One of the Continent’s Least-Known Treasures
Situated on the littoral west of Montevideo and surrounded by rolling gaucho country, Colonia is the unappreciated gem of Uruguay. The sycamore-shaded cobbled streets of the Barrio Histórico, this small town’s colonial core, is one of the loveliest and more carefully restored urban areas on the continent. Founded by the Portuguese, coveted by the British, Spanish, and later the Brazilians, Colonia is a charming collection of whitewashed buildings, tile-and-stucco homes, and Uruguay’s oldest church. There are a number of small museums and good restaurants – but altogether little indication of the 21st, or even 20th, century. For the moment. On weekends Argentines from nearby Buenos Aires breeze in on the hydrofoil for the day. A stay at the charming 19th-century Hotel Plaza Mayor will draw you gently into the past; its flowering patio and indigenous-looking guest rooms are what discerning travelers hope for.