Uruguay has excelled in so many areas in recent years that we might be tempted to call it South America´s poster boy! It is one of the countries on the South American continent that has the lowest level of illiteracy, lowest levels of corruption and economic inequality as well as the highest scores on the Human Development Index. Furthermore, the World Trade Organisation, who negotiates the bulk of the world´s trading agreements, was founded in the country´s tourist Mecca, Punta Del Este. That´s all well and good you may say, but what does it offer as a tourist destination? Let´s take a look.
We´ll start with the country´s biggest city, and capital – Montevideo. In the city centre, you will find the iconic Plaza Independencia (Independence Square), which separates the historic, old quarter from the newer city centre. In the middle of the square stands a statue of José Gervasio Artigas, a folk hero who fought for the country´s independence at the beginning of the 1800´s. The Palacio Salvo (Salvo Palace) is also located here on Independence Square. The palace is almost 100 years old and is one of the most historic and iconic buildings in Uruguay. Today, it houses, among other things, a tango-museum which is definitely worth a visit if you want gain a better understanding of the Uruguayan people through their music and dance. Music, you might say, is in their soul. This museum is dear to their heart as the place where the Uruguayan musician , Gerardo Matos Rodríguez composed one of the most famous tangos ever in 1917, ’La cumparsita’, which was reputedly played for first times ever in Independence Square.
Although a single paragraph can hardly do justice to Montevideo whose 2 million inhabitants make up a third of the country´s total population, it´s time to move on to Punta Del Este in the east. Punta Del Este is one of South America´s most visited and exclusive ’Balnearios’, or coastal resorts. With its large harbour and marina, and a town that buzzes with life x 2 in high season, Punta Del Este has become something of a hotspot for well-heeled families who like to vacation to the sound of the South Atlantic surf. The waves at Playa Bravas also attract a fair number of surfers to Punta Del Este. In the middle of the beach, you´ll come across one of the country´s most well-known landmarks, ’Los Dedos ’ (The Fingers) or ’La Mano’ (The Hand), a grey, cement sculpture of a gigantic hand trying to fight its way out of the golden sand. It is dedicated to all those who have drowned.
Moving on northwards from Punta Del Este and Montevideo, you´ll find hilly, green terrain that stretches as far as the eye can see. The central region of the country features both mountains and farmland, dotted with small waterfalls and streams which give the countryside a charm all of its own, an area that will probably appeal most to nature-lovers who enjoy spending time outdoors. But regardless of whether you are here to enjoy a city break, to surf in the waves in luxurious resorts, or chill out in the idyllic countryside, the door is always open in Uruguay, one of South America´s most beguiling countries. International flights are available to Montevideo or even the neighbouring, Argentinean capital of Buenos Aires. It takes two to tango! So what are you waiting for?
Weather: Mild winter and balmy summers most places in the country – highest temperatures between December and March.
Currency: Uruguayan Peso
Population: 3.43 million (2015)
La Mano De Punta Este