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Two weeks in this small South American country might seem like enough, but once you get comfortable and ease into the way of life here, you could easily get sucked in for a few months. Between beach-hopping, checking out Montevideo, the capital, and hitting up so so cute colonial towns we fell head over heels in love with Uruguay. We’ve put together a list of fourteen things we love, one for each day we spent in Uruguay.
1 Punta del diablo
This was our favorite beach town in Uruguay. We were here just after high season, so the tourist swell gave way to the sleepy fisherman’s wharf feeling it has the other ten months a year. We loved the architecture of the homes here, and the sand dunes piled high along the roads near the beach.
2 Dia de Ñoquis – Gnocchi Day!
The influence of Italian immigrants throughout South America make dishes like pizza and pasta commonplace, but the fact that Uruguay still routinely celebrates Gnocchi day on the 29th of every month has us hooked as Jess prefers gnocchi to any Italian dish.
3 Colonial towns
We loved the colonial little towns throughout the country – each and every one was picture-perfect with pastel-colored houses, a well-manufactured town square and cobble-stone streets, with Colonia del Sacramento being the most popular colonial town in all of Uruguay.
4 The gaucho culture
Uruguay remains a very traditional country with a strong gaucho (cowboy) culture. Even though we hung mostly near the coasts, we loved coming across this culture here and next time we will spend more time inland exploring this as well.
5 Medio y medio
This traditional and refreshing Uruguayan wine is simply a half-half mix of one part sweet sparkling wine cut with an equal part dry white wine – delicious!
Uruguay has miles and miles of coastline and dozens of beautiful beaches. The capital, Montevideo, is surrounded by coastline, which then extends the entire way to the border with Brazil.
7 Buses with Wi-Fi
We should emphasize – these are buses with Wi-Fi that actually works. In Argentina or Chile, where bus rides last ten hours or more, the advertised wi-fi is little more than watching the symbol swirl as it attempts to connect. In Uruguay, rides are usually three hours or less, so you might have less time but you can get online to check emails, read, work or tweet while you drive.
8 Mate obsession
We knew that Argentina was obsessed with the herbal drink Mate, but that is nothing compared to the Uruguayans addiction. People carry a large thermos in the crux of one arm and their mate gourd in the other everywhere they go with others carry leather bags specifically made to carry mate but no one – seriously no one – leaves home without their thermos and their gourd.
9 Vintage cars
Uruguay is home to an incredible collection of vintage cars. Some are in perfect condition, but most exist in a state that symbolizes the laid-back, rustic charm of Uruguay.
The country is surprisingly gay-friendly. As the 14th country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, we saw open displays of affection between gay couples even on the street and there is even a Plaza for Equality in Montevideo.
11 The rambla in Punta del Este
Even though Uruguay is on the east coast of the continent, Punta del Este sits on a cape, allowing amazing sunsets to be seen from the stretches of west-facing beaches here.
12 The laidback vibe
Beaches, hippies, free health care, low crime rates, decriminalized marijuana laws – take your pick – but all of them combine to make Uruguay easily one of the most laid-back countries in South America.
13 The lighthouses
Uruguay has over 15 lighthouses along the coastline, most of which date back to the late 1800s. We climbed up to the top of various bright white lighthouses for expansive views of the coastline. Those with a fear of heights should still climb the hundreds of stairs – once you get the the top you really appreciate the combination of an old world feel with the beautiful beaches in view.
This hostel in Punta Del Diablo was our favorite accommodation in all of Uruguay. We extended our stay from two days to four! We felt right at home with the chilled atmosphere, friendly staff, adorable dogs, clean kitchen with everything necessary to cook, plus a swimming pool, comfortable beds and delicious Uruguayan breakfasts (which are still bread and jam, but the bread was huge and the jams were homemade).
Planning a trip to Uruguay? Check out other Uruguay articles on our site. Have you been to Uruguay? Is there something you love that we forgot to mention? Share it in the comments!