Appreciated for its wine culture and hearty cuisine, Uruguay is a tiny but mighty country located on the southeastern coast of South America between Argentina and Brazil. Despite its prominent neighbors, there are many fascinating things to do in Uruguay and places to visit.
It is considered the second smallest country on the continent and one of the most progressive nations in the world. At first glance, some might assume there is not much to explore in this beautiful country. However, there are plenty of adventures to embark on, with those who travel to Uruguay swooning over the desired country.
Uruguay is known for embracing an egalitarian society that has a high-income economy and a lack of extreme poverty.
When to Visit Uruguay
The summer months between November and February are the prime time for visiting this beautiful country. To grab a peek at southern right whales, consider visiting Uruguay between June and November. That is when they come out to breed.
For a chance at catching the magical glowing beach phenom in Cabo Polonio caused by the sea plaktons, I was told by a local that March would be the best time.
Much of Uruguay’s key highlights are along the coast and related to the beach/ocean in some form or another. Summer is the country’s busiest season, and you may want to consider booking reservations in advance to ensure a visit to the most popular Uruguay tourist attractions.
Best Places and Things to do in Uruguay
With that said, let’s dive into some of the best places to visit in Uruguay.
Cabo Polonio is a magical destination not quite like anywhere else in South America. With no running water, electricity, and only one convenience shop, Cabo Polonio thrives on natural resources.
While this method of living might be unorthodox to some in today’s digital age, the locals do their best to maintain the state of Cabo Polonio. It has become one of the must-see Uruguay tourist attractions for young boho folks looking for fun in the sun or a backpacking escapade. Not to mention, the official population is under 100 people.
The best and only way to access Cabo Polonio is by a 4WD vehicle or a seven-kilometer hike, but that’s all part of the beautiful adventure the city has to offer. Additionally, the deserted beaches around the city are home to one of the largest colonies of sea lions in all of South America.
Punta del Este
About a four-hour bus ride from Cabo Polonio is the city of Punta del Este. Uruguay’s most favorable coastal city features incredible beaches, a unique cityscape, and some of the best views of the country.
With a vast selection of luxurious wellness retreats and boutique hotels to choose from, there is a magical experience to come out of visiting Punta del Este.
The city hosts the country’s most famous beaches, Playa Mansa. The beach is known for its calm, serene vibe. Another popular option for surfers is Playa Brava because of the surrounding turbulent waves.
At the marine of Punta del Este, you will also often a colony of Lobos lazing under the sun.
Montevideo is the capital of Uruguay, filled with lush palm trees and stunning historical buildings that line the quiet and smooth streets. The well-preserved capital is home to around 1.4 million residents, making it one of the smallest capitals but also one of the safest to visit.
The flourishing capital features iconic places to visit in Uruguay, from beaches to parks to museums and much more. Every Sunday, popular flea markets take place in the district of Cordón.
For those looking to embrace Uruguay dance and music culture, consider visiting the Candombe on Sunday evenings in the district of Palermo for beautiful dance performances.
Pririápolis is considered to be Uruguay’s first summer beach town. Famous for its beach-side esplanade, Pririápolis is one of the most laidback things to do in Uruguay.
The sunny town is roughly 60 miles east of Montevideo and 25 miles west of Punta del Este. It is a prime spot for ultimate relaxation and escapes from the hustle and bustle. Pririápolis features popular hiking trails, the Fountain of Venus, and the Fountain of the Bull.
La Pedrera is a small village that runs along the Atlantic coast with under 300 inhabitants. While it may be one of the smaller Uruguay tourist attractions, La Pedrera is a lovely little beach town.
Most people frequent the beach, El Barco, where young locals and surfers typically gather. If you’re looking for pure white and fine sandy beaches, consider visiting El Desplayado beach. This fine beach is at the northern part of La Pedrera.
Punta del Diablo
Punta del Diablo, meaning the Tip of the Devil, is famous for its hippy beach vibe. It is also one of the most visited places to visit in Uruguay.
Punta del Diablo is an iconic destination for surfers looking to catch some killer waves. The small hippy beach town features one of Uruguay’s famous national parks known as Santa Teresa National Park. The park is free to visit and shares some of the most incredible views in the country.
Colonia del Sacramento
The Uruguay tour isn’t complete without Colonia del Sacramento, one of the most popular Uruguay tourist attractions. Initially founded by Portuguese colonists back in 1680, Colonia del Sacramento offers a fresh breath of air.
The town features cobbled streets, well-preserved colonial houses, and vintage cars from the 50s. Colonia del Sacramento is a popular tourist spot and can get crowded on the weekends during the summer months.
It is a popular day-trip destination via ferry from Buenos Aires. To enjoy the best of Colonia, stay the night after all the day-trippers leave. The dim lights and quiet surroundings really bring out the charm of the streets at night.
Termas (Hot Springs)
After a long day of exploring this beautiful country, relax at the local hot springs with Termas del Arapey and Termas del Dayman. Arapey happens to be the oldest hot spring resort in the country. It features natural spring waters that reach up to 39 degrees Celsius while the Dayman hot springs can reach 46 degrees Celsius.
The termas are said to have therapeutic properties that relax the body, mind, and soul. Just a short walk from Dayman hot springs is Uruguay’s first water park, Acuamania. It features a 300-meter-long lazy river and much more for some good fun.
Discovering the Best Things to Do in Uruguay
Uruguay offers an eclectic mix of activities and attractions that are perfect for travelers looking for a unique experience. From the vibrant capital city of Montevideo to the charming small towns, there is something for everyone in Uruguay.
The country’s well-preserved colonial architecture and stunning coastal views make it a photographer’s dream. Be sure to visit some of Uruguay’s famous landmarks such as the Obelisk of Montevideo, Plaza de Toros, and Palacio Legislativo. For a taste of Uruguay’s natural beauty, head to one of its many national parks or take a dip in the hot springs.
These are just some of the places to visit in Uruguay and you are sure to discover many more things to do in Uruguay on your trip!