maderos Gran Reserva Tannat 2017, emblem strain of Uruguay. It is an intense and full-bodied wine, aged for 3 years in wood.

The warehouse has 3 experience for the public: guided tour only ($350 Uruguayans); visit + tasting of 3 wines ($1,100) and visit with cold cuts and cheese and tasting ($1,500). Meanwhile, for those who want to have lunch at the restaurant, there are two proposals: a three-course menu (starter, main course and dessert) with 2 glasses of wine ($1,500) or with a tasting of 4 wines ($1,950). For reservations: info@bodegaloscerrosdesanjuan.com or (+598) 4570 7003.

New Bullring

The Plaza de Toros Real de San Carlos is one of the novelties in Colonia. Built at the beginning of 1910 by the Argentine businessman Nicols Mihanovich, it was part of a tourist complex that had a pier, an electrical generation plant, a Basque paddle fronton and a casino hotel where the Universidad de la Empresa now operates.

After many years of neglect, the building was remodeled by the Intendancy maintaining its original structure to receive some 4,000 people in cultural and sports shows.

New Bullring

It finally opened in December 2021 and, beyond these events, you can do guided tours to learn about the history of the squarewhere bullfights were held until its prohibition in 1913.

The visits They start at 11 in the morning and after that time they are held every one and a half hours, with the last shift at 6:30 p.m., at a cost of 150 Uruguayan pesos. During it, you can walk the steps and galleries of the Plaza to appreciate the architectural intervention of restoration and enhancement of the building. Downstairs, to close the visit, there is a little bar with wines from Colonia wineries.

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Historic neighborhood

The Historic District of Colonia It is one of the most visited places in the country and since 1995 it is a World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO. Its picturesque streets maintain their usual romantic charm, but with new tourist ventures that give the area a new look.

In recent times gastronomic projects have grown a lot. Among the innovations are the Casa Viera restaurant, Bohemia Bistr and the coffee makers Wanting T and Evergreen Coffee, the latter dedicated to cannabis culture. Another must-see, but not so new, is the hotel and restaurant Puddle.

The Old Town, a renewed classic

For those who travel for the first time, the tour of this area could begin in the Street of Sighs, with its Portuguese mansions, colonial lanterns and old cobblestones. Walking through its cobbled and irregular streets allows you to remember history, and enjoy a unique landscape with privileged views of the Río de la Plata. About 300 meters from there you can reach the San Francisco Xavier Convent and the iconic lighthouse of Colonia.

Where to stay: Sheraton Colonia

The Sheraton Colonia Resort, located about 5 kilometers from the historic center, is located on a huge property surrounded by trees and a spectacular golf course. It is the ideal place for combine a 5-star stay with tourism.

The hotel has a restaurant run by chef Fabin Ruiz, an outdoor pool and a heated pool, a spa with a dry and wet sauna, soccer and volleyball courts, a private beach, a gym and ideal rooms to relax and unwind with views of the Rio de la Silver.

In addition, it offers bicycles for those who want to pedal along the beautiful waterfront or take a walk downtown, clubs and balls for those who want to play on the golf course, and rods for those who want to fish. Breakfast is served every morning in assisted buffet mode.

For reservations and inquiries you can contact Reservations@marriott.com. Rates include buffet breakfast and a benefit for families: up to 2 children under 12 years of age sharing the room with their parents stay free.

car museum

Less than 20 kilometers from Colonia, in Paraje San Pedro, is the paradise for ironworkers: the Cars Museum, which houses an impressive collection of more than 30 vintage cars ranging from a 1924 Dogde to an exotic 1929 Buick. An interesting fact is that they all work.

Located in a large field, in a covered space of 2000 square meters, it exhibits more than 28,000 photos, 32 cars restored to the smallest detail and different collections set in vintage locations, such as a 1913 pharmacy with its original bottles, a classic barber shop, a doctor’s office and a watch shop.

The walk is complemented by a coffee shop and a two-hectare park where tractors, agricultural machinery and a steam engine from 1890 are exhibited. The museum can be visited from Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10 to 18 hours. Admission costs 300 Uruguayan pesos.

Las Liebres region

Las Liebres region is a venture of the Argentine artist and businessman Pedro Melinsky, who more than a decade ago chose to settle in Uruguay.

It’s about a private neighborhood in the highest point of Colonia with 30 lots of thousand square meters to buy and build a house; a Hostal in the middle of the Tudor style countryside with only two rooms and exclusive halls for its guests; Y a restaurant open to the general public.

The restaurant is in charge of the renowned Uruguayan chef Hugo Socca and works with the concept of kilometer 0: it has a own organic garden 100% certified and uses only raw material from local producers. Even the wines are exclusive blends made for the restaurant by the El Legado winery. It is advisable to book in advance through their website.

how to get there

Only 50 kilometers by boat separate Buenos Aires from Colonia del Sacramento. In Colony Express the trip lasts 1 hour and 15 minutes. The boats leave from the Port of Buenos Aires at Av. Elvira Rawson de Dellepiane 155, Puerto Madero Sur, from Monday to Sunday at 10:00 and 20:00. From the port of Colonia, the boats depart at 8:30 and 18:00. In terms of prices, there are 3 types of rates: Classic, Express and Super Economic.

By car, the trip is 470 kilometers from Buenos Aires. You have to get to Gualeguaych, in Entre Ríos, and cross the Gral. San Martín bridge, to enter Uruguay through the town of Fray Bentos.

Entry requirements

  • Argentines of legal age must have a complete vaccination schedule against Covid-19. The last dose must have been applied at least 14 days before and within the last 9 months prior to admission.
  • Have health coverage for Uruguay
  • Complete an affidavit within 48 hours prior to arrival.
  • On April 1, the negative PCR requirement was eliminated.

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