Let Us go into the smallest country in South America, Uruguay! Here’s the list of the 12 most gorgeous places to go to during your stay.
Nestled between two giants, Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay is an original destination that guarantees you authentic experiences. It has to be stated that the European influences of the capital Montevideo fade off as you get closer to the rural customs of the pampas. Culturally tasteful, with lovely beaches and terrific nature reserves, the country is full of sites to go to.
Whenever you turn your back on the sea, the countryside opens the doors of the gauchos, the herdsmen with black hats riding their horses. On the other hand, Uruguayans like to share their enthusiasm for theater, soccer, and tango. The fantastic food lovers won’t be outdone: their enormous beef parilladas are as great as Argentinean or freshwater meat. Wines can be tasted all around the nation, and partner — the national drink — is generously shared.
Wondering what to see and what to do on a visit to Uruguay? Here’s a collection of the most gorgeous areas not to be missed!
The capital of Uruguay, lively and cosmopolitan, is in fact the only important city in the nation. It stretches along the Río de la Plata and faces Buenos Aires. Less popular than its Argentinean neighbor, Montevideo seduces because of its multiple aspects and scenic sites.
Take a stroll through the Ciudad Vieja (Old Town) to discover its rich historical past. Admire the Italian, Spanish, and Art Deco architectural influences. In the Plaza Independencia, be astounded by the twenty-six floors of this imposing Palacio Salvo. Erected in 1927, it was then the tallest building in South America!
Hungry for something to eat? See you in the Mercado del Puerto! The district of the port is extremely animated. You may sit down in one of the numerous pubs and restaurants, taste the grill specialties, or delight in the street shows. The very long rambla guarantees you a gentle stroll punctuated by beautiful sunny beaches. Montevideo will also seduce you with its period theatres and tango bars.
2- Colonia del Sacramento
By Montevideo, drive two hundred kilometers west and you’ll reach Colonia del Sacramento, a UNESCO World Heritage Site! Time seems to have stood still since 1680, when this town was founded by the Portuguese governor of Rio de Janeiro.
Small cobbled streets lined with colonial homes, pretty squares with trees: the Barrio Histórico is an enchantment. It’s so great to stroll through the oldest city in the country, discovering its eight historic museums! Regardless of its success, Colonia remains authentic and unmissable in Uruguay.
3- Punta del Este
A change of air in the nation’s most upscale (and popular) beachfront hotel: Punta del Este. Here, luxury hotels adjoin the white sandy shores. Folks come here to savor delicious seafood, enjoy water sports, celebration or relax. From the off-season, character is more current and you’ll be able to enjoy another facet of the bustling coastal town.
Punta del Este is also the starting point to get into the outskirts of the Gorriti and Los Lobos islands.
4- Isla de Lobos
Available in twenty-five minutes by boat from Punta del Este, Isla de Lobos is home to one of the largest colonies of sea lions on the planet. The hot springs encourage the breeding of the unique fauna that inhabits the island. From your boat, do not miss to respect the maritime lighthouse. Constructed in the 19th century, it’s still in operation and lights up every five minutes to steer sailors.
In fifty-nine meters high, it’s the highest lighthouse in all South America!
5- Cabo Polonio
Credit: Cabo Polonio
If you would like to live a different adventure, far away in the traditional tourist infrastructures, you won’t be disappointed by Cabo Polonio. This little fishing village, accessible only on foot or by 4×4, is found in the center of the dunes, along a deep blue sea. In this haven of peace in the heart of nature, there are no roads and only about a hundred souls live there all year round. The village takes its name from a boat that was shipwrecked in 1735: the Polonio.
With its lighthouse perched over the stones, its fortunes huts and its sea lions, Cabo Polonio attracts lovers of peace and distance. The sunset on the beach to the south is magic. At night, take care to look up: with no public lighting, you may observe tens of thousands of stars and the Milky Way. During your night stroll, dip your toes in the water to light up the bioluminescent plankton!
Its promenade backed by little hills makes Piriápolis a charming beachfront hotel reminiscent of Mediterranean cities. Outstanding buildings, like the Castillo de Piria or the enormous Argentino Hotel are worth a visit in this city built from scratch to get Uruguayan aristocrats. Its beaches are fantastic for a relaxing moment throughout your journey, while the surrounding countryside boasts the highest peaks in the nation.
To enjoy a magnificent view of the bay, see Cerro San Antonio. Available by chairlift or by street, the Cerro San Antonio is one hundred and thirty meters high and provides a gorgeous panorama of the bay, the city and the port of Piriápolis.
7- Quebrada de los cuervos
Credit: Quebrada de los Cuervos
Off the beaten trail, the Quebrada de los Cuervos Nature Reserve is the ideal spot for lovers of flora and fauna. A secluded canyon meanders through a hilly landscape. A wonderful diversity of plants and birds make their home here. You can find them on two amazing and simple marked walks, one of which results in a gorgeous waterfall, the Cascada de Olivera.
Founded in the 18th century, the city of Salto deserves a trip to its rich historical center. Begin with admiring the Casa del Gobierno, find the Sitio del Ayui, and enter the San Juan Bautista Cathedral. Then head towards the Costanera, a gorgeous walk along the Uruguay River that will take you to the beaches across the river. A couple of kilometers further on, unwind in the spas, such as Dayman’s, with natural hot water pools for comfort.
Uruguay is also the nation of the gauchos, breeders of cattle in hats and boots. The scenic countryside of Tacuarembo lends itself wonderfully to the discovery of the traditions of the culture.
The Patria Gaucha festival is devoted to them annually at the start of March. During your stay, do not miss the free trip to the Museo del Indio y del Gaucho (Indio and Gaucho Museum), which introduces a group of typical accessories of rural life. As you stroll through the sycamore-lined alleys and enchanting squares of the town, it wouldn’t be surprising if you were to hear tango songs: for the Uruguayan population, Tacuarembo is the city of Carlos Gardel, the undisputed master of the renowned musical genre.
10- Punta del Diablo
In the northeast of the nation, on the border of Brazil, Punta del Diablo attracts tourists for its beaches, seafood shacks, and adjoining national park. Renting a surfboard to manage the waves is a must-do.
The Parque Nacional Santa Teresa can be reached in an hour’s walk… or on horseback, a far more enjoyable alternative! Managed by the military, this park provides little-used beaches among eucalyptus trees and pine woods. Additionally, it houses an imposing fortress built-in 1762. In the evening, the sunset and improvised campfires create the charm of Punta del Diablo.
Noteworthy: The place has become remarkably popular with Uruguayan and Argentinean families, prevent the first fortnight of January if you do not need to be invaded by a flood of holidaymakers.
On the east bank of the Uruguay River, Paysandú is a historic city. Founded in the 18th century for the herdsmen of the Jesuit mission of Yapeyú, it gradually became an important meat processing center so famous in the nation.
It’s nice to stroll through its palm-lined alleys, see its old cemetery, theater, and basilica. The ideal time to find Paysandú is undoubted during its carnival or throughout the beer festival, during the Holy Week. The festivities are an opportunity to enjoy the folklore of the area or to taste the Nortena, the local beer.
12- Punta Ballena
Credit: Punta Ballena
On the Uruguayan coast, near Punta del Este, the tip of Punta Ballena is a heaven for nature lovers. Located in the department of Maldonado, the place gets its name from its whale form. Large Argentinian fortunes have vacation residences there. Besides its shore, one comes to Punta Ballena to go to the Casapueblo, the architectural complex of the Uruguayan artist Carlos Paéz Vilaró.