Are you looking for some of the best things to do in Uruguay?
As an interesting nation in South America, a trip to Uruguay should be something all travelers and backpackers to Latin America aspire to.
Did you know Uruguay is the only country in Latin America which is situated entirely outside of the tropics?
With over half of its people living in the capital, Montevideo, its rich culture and incredible history; there’s much to see in Uruguay.
Things to do in Uruguay
I arrived to Uruguay from Brazil after a long bus ride from Florianopolis you know, the island in Brazil with 42 beaches.
If you arrive in Montevideo as I did, looking for some things to do in Uruguay, I recommend you head straight to Colonia del Sacramento.
Without further ado let’s dive into the list of what to do in Uruguay and start by looking at the oldest town in this beautiful country.
Colonia del Sacramento
A good place to start is with a trip to the tremendous Colonia del Sacramento, which is on the top of Uruguay points of interest.
This awesome little town, just on the Rio de la Plata, is the oldest city in the country and hosts some truly special sights.
A short visit to the town has become by far one of the most popular activities to be enjoyed in Uruguay.
You can get here in a couple of hours from Buenos Aires by ferry.
Arguably the most interesting thing to do, though, is to enjoy a leisurely trek along the old town walls either with a special tour like or by yourself.
The stunning nature of the walls, first built in 1745, are a true testament to the rich history that Uruguay has been through.
This part of the Rio de la Plata region was deeply valuable, and the gate and walls were used to defend the town from attack.
It’s still in stunning condition today and should be a place that you take the time to come and see.
Other popular places to see in the area include:
- The Church Matriz
- El Faro Lighthouse
- Bodega Turistica Bernardi wineries
Uruguay tourism is on the rise and definitely offers a new set of challenges for any new backpackers who arrive in the country.
If you’re stuck on what to buy in Uruguay, I recommend you try out the local Mate tea.
Just like the Mate in Argentina it’s among the most stunning in the country, and will keep you energized for the trip ahead!
When planning your travel routes for South America Uruguay is an ideal place to start from.
Colonia del Sacramento is a truly special place and one that you should almost certainly make the time to come visit.
There are some beautiful places to stay, especially if you want to meet other travelers.
Places to stay in Colonia
- Viajero Colonia → Stay in a 19th century building
- El Galope Horse Farm → Located in the countryside
- Viajero Posada → Balcony views of Rio de la Plata
Whilst in Colonia on my short trip to Uruguay, I found exploring the dock area to be one of my favorite activities to do in Uruguay.
Punta del Diablo
Whilst wondering what to see in Uruguay, don’t let the name put you off; there is a rich specialty and charm about the Punta del Diablo.
A truly enjoyable tourist trap that lets you see ‘real’ Uruguay.
One of the best things to do here, if you ask around, is a trip through the town itself.
The town can feel eerily quiet at times and can be a little off-putting at first. However should still make it on your list of attractions in Uruguay to visit.
Generally, though, it’s the kind of experience that you should look to enjoy; a proper, old-school Uruguayan beach town.
Not only a special venue but one of the reasons why the town’s population can boost by as much as 30x in the summer.
Other popular things to do in Punta del Diablo include;
- Try the local food
- Explore the Artisan market
- Enjoy the nightlife
As well as this Polonio Tour that offer a intimate contact with nature.
For any hikers, I recommend that you bring some comfortable footwear.
The walk through the town and one of the best beaches in Uruguay can be quite long, and it can be quite arduous on the old feet.
That aside, though, you should find a trip to the quaint beauty of Punta del Diablo an absolute must to help signify and unify the entire experience of your trip.
If backpacking you many want to check out Diablo Tranquilo as it’s short walk to the beach.
Definitely one of the best things to do in Uruguay if you have the time available.
Dayman Hot Springs
If you’ve been on the road a lot and looking for the more unique things to do in Uruguay. A trip to the Dayman Hot Springs in Salto, one of the most important cities in Uruguay, is an absolute must.
Uruguay is a nation for those who like to relax, the hot springs of Salto make that stupidly simple. If you visit Uruguay and have the budget, this is for you.
With plenty of spots for eating and enjoying yourself around the picnic tables, you can really settle into the culture here in an instant.
I recommend that you get ready for a troubling journey, though.
The Termas springs can be hard to reach as the public transport is hard to manage.
There’s a bus that says Termas Del Dayman; that is your trip to here. However, if you are driving in Uruguay this would make the perfect destination to visit.
Overall, the hot springs are a cultural marvel that you would do well to see; it’s a rich part of Uruguayan culture and makes spending time in Salto even more enjoyable than normal.
Santa Teresa National Park
A nation of rich and lasting beauty Santa Teresa National Park is a crown jewel to many Uruguayans.
The richness of the location is easy to see, with the stunning blend of beaches and forests a sight for sore eyes.
It’s a great place for camping, too. With some awesome bungalow houses up for rent, you can easily find accommodation with as many as 7 people been able to camp for under 200 pesos.
Given its over 200 acres long, you’ll find ample space to rest! The perfect place to soak up the Uruguay scenery.
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Make sure you take the time to see this wonderful combination of rich natural wonderment. Definitely, one of the best places to visit in Uruguay.
Santa Teresa is one of the things to do in Uruguay you can do with family, friends or by yourself.
Either way, you won’t regret this uniquely wonderful representation of Uruguayan nature.
