Buenos Aires in Argentina is an obvious gateway, as it is just a short hop over the River Plate to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Colonia del Sacramento.
Colonia is an irresistibly picturesque town and its historic centre Barrio Histórico, unlike most Spanish or Portugese colonial cities is not in a grid, rather a jumble of narrow streets which occupy a small peninsula jutting into the river. Colonia’s charm and its proximity to Buenos Aires draw thousands of Argentine visitors.
The nation’s capital and home to nearly half of Uruguay’s population, Montevideo is a vibrant, eclectic place with a rich cultural life. Uruguay's largest city is known for its informal markets like Mercado del Puerto, Villa Biarritz Fair and Tristan Narvaja. Montevideo lies almost directly across the Río de la Plata from Buenos Aires.
Just an hour north and you are in Uruguay’s very own wine region. It may not be as well-known as Mendoza in Argentina, or as big as Chile’s Central Valley, but Uruguay is actually South America’s 4th largest wine producer. Tannat is the national grape, and the charming Relais & Chateau Finca Narbona Wine Lodge provides the perfect base from which to enjoy some tastings at the local wineries.
Aside from enjoying fine wines, there are also plenty of more adventurous options to make the most of. Stay at an estancia and ride with the gauchos, trek through the Wild Fig Tree Forest or across the huge sand dunes of Valizas on the Atlantic Coast, canoe and bike your way around Rocha Lagoon or have a go at stand-up paddle board. For birdwatchers, Uruguay, which means "River of the painted birds" in the native Guarani language, is paradise, with over 400 species which are particularly active during the Austral spring.
No trip to Uruguay would be complete without a visit to its famous beaches and fashionable beach towns. Jose Ignacio, Cabo Polonia and Punta del Este are the places to see and be seen right now in South America, and with no fewer than three of the uber luxury VIK Hotels in the area you won’t want to miss it.
Sample Itinerary for Uruguay
Arrive in the beautiful port town of Colonia del Sacramento, either by road from Montevideo or hydrofoil across the Rio de Plata from Buenos Aires. The small town of Colonia de Sacramento forms an important part of Uruguay's history, it was originally a strategic Portuguese stronghold on the River Plate, controlling trade to and from Europe. Stay in the historic centre in a charming, small posada on the banks of the River Plate. Spend the day exploring the Barrio Histórico, a jumble of narrow cobbled streets lined with a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese architecture.
You will be met by your private guide and driven north through the rolling countryside, and farmland of western Uruguay to Carmelo. Sitting in the primary grape growing region of Uruguay, the area is catching up with Argentina and Chile in producing some excellent new world wines. The vineyards are beautifully kept, and for the most part, small, family-run businesses. Within the area, travellers can enjoy horseback riding, canoeing and fishing on the Rio de la Plata, a round of golf and even polo lessons. Spend two nights exploring the area from a boutique lodge where the focus is on wine, cheese and Uruguayan hospitality at its best.
You will be driven back through Uruguay’s lush countryside before arriving in Montevideo, the sophisticated Uruguayan capital. Home to over half the nation's population, the city is eclectic and vibrant. Stay in the historic centre, in a beautiful property housed in an art nouveau mansion. With your private guide you will explore the city, known for its informal markets like Mercado del Puerto, Villa Biarritz Fair and Tristan Narvaja. After exploring the city's most important sites and museums, enjoy a well-earned lunch at the famous portside market.
You will be driven to the Province of Lavalleja in the southeast of the country. Also known as the “Alps of Uruguay”, It's known for its rugged countryside, characterised by granite hills, caves and rivers. Situated on a sprawling vineyard in the Maldonado region Uruguay, your hotel is a modern retreat for wine lovers. It was designed to disappear into its rugged surroundings thanks to its mirrored façade, keeping the focus on the rustic scenery. Within the hotel grounds, guests can enjoy the various walking and hiking trails as well as horseback riding. During your stay you will enjoy visits to the local olive oil plant and nearby vineyards.
En route to your final stop, the fashionable coastal town of Jose Ignacio, you will visit the intriguing Casapueblo, designed by the renowned Uruguayan artist Carlos Páez Vilaró. Spend three nights in a sophisticated art-filled hideaway, a owrking estancia perched on a hilltop. Surrounded by serene pampas where horses and cattle roam free, it is just short drive from the beaches, bars and chic boutiques of town. Spend your days relaxing poolside, taking long walks along the coast, surfing, sailing or exploring the amazing sand dunes of Cabo Polonio with their sea lion colonies. You will be transferred back to Montevideo to connect with your flight home.
From Montevideo, transfer via road then take the ferry to Buenos Aires and explore iconic sights such as Casa Rosada, colourful La Boca and monumental Recoleta Cemetery. Enjoy Argentina’s superb gastronomy at some of the continent’s best restaurants. And no trip to Buenos Aires is complete without witnessing the allure of Argentina's famous dance, The Tango. An excursion will take you to one of Argentina's oldest estancias to learn about the life traditions of its gauchos, before an authentic asado or bbq. If you have more time, head northwest to otherworldly Salta, west to Mendoza Valley's winelands, north to mighty Iguazu Falls, south to Bariloche's lakes or further south to El Calafate, gateway to Argentinian Patagonia.
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We do not subscribe to the ‘one-size-fits-all’ philosophy. Sample itineraries and cost estimates are meant purely as a guide. To find out more, please contact one of our expert travel consultants to plan a customized itinerary based on your budget and interests.