We spent 2 weeks backpacking through Uruguay in the winter and gathered here tips on the itinerary (with bus transportation), accommodation and what to expect from each city in the low season.Check it out!
Uruguay is that neighbor who could be a crazy psychopath, a maniacal drug dealer, or just a normal guy, but the truth is that we don’t know anything about them.In fact, we don’t know much about any neighboring countries.
But Uruguay is an even more curious case, because, because they are small and without much international importance, you never read about them, you never see anything about them, and so on.
After our winter backpacking trip to Uruguay, we fell in love with the country and recommend this trip to everyone!
Trivia About Uruguay
For starters, marijuana is legal.On the street there are several Grow Shops, where a multitude of types of herbs are sold, with a catalog and everything.
It is forbidden to sell to tourists, but there are a lot of people on the street who make a living buying weed to resell to visitors.
Second thing: there are 4 cows for each individual in Uruguay.And, despite the famous Argentine barbecue, in Uruguay the quality of the meat and the skill in the roast are much superior.
Besides the meat is very cheap.It’s not worth being a vegetarian here, as vegetables are bizarrely expensive.
Third thing: their penultimate president, before the global shift to the right that spared no one, was a super nice guy who was a guerrilla and, in the days as president, I lived in a super simple house and rode in a VW.
Righteousness in person, Mujica conquered Uruguay and the world with his simple and calm way.But he did not resist the new conservative wave worldwide.
Fourth: in addition to marijuana, abortion and same-sex marriage are also legal .If we had hitchhiked, this value would have been much lower.And if we hadn’t found the angels we found on CouchSurfing, we would have spent a lot more.
Tip: if you have a few days to spare, take the opportunity to get to know Porto Alegre and take a day trip to Gramado.Take advantage of the Gramado tips from the Lets Fly Away blog that we recommend, and also from the blog Te Vejo Pelo Mundo: The Surprising Mini World of Gramado
Bus from Brazil to Uruguay
Many people descend from Pelotas to Chuí.It would be a shorter journey, but we chose to take a Planalto night bus, from Porto Alegre, for R$135.A bit expensive, but it was perfect, because the bus was comfortable and the nap time was just right (the journey takes between 7 and 8 hours).
We arrived in Chuí a little before the stores opened, and we had to stay there for about 2 hours until the first bus decided to leave (read the tip just below about the border).
Here the operating companies are Cynsa and Rutas del Sol.The price is always the same, so just search for the times.There are some buses leaving in the morning, then a long break, then others leaving around noon, another long break, and then the late afternoon buses.
Fronteira Chuí (Brazil x Uruguay)
Important tip, if you are crossing the border by land (Chuí), is: remember to tell the bus driver that you are not Uruguayan.Otherwise, he will not stop at the border.This is because Chuy is a city between borders, but it is part of Uruguay.
The Brazilian and Uruguayan borders are separated by a city distance.And the buses that depart from there do national service, assuming (stupidly) that there are only Uruguayans inside.We had to pay another ticket just because of that, and we wasted about 2 hours for nothing.
Like many other countries, you don’t need a passport to enter Uruguay.Only RG with less than 10 years of issuance.Check out:
What to do in Chuy
A city between borders, and in our case, as we arrived in the morning, we were not even sure where we were.The bus stops at Brazilian immigration only if there is a foreigner.You don’t have the feeling that you left the country.It’s also written in Portuguese.
Change your money here.If you go to the supermarket, pay in reais, as they convert better there than at exchange offices.Electronics are reasonably priced if you need something to travel.
Punta del Diablo – Uruguay in winter
Beautiful and bucolic beach in winter.The village is mostly closed, but has 2 or 3 open markets.
Punta del Diablo is the perfect place to take long walks along the deserted beach and enjoy a barbecue at home.
One day is enough to see everything, but the vibe of the place is very pleasant for those who want to enjoy the quiet.We stayed 3 days and would have stayed longer.
Good and cheap accommodation in Punta del Diablo:
For those who prioritize maximum comfort in their accommodation, the best hotels are Calas del Diablo and Unique Hotel and Suites.
Cabo Polonio – Uruguay in Winter
Ahhh what a paradise!Within a national reserve, with no more than 300 residents, the government does not allow any more construction in Cabo Polonio.Bring food and drink, as the village is poorly supplied and prices can be quite inflated.
In addition to enjoying the tranquility of Cabo Polonio, a must-see is a walk behind the lighthouse, where the sea lions are found ( MANY!).They are beautiful and violent with each other, that is, admiring them is a great pastime.
The sky over Cabo Polonio is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, and strolling along the beaches at night is an unparalleled feeling.
We stayed 2 nights in Cabo Polonio for the same reason as in Punta del Diablo: the The vibe of the place is wonderful.There’s not necessarily much to do, but just being there is wonderful.
We stayed at Viejo Lobo and we have nothing to complain about, despite the fact that the place is super rustic.Another economical option is the Corazón de Ballena.
For those who want more amenities, even though they are limited in Cabo Polonio: Yacaiste and Narakan are good options.
