Uruguay Activities

The list of things to do in Uruguay includes everything from strolling through the Mercado del Puerto on a Saturday in Montevideo to lounging on one of the city’s most popular beaches, Pocitos Beach.For something different, visit one of the largest sea lion colonies in South America at Isla de Lobos in Punta del Este. Things to do in Uruguay can be as simple as sharing a mate with a local, or visiting beautiful Colonia for a steak dinner. Don’t underestimate this under-the-radar South American country: there is plenty to keep you busy, with less hustle and bustle than some of the other more-traveled destinations.

  • Pocitos Beach

    Sunbathe and drink mate on Montevideo's most popular beach. The brown sea water may not look inviting, but it is clean and the locals do swim here. The north-lying coast of Pocitos is built up with numerous high-rise apartments, each of which has views of the sea. A f

  • Balneario Iporá
    This place has got tranquila down to a tee. The name ‘Iporá' is a Guaraní word: ‘i' means water and ‘pora' means beautiful and clear, which couldn't be more apt. Its warm ‘Laguna de la Juventad' (Lake of Youth) fills 17 hectares (42 a
  • Bodegas And Wine-tasting
    The Department of Colonia has an established wine route, which basically covers the four main bodegas in the region. AGT, the local tour operator, offers a full day tour of all four for $100 per person. However, there is a much more affordable option.
  • Whale-watching
    If you come at the right time of year, then unlike in some places that take you on expensive boat trips to see whales, in Cabo Polonio you can observe them by yourself only 200 meters (656 ft) from the shore. The magnificent Baltena Franca species mate between August and November, with October bein
  • Viewing The Ombu Trees
    The unique and beautiful Ombu trees grow in clusters in the forested area close to town, with some specimens being centuries old. The trees have enormous trunks and provide a home to a variety of wildlife. Tours include taking a small yacht to the peaceful Laguna de Castillos, around where the tree
  • Catédral De San Fructuoso (iglesia De La Santa Cruz)
    Built in 1899 by architect Don Antonio Lambiase Oliver, this church was elevated to the stature of cathedral in 1960, then declared a departmental historical monument in 1980. The style is Modern Romantic, made apparent by the arched entryway and patterned clock frame. Inside, the main altar is sim
  • Centro De Barrio 1
    If the center of this small town is not sufficiently off the beaten track for you, then a visit to the Centro de Barrios may be just what you need. There are six of them altogether, each with a principal area focusing on sports and education, marked by a national flag. The Centro de Barrio 1 featur
  • Plaza Independencia
    Approaching from Ciudad Vieja through the Puerta de la Ciudadela, you'll notice that the city's grandest plaza is spotless, dotted with fountains and flowers, and is a good place if you want to rest your aching legs under a palm tree. The centerpiece is a horsebacked monument of José Gervasio Arti
  • Constitution Square (Plaza Matriz)
    Historically, this is the place where the newly formed Republic of Uruguay signed it's Constitution (hence the name). Important city buildings like Catedral Metropolitana and El Cabildo flank either side, and the plaza aligns with the pedestrian walkway Sarandí. At the center, you'll find an ornat
  • Plaza Tomás Gomensoro
    This well-looked after plaza sits on two levels, its palm trees and colorful flowers making it a very pretty spot in the spring or summer, and a shady escape from the beach during the midday sun. The lower level focuses on a small fountain encircled by Roman-style columns, while the upper allows fo
  • Gruta De Los Helechos (fern Cave)
    This geologically and biologically fascinating site is rarely seen but well worth the visit. A walk brings you to a ravine surrounded by native forest in which huge ferns grow; an abundance of lichen suggests purity of oxygen. Species include armadillos and red eagles. There is one guide, Luis de l
  • Sealions And Fur Seals
    Cabo Polonio is an excellent place to observe sealions and fur seals. The less common fur seals can be identified through having a smaller body than the sealions and, as their name suggests, they are furrier. The delightful animals are particularly abundant in numbers during September/October, when
  • Cerro Verde And Karumbe
    In the area of Cerro Verde, 18 kilometers (11.2 mi) north of Punta del Diablo, the excellent volunteer organization of Karumbe can be found. Operating between January and April, daytrips are possible from Punta del Diablo, such as those organized by El Diablo Tranquilo hostel (weekly, $20). However
  • Pocitos Beach And Rambla Republica Del Peru
    In summer, Pocitos Beach is Montevideo's favorite playground for swimming, beach volleyball or simply sunbathing. The sea is safe and the beach is clean, making it a popular place with families. On the southern end lies a small plaza with various sculptures and a Escuela Surf (Cel: 099-612-962) on the plaza rents boards for two-hour slots and can demonstrate th
  • Parroquia San Juan Bautista
