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Punta del Este in Uruguay, Bild: Daniel Zappe / shutterstock

Exploring Uruguay: a small country with great holiday destinations

When you think of South America, the vastness of Argentina or Brazil usually comes to mind first. Uruguay, on the other hand, is often overshadowed by its famous neighbors. A visit reveals that this does not have to be the case. This small but proud state on the southern bank of the Rio de la Plata and the Atlantic Ocean combines charming colonial towns, stunning coastal landscapes and rich cultural diversity. For vacationers who want to experience the authentic while enjoying the unspoiled paradise, Uruguay offers a perfect blend of experience, tranquility and cultural enrichment.

Uruguay: a country full of contrasts

Uruguay, Montevideo
The capital of Uruguay: Montevideo, Image: worldroadtrip / shutterstock

Uruguay may be small with a land area of 176,215 km², but its diversity in terms of landscapes, culture, and experiences is enormous. From the golden beaches of Punta del Este and Piriápolis to the historic alleyways of Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay has something for everyone. The country is also known for its progressive society, laid-back way of life, and deep cultural heritage, which is reflected in its music, literature, and everyday traditions. Anyone who has been there once will be happy to come back.

The capital city of Montevideo enchants with its mixture of old architecture and modern lifestyle. Along the coast of the Rio de la Plata stretches the waterfront of the capital, which invites you to take long walks. The Mercado del Puerto market, with its lively atmosphere and delicious grilled specialties, is an excellent stop to refuel. A great contrast to the urban life are the rural regions of Uruguay, which score with their untouched nature and tranquility. There are numerous so-called estancias. These are traditional country estates where visitors can experience rural Uruguayan life first-hand and enjoy the hospitality of the locals.

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3 Must-See Things to Do in Uruguay

Colonia del Sacramento is the oldest city in Uruguay. It is famous for its well-preserved old town with cobblestone streets, which has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. A walk through the historic alleys takes travelers back to the time of Portuguese and Spanish colonial rule. The city also offers magnificent views of the Rio de la Plata and allows you to take a break in cozy cafes and browse artisan shops.
Fancy a beach holiday? Punta del Este is nicknamed the “Monaco of South America”. There are good reasons for this, as this is a popular destination for beach lovers and celebrities from all over the world. With luxurious resorts, swanky nightclubs, and world-class restaurants, it’s the epitome of South American jet-set life.
A stay in the Santa Teresa National Park promises a lot of peace and quiet. This huge protected area inspires with beautiful beaches and a species-rich flora and fauna. Hiking trails crisscross dense forests and lead to historical sights. Among them is an impressive fortress from the 18th century.

Food and drink in Uruguay: what a treat

Uruguayan cuisine is a reflection of the country’s cultural diversity and agricultural abundance. This promises to be a feast for the senses. At the heart of the gastronomic scene is the “Asado”. This is a traditional Uruguayan barbecue that is more than just a meal: it is a celebrated tradition. The beef, grilled on an open fire, is enjoyed together with friends and family. Its quality is outstanding and literally melts in your mouth with tenderness.

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Another culinary cultural asset of the country is the “mate”. This strong, tart drink made from the leaves of the mate bush is another symbol of Uruguayan hospitality and everyday culture. From the bustling streets of Montevideo to the quiet beaches along the coast, locals can be spotted everywhere sharing this traditional tea. The drink thus becomes a sign of community and solidarity.
In addition to meat cuisine, Uruguay offers a variety of seafood along its coasts. In addition, the small state scores with fresh dairy products from rural areas and sweet delicacies such as the creamy caramel paste “Dulce de Leche”.

When to book a holiday in Uruguay?

Uruguay has a mild climate with four distinct seasons. It is worth a trip all year round. In general, the Uruguayan summer and thus the period from December to February is considered the best time to travel. Now beach lovers and sun worshippers get their money’s worth. During these months, the country pulsates with life and the coastal towns such as Punta del Este and Piriápolis awaken in full splendor.

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy the natural beauty of the country in a quieter atmosphere, you can visit in spring, between September and November. Autumn from March to May is a wonderful alternative.