Uruguay is a small country that is dwarfed by its giant neighbors, Argentina and Brazil. The majority of the population lives along the south coast, which overlooks the wide estuary of the Rio de la Plata (Plate River) and the Atlantic Ocean. In summer, a large number of tourists flock to the sandy beaches of this long coastline. The inland part has fertile and low-lying pains. Here, crops such as rice, oranges, tangerines, peaches, and grapes grow through the hot summers and mild winters watered by regular rainfall.
Here are the top ten not to be missed places in Uruguay.
Rambla de Montevideo
One of the impressive places to see in the capital city is the Rambla de Montevideo. It is 25 kilometers of well maintained boardwalk with two or three lane separator and a wide pedestrian corridor interrupted by beaches, plazas and parks where you can enjoy the beauty of the Río de la Plata. It extends from the city center until after the town of Carrasco. The Rambla is a brilliant location for walking, running or cycling in the afternoon and especially watching the sunset with great moments of tranquility. Although mostly flat and well attached there are slight increases and brittle walkways between Pocitos and Malvin. Originally, all 500 meters distance markers are placed, but some of them are long since gone and the distances between the individual columns vary significantly.
The promenade area is so wide, it crosses the entire city. Water and food are found nearly everywhere ands can be purchased at kiosks and there are regular buses that travel and return to the city center. The wide boulevard of Montevideo is undoubtedly one of its most important attractions. Bikes can be rented out to better explore the spectacular beach and coastline areas. It is striking to see the contrast of old and new buildings and feel the wind in your face with the sound of water breaking over rocks. This is Uruguay’s only major city and about half of the population lives here.
Pocitos is one of two chic neighborhoods of Montevideo that is on the central, lying on the Rambla and stands in between the two beautiful beaches (Pocitos and Ramirez) in Uruguay. The nearby Punta Carretas Shopping Center, Club de Golf, the gardens of Villa Biarritz (with its Saturday market) make it lively and interesting during the day and in the evening there is plenty of choice among the countless bars and restaurants and, of course, the spectacular Las Ramblas. Basically, Pocitos is a perfect neighborhood to provide the basis (there are many valid hotels) to visit Montevideo.
It’s the best neighborhood to stay and spend a weekend afternoon with. The Rambla of Pocitos is super busy, you can see groups of Uruguayan locals exercising and doing yoga every morning. Walk down the Rambla around the internal streets and you will always find something interesting to see or eat. It has a very nice atmosphere and very good restaurants. Pocitos is also a charming and trendy neighborhood on the coast with good nightlife options. Along with the access to the quiet and historic centers, there are several bus options to reach this portion of the capital. It’s a great way to end the day and start the evening.
The Solis Theater is an outstanding structure from the inside out due to its old architecture, dimensions of the main hall with 50 types of carved marble, luxury pieces and fixtures, monumental paintings and its opulent decorations. The exterior also looks good and truly impressive. The 45 minute guided tours are available in several languages (Spanish, English, and And Portuguese). In addition, the views are quite frequent during the day and the cost is very affordable. The Teatro Solis is a little gem in the city of Montevideo.
Although the program is infrequent, there are international productions that take place (for example, shows from the New York MET). This theater is a true work of art that is full of culture and history. Tickets are available at the box office or across the country. Right next door there is a long line of restaurants and bars in Ciudad Vieja and Ciudela that promise a pleasant end of the evening. Emotion and history mingle in this theater that is located opposite the freedom square. Take the tour and be amused with actors that make a performance mixing tango and the history of the theater. You will be welcomed at the entrance by a theater performer with a musical instrument playing classical music.
The historic center of Montevideo has the oldest neighborhood called the Ciudad Vieja (Old Town). It begins at the Puerta del Sol (part of the old city walls) and finishes at the Mercado del Puerto. In the 90’s it has been cleaned up and with strong public investment and government support was able to make it a significant part of the booming tourism in the city. All the plans come into fruition because local restaurants and bars abound. All of which have a tempting dish to offer on the open grill, both meats as well as vegetables.
Unfortunately, if you stroll during Mondays at the old town (the Peatonal Sarandì, Plaza Zabala, and Rincon area) you will come across a city with closed offices and shops. However, It is a very pleasant place with antique bookstores, cobblestone streets, and street vendors during the weekends. The ‘peatonales’ are inviting as there are many squares and historic buildings, as well as cafes and craft shops. You cannot stop walking around the Old Town where you can enjoy the beautiful houses, old churches, government buildings, museums and finish with lunch at the Port Market.
Fortaleza de Santa Tereza
To reach the
Fortaleza de Santa Tereza
, take a bus from Punta del Diablo. It is a short bus ride that will drop you off right at the entrance of the fortress which is at the upper end of the park (Santa Tereza National Park). They are nine kilometers but the best way is to walk through the dunes north of Punta del Diablo and going to the beaches of Santa Teresa (the best beaches in there by the way). The park entrance is free but you have to pay about $ 1 USD to enter the fortress. The views are great and the historical richness can enjoy an entertaining tour of thirty to fifty minutes.
Bring drinks and food as there is not much dining places and convenience stores around here. The fort is very large, excellently maintained, and gives great views of the surroundings. Take some time to tour quietly, so it’s good to go prepared with enough provisions to spend a few hours. Then you can walk or drive to the nearby National Park. The fort that is far away from the city closes at exactly 19 pm. Make sure you have sufficient time to explore and understand its historical value and importance before going back to the city.
