We are thrilled to announce the launch of Uruguay tours on our online trip builder, Discover Your South America! Little Uruguay is wedged between Brazil and Argentina, though remains a comparatively new travel destination next to these two huge South American countries. But Uruguay has so much to offer visitors who venture here, from amazing wine and fine food to slick tango shows and beaches, with more in-between. Read on to find out why our new travel destination Uruguay should be next on your travel wishlist.
Montevideo: an exciting capital city
Sprawled on the Atlantic Coast, Montevideo is a thrilling city in South America to visit. It has everything: food, art, theatre, beautiful architecture, dance, football (a most important part of local culture), all rounded off with sea views. Foodies rejoice at the many authentic markets of Montevideo, such as the fantastic MAM where locals go to buy groceries, have lunch and catch up with friends. Don’t leave without trying the favourite tipple that is mate, a herbal tea drank from a wooden vessel and metallic straw – for those who find it slightly bitter add a few spoons of sugar for a more palatable taste. There are also fine dining restaurants, and establishments where you can tuck into a delicious three-course meal before watching tango dancers perform live in an intimate setting. Montevideo – as well as Buenos Aires – was the birthplace of tango, did you know?
Wine, wine, and more wine
Another thing you might’ve thought only Argentina could offer is the best wine in the continent, but Uruguay will change your mind. The country’s geographical positioning makes it prime for wine-growing (it lies at the same latitude as Stellenbosch in South Africa), and it has a long history in viticulture too. In the 19th century, many European immigrants arrived in Uruguay and began planting vineyards, many of which still produce fine grapes to this day. As such, you can tour no end of family-run bodegas to find out what makes Uruguayan wine so special. Taste varieties such as Tannat, the most iconic wine in the country, as well as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier, Albariño and Sauvignon Blanc, to name a few. Visit some of our favourite wineries across Carmel, Colonia del Sacramento and Montevideo, such as El Legado, Bodega Irurtia, Los Cerros de San Juan and Varela Zarranz, among others.
Colonia del Sacramento: living history
Venture away from the cities and put that glass of wine down (for now) by exploring the easterly gem of Colonia del Sacramento. This is Uruguay’s oldest colonial town, steeped in Spanish and Portuguese history which is plain to see in its exquisite, centuries-old architecture. Cobbled streets are lined by pretty pastel houses topped with terracotta roofs, interspersed now and then by an ornate church or formidable fort. On a walking tour of Colonia, your guide will explain all about the rich history of this picturesque coastal town, which is also within easy reach of Buenos Aires by ferry. Don’t miss the sunset from Colonia’s waterfront promenade, a captivating end to each day which always ends in a round of applause from the locals.
Rural life in Carmelo
Then there’s Carmelo, an hour along the coast from Colonia del Sacramento, lying on the edge of the Rio de la Plata in an area of natural beauty. Carmelo is a wonderful insight into Uruguayan rural life, where streets are framed with trees and little parrilla eateries, and you don’t need to look far if seeking a spot of wine-tasting. Take a walking tour of Carmelo and admire its main square, riverside beaches and Uruguay’s first ever swing bridge. Go fishing, horseback riding or cycling; meet the locals who make Carmelo such a friendly place, and learn how agriculture and wine-making are such an important part of the economy. In Carmelo, it’s all about taking it easy and soaking up the rural lifestyle.
Beach life in Punta del Este
Uruguay is blessed with a long coastline, dotted with everything from somnolent fishing communities to glitzy resort towns, its most famous being Punta del Este. This pleasure playground is cherished by well-heeled South Americans – and celebrities, too, who come for the high-end restaurants and nightclubs. However, there’s another face to Punta del Este that makes it well worth exploring for a few days. Visit the boho town of Garzon, where a slower pace of life can be glimpsed along with the work of local artists and chefs. Another intriguing place just outside of Punta del Este is the Lussich Arboretum, a vast botanical garden with hundreds of tree and plant species clutching the slopes of La Ballena, a beautiful, verdant haven in Uruguay. Then, of course, there are the famous sights like Casapueblo and La Mano de Punta del Este at Brava Beach. Once you’ve seen the highlights, tasted the food and met the friendly locals, there’s nothing better than kicking back on the beach and watching the world go by.
Click here to start planning your trip to Uruguay with Discover Your South America. Handpick the hotels and activities you want, adjust the durations depending on how long you want to stay in each place, and have fun in the process! Surtrek is always at hand to help out. Call us on 1 866 978 7398 (Canada and USA) or 080 8189 0438 (UK) to talk to an expert, and Discover Your South America with Surtrek!