Uruguay, a land of tranquility and beauty, is a country that tourists should not miss. With its long beaches, historical sites and delicious cuisine, Uruguay has countless places waiting to be explored. In this blog post, we will introduce you to some of the must-see attractions that will make your trip to Uruguay unforgettable. Let us dive into the enchanting world of Uruguay, from its bustling markets to its breathtaking natural landscapes.
1. Mercado del Puerto in Montevideo
A visit to the Mercado del Puerto in Montevideo is a must on your trip to Uruguay. Located in the heart of the city, this marketplace is a food lover’s paradise. As you step inside, the tantalizing aroma of grilled meat will overwhelm your senses, and you’ll find yourself lost in a maze of food stalls.
Here, you’ll have the opportunity to try Uruguay’s famous grilled steak, known as asado. The meat is seasoned with a magical blend of spices that will leave your taste buds dancing with joy. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the chivito, a traditional Uruguayan sandwich made with steak, lettuce, tomato, mozzarella cheese, and bacon.
After indulging in the delicious local cuisine, take a stroll around the market and witness the beauty of the old-world architecture. With its red-brick walls and high ceilings, the Mercado del Puerto is a perfect representation of Uruguay’s rich history and culture.
2. The Fingers of Punta del Este
A visit to Punta del Este is incomplete without seeing La Mano en la Arena, also known as The Hand in the Sand. This sculpture, located on Brava Beach, is a masterpiece created by the Chilean artist Mario Irarrázabal in 1982.
As you approach the sculpture, you’ll get a sense of its surrealistic beauty. The hand emerging from the sand symbolizes the human effort to be free, to break the bonds that imprison us, and to reach for the sky.
The sculpture has become a popular tourist attraction, and you’ll often find people taking pictures with the hand in the background. If you’re lucky, you might even witness a beautiful sunset over the ocean, making this spot an Instagram-worthy destination.
3. Discover the Home of Tango
While Argentina is often credited with tango, Uruguay played a significant role in its development. The tango has its roots in the Río de la Plata region, which includes both Argentina and Uruguay. In Montevideo, you can visit the Palacio Salvo, a historic building that was once a center for tango culture. You can also attend a tango performance or take a dance lesson to learn the traditional steps.
4. Palacio Salvo
The Palacio Salvo, one of the most iconic buildings in Montevideo, is a remarkable sight to behold. Completed in 1928, this magnificent architectural masterpiece was designed by the Italian architect Mario Palanti.
As you approach the Palacio Salvo, you’ll be awed by its grandeur. The building stands 100 meters tall, and its stunning façade features intricate carvings and sculptures that are a testament to the Italian Renaissance style.
Take the elevator to the top floor and witness the breathtaking view of the city from the rooftop terrace. The panoramic view of the city, with the Rio de la Plata in the background, is simply breathtaking. The Palacio Salvo is not just a building; it is a landmark that represents the spirit of Uruguay.
5. Casapueblo in Punta Ballena
The Casapueblo, a white-washed villa in Punta Ballena, is a fascinating attraction that should not be missed. The villa was designed by the famous Uruguayan artist Carlos Páez Vilaró and is a fusion of Mediterranean and American Indian styles.
As you walk inside the Casapueblo, you’ll be struck by the intricate details of the architecture. The villa’s narrow passageways, arches, and balconies are a symbol of Vilaró’s love for the sea.
The villa also houses an art museum that features some of Vilaró’s most famous works. After exploring the museum, head to the terrace and enjoy a cup of coffee as you gaze at the sunset.
The Casapueblo is a unique blend of art, architecture, and natural beauty, making it a must-visit spot in Uruguay.
6. Colonia del Sacramento
If you’re looking for a break from the busy city life, head to Colonia del Sacramento, a charming town located on the Rio de la Plata. The town’s cobbled streets, old colonial architecture, and cobblestone streets will transport you back in time.
Take a stroll around the historic quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and witness the remnants of the Portuguese and Spanish colonial era. The lighthouse on the harbor is a perfect spot to capture the beauty of the town and the river.
Colonia del Sacramento is also known for its delicious cuisine. Don’t forget to try the renowned Uruguayan delicacy, dulce de leche, a sweet milk cream that is used as a spread, filling, or topping in desserts.
7. Mercado Agrícola de Montevideo
The Mercado Agrícola is another must-see attraction that will give you a glimpse into the local culture, traditions, and cuisine. This market was built-in 1905 and has retained its old-world charm.
