Uruguay is a small country full of charm that shares borders with Brazil and Argentina in the south of Latin America. Known for its quality education, its well-established and cutting-edge democracy (it was the first country in South America to legalize the use of marijuana and recognize same-sex marriage), these lands also have large coastal landscapes, well-kept cities and delicious local gastronomy.

Let’s start with the atlantic coast and its beautiful litoral ranging from the most picturesque to the fervor of Punta del Este. When you go by car, taking route 9, The Fortaleza de Santa Teresa -a fortress built in 1762 and now part of the National Park of Santa Teresa- is located only 36 km over the border. There is the perfect place if you like to camp and spend time close to nature. It has lots of beaches and sights to be explored as for example the Laguna Negra and places for ecotourism you just can’t miss out on: the Invernáculo, with species from all over the continent; the Sombráculo with subtropical plants and an aquarium;

santa-teresa-invernaculow

A little further south there is a vast coastline with small and beautiful beaches that used to be a fisherman community. Punta del Diablo, La Paloma and La Pedrera are the most famous ones. Small and cozy cabins, great beaches for surfing and good restaurants and bars are the charm of these small resorts.

Captura de tela 2015-10-14 às 11.35.00

But if you prefer movement and hype then your destination should be Punta del Este. A large and busy peninsula with buildings, hotels, casinos, bars and restaurants. A buzzing nightlife around the harbor ensures pleasant nights with meals by the sea. At Playa Mansa you can enjoy a calm and quiet sea, warm sand and a sunset worth applauding for. Across the peninsula you will find Playa Brava  which is perfect for surfers, it has a wild sea with waves and a young and funky groove. Do not go to Punta del Este without taking a drink watching the sunset from the harbor, facing the Marina. If you’re lucky you’ll see the sea lions that go up the ramps to rest. Nearby, easily accessible by car, is Casa Pueblo, former summer home of the Uruguayan artist Carlos Páez Vilaró. It is now a citadel-sculpture that includes a museum, an art gallery and a hotel called Hotel Casapueblo which is inside the sculpture . It is located in Punta Ballena, it has a panoramic view and a breathtaking sunset.

IMG_1500w IMG_1508w IMG_1596

Further down south,  the capital Montevideo is a vibrant, eclectic place with a rich cultural life. The city wears many faces, from its industrial port to the exclusive beach surrounded suburbs of Carrasco. In the historic downtown business district, art deco and neoclassical buildings jostle for space alongside grimy, worn-out skyscrapers that appear airlifted from Havana, while to the southeast the shopping malls and modern high-rises of beach communities such as Punta Carretas and Pocitos which resemblance more to Miami or Copacabana. Don’t miss Montevideo’s old port market building, at the foot of Pérez Castellano, whose impressive wrought-iron superstructure shelters a gaggle of bustling parrillas (steak restaurants). On weekend afternoons in particular, it’s a lively, colorful place where the city’s artists, craftspeople and street musicians hang out. Montevideo is also the perfect city for those who enjoy antiques. During the weekends  you can find many street markets selling real treasures.

mercado-del-puerto7

Well, this is just a summary of the wonders this great little country has to offer. You will certainly find -besides the beautiful scenes- friendly, willing, cheerful and vibrant people. For me, this country is almost like a second home, where I spent many vacations with friends and family and is certainly a place to return to.