Colonia, one of UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage sites, is a jewel remaining from the Portuguese colonial era. Well-preserved colonial buildings made of mud, straw, and stones with tiled roofs are painted in bright colorings. Take a ferry from Buenos Aires, or self-drive from Montevideo.


Uruguay's capital, Montevideo is a pleasant city dating from the late 18th century. The "Old City" serves as the city's financial and commercial hub and is delightfully walkable with wonderful architecture and plazas. Be sure to visit the old market for lunch. The hydrofoil makes Buenos Aires a pleasant boat ride away. Consider a day trip to well-preserved Colonia, originally settled by Portuguese from Brazil in the 17th century. The colonial residences are now museums and cobbled streets such as the "Street of Sighs" evoke its early days.


Punta del Este
South America's most famous beach resort is chic and crowded in season, tranquil out of season. Punta del Este is located on a peninsula that separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Rio de la Plata. The peninsula is built up with high rises, restaurants and shops, while the surrounding neighborhoods are quietly residential, boasting beautiful architecture and gardens. Beaches along the Rio de la Plata and along the ocean are beautiful, with the ocean beaches having substantially more surf. Be sure to visit the port, where fishermen offer their daily catch, the marina is filled with yachts and pleasure craft, and you may catch sight of a sea lion looking for a snack! It makes a difference where your hotel is. The Peninsula itself has restaurants and shopping, a paved walk along the water, but limited beaches. Transportation runs along the Playa Mansa (river) or the Playa Brava (ocean). During the season all the nightlife currently takes place in La Barra, far from the Peninsula. Choose an in-town hotel to be close to restaurants and shopping - but remember, there aren't any good swimming beaches in town. Consider Casapueblo, a fantastical hotel-museum created by artist Carlos Paez Vilaró on nearby Punta Ballena. Or, rent a car and explore the wild beaches towards the east.
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