The Mercado Agrícola features an array of food stalls, cafes, and local boutiques. From fresh produce to handmade souvenirs, you’ll find everything here. The market also hosts cultural events, concerts, and exhibitions, making it a hub of activity for both locals and tourists.
One of the highlights of the Mercado Agrícola de Montevideo is the cooking classes. Here, you’ll learn how to make the local dishes, including the famous Uruguayan barbecue, and also get to taste the dishes you make. These classes are a great way to learn about the local cuisine and culture.
8. Cabo Polonio
Cabo Polonio, a remote village on the coast of Uruguay, is a hidden gem that should not be missed. The village is accessible only by a four-wheel-drive vehicle or by hiking.
As you approach the village, you’ll be struck by the natural beauty of the area. The village is surrounded by sand dunes, and the beach stretches as far as the eye can see. The village has no electricity, and the only way to get around is by foot.
The village is home to sea lions, seals, and diverse marine life. Take a boat tour to explore the area and witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
Cabo Polonio is an ideal destination for those who want to escape the modern world and experience the beauty of nature.
9. Punta del Diablo
Punta del Diablo, a fishing village turned tourist destination, is a perfect spot to relax and unwind. The village is known for its laid-back vibe, stunning beaches, and charming architecture.
Take a walk around the village, and you’ll discover a plethora of street art, local cafes, and restaurants. The beaches in Punta del Diablo are perfect for surfing, swimming, or just lounging under a beach umbrella with a good book.
A visit to Punta del Diablo is incomplete without trying the local cuisine. The village is known for its fresh seafood, and you’ll find some of the best seafood restaurants here. Don’t forget to try the local dish, arroz con mariscos, a rice dish made with seafood, vegetables, and spices.
10. Yacht Harbor in Punta del Este
Uruguay is home to some of the most breathtaking coastlines in the world, and the Yacht Harbor in Punta del Este is no exception. This marina is a hub for yachts and luxury boats during the summer months and attracts some of the richest people in the world. As you stroll along the waterfront, you’ll see magnificent yachts and lavish estates along the shore. The port is also close to some of the country’s best beaches, making it an ideal place to explore the coast.
11. Sunbathe and Swim at the Beautiful Beaches
Uruguay is famous for its beaches, and for good reason. The country has over 400 km of coastline with white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. Among the most popular beaches are Punta del Diablo, La Paloma and Piriapolis. These beaches offer something for everyone, whether you are looking for a place to relax or an active day of surfing or kiteboarding. You can also enjoy fresh seafood and drinks at one of the many beach restaurants.
12. Try a Uruguayan BBQ
Uruguay is also known for its love of meat, and there is no better way to experience this than with a Uruguayan BBQ. Asado is a traditional grilling method that uses wood or charcoal to cook a variety of meats, including beef, chicken and pork. The meat is usually seasoned with chimichurri, a mixture of herbs, garlic and vinegar. You can find this dish in most restaurants in Uruguay, but it’s best to try it at a local’s home or at one of the street fairs for an authentic experience.
13. Enjoy Candombe During Carnival Season
Carnival season in Uruguay is a time of celebration, music, and dance. Candombe is a traditional African-Uruguayan dance that is performed during this time. The dancers wear vibrant costumes and play drums to create a rhythmic beat. The streets of Montevideo come alive during Carnival, with parades, street parties, and cultural events. This is a must-see attraction and a great way to immerse yourself in Uruguay’s rich culture.
14. Discover Gaucho Culture
The gaucho is a symbol of Uruguay’s rural heritage, representing the country’s traditional way of life. The gauchos are skilled horsemen who were primarily herders and farmers. You can still see evidence of gaucho culture today, with many farms and ranches scattered throughout the countryside. If you want to experience gaucho culture firsthand, you can visit one of these ranches, where you can ride horses, taste traditional food, and learn about their way of life.
15. The Dunes of José Ignacio
The Dunes of José Ignacio are one of Uruguay’s natural wonders, with towering sand dunes that overlook the Atlantic Ocean. This protected area is home to a variety of wildlife, including sea lions and birds. You can explore the dunes on foot or by horseback. The area is also known for its beautiful sunsets, making it a great place to end the day.
Uruguay’s Hidden Gems
Uruguay is a country filled with hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. From the stunning landscapes to the historic landmarks, Uruguay has something to offer every traveler.
Whether you’re an art lover, a foodie, or a nature enthusiast, Uruguay has it all. With its warm hospitality and friendly people, Uruguay is a place that will make you feel at home.
So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and head to Uruguay to explore its hidden gems and uncover a world of culture, beauty, and adventure.