Most people dismiss a visit to Uruguay because they know nothing about it. The truth is that Uruguay is a really fun place to visit with a lot of the same things that tourist favorite and close neighbor Argentina has but without all of the people and hassles. In fact, you can actually take a hydrofoil just three hours from Buenos Aires and be in either Montevideo, which is Uruguay’s very underrated capital or Colonia, which is a delightful little port city. Some prefer to go straight for the beaches of Punta del Este, sometimes called the Hamptons of South America but whatever you decide to do in Uruguay you will be better off for it.
Uruguay, officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay or the Republic East of the Uruguay River. Once known as the “Switzerland of America”, is located in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to 3.3 million people, of which 1.7 million live in Montevideo and its metropolitan area. It is bordered by Brazil to the north, by Argentina across the bank of both the Uruguay River to the west and the estuary of Río de la Plata to the southwest, and the South Atlantic Ocean to the southeast. It is the second smallest independent country in South America, larger only than Suriname and the French overseas department of French Guiana . According to Transparency International, Uruguay is the second least corrupt country in Latin America (after Chile), with its political and labor conditions being among the freest on the continent.
Montevideo is again the largest city, capital and chief port of Uruguay. Montevideo is the primate city in Uruguay, the only city in the country with a population over 1,000,000. Montevideo has a privileged harbor, one of the most important in the Americas. Also, it has beautiful beaches, like Pocitos, Buceo, Malvin, Playa de los Ingleses, Playa Verde, Punta Gorda and Carrasco. Many gorgeous and clean monuments and museums cover the city, as well as historic buildings and squares. Fantastic and cheap restaurants are the norm in meat crazy Uruguay, much like Argentina in terms of cuisine but perhaps-just perhaps even a bit better.
Montevideo has a proud heritage and the people take a lot of pride in their city and their country. Also, they hate being mistaken for inferior Paraguay because of the similarity of their names. Montevideo also has a very proud sports history. Montevideo hosted all the matches of the 1st FIFA World Cup in 1930. Uruguay won the tournament by defeating Argentina 4-2, and later in 1950 defeated heavily favored hosts Brazil 2-1, achieving its second World Cup Championship. Uruguay also won several olympic medals in soccer including 2 gold medals, and has won the most “Copa America” tournaments, arguably the world’s second most prestigious tournament after the World Cup (tied with Argentina at 14 wins). Its Estadio Centenario is considered a temple of world football. The city is also home to two of the most important South American football clubs: Nacional and Peñarol.
Colonia and Punta del Este round out the main attractions in Uruguay which is a very small and certainly manageable country to drive and visit. If you are trekking all the way down to Argentina, then you should really give Uruguay a look. It’s very close to Buenos Aires and it’s really an undiscovered gem by foreigners but the Argentinians discovered it a long time ago and flood the beaches in the summer that takes place in winter-go figure.