Uruguay, a tiny country bordering Argentina and Brazil, was colonized by Spain and Portugal in the late 17th century–much later than surrounding countries. Despite the fact that the country was once inhabited by the Charrua people, little of the local indigenous culture persists today.
As a consequence of the presence of African slaves in the nation in the 19th century, the country adopted a number of customs and festivals associated with African history, which are notably visible during the Carnival celebration at the beginning of the year.
Uruguay has a lot to offer visitors in terms of outstanding cuisine, unusual customs, and lots of natural beauties to explore and discover. This is your sign to fly to Uruguay. Check out this list of the best tourist attractions and activities to do in Uruguay for more information on the top spots to visit.
Uruguay’s capital city has an unusual combination of African influences, Neoclassical, and colonial architecture, and modern European flair. Government structures, such as Palacio Salvo (home to the Tango Museum of Montevideo) and the Legislative Palace (constructed of over 30 different types and hues of marble), are an excellent depiction of the appearance and feel you’ll get when wandering the streets of Montevideo. This is a go-to destination for the best tourist attractions in Uruguay.
Ciudad Vieja, the city’s oldest and most picturesque district, is home to various sites, including the Citadel Gate (the sole remaining portion of the city’s walls) and the green space Plaza Independencia.
Montevideo is a vibrant city with world-class cuisine, which you can sample at its finest in the Mercado del Puerto (“Port Market”).
The cultural legacy of Montevideo is strongly reflected in the city’s various history and art institutions, notably the huge National Museum of Visual Arts and the Museo Torres Garcia, which is devoted to the famed Uruguayan avant-garde sculptor, painter, and writer.
The beaches and Rambla (a seaside walkway) in Montevideo draw visitors from several nearby nations.
2. Jet Set in Punta del Este
Punta del Este is Uruguay’s most renowned beach, and it’s worth mentioning since it’s been dubbed “the Monaco of the South”–a resort area where models, actresses, and the wealthy congregate to rest, play, and dine in style.
Punta’s main draw is undoubtedly its fine golden sand beach and water sports, but the area also has a large population of southern right whales, an imposing hotel complex, and the Museum of the Sea, which houses everything from whale skeletons to a collection of early twentieth-century bathing suits.
The islands of Isla de Lobos and Isla Gorriti are located off the coast of Punta del Este. They have a lighthouse, Portuguese fort remnants, and vast populations of southern elephant seals and orcas. Isla de Lobos is a wildlife reserve and a whale wintering location.
3. Hike in Punta del Diablo
During the high season (December to February), when guests come here to enjoy a tranquil vacation in a magnificently unspoilt region of soft sands on the Atlantic coast, Punta del Diablo, a small community of around 1,000 residents, swells to an amazing 25,000 residents.
Punta del Diablo (Devil’s Point) is an hour’s drive from Punta del Este, but it still has lots of high-end restaurants, shops, and lodgings with views of the jagged ocean.
Because of the town’s strict building standards, no huge construction projects or significant developments are permitted, so you’ll only see brilliantly colored cabaas (cabins) and little businesses offering local crafts and souvenirs as you stroll around the town’s wide-open streets.
Early morning sand dunes treks are popular here, but more adventurous explorers can leave the village and travel all the way to Santa Teresa National Park, a forested seaside reserve with an 18th-century granite masonry fortress, a large campground, a number of protected species, and several beaches, including Playa del Barco and Playa Achiras, where opportunities for surfing and windsurfing draw many visitors.
4. Spot Sea Lions in Cabo Polonio
When it comes to off-the-beaten-path places, it doesn’t get much more off-the-beaten-path than this little town, which has no power, running water, or Wi-Fi–exactly as the locals want it.
Cabo Polonio is a tiny fishing village with a population of less than 100 people who live in rustic yet charming modest cottages and homes. There’s just one store in town, a few posadas (rustic inns that cater to summer guests and serve meals by candlelight or oil lamps), a few shacks serving surprisingly good food, and a lighthouse that’s the only structure with electricity. All of this takes place in a stunning, harsh landscape where grassy sand dunes and massive stones crash into the icy sea.
As there are no roads into town, getting to Cabo Polonio is part of the adventure. The only way to get to the settlement is in a 4WD vehicle or by trekking seven kilometers from the highway across sand dunes that are hazardous and constantly shifting.
One of South America’s biggest populations of sea lions may be seen on the empty beaches around the hamlet—something that visitors should not miss in their list of best tourist attractions in Uruguay to visit.
5. Historical Sights
Uruguay is a country that is only a few years old. Europeans didn’t discover there until 1516, and Montevideo wasn’t created until 1726. As a result, Uruguay’s historical sites are primarily restricted to strongholds and towers, however there are some magnificent ones to see.
General Artigas Fortress, popularly known as Fortaleza del Cerro, is located 134 meters above sea level and overlooks the Montevideo Bay. It was created by a Spanish governor in the 1800s and is now a famous vantage point. It also serves as the home of the Military Museum.
The massive Fortress of Santa Teresa was erected in the 1760s by the Portuguese in order to protect themselves against a possible Spanish onslaught, but it has since fallen into disrepair. Fuerte San Miguel, which is part of the San Miguel National Park, is in considerably better shape and currently holds a collection of military costumes, weaponry, and ordinary things from colonial times.
6. Colonia del Sacramento
This little city, also known as Colonia, is one of Uruguay’s oldest. The Barrio Historico, or old town center, of Colonia is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the town’s primary attraction.
The barrio, which is built around a tree-lined square and surrounded by cobblestone streets, is home to a number of historical buildings and ruins, including a 17th-century convent, a municipal museum displaying artifacts from Colonia’s history, a wooden drawbridge, and the Basilica of the Holy Sacrament, built by Portuguese colonizers in the early 19th century.
Famous monuments include the remnants of the bullring Real de San Carlos (abandoned since bullfighting was abolished in Uruguay in 1912) and the lighthouse facing the river.
Colonia is also an excellent location for catching the boat to Buenos Aires. The boat leaves Colonia more than 40 times every week, and the voyage takes only one hour and 15 minutes, making it ideal for a sightseeing day trip to Argentina’s capital.
7. Discover the Gaucho Culture
In Uruguay and Argentina, the gaucho (a kind of South American cowboy) is a national emblem. Gauchos were historically bold adventurers who took over cattle ranching in distant places and became expert horse riders. If you are a culture lover, this is one of the best tourist attractions in Uruguay for you.
While the original gaucho is officially gone, the traditions linked with these courageous countrymen remain on and are an important part of Uruguayan culture. A prominent example is mate, a traditional drink served in a hollow gourd that you should absolutely taste if you visit Uruguay.
A visit to a hacienda is a wonderful place to start for anyone interested in learning about gaucho culture. These enormous landed estates provide lodging, traditional local gastronomy, and the opportunity to witness or engage in traditional gaucho activities like as cattle drive, sheep herding, and horseback riding.