Uruguay, despite its familiar-looking landscape, is often overlooked by travelers heading straight for Argentina or Brazil. Here are 5 reasons to visit Uruguay.
The country is known as “the Switzerland of South America” because of its rolling hills and pea-green pastures, and its economy is primarily based on agriculture. But look past the lush farmland and you’ll find a pulsing nightlife, spotless beaches, and a fiery culinary scene. Simply arrive ahead of the rest of the pack.
1. Its coastline is unspoiled and (truly) virgin
“Unspoiled” is perhaps the most overused word in modern travel writing, but it is an apt description of Uruguay’s coastline. This is exactly the perfect word to describe one of the reasons to visit Uruguay.
The country’s entire south-east coast is abundant with pristine beaches that are empty for ten months of the year, making it one of the least-populated coastlines in the world. Coastal towns range from hippie havens like Rocha near the Brazilian border to pounding Punta del Este – South America’s glitterati’s dancefloor – and José Ignacio, a laid-back fishing village that’s place of residence to Posada Ayana, an artist’s retreat we’ve marked as our favorite waterfront bolthole-to-book.
2. You can have a good time from dusk to dawn
Uruguay is known for its laid-back attitude, but its major cities have late-night restaurants, glamorous partygoers, and a plethora of reasons to stay up late. Night life is surely one of the exciting reasons to visit Uruguay. Montevideo, a magnet for the country’s most in-the-know crowd, has everything from old-school bars and cocktail joints to Irish pubs and big-beat clubs.
When you’ve had your fill of the capital’s nightlife, head east to Punta del Este, where trendy types let off steam on the beach to the beats of big-name international DJs.
3. The locals are warm and welcoming, and their pride in their homeland is contagious
The high crime rates in South America are well-known, but Uruguay has thankfully avoided the same fate. According to the Global World Peace Index, it is the safest country on the continent and the 35th most peaceful place on the planet, and it is home to some of the friendliest people we’ve ever met—surely one of the reasons to visit Uruguay.
Because most people care about their country, if you stop to ask for directions, they’ll gladly show you around town. In almost every city, there is a well-preserved historic district, so you’ll have plenty to see. Plus, given the way things are done in Uruguay, you might find yourself at a bar with your newfound Uruguayan friend later that evening.
4. You’ll be in prime grilling territory
Although Argentina has a reputation for being the world’s best steakhouse, its Uruguayan neighbors take barbecuing just as seriously. The abundance of lush green pastures in this country, which is one of the world’s most important beef exporters, means that grass-fed cattle are the norm, and steak sandwiches are the usual order of the day.
Barbecues are so important to Uruguay’s identity that the Fray Bentos Industrial Landscape, the country’s most important meat-packing district, was designated as a Unesco Industrial Heritage site in 2015.
5. You’ll feel at ease when you get back
Mindful travel is the next big thing, we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: it’s the next big thing. For the uninitiated, this entails going on adventures that go beyond your typical wellness trip and help you get to a place of inner stillness quickly, usually through nature.
Uruguay is known for its relaxed pace and stunning natural beauty, as well as a plethora of remote locations to explore, so it’s no surprise that we’ve named it as mindful travel’s hot-ticket destination for 2022. Prepare to be surrounded by peace and quiet like you’ve never experienced before.