Uruguay travel and tourism is fantastic!...
Sandwiched between Agentina and Brazil, Uruguay, or the Oriental Republic as its also known for its location on the eastern bank of the Uruguay river, is a charming little country with a flourishing tourism industry.
It's one of the smallest in South America.
In fact, is the second smallest after Suriname, with a total surface of 313,782 sq. km.
Even though small in surface when you compare it with its South American counterparts, it's BIG when it comes to attractions and friendliness of its people.
You will treasure Uruguay travel. Be prepared to give and receive a kiss on the right cheek and a hug anytime, as it's their tradition.
They love tango and mate. Mate is so rooted in Uruguay's culture that you'll see them walking up and down with a thermos under their arm anytime of day or night. Soccer is a national obsession, a passion they share with Argentinians and Brazilians alike.
Also love horses and gaucho traditions as well. Great gauchos (cowboys) events, horse breaking, stunt riding and the inevitable parrillada (barbeque) or asado that comes with it. The city of Tacuarembo is well known for its Fiesta de la Patria Gaucha festival, held in March.
Your Uruguay tourism experience wouldn't be completed without a visit to the Gaucho country, the area that extends from North of Montevideo to the border with Brazil.
So grab your cowboy boots and be prepared for some horseback riding or just relax in one of the estancias (ranches) opened to tourism.
The name Uruguay comes from Guaraní language and means "Land of the Painted Birds".
In 1680, Portuguese founded Colonia del Sacramento on the estuary of the Rio de la Plata (right in front of Buenos Aires).
Spaniards followed suit and founded Montevideo, in 1728, later to become capital of Uruguay.
Jose Gervasio Artigas, Uruguay's national hero, fought the Spaniards, inspired the 33 orientales and eventually brought the country to its independence in 1825. It was officially recognized in 1828.
Uruguay culture is rich and varied, an interesting combination of indigenous population and European immigrants, mainly Spanish and Italians.
Black population is also represented, even though a minority, that came from the coasts of Africa during Spanish domination.
It has one of the highest urbanization and literacy rates in South America, as well as one of the best medical care systems and lowest poverty rates.
The country is famous for its beautifully handcrafted leather goods and woolen sweaters.
Above all, Uruguay is most recognized by its beaches, so if you come around in summer time (December to March) head off to the coast, because this is Uruguay tourism par excellence.
Travel Uruguay and you will discover some of the most impressive beach resorts in South America. In fact, the country has 600 km (400 miles) of fine beaches on the Atlantic and the Rio de la Plata, all the way from east of Montevideo to the Brazilian border.
It's Uruguay's version of French and Italian Rivieras.
Without doubt, Punta del Este is Uruguay's most famous tourist destination. An exclusive - and pricey - gathering point for the jet-set, Naomi Campbell among others.
Piriapolis comes second, built in the times of the "belle époque" and considered then as the most sophisticated beach resort in South America.
The coast from Punta del Este to the Brazilian border is not to be missed.
It's one of the TOP Uruguay tourism destinations. Ever heard of Casapueblo?..
Located in Punta Ballena (Whale Point), pretty close to Punta del Este, it resembles the Mediterranean white coastal houses of Santorini. Currently converted into a hotel (Club Hotel Casapueblo), is the museum and atelier of Carlos Paez Vilaro, famous Uruguayan artist.
And how about Cabo Polonio?..That's Uruguay tourism for nature lovers. It has a beautiful Atlantic beach and a natural reserve of sea lions. It doesn't have electricity or running water. Accessible only by 4x4 vehicles or just walking - 7 km from the main highway. You can climb the sand dunes, visit the lighthouse, explore it on horseback, swim, surf of just relax on a hammock.
Punta del Diablo is a charming fishermen village deserted for the most part of the year that you don't want to miss either. Little known as an international tourist destination but the ideal place if you want to break away from busy Punta del Este.
La Paloma, in the cape of Santa Maria, is a quiet residential town. You will love to walk the pine groves by the sea, practice water sports and enjoy incredible sunsets.
Colonia del Sacramento is a must on your Uruguay tourism experience and one of the finest Uruguay attractions. A step back in history, with cobblestoned streets and colorful houses. It was founded as Nova Colonia do Sacramento by Manuel de Lobo, in 1680.
Delicious to explore, really. Its Barrio Histórico (historic quarter) was declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995. As a photo introduction to the place, please visit Colonia del Sacramento Photo Gallery.
So include Uruguay tourism in your next trip to South America and you will discover why it's one of its best kept secrets...and a very unique South America travel experience in its own right...