    Locals are proud of their church, and they have every right to be. Tucked away in the north of Pocitos, in front of a small square, the first stone of Parroquia San Juan Bautista was laid in 1899, yet numerous delays and alterations in design meant it was not until the late 1920s that it was finall
  • La Dirección De Mundo Afro
    With Uruguay's diverse culture, including much African influence brought over in the time of slavery, La Dirección de Mundo Afro is a good resource for finding out more about this heritage, and the festivals and traditions associated with it. A small museum displays Carnaval costumes and photograp
  • Laguna Negra
    When you want to get away from everyone and everything, even in the busiest heights of summer, a visit to Laguna Negra (Black Lagoon) is ideal. Only a short bus trip from Punta del Diablo to the entrance, it is perhaps the lack of public transport on the 5 kilometers (3.1 mi) from the entrance to t
  • Paseo Del Rivero
    A peaceful retreat from the bustle of the beaches, even in the height of summer, Paseo del Rivero is a surprisingly upmarket place to visit. Offering excellent shopping and a couple of good quality restaurants, it also has an ice cream shop and a lovely gourmet café in the garden. Sunloungers and
  • The Beaches Of Playa De La Viuda, Playa Del Rivero And Playa De Los Pescadores
    The main way to spend your lazy days in Punta del Diablo is sunbathing on one of the three long sandy beaches. On summer afternoons they get pretty busy, so start earlier if you're looking for a little peace. Head to the Mirador (lookout spot) at the Devil's Point itself for the most stunning panor
  • Isla de Lobos
    Hosting one of the largest sea-lion colonies in South America, Isla de Lobos makes for a great escape from the tightly-packed beaches of Punta del Este. The island is home to 180,000 sea lions and walruses, which are spread over a surface area of 41 hectares. The island is close to the shore and mak
  • Santa Teresa National Park and Fortaleza Santa Teresa
    Just a few kilometers north of Punta del Diablo lies the 3,000-hectare (7,413-ac) National Park of Santa Teresa, a site of national importance in environmental conservation and the promotion of biodiversity, and part of the National System of Protected Areas (SNAP). The park is also host to a f
  • Plaza Fabini
    Although the fountains here look like they're rising from children's paddling pools, Plaza Fabini is a pleasant, green oasis from the bustle of Avenida 18 de Julio, and a popular spot to laze on a sunny day. Named after the engineer and politician Juan Fabini, the central monument is a violent port
  • Plaza De Cagancha (libertad)
    With the main road running through its middle, Plaza de Cagancha may not be as relaxing as other nearby plazas but is nevertheless one of the most important. At the top of a tall column is a monument dedicated to peace, while on the south side the grand Palacio Piria (Supreme Court of Justice) domi
  • Ruinas Del Convento De San Francisco And The Lighthouse
    The secular ruins of the Convento de San Francisco Javier are the only remains of one of the oldest constructions in Colonia, dating back to 1683-1704. Visitors are free to wander the grounds for a closer look at the stone walls still standing-home to many pigeons today. At one end of the ruins, Co
  • Basilica Del Sanctísimo Sacramento (basilica Of The Holy Sacrament)
    Originally built in 1680, Basilica del Sanctísimo Sacramento is the oldest church in all of Uruguay. The first church was built out of straw and mud and suffered repeated attacks and reconstructions over the duration of the dispute between Portugal and Spain. The current building maintains the orig
  • Plaza de Toros
    In the early 1900s, an Argentine entrepreneur decided to open a first-class tourist complex, just a few kilometers from the Historic Quarter, in the area known as Real de San Carlos. His complex included a hotel casino and a bullring, the Plaza de Toro
  • Lighthouse (faro De Cabo Polonio)
    Built between 1881-4 and reaching 26 meters (85 ft) high, the Faro (lighthouse) offers spectacular views of the town, the bay and the dunes at the top of its 132 steps. The lighthouse is unique in being at the only location that can be seen both on the northern and southern sides of the Atlantic, m
  • Portón De Campo
    For a dramatic entrance into the oldest part of Colonia del Sacramento go to the Portón de Campo, or the city gates. Originally dating back to 1745, from the time of the Portuguese governor Vasconcellos, its drawbridge was the only way to enter the city. The city gates were reconstructed between 19
  • Teatro Solis
    Showing an impressive array of plays, ballet, opera and concerts, Teatro Solis remains one of Uruguay's most important cultural centers. This magnificent theater was built in 1857, but underwent extensive renovation in 2004. Check out a show here if you can, but it's worth visiting for the stunning
  • Laguna De Las Lavenderas
    This beautiful lake area, just north of the center, is the hive of all activity during Fiesta de la Patria Gaucha, when hundreds sit on its stands to watch the rodeo. The rest of the year, the ‘Launderer's Lagoon' (so-named as local women would wash and dry their clothes here), is a peaceful p

