Sandwiched between Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay is a tiny country with a wealth of unique tourist attractions. Its interior is home to the gauchos, offering a traditional ranch lifestyle where some of the continent’s best beef is produced. There are some hot springs to visit, too.
On the coast are glorious beaches, excellent surfing opportunities, trendy seaside resorts and charming fishing villages. The capital, Montevideo, is also on the coast – it’s a delightful city that is home to a carnival that lasts six whole weeks. In complete contrast, there’s Colonia del Sacramento, UNESCO-listed because of its heritage and traditions.
Why travel to Uruguay
- Asado (barbecue) is a national pastime – and the meat is excellent.
- Uruguay produces excellent wine, found in wineries north of Montevideo.
- The 17th-century old town of Colonia del Sacramento is one of the continent’s best-preserved towns.
- Uruguay boasts its own Rambla in Montevideo – the 22.2km promenade is the longest continuous pavement in the world.
- The remains of a vast corned meat-packing district outside Fray Bentos has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its history and significance.
- You can enjoy the traditional gaucho lifestyle at an estancia (ranch).
- Uruguay is home to José Ignacio, one of the most exclusive holiday destinations in the world.
Uruguay is a laidback country with some astonishing scenery. Relatively overlooked because of its famous neighbours, the country has plenty to offer the holidaymaker. Its coastline is breathtaking, its history and culture enchanting, and the food and wine are unsurpassed, especially the beef, cultivated in numerous ranches all over the interior. For a South America adventure, whether you’re travelling with the family, friends or on a romantic getaway, Uruguay is unmatched. Let Thompsons Holidays create your perfect package holiday for you in this beautiful little country.
Things to do in Uruguay
With its sprawling gaucho ranches and kilometres of sandy beaches, not forgetting its excellent wine and steak, Uruguay is a playground for holidaymakers. This small South American country offers a variety of exciting activities for every type of traveller.
In Uruguay’s dramatic natural landscapes you can enjoy canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking and horse riding. To relax, there are bodegas (wineries) where you can sample the country’s superb wines. And if you're in search of buzzing nightlife, you can dance the tango in Montevideo and party up a storm in its numerous bars, cafes and restaurants.
Things to do in Uruguay
- Go kitesurfing at Laguna Garzon.
- Enjoy a hot air balloon ride over the vineyards.
- Take a hike in one of the largest canyons in the world, Quebrada de Los Cuervos.
- Visit Uruguay during its 2-month long festival.
- View the large colony of sea lions at Punta del Este.
- Go surfing at El Chileno and El Emir.
- Explore historic Colonia del Sacramento.
- Stroll through the picturesque neighbourhoods of Ciudad Vieja and Barrio Sur.
- Go shopping for treasures in a traditional market.
- Enjoy a fine dining experience at a restaurant in José Ignacio.
- Get an all-over tan at the nudist beach, Playa Chihuahua.
- Go whale watching in the seaside town of Piriápolis.
From lazing on sandy shores to active adventures and water sports, there are so many things to do in Uruguay, one of the continent’s most laidback countries. And that’s just a taste of what’s in store on a visit to Uruguay. Let Thompsons Holidays take you there to enjoy its many treasures.
Know before you go...
- Best time to visit Uruguay is in the warm season (summer), October to March.
- Beach holidays are best enjoyed from October to December.
- Winter is May to August.
- Flight duration from Johannesburg to Montevideo in Uruguay with one stopover: 18 hours, 35 minutes.
- There are no regular flights from South Africa to Uruguay.
- South African passport holders do not require a visa to enter Uruguay for a stay of up to 90 days.
- Passports must be valid for 6 months after departure from Panama.
- Uruguay is 5 hours behind South Africa.
- Daylight saving is practised in Uruguay, so in winter, Uruguay is 4 hours behind South Africa.
- The official currency is the Uruguayan Peso (UYU).
- You can change travellers cheques in US Dollars into Peso.
- Credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are prevalent.
- Tipping is customary Uruguay.
- The official language is Spanish.
- English is taught in schools in Uruguay but not widely spoken.
- Learn a few Spanish phrases so you can communicate with the locals.
- Christianity is the main religion in Uruguay; 47% of the population is Roman Catholic.
- When visiting sacred sites and temples, dress conservatively. (See ‘What to pack’).
- It is safe to drink tap water in Uruguay. Bottled water is also readily available.
- Smoking is not permitted in public areas such as restaurants, bars and indoor work places as well as on public transport. Airports offer designated smoking rooms.
- Vaccinations – no vaccinations are required.
What must I pack?
- Lightweight clothing in summer, warm layerable clothing for winter, ski wear or beach wear depending on where you are going.
- Comfortable walking shoes.
- Sunscreen, lip balm, hat and sunglasses.
- Mini first aid kit and regular prescription medication.
- Hand sanitiser and insect repellent.
- Travel adaptor.
- Transport within Uruguay is mainly by bus and coach.
- Towns in outlying areas may have less sophisticated transport infrastructure – it depends where you are going.
What can I do to be a responsible traveller?
- Wherever possible, buy local food and souvenirs and support local artisans.
- Instead of using plastic bags, take fabric shopping bags with you.
- Respect each other's cultures and customs and avoid imposing your beliefs.
- Be safety conscious: don’t display cash or valuables. Leave jewellery and expensive watches at home.
- Keep your belongings safe – use the hotel safe for passports and valuables and watch out for pickpockets and bag snatchers when out and about.
What do I do in an emergency?
- If passports or valuables are stolen, report the theft to the hotel/police immediately.
- Contact the Thompsons Holidays 24-hour care line to assist.
Out of season
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