When I first decided to backpack South America, I asked myself, “What is so good about Uruguay?” What is there to do there, you know? I was looking forward to checking it out; I knew it was small in comparison to the other countries in South America, so getting around would be easy. But still: what is there to do in Uruguay?
Honestly? Not much. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t an absolute gem of a place. There are places in the world that are described as ‘never sleeping’. Well, Uruguay does sleep and it sleeps late too. It has such a floaty atmosphere, a dream sequence – things move slowly, without a lot of sound. If the South American way is to be laid back, then Uruguay is so laid back, it’s in a backward crab yoga pose.
Sometimes when we travel, we feel the need to do something touristy – perhaps head to a must-see destination, one for the photo albums. There isn’t much of that in Uruguay, and that’s why it’s a diamond of a place.
1. The Capital – Montevideo
People describe Montevideo, pronounced – Mont – ay – vi – day – o; as a mini Buenos Aires. I mean, it’s certainly laid out similarly in terms of the straight wards and sideways city circuit. Yet Montevideo is smaller, much more relaxed, has one main straight and also a coastline beach running south of its location. It offers old town vibes filled with bars and restaurants. It has many stone monuments celebrating its patriotism and independence. It even boasts the FIFA World Cups first Final stadium, the Estadio Cenetario.
2. Its Coast Line
Punta Del Este is more of a fancy, rich beach resort, nicknamed South America’s, ‘St Tropez.’ It features sky rise, city buildings and a long stretch of a playa, with nightly parties in high season. Yachts are often at the pier for the more high rollers, which adds to the luxurious appearance of this beach town. Shops are expensive, but the quality is good. Food is amazing from seafood to Uruguayans known Chivito dish.
Punta Del Diablo is more of the town beach. It really has only one or two things to do, one of which is lie on the beach. You can horseback around the place, but really the shore is where it’s at. The surf is okay here for beginners or people looking to practice, but it gets very hot in the summer.
Cabo Polonio, also on the coastline, is a small inhabitant location that is sandwiched between two beaches, sunrise beach and sunset. Its inhabitants are merely 100 permanent people. It has a hippie, end of the world kind of vibe, with very little running electricity and running water. The beach has a good surf, some sizzling sand dunes and a lighthouse looking out. Imagine a world back in time, where settlements were dotted around and small communities lived simply, away from tax or any other heavy populated societies. It is such a peaceful, zen-filled place.
So next time you are in Buenos Aires, maybe the South of Brazil, randomly in Paraguay, or even just thinking of a real, quiet time, look for Uruguay. There is no need to do something spontaneous – it is what it is. It is Uruguay, it’s asleep and it isn’t waking up anytime soon. To find a place like this is refreshing; there is no expectation and your guilt to do something adventurous will soon disappear when you get here. This is what we all should do more of. We should sit down, relax, and take it easy. Life is meant to be easy.