Latin America

10 Best Things to do in Uruguay: Hidden activities you can't miss!

Updated on:  
June 7, 2022
Reading Time:  
Jessica Bergin
Are you traveling down south to this idyllic gem? Are you looking for the must-see spots in Uruguay? If so, then you don't want to miss this! Find all the hidden gems and save this post to your South American bucket list!

Bordering Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay is a dazzling destination bursting with year-round attractions and activities aplenty. 

Alongside the capital city of Montevideo, this Spanish-speaking hotspot is brimming with lush vineyards, colonial history, architectural treats, a roaring soccer culture, and a world-renowned, bliss-inducing spa. Culture and nature are nestled throughout the landscape, pinning Uruguay as an unmissable destination in South America. 

This spectacular country really does have something unique tucked away in every corner. So if you're traveling to Uruguay, take a peek at our guide below for everything you need to know about the best places to visit and things to do.

Let's get exploring! 

Uruguay tourist attraction
Photo by Gonzalo Kaplanski on Unsplash

Fun Things to Do in Uruguay

1. Get off the beaten track in Cabo Polonio 

Tucked away in a picture-perfect national park, Cabo Polonio boasts the perfect opportunity to beat the crowds. Reconnect with yourself in nature as you relax and soak up all the scenery.  

Straddling Uruguay's northeast coast, this petite fishing village offers you a chance to dive into local, rural life. And better yet, it's only a few hours from the country's capital city! 

The road-free, 100-resident town functions fully without running water, or a national power grid for electricity. Instead, locals utilize water tanks and small wind turbines. 

uruguay best beach
Photo by Pedro Slinger on Unsplash

2. Get lost in the Colonia del Sacramento 

Sitting on the cusp of the roaring Río de la Plata, Colonia del Sacramento offers both history lovers and nature enthusiasts a slice of something unique. This UNESCO World Heritage Site poses a rich opportunity to check out colonial Portugal's influence here. 

Wander through the cobblestone streets of the Barrio Histórico, before stopping by for a quick cup of coffee at one of the many quaint cafes. Keep your eyes peeled for the remaining ruins of Real de San Carlos (a former bullring) and take in all the sublime sunset views from the lighthouse. 

place to visit in uruguay
Photo by Jorge Salazar Tovar on Unsplash

3. Enjoy a day in the hot springs 

Amongst the alluring array of places to see in Uruguay, the hot springs are an attraction well worth your time. Two of the most popular options are the Termas del Arapey and the Termas del Dayman

Arapey is actually the country's oldest thermal spring. There's a wealth of inviting cottages, lush spaces, and swimming spots to discover here. 

On the other hand, Daymán is a bit more developed, boasting an array of adult and children's pools and tennis courts, mini-golf, and restaurants. There's also the Acuamania water park located nearby, so if you're looking for something that's a bit more adrenaline-inducing, this might be the best option for you!

4. Go whale watching 

Uruguay is such an underrated destination, and whale watching takes it to the next level. Between July and November, southern whales migrate to South America to breed. Head out on a boat to catch a closer glimpse at this truly spectacular animal. 

Of course, there's almost always a more budget-friendly option available, with plenty of viewing points along the Atlantic Coast. 

Well-known hot spots are the bay at La Paloma, the Punta del Este district, and both the Punta Negra and Punta Colorada beaches. 

5. See La Mano de Punta del Este 

This is easily one of the coolest attractions in Uruguay. Basically, it's a gigantic sculpture of a hand reaching out of the sand. 

La Mano de Punta del Este is a popular landmark for art fans, architectural enthusiasts, and those who love to get a good selfie. 

Constructed by a Chilean artist back in '82, it's interpreted to be a warning sign of the coastline's dangerous waters. 

Uruguay landmarks
Photo by Jared Schwitzke on Unsplash

6. Go wine-tasting in Carmelo 

Colonial Carmelo is enticing in itself, and the verdant wineries only add to the charm. Likened to Italy's Tuscany, this region in Uruguay is renowned for its family-owned vineyards and buzzing boutique wineries. 

Take a tour and embark on a wine-tasting adventure you simply won't forget! Four of Carmelo's best vineyards include El Legado, Campo Tinto, Familia Irurtia, Almacen de la Capilla, and Narbona.

7. Go hiking in Minas 

Get your adventure hat on, Uruguay has some surreal sights to explore! Situated two hours from the capital city, Cerro Arequita in Minas offers a slice of nature amongst all the sightseeing activities. 

Immerse yourself in the lush greenery of the Ombú forest and trek underground in the Gruta Colón. Look out for the bats too! Don't forget a good pair of walking boots, water, and snacks. 

8. Wander around the Montevideo markets

Uruguay's capital city is known for its sprawling food scene, active marketplaces, and vibrant culture. 

Montevideo is home to various restaurants serving up the best steak in the country, and the Mercado del Puerto is one of them. There's a variety of local delicacies aplenty, so if you're not a fan of meat, there's no need to worry. 

If you’re a fan of souvenirs or local handmade goods, then check out the Mercado de los Artesanos, or the feria de Tristán Narvaja. 

Landmarks in Uruguay
Photo by Guilherme Hellwinkel on Unsplash

9. Get adventurous in Punta del Diablo 

Calling all backpackers! The Punta del Diablo is not only a surfing and hiking hotspot, but it's also a hub for international travelers! 

This fishing village harbors some of the highest waves and deepest swells along the east coast during the summertime. Wake up early and head out on a sunrise hike through the sand dunes for a memory you won't forget! 

Those with a more insatiable taste for adventure can head further out to the Santa Teresa National Park, where you'll find an abundance of activities. Catch a wave or go windsurfing at the Playa del Barco, Playa Achiras, or walk through the forested seaside reserve. Set up camp for the night, and don't forget to check out the 18th-century fortress! 

10. Get a slice of history at the Salvo Palace 

Locally referred to as Palacio Salvo, this architectural gem is one of the most attractive places to visit in Uruguay. 

Situated in the heart of Montevideo's Independence Square, the Salvo Palace boasts Gothic features and an elegant style that can't be missed. It's one of the most important cultural and architectural buildings in the city, with over 100 years of history. If you want to take a look inside, guided visits are available from Monday to Saturday. 

uruguay place to visit
Photo by Karan Chaudhari on Unsplash

If you're planning your trip to Uruguay and want to know how to get around, check out our latest guide to Montevideo Airport for everything you need to know! 

Plan with Pilot!

Uruguay is hands down one of the most underrated travel destinations in South America. With the wealth of things to do here, there's no doubt you'll leave with a story to tell. 

From the natural scenery and family-run vineyards to the colonial charm and rural respites, there truly is something to satisfy every type of traveler. 

Plan your trip with Pilot and start the countdown today! 

Pilot is your brand-new travel planner that helps you discover and build travel itineraries connecting you to resources everywhere. Make the planning experience more fun by collaborating with your travel buddies! Pilot makes it fun and easy to share and relive your favorite travel memories with many useful features! 

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Published on:  
June 7, 2022

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