Situated in Southwest Uruguay, Colonia del Sacramento has a population of around 26,000, and is the capital of Uruguay’s Department of Colonia. It was founded as a Portuguese port in 1680.
Portuguese Colonia del Sacramento was directly across the Rio de la Plata from the Spanish port of Buenos Aires and threatened Spanish control of the region’s trade. For a century Colonia changed between Portuguese and Spanish possession through various battles and treaties until Uruguay’s independence in 1825.
Colonia del Sacramento is a seductively picturesque town. The original port community of Colonia del Sacramento is now a historic district known as Barrío Histórico. This six by eight block area was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
Barrío Histórico has narrow stone streets with original Portuguese stone structures. Here, you’ll find a large plaza, called Plaza Mayor, six museums, a boat marina, and several restaurants. It is one of the most popular tourism destinations in Uruguay.
Retire in Colonia
Unlike much of coastal Uruguay, which is quiet in winter, Colonia del Sacramento is “open all year.” There’s a summer high season between December and March, but even in July you’ll find the nicer hotels booked solid on the weekends, especially with Argentines who find Colonia an easy and safe weekend getaway.
Many Argentines, in fact, have purchased vacation homes in Colonia del Sacramento, and many North Americans and English-speaking expats are also finding their way to Colonia del Sacramento. And it’s easy to understand why. As appealing as Uruguay’s beautiful coast is and as culturally exciting as Montevideo is, Colonia del Sacramento is special.
Uruguayans have a knack, it seems, for getting the ultimate benefit from everything and from using things as long as they can—from old colonial houses to old cars, hand-me-down furniture, and more. If you love antiques and connecting with the past, you’ll love the easy, Old-World charm of Colonia del Sacramento.
Lifestyle in Colonia
Colonia del Sacramento is located 28 miles across the river from Buenos Aires (a 50-minute ferry ride) and a two-hour drive from Montevideo, through the richly fertile farmland and vineyards.
Barrío Histórico could be a scene on a picture postcard with its cobblestone streets, well-shaded sycamore-lined streets, restored colonial buildings, fine shops, galleries, and great restaurants.
Colonia del Sacramento is famous for its fabulous sunsets. At night little tea lights twinkle in the trees of traditional restaurants…Uruguayan guitarists with romantically melodic voices serenade visitors as the wine flows…while you devour delicious freshly made pastas and Uruguay’s grass-fed organic beef.
Real Estate in Colonia
As mentioned, many of the property owners in Colonia del Sacramento are Argentines who’ve invested in Uruguay’s dollar-based real estate market.
There are also business interests in Colonia del Sacramento. Besides being the location of the main ferry terminal to Buenos Aires, Colonia del Sacramento has a free trade zone with a textile industrial plant and the Pepsi plant that makes soft-drink syrup for all of Latin America.
Homes in Barrio Histórico and the adjoining area of Centro provide the opportunity to own a historic single-family home. However, you’ll also find condominium units in Colonia del Sacramento, including modern front-line units with views of the river, not far from Barrio Histórico.
Property Samples in Colonia del Sacramento
- In Colonia del Sacramento’s Barrio Histórico, there is a Spanish-style three-bedroom home built in 1915. It’s on a street made from cut granite paving stones. Areas of the home have wood flooring. And there’s a charming patio area. While the location and style are ideal, it may need some work to bring it up to its full potential. Price $360,000.
- Just two blocks from the rambla, you’ll find a 732-square-foot three-bedroom, one-bathroom condo. It’s a building with a brick facade built in 1998. The apartment appears to be in good condition with ceramic tile flooring in the kitchen and bathroom, wood parquet flooring in the bedrooms, and a granite kitchen counter top. Price: $48,000.
- A one-bedroom condo in a newer building (completed in 2017) is for sale is on the rambla (the waterfront road and walkway). Look out over the river and see the sunsets from the balcony of this clean apartment with sliding glass doors and modern fixtures. It’s half a mile from the historic district and just three blocks from shopping. The building services include a barbecue area, fitness center, and swimming pool. The apartment also comes with a garage space. Price $155,000.
Cost of Living in Colonia
In Colonia del Sacramento, you can get a good bottle of Uruguayan wine for less than $10, as well as locally grown produce and cheeses made by the nearby Swiss-Uruguayan dairy farmers in the Department of Colonia at low prices.
Here’s a sample monthly budget for Colonia:
|Rent (one-bedroom apartment)||$800|
|Electrical and gas||$160|
|Food and household items||$960|
|Dining out and entertainment||$400|