Uruguay is often referred to as the Switzerland of the America’s and the happiest country in South America. The smallest country in South America lives up to these nicknames through its lush country side, beautiful coastal towns, vibrant cities, rich history, decadent cuisine and most importantly, extremely friendly people. If you want to spend your vacation discovering a country that offers history, nature and foodie delights then Uruguay is the right choice for you. This tiny country is jam-packed with interesting towns full of unique hostels that embrace the local laid back lifestyle and embrace Latin American hospitality. Uruguay had political unrest in the past but has been a peaceful country with much prosperity in recent years due to progressive politics. It is one of the region's most secular countries with the separation of church and state, legalized gay marriage, independent press, low levels of corruption and poverty and high levels of literacy.
While Uruguay is quickly gaining popularity worldwide among travellers it is still a very affordable place to visit. Safe and dependable bus schedules make it easy to visit multiple cities on your trip including the capital city of Montevideo, beach resort of Punta del Este and bohemian seaside village of Punta del Diablo. Throughout Uruguay you’ll find a lively nightlife scene of casinos, discos and many bars and restaurants. Just remember, nothing opens until around 11 PM and no one would dare to show up at a club before 1 AM!
Uruguay has the longest carnival celebration in the world. Hostels in Uruguay are likely to book up during this time so it is best to plan head and book a bed in advance. The celebration takes place in Montevideo and starts in January, lasting at least 40 days but sometime up to three months.
Sport fans will love the futbol culture in the country. The very first World Cup was held in Uruguay in 1930. If you’re athletic you’ll also enjoy Uruguay’s many hillside hikes, parks and jungles. Uruguay even has a massive palm tree forest. In general, Uruguay is very eco-friendly and you’ll find many hostels with a natural, earthy vibe.
Local cuisine is similar to Italian and Spanish due to an influx of European immigrants. You’ll find delicious brick oven pizzas, to try the local version order pizza a caballo, a mozzarella pizza topped with fried chickpeas and doused in white pepper. Uruguay is of course known for their meats, so be sure to indulge in a steak at one of the countries many parrillas (steakhouses). Chivitos are a local pride and joy, this sandwich is made of thinly sliced meat and everything else but the kitchen sink. Should you be in Uruguay on the 29th day of the month be sure to participate in Gnocchi day. Gnocchi’s are eaten at the end of the month as in times of hardship only potatoes and flour were left. Be sure to leave a coin or two under your plate to insure better fortune in the next month to come!
Uruguay is tucked between Brazil and Argentina and is frequented often by locals for beach holidays. If you’re looking to bronze under the sun with the latinos, the best time of year to visit for surf, sand, and sun are the summer months between December and March. Tourism peaks over the holidays in December and January, so be sure to book your bed in a hostel in advance! Piriápolis is Uruguay’s oldest beach resort and is located about 65 miles from the capital city of Montevideo. There are many things to do in the area including beautiful hikes, fantastic architecture and amazing seafood.
If you seek a more bohemian beach experience head to Punta del Diablo. Traditionally a tiny fishing village inhabited by artisans and fishermen, Punta del Diablo now boast an assortment of budget hostels for travelers seeking to relax and enjoy Uruguay’s natural beauty.
Punta del Este is the most popular vacation spot in Uruguay. The resort peninsula is home to beautiful beaches, amazing restaurants and a nightlife scene to see and be seen among an international elite crowd. Nature lovers will also enjoy whale spotting during the winter months of June, July and August.
If you aren’t seeking a beach vacation, visit Uruguay after March and you’ll find major savings in hostels. The best place to visit in the fall is Montevideo, Uruguay's capital city. Home to beautiful 19th-century neoclassical buildings, a photogenic Old Town and many interesting museums. You can even take a day trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina from here by catching a ferry across the Rio de la Plata. Another town worth visiting outside of the summer months is Colonia del Sacramento where you’ll find ancient cobblestones streets and friendly locals.
If you’re looking for a city escape you’ll find solitude in Uruguay’s lush countryside where gaucho culture reins king. There are an abundance of open air ranches, horse rides, and farm to table meals to eat in the countryside. If you’re in Uruguay in March head to the Fiesta de la Patria Gaucha in Tacuarembó for rodeos and traditional folk music.
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