Montevideo Port Market
While the capital and largest city in Uruguay is a truly special place to spend your time, the richness of the port market is a 100% must-see.
If you’re interested in the culture, why not look for more fun things to do in Uruguay?
You must know me by now, I love to connect with locals. One of my first things to do in a new place is to check out the local market.
When I was looking for things to do in Montevideo, this is exactly what I did. There’s also a really private tour well worth doing.
You’ll be more than impressed with what’s on offer in this part of the city.
Best places to stay in Montevideo
- Che-Lagarto → 600m from bus terminal
- Hostel Charruas → Unique decor
- MedioMundo Hostel → Offers private rooms
From the rich European-inspired architecture to the rich blend of coffee shops, artisan designers, restaurants, and creative types.
A feature by what is Uruguay known for.
You’ll find everything from stunning steakhouses to souvenir shops, clothing stores and leather tanners. For this reason, what to do in Montevideo is really fun.
Just be warned if you are someone with sensitive eyes and/or lungs; this place gets pretty smoking during the day!
Either way, a trip down to the wonderful Port Market of Montevideo would be something that would be hard for most visitors to this amazing city to dismiss.
If staying at Medio Mundo Sebastien and Pablo will help you with directions.
Make sure you add this market to your list of Montevideo Uruguay points of interest.
Punta del Este
Last on the list, but by far one of the most popular things to do in Uruguay is visit Punta del Este. You can even do a quick day trip from Montevideo.
Punta del Este is a stunning coastal resort in the country and is a fantastic tourist trap. Spanning along the Atlantic coast, this amazing little venue makes it very easy indeed for you to enjoy your time here.
Perfect for backpackers and tourists, families, and happily married couples Punta del Este makes relaxing a piece of cake.
Best tours near Punta del Este
- From Montevideo: Full-Day Tour
- Punta del Este Shore Excursion
- Casapueblo Museum Admission
- Punta del Este Wine Tour
In terms of things to do, the best thing to do is take a trip to the amazing Casapueblo.
This amazing museum complex is a truly special thing to see, perched atop a cliff and looking across the Punta Ballena.
It’s an amazing location for education, learning about the nation itself and just learning to appreciate the richness of Uruguay as a whole. If you come here, make sure that you go out of your way to see the Casapueblo.
Other than that, make time for:
- Ralli Museum
- Puta del Este Port
- Hand-sculpture and Brava Beach
There are many other things to do in Punta del Este of course.
If arriving by road, Tas D Viaje is only 3 blocks from the bus station. However, the only thing that I can recommend for backpackers coming here is to keep safe from the weather.
If you’re wondering what the best time to visit Uruguay is. The natural climate here is very warm, so make sure you are prepared to deal with the rich humidity of this part of Uruguay; it can be unbearable if you come unprepared.
I learned this across the river living in Buenos Aires in the summer.
For all the places in Uruguay for tourists, this is probably the best place to start. Also, you’ll find ‘the hand’, the sculpture what is Uruguay famous for.
A rich and satisfying tourist trap which is very much worthy of the name.
Uruguay Travel Tips
Below I’m going to list some of my best travel tips for Uruguay.
Whenever I can I will note down little tips tricks and hacks that I feel can really enhance your experience, save you money or help you gain new insights and knowledge on a particular place or country.
Travel Insurance for Uruguay
I always recommend backpackers and travelers (no matter who you are) use World Nomads Insurance for fully comprehensive cover.
If you are due to travel soon, you can get a Get A Free Quote by clicking the link or the image above and filling out your details – that way you’ll get instant cover from the exact date that you choose.
On many occasions World Nomads has provided me with reliable insurance cover for travel in Latin America and the rest of the world.
Books to Read on Uruguay
Interested in South American cultures? These books may interest you:
- Guru’Guay Guide to Uruguay – Practical infomation for eveyone; from a first-time visitor to even residents. This will inspire you to discover the rest of the counrty without limits.
- Uruguay: Discovering South America – This is not a travel guide but rather book that contains many facts about Uruguay and will help you to understand the culture and inside the mind of the people.
- Uruguay Guide Book – If you prefer to carry a physical book on your travels, make this guide your bibe for all trip planning for Uruguay. It has some great infomation on the history and culture too.
- Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo – The ultimate guide book to Montevideo. Filled with inside info on what to wear for Uruguay, where to stay, what to tip and off-the-beaten-track locations.
- Moving to Uruguay – An excellent guide for anyone who is thinking of moving to uruguay. Filled with information about Visas for Uruguay, Finding a job, paying taxes, shopping and much more.
Great reads if you wish to learn more about Uruguay before you head out on your trip.
Best Things to do in Uruguay
Now that you have a useful list of Uruguay things to do, when will you make your trip to this wonderful South American nation?
To be honest, I wish I had planned my trip to Uruguay a bit better though. Check this one week itinerary if time is on your side.
If you’re thinking of backpacking Uruguay, go for it! There is much more to the tender and rich heart of South America than Brazil or Argentina.
However, this tiny little landscape might not pack much of a punch on a map, but it’s loaded with culture, heritage, and character.
So, whether it’s staying with gauchos or drinking mate, or you just need some inspiration, I hope you found some inspiring ideas above!
Start with the above, and you’ll soon see why Uruguay is so universally loved!
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