Uruguay is a hidden gem. Overshadowed by its larger neighbors, Argentina and Brazil, our private tours to this small and chic country should not be overlooked. Uruguay has supremely stylish beaches, accessible wine and gourmet experiences, a vibrant cultural arts and music scene, hospitable locals and great infrastructure – allowing for both independent discovery and excellent guided tours.
Despite being one of the smallest countries in South America, Uruguay continues to capture the imaginations and hearts of adventurous and cultured travellers who yearn for unique experiences while retreating to a lesser-known destination. On our private Uruguay tours, choose from adventurous cycling, surfing or horseback riding along beautiful coastline and through vineyards. Or take in a day of art museums, raucous carnivals, Uruguayan tango or wine & cigar pairing. Uruguay is unique in its ability to cater to both well-rounded family adventures and secluded romantic getaways in charming laid-back towns. Be prepared to be captivated!
When To Visit
Uruguay beaches definitely have their appeal during high season, December through March (the Southern Hemisphere’s summer months), but this time of year delivers packed locations, higher prices and strict minimum night requirements. For those who prefer a more relaxed vacation, consider Uruguay late November / early December or late February / early March. You will still find pleasant weather but with a noticeably calmer ambiance. Be sure to make reservations at the top restaurants before or after prime summer months as many restaurants and shops close at the end of February. During spring and autumn, Uruguay’s climate is cooler and damper but still pleasant, allowing for ideal hiking and near-empty beaches. Uruguay’s winter months, from June to September have chilly temperatures, however, in the city centers of Montevideo, Colonia and Carmelo, the beach will not be missed.
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The city’s enthralling Ciudad Viejo, Ciudad Nueva (New City) and Ciudad Abierta (Open City) feature award-winning architecture and historic plazas, the popular Mercado Agricola and wide tree-lined avenues peppered with five-star restaurants, Uruguayan cigar and mate shops, as well as local wine and cheese boutiques. Then there’s the art scene. Uruguay is bursting with prominent visual artists and internationally-sought after Uruguayan tango musicians. Take a lesson or simply marvel at this passionate dance at Montevidean milongas. Uruguay’s thriving carnival scene is available to view year round at the Carnival Museum should you miss the annual fiesta. Take in a local guided tour of the local artists, carnival or the historic cities, or make your own tour by bicycle or leisurely stroll. Lastly, private cooking classes at the home of a local chef allow you to make Butia, Dulce de Leche and Olive Oil, the country’s specialties. If you are a cigar aficionado, be sure to partake in a Uruguayan cigar tasting and pairing with the country’s wine. Enjoy a thriving entertainment scene at night following an exquisite meal. Colonia West of Montevideo, and covering the portion of Uruguay which fronts the Río de la Plata and the Río Uruguay, is the country's most important agricultural area. Its outstanding attraction is the lively colonial city of Colonia (del Sacramento), which is an under-appreciated town of narrow cobblestone streets flanked by whitewashed buildings. Ideal for boating, fishing and swimming, Colonia is rivaled by Rivera, the capital city of Montevideo and the famous resort destination of Punta del Este. Here, you can enjoy the countryside by bicycle or private drive, relax on sun-kissed beaches before retreating to your exclusive villa or lodge. Colonia is also a good first stop over if coming by ferry from Buenos Aires.
Here you will find yacht and fishing clubs, golf courses, casinos and beautiful holiday homes. If that's not enough, there are excellent beaches, perfect for swimming and sunbathing. Just offshore is Isla Gorriti, which has more superb beaches and the ruins of an 18th-century fortress. You can also find Isla de Lobos, a nature reserve that is home to a large sea-lion colony. José Ignacio Skip the larger, rowdier Punta del Este and head 20 miles northeast to its quieter, more stylish cousin: José Ignacio. Considered to be "the Hamptons" of Uruguay, this small fishing village with an upscale bohemian vibe is home to some of the country's nicest properties where international jetsetters, celebrities and those in the privy vacation. While its beautiful coastline is perfect for relaxing beach time, the nearby village of Garzón offers cooking classes and olive plantation visits, where you can bicycle to Rocha Lagoon or La Paloma's lighthouse or enjoy a horseback ride. A hike across the sand dunes from Valizas to Cabo Polonio is another memorable way to enjoy José Ignacio’s idyllic, rugged landscape and relaxed, bohemian setting.
Both cheese and wine were introduced in Uruguay by families of immigrants that arrived to these lands more than 250 years ago. Today, many vineyards, wineries and local cheese artisan producers open their doors to curious guests and tourists from all over the world who are delighted to taste these hidden Uruguayan gastronomy treasures! Additionally, personalized winery visits deliver a less commercialized experience than those in Argentina, without requiring a domestic flight. Plus, you can visit via walking, bicycle or horseback. There are over 40 different wineries within 20-30 minutes of Montevideo alone! Lastly, you can discover “the artist behind the art” of winemaking here. You will marvel after an Uruguayan picada and wine tasting, along with a farm-to-table lunch with fresh, organic local ingredients under the trees overlooking the vineyards. Finish your meal with a traditional Uruguayan mate. Maravilloso!
Visiting the vineyards that produce Uruguay's famous tannat wines. And cycle along the Atlantic coast, passing through the marvelous Anchorena National Park, to relax among the diverse wildlife along the way. Uruguay’s Beaches The area east of Montevideo boasts plenty of westernized beach resorts and water activities. Immediately east of the capital are the major resort areas of Atlantida and Piriapolis. From here, you can venture into the surrounding countryside and climb the 493 m (1617 ft) Cerro Pan de Azucar or visit Minas, a lovely town set in wooded hills. The boating, fishing and swimming are good along the beaches of Mercedes.There are also many excellent museums in Paysandu, Uruguay’s second largest city.