The vast array of things to do in Uruguay is heady—a fact that pays testament to the near-unrivaled status the country has held in travelers' esteem over the past decade or so. For years, Uruguay activities were undertaken only by the few tourists who made it here; the vast majority of travelers to South America ignored this tiny country in favor of the continent's more feted attractions, such as Rio de Janeiro Brazil or Machu Picchu, in Peru. That all changed at the turn of the century, however, as word got round about the excellent time to be had sampling the things to do in Montevideo and Colonia, and vacationers started treating Uruguay as a worthwhile destination in its own right. They haven’t looked back since.
Ciudad Vieja Montevideo
Invariably, flights to Uruguay land in Montevideo, the capital city, and visitors consequently dedicate at least a few days to exploring the country’s capital before launching off elsewhere. If you only have a couple of days, a visit to the Ciudad Vieja, Montevideo’s old town, is a must. Charming narrow streets and age-old architecture define the area, making it easily the most picturesque part of the city. The El Centro area, meanwhile, tops the list in terms of shopping-related things to do in Uruguay. Many of the country’s top department and designer stores are to be found here, as are numerous banks and money-changing booths, should you need to ready your wallet in preparation.
Another of the things to do in Montevideo that capture many visitors’ attention is eating the city’s incredible meat dishes. As with neighboring Argentina, Uruguay is famed for its meat, and meals here inevitably come packed with succulent cuts from the bone. If this sounds like your type of thing, make sure to scout out a chivito, which is a kind of supersized, super-sloppy burger which you eat with a knife and fork. If you're looking to combine a trip to Uruguay with stops in other South American destinations, a high-speed ferry connects the things to do in Montevideo with those in nearby Buenos Aires; it provides a great way to get to see the two cities with a minimum of traveling fuss, and Buenos Aires is also known for its culinary treats.
Colonia del Sacramento
Colonia is the other city that ranks high on the list of things to do in Uruguay. Founded in 1680, this archaic city is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Defined by beautiful old buildings, ramshackle cobbled streets, and the shiny classic cars that bump along through them, Colonia is an explorer’s dream come true. Again, the old part of town is the place to spend most of your time. Here tiny museums and cafes jostle for your attention, so plan your day right, and you’ll spend happy hours just hopping from one to the other.
Away from the cities, Uruguay activities are all about the beaches. Miles upon miles of this South American country border the sea, with the Gold Coast in particular known for its gorgeous coastline. Whale watching, fishing, surfing, and windsailing are all Uruguay activities that go hand in hand with these beaches as, of course, do sunbathing and swimming. Anyone who’s been here will tell you one of the very best things to do in Uruguay is to simply spend a day lapping up the sheer wonder of its sunny, sandy beaches.