Despite its relatively small size, this peaceful country can offer a diverse range of experiences. Coastal nature reserves and wetlands can be found beyond the beautiful sandy beaches and exclusive resorts, popular during the summer months. The capital, Montevideo, is the cultural heartland of the country, while historic Colonia is among the most delightful colonial towns. The interior encompasses grassy plains and cattle ranches, as well as vineyards producing excellent local wines.
Just a short ferry ride across the River Plate from Buenos Aires, Uruguay is often combined with a trip to Argentina.
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Currency: Uruguayan peso
Flying time from London: 15 hours
Official language(s): Spanish, Portunol or Brazilero
Time difference: +4 GMT
Visa requirements: Not required for a stay of up to three months for all UK passport holders.
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Uruguay’s oldest city and a Unesco world heritage site, Colonia del Sacramento is less than an hour from Buenos Aires by ferry. Settled by the Portuguese and twice conquered by the Spanish, this picturesque riverside town has remarkably well-preserved colonial houses and cobbled streets. Day trips or overnight stays can be arranged to explore the historic centre.
Enjoy the capital Montevideo
The vibrant capital city has an old historic centre and a waterfront promenade along the River Plate. Visit the famous old wrought-iron port market, Mercado del Puerto, offering delicious steaks at one of its grill stalls or restaurants, before browsing the little shops selling antiques, books and crafts. In the evening, listen to traditional live music, such as tango, and sample fine local wines.
Relax in coastal resorts
East of Montevideo, the Atlantic coastline offers miles of sandy beaches, dunes, nature reserves and coastal resorts. Glamorous Punta del Este has a glitzy nightlife, while the former fishing village of José Ignacio is a relaxed and up-and-coming retreat surrounded by lagoons.
Uncover Uruguay’s interior
Inland from the coast, the less-explored rural interior consists of rolling plains and forested hills. Here, the pastoral charms of the countryside can be experienced with a stay at a historic working ranch, where Uruguayan gauchos ride horses and herd the cattle. Native forests, rivers and numerous lagoons offer excellent birdwatching opportunities.
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