Overview:  Uruguay, officially called the República Oriental del Uruguay, is a small country located to the east of Argentina, just across the Rio de la Plata river from Buenos Aires.  Home to no more than approximately 3.5 million inhabitants and culturally very similar to Argentina in many ways, it is sometimes considered to be Argentina’s little sister nation.

When to go:  Any time is a good time to go – however, if you do go during the late spring or summer months, you can take advantage of Uruguay’s beaches during the warm weather.  If you go when the weather is a bit cooler, it is still a great time to explore the colonial charm of Colonia or the capital city of Montevideo.

Where to go:

Colonia

Colonia, Uruguay

Colonia is a small colonial-style town and a UNESCO world heritage site.  The town’s historical center retains much of its original charm and is Colonia’s main attraction.

What to do:

  • Have lunch in the town’s beautiful historical center (try a delicious traditional Uruguayan “chivito”)
  • Take a tour of the historical center
  • Explore the town’s museums
  • Go shopping for souvenirs
  • Visit the docks

How to get there:  By ferry – there are two companies operating ferries from Buenos Aires to Colonia:

If you would like to go and return to Buenos Aires in the same day, you should choose the “Day Tour” option.  Some day tour options include a free tour of the historical center and/or lunch in Colonia.

Montevideo

Montevideo, Uruguay

Montevideo is the capital city of Uruguay, and shares much in common with Buenos Aires in its atmosphere, architecture, and people.  This is a recommended trip for those who are staying long-term in Buenos Aires and have time to travel to many different places.  Since it is very similar to Buenos Aires, if you have little time, you might consider either a trip to Colonia, or another city/region within Argentina.

You may notice that in Uruguay, you will find that people walk down the street with a thermos under their arm and a “mate” in hand.  Uruguayans are famous for being even stronger mate drinkers than their Argentine counterparts!

What to do:

  • Walk down the narrow streets of the historical center “Ciudad Vieja”
  • Check out Montevideo’s beach
  • Walk along the beautiful Costanera (coast)
  • See the city’s port
  • Check out Montevideo’s many bars and restaurants

How to get there: Either by ferry (if money is not an issue – this is the faster option) or by a combination of ferry and bus (ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia, followed by a bus from Colonia to Montevideo).  This option is much more economical, although it will take a few hours longer than the ferry directly from Buenos Aires to Montevideo.

Punta del Este

Punta del Este

Punta del Este

Punta del Este is perhaps the most famous of the balnearios, beach areas, in Uruguay.  It is well-known as the higher-end place to go on vacations among those Argentineans who are able to afford it, including many famous Argentineans, and is certainly worth a trip for any fan of white sandy beaches and an upscale beach town atmosphere.

What to do:

  • Beaches, beaches, beaches!
  • Go to the Península – the center of Punta – to walk the Avenida Gorlero, visit art galleries, arts and crafts fair, discover many restaurants and cafés, walk the port, go to the theatre or cinema, or even to the casino!
  • Visit the Punta’s many parks – it is said that the city is in itself very much a park, due to its many green areas
  • See the fantastic views of Punta Ballena
  • Climb the Punta del Este Lighthouse

How to get there: By plane, ferry, or bus:

Photo 1, 3

Thanks to past Roadie David Anthony for the great photo of Montevideo, Uruguay!!