Uruguay is a country to discover, proof of this is the 10 of the experiences we tell you here. We live in our tour of the south (Colonia del Sacramento and Montevideo) and the interior (Tacuarembó and surroundings) of the country. We couldn’t make a ranking. The list follows the chronological order in which we live different experiences. There are strictly 9 things to do in Uruguay because some resulted from chance and the moment and we do not think we can repeat them, but you can try.
Things to do in Uruguay
- Enjoy the sunset in Colonia del Sacramento
- Eat at a street stall
- Take a walk through the Tristan Narvaja fair in Montevideo
- Visit a museum in an old jail
- Enjoy with all the senses of the market of the port of Montevideo
- Marvel at the cult of mate on a Sunday walk on the Rambla
- Eat a roast in the country of gauchos and meat
- Go to the local radio to find a car and end up being interviewed live
Enjoy the sunset in Colonia del Sacramento
Colonia del Sacramento, entry point to Uruguay from Buenos Aires in Buquebús and the city declared World Heritage by UNESCO, is one star of Uruguayan tourism. Founded by the Portuguese in 1680, it was the first European settlement of the current Uruguayan territory, thus becoming the oldest city in the country.
The often old town, with its small and irregular cobbled streets, will not have architectural beauties comparable to those of the Old Continent villages in which it was probably inspired, but it does have its particular charm. A charm that intensifies when the sun goes down, when the last rays of the day redden the Río de la Plata with the view, in the distance, of the skyscrapers of Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires. The sunset can be admired from the lighthouse or the same coast of the river.
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Eat at a street stall
Two slices of bread separated nothing more and nothing less than a fillet of beef, cooked ham, bacon, cheese (usually mozzarella or, as they call it, mozzarella), lettuce, tomato, fried egg and various sauces. This is the goat. A classic of the gastronomy of the country that can not be missed, although then you have to go on a diet and have an analysis to control your cholesterol level! In addition, it is a relatively cheap food option – about 6 euros in street stalls, more in restaurants where it is usually accompanied by chips or Russian salad – in a very expensive country.
Take a walk through the Tristan Narvaja fair in Montevideo
Taking a walk through the Tristán Narvaja fair is something that everyone should do in Montevideo. That they try to steal you, and that a superhero comes out to hit the villain makes it even more special.
In the Sunday fair that is located around Tristán Narvaja street in Montevideo, you can find everything: it is the typical flea market where there is everything from interesting things, including even some antiques, to the gossip of all kinds. There is also food at a good price: it is the possibility of buying slightly better prices in such an expensive country. It was here that JAAC opened his backpack and tried to rob him.
We were prepared and there was nothing of value there: only the notebook and the water, but that was not known to the thief or the superhero who suddenly appeared to give him a good punch. We did not realize anything we had not understood the reason for the fight – until the superhero did not tell us to be careful and that they had tried to rob us … One more experience.
Visit a museum in an old jail
The newly opened Space of Contemporary Art of Montevideo – it was inaugurated in 2010 – is in one of the wings of the old prison of Miguelete. The works of contemporary art are located in some old cells and the partially restored and rehabilitated for the museum is separated from the rest by a glass.
Enjoy with all the senses of the market of the port of Montevideo
Located in the old city, it was inaugurated in the second half of the nineteenth century as a market where fruits, vegetables and meat sold on ships from the nearby port were sold. Over the years, the food market stalls became food stalls and today, the Mercado del Puerto is a true gastronomic complex specializing in meat. Dozens of places in which chefs prepare delicious roasts that are grilled meat. And there we went, also accompanied by a local, Andrés de Bitacoras de Viaje. Well, we have no proof of the latter. Our tight budget prevented us from enjoying the barbecue in the port market. We decided to do it somewhere, less “fashionable.”
Marvel at the cult of mate on a Sunday walk on the Rambla
On the Rambla, the promenade of Montevideo, every weekend all kinds of inhabitants of the Uruguayan capital meet adults who play cards, young people listening to music with their helmets, running athletes, owners with their pets, ladies with their shopping bags … People of all ages, social classes and lifestyles united only by two things: their thermos and their mate. We were surprised to see people so different united by a drink that is tradition and actuality at the same time. Not for nothing, Uruguayans are the largest consumers of mate in the world, with consumption that exceeds that of all soft drinks together.
Eat a roast in the country of gauchos and meat
Uruguayans are the largest consumers of meat in the world, reaching almost 100 kg per capita per year. So going to Uruguay and not eating a typical “roast” would be unforgivable. After leaving the opportunity to try it in the Market of the Port of Montevideo, we could not resist more and fell in Tacuarembó, in the restaurant La Rueda. He certainly did not disappoint, although the Chinchulines did not captivate us.
The first experience with the hitchhiking in Uruguay came by chance. Back from the Eden Valley, on the way to Tacuarembó, we stopped a night truck thinking that it was the bus. The driver was delighted to have some company and us to tell us about his life. Happy with the experience, a couple of days later, on the way to Salto, on the border with Argentina, we tried to take a car. It was not easy because that road was almost not traveled but there came Fernando, an Argentine farmer who was going home.
On the way we found gauchos with their cows, JAAC learned to prime the mate for Fernando and there was time for him to tell us any interesting stories about your country and Uruguay. Two great experiences. Like Couchsurfing, hitchhiking, apart from helping you save money, is the perfect way to get to know a country most authentically: from the hand of its people. And in Uruguay the best there are Uruguayans: friendly people, always wanting to chat and willing to help you out when you need it.
Go to the local radio to find a car and end up being interviewed live
The day before getting into Fernando’s car, we made another short hitchhiking trip to get from the Iporá Spa to Tacuarembó. From there, we intended to go to Salto, but that day there were no buses and we told the nice family that drove us by car. It was they who told us we could ask on the local radio if someone was going to Salto so they could take us. We were a little surprised, but we could not miss the occasion.
Also, they left us on the same radio door, so we entered and tried to help us by asking the announcer to pass the message. At 20 minutes nobody had called. When we said goodbye, the girl we had talked to asked us if we had gone to the other station, Radio Zorrilla San Martín. I was on my way to the road where we planned to go fingering, so we also went. And there came the good: they made us climb a ladder and enter, with the backpacks and everything, in the studio where they were broadcasting the program live.
Nobody called but, as it rained as if the world ended, we stayed on the radio and … we were interviewed again in another afternoon program! We didn’t get the car that’s why we went to the road the next day when we met Fernando, but the experience was at least peculiar.
We know that we lacked many things to do in Uruguay, but this was our trip.