In terms of size, Uruguay is vastly overshadowed by its neighbours, Brazil and Argentina. Situated on South America’s eastern coast, it may indeed be one of the smallest countries on the continent, but Uruguay’s status is extremely healthy, its buzzing culture is larger than life and it offers a surprising range of major attractions.
Uruguay’s rolling plains are interspersed with delightful hilly meadows and picturesque, meandering rivers flowing inexorably toward the welcoming Atlantic Ocean and hundreds of miles of fine, sandy beaches. A choice of wonderful, unspoilt seaside resorts and largely unexplored natural attractions help to make Uruguay a rewarding place to visit.
In addition, you will find sociable towns and cities dotted with stunning Spanish colonial architecture – including the culturally vibrant capital of Montevideo, which has over the past decade consistently boasted the highest quality of life of any Latin American city.
There is a lot more to cosmopolitan Uruguayan cuisine than atmospheric, world-class steakhouses where mouth-watering cuts of meat cost a fraction of elsewhere in the world; but those steaks will keep you coming back time and time again.
Uruguay’s charms range from the delicate delights of the cobbled old town of Colonia del Sacramento, where jasmine flowers scent the air, to the rough machismo of its cattle ranches and their modern-day cowboys, or gauchos. Along the way it provides the contrasts of isolated stretches of beautiful beaches with the bright, brash internationalism of hedonistic resorts, such as Punta del Este. There is something for everyone and plenty to keep you entertained.
Uruguay was colonised by Spain during the 16th and 17th centuries, but it was spared the worst effects of the conquest, thanks to its dubious distinction of possessing no precious metals. The Spanish left a lasting legacy, however, by gifting the Uruguayans cattle farming techniques: beef exports still remain a major contributor to the country’s economy, although this is increasingly challenged by its emergent tourism sector.
Politically stable and economically prosperous, Uruguay today boasts one of the lowest crime rates in South America. Add to this its friendly and welcoming people, the wonderful, sultry summer sunshine, and a packed agenda of attractions, and it is clear why Uruguay is recommended by UK travel companies as an unusual but increasingly popular leisure destination.
Uruguay enjoys a subtropical climate, and temperatures can soar during the summer months, particularly along the Rio Uruguay, which separates the country from Argentina.
The interior and Atlantic coast are refreshingly cooler but subject to strong winds and rainstorms that can occur between late April and November.
Uruguay is a year-round destination with a welcoming average annual temperature of 16 degrees Celsius (61 degrees Fahrenheit). The warmest month is January at 22 degrees Celsius (72 degrees Fahrenheit), but even July’s midwinter average temperature of 10 Degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) is still mild.
The official language of Uruguay is Spanish.
All visitors to Uruguay must hold an onward or return ticket and it is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity. Most countries’ nationals will not require a visa for stays up to three months. Please check the rules around visa requirements before you travel, as they may change regularly.
Visits to Uruguay are generally trouble free, with a low risk of terrorism and no political instability. Visitors should, however, take sensible precautions with their valuables and when using ATMs.
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