A small country located in South America, Uruguay is often overlooked by travelers seeking adventure, culture, and fun under the sun. But little do they know that this country offers so much more than what meets the eye. From the charming streets of Montevideo and the UNESCO-listed town of Colonia del Sacramento to the breathtaking coastline of Punta del Este and the raw wilderness of Rocha, there is no shortage of things to do and see in Uruguay. In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey to some of the best destinations throughout Uruguay, including estancias where you can experience the country’s rich traditions, history, and hospitality.
Montevideo: Start your journey by exploring the vibrant capital of Uruguay. Montevideo is a city that effortlessly blends European grandeur with South American charm. You can wander through the streets of the historic Old Town, admire the iconic Teatro Solis and Palacio Salvo, shop for souvenirs at the Feria de Tristan Narvaja flea market, or indulge in local cuisine at the Mercado del Puerto. If you’re looking for a more cultural experience, you can visit one of the city’s many museums, such as the amazing Museo Nacional de Historia Natural or the contemporary Museo de Arte Contemporaneo.
Colonia del Sacramento: Just a short ferry ride across the Rio de la Plata, you’ll find Colonia del Sacramento, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This picturesque town is rich in history, culture, and beauty, with its cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and colonial architecture. You can visit the city’s many museums, stroll down the Rambla de las Americas, take a guided tour of the town’s ancient fortifications, or simply sit back and relax at one of the charming cafes in the Barrio Historico.
Punta del Este: Known as the “Saint-Tropez of South America,” Punta del Este is a glamorous beach resort town that attracts visitors from all over the world. Here, you can splash around in the turquoise waters of the Atlantic, sunbathe on the golden sands of Playa Brava or Playa Mansa, enjoy a night of dancing at Ovo Nightclub, or visit the impressive Puente Leonel Viera bridge. If you’re looking for a more serene experience, you can take a horseback ride through the tranquil countryside or go whale watching in the nearby waters.
Cabo Polonio: For something completely different, head to Cabo Polonio, a remote fishing village located on the eastern coast of Uruguay. This wild and rugged destination is perfect for nature lovers and adventurers. You can go on a wildlife tour to see sea lions, sea turtles, and penguins, hike through the sand dunes and forests of the Cabo Polonio National Park, or take a refreshing swim in the icy waters of the Arachania stream. It offers stunning views of the Atlantic coast and an array of recreational activities to enjoy. Tourists visiting Cabo Polonio can explore its pristine beaches, watch beautiful sunsets, visit local museums and monuments, or take part in water sports such as kite surfing, stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking. Another great activity is whale watching from the cliffs or boats. For nature lovers, the nearby animal reserve provides a haven for sea lions, dolphins and other wildlife. Tourists can also visit local artisanal shops selling handmade souvenirs, art and clothing. There’s even a lighthouse at the tip of Cabo Polonio, where visitors can observe stunning views of Uruguay’s coastline. With so much to offer, Cabo Polonio is definitely worth a visit for those looking to explore and enjoy the best that Uruguay has to offer.
Additionally, for the adventurous traveler, Cabo Polonio offers stunning hiking trails to explore its beautiful landscape. With a variety of paths to choose from, you can take in breathtaking views while exploring the local flora and fauna. Whether you’re soaking up the sun on one of the many beaches or trekking along a scenic trail, Uruguay’s Cabo Polonio has something for everyone. For those looking to fully embrace Uruguay culture while visiting Cabo Polonio, there are plenty of opportunities to do so. From attending traditional folk festivals and sampling local cuisines to listening to live music in one of the town’s small bars – visitors will find no shortage of ways to immerse themselves in Uruguayan life. For those hoping to experience something a bit different, Cabo Polonio is home to the unique art installation of the Faro de Punta del Este, which was designed and built by renowned Uruguayan architect Raul Villar in 1964. This landmark features an intricate system of winding stairs and platforms that ascend up to fifty meters above sea level – providing visitors with breathtaking views of both the ocean and nearby landscapes.
Estancias: Finally, to truly experience the heart and soul of Uruguay, you must visit one of the country’s many estancias, or ranches. These estates offer a glimpse into the country’s rich traditions, history, and hospitality. You can go horseback riding in the countryside, watch gauchos demonstrate their horse-riding and cattle-herding skills, enjoy a delicious asado (traditional BBQ) with locals, or simply sit back and relax in the tranquil atmosphere. Some of the most popular estancias in Uruguay include Puesto Viejo, Los Cerros de San Juan, and Estancia Vik. Uruguay is a South American country that has plenty of attractions and activities to choose from, but nothing quite compares to the experience of visiting one of the many estancias (ranches) in the country. Estancias are large rural properties where you can explore Uruguay’s beautiful countryside on horseback, go fishing, bird watching, or simply immerse yourself in local culture and traditions.
At any estancia in Uruguay, you can expect to find wide open spaces with incredible views of the surrounding mountains and plains. Many estancias are home to working farms and ranches, allowing guests to watch cowboys in action as they round up cattle or herd sheep. For those looking for an activity-packed holiday, there’s no shortage of things to do here: from mountain biking and canoeing to horseback riding and fishing. If you want to truly experience Uruguayan life like a local, then staying overnight at one of the estancias is a must! Most offer accommodation ranging from cozy cabins and bungalows to luxurious suites with sweeping views. Plus, all estancias have their own unique style of hospitality – some will serve up hearty barbeque dinners while others provide more upscale menus featuring local produce from the on-site farm. No matter what activity you decide to take part in during your visit, spending time at an estancia in Uruguay will help give you a better understanding of the country’s rich culture and heritage. So why not make your next trip even more special by heading off-the-beaten-path and exploring this beautiful destination?
Conclusion: Whether you’re a culture enthusiast, nature lover, or beach bum, there is never a dull moment while visiting Uruguay. From the bustling cities to the serene countryside, there is something for everyone in this beautiful country – and the estancias are truly unforgettable. So pack your bags and get ready to discover the Best Things to Do in Uruguay