Casapueblo (Punta del Este)
Carlos Paez Vilaro is without a doubt an outstanding painter and artist who has also created his own home, the Casa del Pueblo. The place is charming and you can have a beautiful view of the river from the terrace and has a small shop if you want to buy something to drink or eat.
All the rooms have names of Latin American writers and artists and paintings aside from the works of Vilaro. There is also a shop where you can buy replicas and books with photographs of his works. The prices are expensive but some are worth the price. The Casapueblo is located in the Punta Ballena and just 10 minutes away from the Punta del Este. The overall architecture of the house is interesting and contains a museum, actual workshop, and archived works of the artist.
It is a surreal architecture which highlights 36 years of work from a Uruguayan artist who began by living in a nearby cave at Punta Ballena an unusual place with a fabulous view due west on the Portezuelo Cove, close to Punta Ballena where you can see whales in season. The entrance fee is a bit expensive but it is still frequented by tourists especially during weekends.
Los Dedos Playa Brava
The protruding from the sand fingers is considered the landmark of Punta del Este. From morning to evening tourists gather here in order to scan it. A few climb on the fingers of the hand, a surreal and unexpected presence that rises from the sand. The fingers are on the windy and stormy side of the Playa Brava peninsula. In general, the locals go on a pilgrimage here and in the afternoon on the quieter Mansa page.
Professional windsurfers are also active on this part of the playa. It is a beautiful monument along with the beach and creates a different aesthetic to a postcard. Getting a shot with no one else around is quite a challenge in the summer. The work refers to a drowning man and serves as a reminder for everyone to respect the sea especially in Praia Brava. Around this beach there are some good restaurants and just walking distance from the local bus station.
Colonia del Sacramento is a small town that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the historic area (Barrio Historico) there are many Portuguese architectural style buildings that have been maintained very well over time. There are several restaurants and pubs that have not however, ‘ruined’ the style of the ancient citadel. Across the Rio del la Plata (which is’ a river), on a clear day, you can glimpse the skyscrapers of Buenos Aires. The ferry and hydrofoil connecting Uruguay to Argentina are efficient and comfortable. The very name evokes the colonial city grows curiosity from the other side.
It has easy access from Buenos Aires by the use of the Buquebus, an expensive express service. The most beautiful villages are remnants of the colonial era are located just north of Salta. It is only 1 hour apart from Buenos Aires by boat; the old town is absolutely charming and very touristy. However, you can spend a great time relaxing along the Rio with a little air away from the bustle and noise of the Buenos Aires. In the old town you have the feeling of being in another century. The houses look well preserved and you can still see the typical floor of the Portuguese colonial era. Some Classic cars are still on the roads. There are several restaurants around the lighthouse, which is good. A trip that is definitely worthwhile.
The wonderful beaches in
are one of the best reasons to visit the Uruguayan wild coast. Cabo Polonio is an ideal place to disconnect from the modern world, even if the means of transport to get there from the Ruta 10 is based on riding on top of old authorized trucks. The short journey by truck especially if you’re outside on the roof of the cabin is an experience in itself. The view of the national park and the ocean is great and you can feel the windy breeze and mists of the ocean while riding the truck.
Two beaches can be found in the north and south sides of the tip that displays different temperaments. The South is clearly an excellent beach break designed for surfers, while the North is much less hectic. In any case, these beaches are a paradise for lovers of walking or riding, even cars here are being banned! For those who are not afraid to walk, the view from the top of the beacon (Cabo Polonio Light Tower) will have an exceptional view of the highest dunes of South America and the sandy part around the edge will give you the opportunity to see some sea lions enjoying the sun.
Rio de la Plata
The Rio de la Plata is a very quiet and tranquil river in the old colonial city of Colonia del Sacramento. However, it is so wide that you could not of course mean one is on a river bank but on a sea beach. The mouth of this great river is about forty kilometers wide. From the other side of the course there is nothing to see. Only on a clear weather you can see the opposite lying silhouette of Buenos Aires. The riparian areas are here quite lonely and abandoned. Finally, the region is not very densely populated.
In Colonia itself, there is even a small beach in the old town area. When you look into the brown waters of the Rio de la Plata but not like you really want to swim in it. The water is a bit muddy brown due to the sediments that the river carries. The Rio de la Plata (Silver River) is like an estuary. But the water is totally brown, like all rivers in South America. In Colonia, you can see the river from almost every street. At the lighthouse there is a beautiful garden cafe that is overlooking the entire beauty of the Rio de la Plata.
Faro de la Paloma
It is mainly good to enjoy the Fargo de la Paloma in the evening because it features a cute and colorful wide view of the beach tourist spot. While it is not recommended for people with mobility problems (must climb a long stairway), you should do the walk if you have physical conditions. From up there, take a picture with the lighthouse the symbol of the city which is something that has to be done almost by obligation if you go to La Paloma. Interestingly, beside it are the ruins of the first built lighthouse which collapsed along with the very advanced work of the workers, killing them almost entirely.
La Pedrera is
approximately 240 km and 3 hours away from Montevideo via the Ruta 9 bus, the ideal place to enjoy the wild Atlantic coast. It has no concrete waterfront and has a small Rambla with buildings that occupies the entire coastline with beautiful beaches (Desplayado Barco north and south). It is a special place where you can stay to enjoy the pleasures of the sea and swell, a nice spot for surfers.
The beach of La Pedrera is very quiet and does not offer much hustle and the view obtained across its edge is very beautiful. Some of the local beach pools are formed around the rocks where one can bathe and swim quietly.