  • Surfing
    Cabo Polonio is a popular surfing spot, attracting enthusiasts from around the world due to its exposed breaks of up to 2 metres (6.5 ft). The best breaks are on Playa Sur, but Playa Calavera is better for begin
  • La Mano
    The concrete hand in the sand on Play Brava, otherwise known as La Mano, is an important landmark in Punta del Este. Chilean artist Mario Irrarazabal endowed the city with this piece of abstract modern art during the first International Modern Outdoor Sculpture Conference, held here in 1981. Due to
  • El Cabildo
    El Cabildo was once the government house during colonial times, serving a multitude of purposes like courtroom, jail, guardhouse and infirmary. It was the site where Uruguay's constitution was signed, hence the name for the plaza on which it's situated. Today, El Cabildo is a museum and a symbol of
  • Plaza 19 De Abril
    Tacuarembó's largest plaza provides benches, grass and plenty of shade for a pleasant picnic, while local children ride their bicycles around. The paved circular center focuses on a statue of Uruguay's national war hero, General Artigas, while the dominating pink Art Nouveau structure of the
  • Artigas Square
    Located in the town's highest point, Plaza Artigas was originally called Plaza del Templo (Temple Square) in honor of the church situated across the street. At the square's center lies the bronze statue of General Artigas. The church, Nuestra Senora de los Remedios, is named after the
  • Plaza Mayor
    Also called Plaza 25 de Mayo, this was where military drills were practiced. It was founded with the colony, being the largest open area in it. Later on, gardens and paths were created and made it the lovely green space it is today. Some of the most popular historical sights surround it, including t
  • Palacio Salvo
    Every capital city needs its iconic building, and Montevideo is no exception. Built in the 1920s, Palacio Salvo was designed by Italian architect Mario Palanti and stands at 100 meters (328 ft) high. With a mixture of gothic and art deco influences, it's famous for being on the site where tango com
  • Walk Around Pocitos' Art Deco And Art Nouveau Architecture
    You may not believe it with all the high-rises, but hidden around the streets of Pocitos lie some fascinating art deco and art nouveau structures, with occasional Gothic and even Tudor influences too. Anywhere you choose to wander you'll find something of interest, but for a great walk, try this:
  • The Rambla
    The Rambla is a long, walkable avenue stretching all the way around Montevideo's coastal edge. Take a scenic stroll to watch waves crash against the rocky shore, or walk the boardwalk jutting out at the end of Sarandí for a cool view of the harbor. The Rambla around Ciudad Vieja is a notable fishi
  • Museo Torres García
    The Museo Torres García's location along central Sarandí appropriately reflects the importance of Joaquín Torres García, Uruguay's famous pioneer of modern Latin American art. On the first floors you'll find work by the artist including paintings, drawings, woodwork and handmade toys. The remai
  • Historic Religious Circuit
    Nueva Helvecia was founded by immigrants who sought a better life and a place where they could practice their faith freely. The historic religious circuit is comprised of several Catholic and Protestant places of worship. The Evangelical Chapel, built in 1863, was the first of these sites and was sh
  • Barrio Histórico
    Colonia del Sacramento is best known for its history and architecture, dating as far back as the late 1600s. The barrio histórico, or Historic Quarter, is filled with visual delights of this kind, beautiful Portuguese architecture, sycamore trees, cobblesto
  • Avenida 18 De Julio
    Stretching from Plaza Independencia in the west to near the Tres Cruces bus terminal, Montevideo's longest street is the hub of civic, business and commercial activity. Gaining its name from the date in 1830 when Uruguay produced its first constitution, if you look up from the shops and