Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond
South America

Top Uruguay Tourist Attractions

Colonia del Sacremento
Colonia del Sacremento; credit: Patricio Lorente, Wikimedia Commons

Unlike the larger, more popular countries, Uruguay was up until recently South America’s best-kept secret.

Up to a few years ago, only a handful of Argentines, Brazilians, Chileans and a few others would enjoy the pristine beaches, the atmospheric cities and glitzy nightlife.

Today, however, the cat is out of the bag. Not only is Uruguay far more popular, but its attractions are more developed and surprisingly more affordable.
Here, we present five of the most popular attractions in this South American escape.

1. Colonia del Sacramento

Colonia del Sacramento is Uruguay’s second city. While the city has been overtaken by the cruise port of Montevideo as the most important city in the country, Colonia still has a lot offer.

With its cobbled streets and humble historic buildings, Colonia del Sacramento will remind visitors of what life was like in olden day South America.

Apart from touring the olden day streets, visitors can walk along the scenic routes set right on the riverside as well as climb the stairs of the light house to get great views of the area. 

2. Punta del Este

Apart from its rich history, Uruguay also features a number of wonderful beach areas, the Punta del Este being one of the best. Known for its beaches and nightlife, Punta Del Este is the place for a little sun, sand and frolic, including the wonderful little kilombos (crazy parties).

The beach town is well known as a place for couples looking for a romantic and secluded getaway. 

Along with tourists from all over the world, Brazilians and Argentineans visit Punta Del Este for vacation or short visits. Indeed, this quaint beach town stands as one of Uruguay’s best up and coming sites.

3. Punta Del Diablo

Punta del Diablo is essentially a much larger version of Punta del Este with a few hundred people. In the summer however, that number quickly swells to a few thousand. During these warmer months, the small fishing village turns into a great hangout spot for travellers.

Tourists rent homes and cabanas or stay in hostels and small hotels. Most of these accommodations are open only during the high season; however, some like El Diablo Tranquilo are open year-round to accommodate the increasing number of travellers visiting the seaside village.

Unlike Punta del Este, Punta Del Diablo is not well known for romantic getaways, but is better known for winding back and relaxing in simple luxury.

4. Salto

Built near the falls where the Río Uruguay makes its ‘big jump’ (Salto Grande), Salto is Uruguay’s second-largest city, the most northerly and picturesque crossing point to Argentina.

Salto is a rather picturesque city located on the eastern coast of Uruguay near Concordia, Argentina.  Like Punta Del Diablo, Salto is well known for its relaxing feel all year round.  Here, the scenery is more relaxed with simple events and easy going people.

There’s also a hot spring nearby called Termas del Arapey. Some say the Termas del Arapey is similar to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. The springs maintain excellent temperatures and are known to have therapeutic properties.  There is also a zoo featuring more than 150 different species of animals.

5. The Carnival Museum

The Carnival Museum is located opposite the Mercado del Puerto. The museum celebrates the annual festivities of Montevideo’s Carnival and runs from January until March as the longest in the world.

The Carnival Museum is essentially the pride of Montevideo, showcasing costumes, vehicles and instruments from past Carnivals and details the origins of the festival. The museum’s displays are arranged in chronological order from colonial-era Carnivals to the most recent, including the costumes worn by the award-winning murgas (groups of musical performance artists).

Over the years, Uruguay has been overlooked by its bigger brothers Brazil and Argentina.  Being South America’s second smallest country, Uruguay has a surprisingly great deal to offer. Finally, visitors travelling to Uruguay should ensure they have at least a small serving of their varied selections of succulent beef.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
February 17, 2020

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