Thanks to its setting, variety of activities and attractive hotels and restaurants, COLÓN is easily the most appealing of Entre Ríos’ resorts. It also makes a good base for visiting the wonderfully exotic-looking Parque Nacional El Palmar, just 50km north, or the European-style splendour of Palacio San José, about 40km southwest. Moreover, Colón is linked to the major Uruguayan city Paysandú, 15km southeast, via the Puente Internacional General Artigas. Closer by, you can take memorable boat trips on the enticing Río Uruguay, swim at a riverine beach, hunt for semi-precious stones, taste wine at the region’s only commercial vineyard, or tour the abandoned Liebig meat-processing plant, a vestige of the area’s once-thriving beef export industry. A day’s exploration is well rewarded with a soak in the city’s thermal springs, or with a visit to the Termas Villa Elisa, only a short distance north. Every February Colón hosts an important craft fair, the Fiesta Nacional de la Artesanía, with over five hundred exhibitors from Argentina and further afield. The rest of the year, there’s no shortage of stores selling artesan goods ranging from mates and asado tableware to local cheese and salami.
Colón’s unique winery
Colón’s unique winery
In defiance of Colón’s subtropical climate, usually regarded as totally hostile to wine grapes, in 1857 a Swiss immigrant named Joseph Favre planted a few vines from his homeland just outside the city. Seventeen years later, with his vines not only succeeding, but thriving, he added a handsome bodega (winery) in the Piedmontese style – an Italianate villa with ochre walls that would not look out of place in the countryside around Turin. In 1936, the national government banned the commercial production of wine anywhere outside the Cuyo and the Andean Northwest, but Favre’s descendants continued making wine for their own consumption. When the law was finally repealed in 1998, Jesús Vulliez, a local descendant of other Swiss immigrants, bought the nineteenth-century bodega and began producing wine for commercial distribution under the label Vulliez Sermet, planting five hectares with chardonnay, malbec, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, tannat, syrah and sangiovese vines. If you call ahead, you can visit the beautiful bodega, with its impeccably restored interior and cool cellars, taste the fine red and white wines, and eat at the bodega restaurant (closed Tues). The attractive grounds nearby house a large swimming pool and three luxurious cabañas sleeping up to six (t03447/156-45925, wwww.bodegavulliezsermet.com.ar; $251-300). To reach the complex from the RN-14, take the RP-135 Colón–Paysandú road and stay on it for another 200m after the turn-off to Colón.