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Things to do in Uruguay range from visits to the cultural heartland and also the capital of the country, Montevideo; seeing colonial charms in the aptly named Colonia, relaxing on stunning beaches along the Atlantic coastline, or visiting the interior to discover rural life and working ranches.
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.
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.
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.
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.
See Uruguay come alive in this image and video gallery, showing off some of the best areas that you can visit and explore.
Discover the temperatures and rainfall you can expect when visiting the main areas of Uruguay, along with the best time to travel.
Find out more about what you can expect from travelling in South America – from internal flights to accommodation standards and local transport.
Learn more about the airlines we use to fly to South America, chosen for reliability and good service; as well as any available upgrade facilities.
Before travelling to South America, please read more about the entry requirements for each country, as well as any general health advice.
Get to know our expert South America tour consultants, their personal recommendations and favourite hotels around the world.