Of all the towns along the Río Uruguay, Colón possesses the most charm. Founded in 1863, it lacks even Gualeguaychú’s limited colonial character, but its small-town intimacy, 19th-century architecture, and tree-lined streets and riverfront join to make it an ideal stopover for north- or southbound travelers along RN 14.
It’s also a border crossing, linked to the larger Uruguayan city of Paysandú via the Puente Internacional General Artigas, the bridge over the river.
On the Uruguay’s west bank, Colón (pop. about 21,000) is 104 kilometers north of Gualeguaychú and 330 kilometers north of Buenos Aires. It is 50 kilometers south of Parque Nacional El Palmar and 101 kilometers south of Concordia, the next major Uruguayan border crossing.
Sights and Recreation
The parklike waterfront along Avenida Costanera Gobernador Quirós is the main attraction, while the Parque Doctor Herminio Quirós, at its south end, is the site of mid-February’s Fiesta Nacional de la Artesanía, an annual crafts fair that also showcases live folkloric music.
General Urquiza himself decreed construction of the 1860s Aduana de Colón (Avenida Costanera and Emilio Gouchón), a customs house for the export of farm products from nearby Colonia San José. The distinctive building now serves as the municipal tourist office.
Four kilometers northwest of town, the Molino Forclaz (9 a.m.–noon and 4–7 p.m. Tues.–Sun., US$0.50), Colón’s first flour mill, is a national historical monument.
Eight kilometers west, the Museo Histórico Regional Colonia San José (Urquiza 1127, tel. 03447/47-0088, www.museosanjose.com.ar, 9 a.m.–noon and 3–6 p.m. Tues.–Sun., US$0.50) chronicles the history of the province’s second major agricultural colony.
For excursions into the gallery forests and onto the sandbanks of the Uruguay, contact English-speaking Itaicorá (San Martín 97, tel. 03447/42-3360, www.itaicora.com). Itaicorá also visits nearby overland destinations like Liebig, site of a now-abandoned meat-extract plant.
The Cine Chaplin (J. J. Paso 122, tel. 03447/42-3723) shows recent movies.
Accommodations and Food
For budget lodgings, try the basic Hospedaje Bolívar (Bolívar 577, tel. 03447/42-2721, US$21 d).
In a handsome 1880s building exuding real character, the misleadingly named Hostería Restaurant del Puerto (Peyret 158, tel. 03447/42-2698, www.hosteriadecolon.com.ar, US$58 s or d) has, after several years, added a restaurant to live up to its name. Built on a slope, its centerpiece is an attractive sunken patio, while the surrounding rooms all have antique furniture and tile floors. A new wing contains more contemporary rooms, and it has added a pool as well.
Impressively modernized, the Hotel Plaza (Belgrano and 12 de Abril, tel. 03447/42-1043, www.hotel plaza.com.ar, US$73–121 s or d) has reclaimed a spot at the top of the accommodations pyramid.
Its brick walls decorated with photographs of Colón’s historic downtown,
El Viejo Almacén (Urquiza and J. J. Paso, tel. 03447/42-2216) serves a surprisingly spicy boga a la cerveza (river fish in beer sauce) for US$8, with most other entrées slightly more expensive. There are also pastas and parrillada, plus fine empanadas and salads. For accommodations, it operates the Hostería Viejo Almacén (Urquiza 106, tel. 03447/42-2216, jgermanier [at] argentina [dot] com, US$53 d).
The best new eatery is Chiva Chiva (Urquiza and Almirante Brown, tel. 03447/42-4815, www.chivachiva.com.ar), a combination restaurant-bar and art space, where friendly personnel (including one fluent English-speaker) serve mixed drinks, river fish, pastas, and meat dishes in the US$6–10 range.
La Cosquilla del Ángel (Peyret 180, tel. 03447/42-2371) serves three-course meals in the US$8 range, including starters like pâté, and entrées like fish and ravioli, plus homemade bread.
Down the block, Campo Adentro (Peyret and Chacabuco, tel. 03447/42-2003) is a cavernous parrilla that, in addition to beef, also has a good selection of grilled river fish—but avoid their heavy sauces in order to concentrate on the fish itself.
Heladería Italia (12 de Abril 173, tel. 03447/42-1191) has exceptional ice cream.
Getting to Colón
The Terminal de Ómnibus (Rocamora and 9 de Julio, tel. 03447/42-1716) is a stop for long-distance buses on north–south RN 14; northbound buses pass the entrance to Parque Nacional El Palmar.
Copay and Río Uruguay alternate bus service to Paysandú, Uruguay (1 hour, US$3) at 12:45 a.m., and 12:15, 1:45, and 6:30 p.m. except Sunday, when there’s an 8:45 p.m. bus only.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition