Uruguay

Uruguay is like the cool, unaffected half-sister of Brazil and Argentina. It may not be as shiny or make as much noise, but with over 300 km of superb coastline, a rich, fertile interior and some of the most welcoming faces in the region, this little stunner is fast becoming a superior destination in its own right. Strolling around Montevideo you could be forgiven for thinking you’d actually dropped into the heart of Europe. Uruguay’s mellow capital is regularly preceded by the adjectives ‘cosmopolitan’ and ‘lively’ - which it is - but what you'll also find is an eclectic and diverse city, teeming with infectious hospitality. Venture inland and you’ll discover working gaucho farms, charming agricultural centres and an intoxicating pace; or perhaps follow the crowds to some of the best beaches and surf towns in South America.

Uruguay Tours & Travel

Articles on Uruguay

What happens when a group-tour skeptic goes on a tour?

Posted on Mon, 24 Nov 2014 by Torre DeRoche

A seasoned adventurer gives group travel a try for the first time. What happened next?

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Soup is for life, not just for lunch: five Asian soups that will change the way you feel about soup

Posted on Fri, 21 Nov 2014 by Eliza Eliott

Everyone knows soup is a great lunch option, but it's often overlooked for dinner. This article hopes to change that.

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Seven essential things to do on any Chilean adventure

Posted on Fri, 21 Nov 2014 by Lia Mitchell

This blog was originally going to be titled, '7 Cheap Chile Adventures Only a Hitchhiker-Insider on Your Intrepid Staff Could Tell You About', but we thought that might be a bit much.

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These five dumplings prove the theory that dumplings are the greatest food in the world

Posted on Thu, 20 Nov 2014 by James Shackell

Intrepid's in-house foodologist, James Shackell, sets out to prove a theory as old as time itself.

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About Uruguay

At a glance

Trips Available: 0
Capital city: Montevideo (population 1.3 million)
Population: 3.4 million
Language: Spanish
Currency: UYU
Time zone: (GMT-03:00) Montevideo
Electricity: Type C (European 2-pin) Type F (German 2-pin, side clip earth) Type I (Australian/New Zealand & Chinese/Argentine 2/3-pin) Type L (Italian 3-pin)
Dialing code: +598

Best time to visit Uruguay

Given its humid sub-tropical climate, Uruguay is suitable to visit virtually all year round, although warm coats are needed in the winter months (June-August) when the temperature drops to an average of 10 degrees C. From there, the crowds rise in accordance with the mercury. And by the peak of summer (January), the coastline teems with tourists and holidaymakers, meaning a little more planning can be needed to ensure prime accommodation. Don’t be discouraged by peak season though - there are plenty of remote surf breaks and relaxed coastal towns in which to wile away the summer, and there’s always the option to head inland for a taste of fresh air and the country life!

uruguay weather map chart

Geography and environment

Flanked in equal measure by Argentina, Brazil and the Atlantic, Uruguay is the second smallest nation in South America, with a staggering 50% of the population living in the capital. The temperature is mild, with summer highs in January tipping 30 degrees C, while the July winter temperature dips as low as 6 degrees C. The landscape is predominantly rolling grasslands, small but fertile hills and an abundant coastline. Rainfall is modest and evenly spread through the year, however the absence of large wind-blocking mountains means Uruguay can be prone to high winds.

Top Picks

Top 5 Beaches in Uruguay

1. Punta del Este

As Uruguay's answer to the French Riviera's St Tropez, Punta del Este may be a little too glitzy or hectic for some - particularly in summer - but away from the hustle and bustle zone, there are miles of sublime beaches that stretch out either side of the city, plus several discount accommodation options tucked neatly away in other parts of town.

2. Punta del Diablo

Having drawn in droves of travellers for the past few years, Punta del Diablo can no longer claim to be a quieter option that its southern counterpart. But despite its growing popularly, this is easily one of the best beachside locales in Uruguay and well worth the trip north.

3. Cabo Polonio

Sitting on the east coast of Uruguay, this remote location can only be accessed on foot or by 4x4 across the sand dunes. With no electricity or running water, locals (to the tune of 75 people) use generators and collect rain water, making it the perfect place for a little escapism.

4. La Pedrera

A popular haunt for backpackers and Uruguayans, La Pedrera is characteristic of the small, idyllic beach towns north of Punta del Este. Here, it's still possible to find a sparsely populated stretch of white sand and top-notch surf breaks.

5. Piriapolis

With the enviable backdrop of one of Uruguay’s few mountains, Sugar Loaf, Piriapolis boasts a stack of great beaches plus a waterfront boardwalk and busy marina.

FAQs on Uruguay

URUGUAY TOURIST VISA
Australia: Not required
Belgium: Not required
Canada: Not required
Germany: Not required
Ireland: Not required
Netherlands: Not required
New Zealand: Not required
South Africa: Not required
Switzerland: Not required
United Kingdom: Not required
United States: Not required
It's customary to add 10% to restaurant bills (if this hasn’t already been included). Tipping elsewhere is optional, but leaving spare change at small cafes is a good idea as most Uruguayans typically earn little.
Travellers should be able to access the internet at cyber cafes and Wi-Fi hot spots in Uruguay's major cities and towns. Remote and rural areas will have less internet availability, so be prepared for this when travelling out of the city.
Using your mobile phone while in the cities of Uruguay shouldn’t be problematic. Coverage may be less reliable in remote areas. Ensure you have global roaming enabled before leaving your home country if you wish to use your mobile.
Western-style, flushable toilets are the standard in Uruguay, although it’s a good idea to carry your own toilet paper and soap as these aren’t always provided.
Cup of coffee in a cafe = 40-60 UYU
Beer in a bar or restaurant = 40-60 UYU
Basic, takeaway lunch = 80-100 UYU
Dinner in an inexpensive restaurant = 180-220 UYU
Tap water is considered safe to drink unless otherwise marked but outside of major cities and towns boiled water is recommended. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water; ask your leader where filtered water can be found. It's also advisable to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit and vegetables before eating.
Major credit cards are accepted by most large shops and hotels. Smaller vendors may not accept credit cards, so carry enough cash to cover small purchases.
ATMs are commonly found in Uruguay's cities and urban areas. Remote regions will have less ATM availability, so prepare accordingly before travelling away from cities.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of your trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: [site:intrepid_insurance_link]
Jan 1 New Year's Day
Jan 6 Epiphany
Feb 11 Carnival
Mar 28 Maundy Thursday
Mar 29 Good Friday
Apr 19 Landing of the 33 Patriots
May 1 Labour Day
May 18 Battle of Las Piedras
Jun 19 Birth of General Artigas (Dia del Nunca Mas)
Jul 18 Constitution Day
Aug 25 National Independence Day
Oct 14 Dia de la Raza
Nov 2 All Souls’ Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day

Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/uruguay/public-holidays

Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/

Responsible Travel

Uruguay Travel Tips

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Top responsible travel tips for Uruguay

1. Be considerate of Uruguay’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.

2. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with tap or filtered water.

3. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.

4. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.

5. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.

6. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.

7. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
Tree of Red StarsTessa Bidal
The New TroyAlexandre Dumas
The Invisible MountainCarolina de Robertis
City of your Final DestinationPeter Cameron