Squished between the tourist magnets Argentina and Brazil, is a travel gem that remains little known, but much loved among the most experienced of travellers, Uruguay.
While this country might be an underdog when it comes to South American travel, there is so much to discover and explore here, from the pristine sprawling beaches and the rolling hills of the inlands to the sophisticated culture that thrives in cities.
Uruguay is not only full of spectacular sites, unique activities, and delectable cuisine, it is also an incredibly safe and stable destination. One of the trailblazers of progressive policies on the continent, the country also has a huge focus on fighting climate change and promoting sustainability.
The beaches, surf towns, and coastal resorts are the main attractions here. Jose Ignacio and the nearby Punta del Este are chic and luxurious resort towns that are home to stunning coast and high quality dining.
The many smaller and more affordable surf towns along the coast are just as worth a stay, many of which have what is described as bohemian atmospheres. However, most of these destinations shut down completely in the off-season, around April to November each year, so plan your travels accordingly.
For a bit of history, Colonial del Sacramento is a laid back historic colonial town with both Spanish and Portuguese influences. Here you can explore the old cobblestone streets and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere or take a day trip to Buenos Aires which is just across the Rio de la Plata.
The capitol city of Montevideo is also a must-see of Uruguay. Montevideo is a vibrant city with a rich arts scene, plenty of museums, theaters, music venues, and street markets. Here the late-night culture of the country thrives, locals often don’t eat dinner until 9 pm and clubs and bars can be open until anywhere between 5 am and 9 am.
The city also showcases a mix of architectural styles, from neoclassical buildings to beachside high rises that remind of Miami. Oceanside, La Rambla promenade is the world’s longest continual sidewalk and offers a great view of the sprawling beach.
A visit to Uruguay should in no way be limited to the coast and the big cities. The inland is a beautiful motif of plains and rolling hills, home to the Gaucho culture. This cowboy and ranch culture is an important characteristic of the country and one that locals are proud of. There are plenty of tourist ranch destinations to choose from to experience a bit of this way of life.
As for cuisine, a deeply rooted food culture is asado, which consists of the grilling of meats, veggies, and cheese, eaten in piecemeal fashion, and prepared on huge grills in front of guests. A signature dish of the country is Chivito, a loaded steak sandwich with a long list of delicious ingredients.
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