- One must be a fox in order to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves. Machiavelli Niccolo
A peaceful, laidback destination with a long history of liberalism this pint-sized nation finds itself squeezed between Brazil and Argentina, and is often overshadowed by its heavyweight neighbours. However, as Uruguay has come to appreciate its subtle charms and small-scale attractions, so too have travellers.
Things to see and do in Uruguay
Experience a Uruguayan football match
Wedged between two of the world’s great footballing nations, Argentina and Brazil, Uruguayans are also passionate about the beautiful game. Attend a match and share in the uniquely South American carnival spirit on the terraces. Serious fans can also visit the Museo del Fútbol in the Estadio Centenario, the Montevideo stadium where Uruguay's national team won the first World Cup in 1930.
Hit Montevideo’s markets
Savour the racks of roasting meat and vegetables at Montevideo's Mercado del Puerto, a popular lunch spot in an old covered market by the waterfront, and get lost in a sea of street vendors at Montevideo's Tristán Narvaja market, just east of downtown. Every Sunday several city blocks are filled with stalls selling everything from antiques to jewellery to live birds.
Meander around Montevideo, Uruguay’s stylish capital
Enjoy the eclectic mix of colonial, European and modern influences in Uruguay's capital. Walk around the palm-shaded plazas of the Ciudad Vieja (Old Town), see the fascinating Gaucho Museum, the Carnival Museum and cool off in appealing beach suburbs such as Playa Carrasco, east of town.
See a tango at Teatro Solís
Attend a concert, play, or tango performance at Montevideo's renovated 19th-century opera house, Teatro Solís; or enjoy live music and dance at one of the city's dozens of other nightspots, with many clustered along Ciudad Vieja’s pedestrianised areas, as well as in Punta Carretas and Pocitos.
Surf the South Atlantic at Punta del Diablo
Ride the waves and wander the endless sandy beaches at the low-key Atlantic resort of Punta del Diablo, then head south to the perfect surf breaks of La Paloma and La Pedrera. Punta del Diablo is a quiet fishing village for most of the year, but every summer it fills up with diehard surfers and other adventurers kept busy with dune surfing, horseback riding and jeep forest safaris.
Watch the wildlife
Uruguay’s vast empty landscapes are a nature-lover’s paradise. Trek over sand dunes to see the lighthouse and abundant marine life at Cabo Polonio on the Atlantic coast. Observe the rich array of bird life at one of eastern Uruguay's coastal lagoons, including Laguna de Rocha near La Paloma, Laguna de Castillos near Barra de Valizas, and Laguna Negra near Punta del Diablo.