Colonia del Sacramento, better known as simply Colonia, is a small costal town in Uruguay, right across the river from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Due to its close proximity to such a busy city, Colonia is a very popular tourist destination. Some people come for the relaxation, while others come for the passport stamp to renew their tourist visa to Argentina. It’s certainly not an action-packed destination, but it’s worth a day trip.

If you are coming from Buenos Aires, Argentina or Montevideo, Uruguay, you’ll most likely be coming on the Buquebus, which is a commercial boat. All Buquebus tickets to Colonia automatically come with a free city tour. Once you step off the boat and drop your things off at the hotel, go ahead and meet up with the tour group for a quick look around. During the tour you will see things such as the different river beaches, boat docks, shopping areas, and the lighthouse. It’s a quick tour that gives you a good overview of the town before you spend the rest of the day on your own.

If you didn’t get a good look at the lighthouse during the tour, I suggest stopping by again. The lighthouse is quaint. There is usually a line to go up, but it never takes very long. The spiral stairs and incredibly low ceilings are a bit awkward, but it’s worth it to get a pleasant view of the river from the top.

The shopping area is fairly tiny and you can zip right through it, but you can find tasty ice cream shops, cafes and restaurants along the strip as well. You’ll find plenty of places that serve the popular Uruguayan dish, the chivito. The dish involves meat (beef or chicken), potatoes, bread, and a varying array of vegetables on the side. It is kind of an everything dish for the indecisive and strong of stomach. If that does not sound too appealing, I suggest having lunch at the adorable restaurant, El Drugstore on De Portugal street. The restaurant has brightly colored tablecloths, with an eclectic collection of decorations lining the walls. They serve some local dishes such as milanesa along with some of their own creations, such as Asian noodles.

The best way to see the city is actually on a bicycle. You can rent bicycles in town by the hour and grab a map while you are there, though you probably will not need it. Riding along on a bike, you can catch beautiful views of the water and the historical buildings throughout the small town. Most of the ground is fairly flat, so your ride will be smooth and enjoyable.

Of course, if all you are looking to do is relax in the sun, there is plenty of room on the many river beaches in town. The water isn’t as blue or deep as an ocean, but it cools you off just the same. You can spend hours on the beach without being bothered by anyone, and the town is so small and friendly, that you don’t have to watch your personal items like a hawk if you decide to take a dip in the water. Just make sure to slather on the sunscreen, as the UV rays are much stronger in Uruguay than in many other places.

Overall, Colonia is an appealing stop for anyone looking for a day of lazy strolls and naps on the beach. So go for a day and enjoy a laid-back day of cafes, ice cream shops, and lounging by the water.