While it may not be South America’s most-visited destination, Uruguay is quite the experience. There’s the capital Montevideo, where you can find theatres, art galleries and beautiful palaces near immaculate beaches. There are the cobblestone streets and stunning rocky harbour of Colonia del Sacramento, the stunning waterfall at Salto, as well as the forests and lagoons of the East Coast. Whether you want to chill on the beach, sip coffee with bohemian writers or don a costume and parade through the streets during Carnaval, our range of Uruguay hotels below have some great deals available.
With a name that means “river of the colourful birds”, Uruguay is the traditional home of the Charrua people. The Portuguese were the first to explore the area in 1512, and the country’s history is marked by a fight for control between them and the Spanish, as well as Uruguay’s own struggle for independence.
Things to see and do
Start in Montevideo, which is home to nearly half of Uruguay’s three million plus population. If you like to party, head into town for Carnaval! It starts the Friday before Ash Wednesday and although it officially lasts for five days, it can run as many as 40. Partygoers parade through decorated streets in colourful, elaborate costumes, to the beat of African drums. Even once it’s over, Montevideo is full of excellent cultural attractions, like the Solis Theatre - Uruguay’s oldest theatre, all the way from 1856. And you can’t miss a relaxing day at Pocitos, Uruguay’s gleaming white beach, lined with palm trees and fronting a boulevard of restaurants and shops.
In the resort town of Punta del Este, you’ll come across Monument to the Drowned, a massive statue of a hand reaching through the sand on Brava Beach. You can visit Casapueblo, artist Carlos Páez Vilaró’s pearly white Cliffside mansion, which includes a museum and art gallery.
You can also take a trip to Colonia del Sacramento, one of Uruguay’s oldest towns, with a historic quarter and a lighthouse from 1857.
If, however, it’s the wild that’s calling, Salto is famous for Salto Grande, an otherworldly clear blue waterfall in the rugged mountain landscape of Torres Del Paine National Park.
Shopping and dining
In Montevideo, you’ll find heaps of Italian food like pizza and pasta. Meat lovers can tuck into plenty of succulent treats thanks to Uruguay’s huge amount of beef production. Find yourself an ‘asado’ - a Uruguayan BBQ with pretty much every type of meat you can imagine. If you have a sweet tooth, try a traditional dessert like a Bizcocho or some Garrapiñadas, caramel-coated peanuts sold on the street in bags. Feeling hungry yet?
The best shopping can be found in Montevideo, Punta del Este and Colonia del Sacramento, and ranges from street markets to shopping malls.
While you’re choosing your Uruguay accommodation from our range below, also be sure to check out our flights to Uruguay. They’ll take you to Montevideo, where you can hire a car or take a bus to explore the rest of the country. Spend some time in the South American gem of Uruguay and you’ll wonder why you didn’t find out about it sooner.
Image credit Shant under Creative Commons