Punta del Este and Maldonado
Maldonado is one of the largest cities in Uruguay, but without tourist attractions.Especially in winter, when it’s not so crowded.
There are two main beaches in Punta del Este: on one side is the river outlet (Playa Mansa), with darker water, and on the other (Playa Brava) , the sea.
The giant hand monument (Uruguay’s most famous) is on Brava.
To see the main attractions of Punta del Este, stay at least 2 or 3 days in the city.
Good accommodation, well located and cheap in Punta del Este:
For those looking for an incredible accommodation experience: AWA Boutique Hotel and Hotel Art Design.
Read more on the blog Cariocas sem Fronteiras: José Ignacio, Punta del Este’s most famous neighbor
Piriápolis in Winter
Better to avoid Piriápolis in winter .It has absolutely nothing.Even McDonald’s is closed, and so is all the shops.
The beach is beautiful, it has a hotel that was once the most chic in South America and some hills to climb and have good views.
The city also has legends about its founder, Piria, but in winter there will be no one to tell them about.
It was a huge planning mistake to go there.Basically a day wasted, but that’s how backpacking is.
We stayed at the Hostel de Los Colores, which was the only positive thing about the trip there, as it was a great hostel.
Montevideo – Uruguay in Winter
The only big city within what Brazilians understand by big city.The barbecue there is delicious and the atmosphere is very pleasant and chaotic.
The two large restaurants at the entrance where you can eat at the counter are the most traditional and what everyone recommends.Lamb and Assado de Tira are the classics.When in doubt, point to a meat and order it.
On weekends, even in winter, the entire market is very crowded.But it’s worth.Meat costs 400 to 500 Uruguayan pesos.
Montevideo is the right place to enjoy a good Candombe, which is a percussive song used for parties and protests, with a beautiful story and that doesn’t look so much like Brazilian candomblé, as many people think.
We spent a weekend in Montevideo and it was enough to see everything and enjoy the city.The weekend is especially interesting to see the city’s street fairs, including some very bizarre ones.
The best hostels in Montevideo, based on guest reviews:
Montevideo also has some beautiful and modern hotels, such as the BIT Design Hotel and the Alma Histórica Boutique Hotel.To see all the options in the city click here.
Colonia del Sacramento – Uruguay in Winter
Full of history, Colonia in winter is calm and peaceful.Ciudad Vieja is tiny, and well worth the trip.Ruins of a wall, a lighthouse, very old streets in the Portuguese style, reminiscent of the oldest streets of African colonization.
Great city to stay a while and relax, especially if you have money in your pocket to eat.Restaurants in Colonia are cheaper than in the capital.
One A great idea is to combine a trip to Buenos Aires, a beautiful and intense city that we wrote about here.
The best value for money accommodation options in Cologne are:
Other Interesting Places to Visit in Uruguay
La Paloma and La Pedrera
Surf beaches between Cabo Polonio and Punta del Este that are said to be very beautiful.
Barra de Valizas
Next to Cabo Polonio .R$1 = 10 Uruguayan pesos at the official quotation).The idea of taking Real to Montevideo is extremely expensive.Contrary to what is said around, the exchange rate is very unfavorable in the capital.We traveled all over the country, and the only place where the real was worth anything was in Chuí.
For example: in Chuí the conversion was 8.6 pesos for each real.In Montevideo, it dropped to 7.50 for each real.The dollar in Montevideo had an excellent exchange rate.
Language Spoken in Uruguay
Spanish, but Portuguese is understood almost fluently.A LOT of people speak Portuguese or understand it very well.
In some places, like Punta del Este, it is quite common to find Brazilians in commercial establishments, and we are almost the majority on the streets.
Better Season To go to Uruguay
Uruguay has two facets: summer and winter.We went in winter and the truth is that it was a great choice.
In summer, according to the locals’ comments, the beautiful and wonderful beaches are crowded with tourists of the worst kind (Argentines and wealthy Brazilians) and, as country is chiquitito, all the beaches are taken by them.
In winter it is complete opposite.We got to the point where, in Piriápolis, we saw a closed McDonald’s with a banner saying “See you next summer”.Many conclusions can be drawn from this.
Camping in Uruguay
It is quite common to find camping spaces in Uruguay.As we went in winter and we were suffering a lot with the temperature, we didn’t even consider this possibility.But there was always at least one campsite in the small towns we went to.
Getting Around Uruguay
The main transport in Uruguay is by bus.And there are buses from everywhere to everywhere, quite often always.
The largest companies are: COT, Rutas del sol and Cynsa.Carona is totally the wave of Uruguay.And since the tourist route is basically one road, everything is very easy.
What We Would Do Differently on our Trip to Uruguay
We would have planned more time.15 days is not enough for Uruguay.If you have more time, you can go on the road and take a ride.In our case, as we had time, when it was raining, we took the bus instead of doing a finger.Otherwise, it’s just happiness.
It seems to be part of tourism in the country spend time inside.There are several, and we didn’t go because time was tight.A pity.
Travel Insurance for Uruguay
On the Seguros Promo website, which allows you to compare prices from different insurers, you can find Travel Insurance for around R$10 per day
The best part is that it covers the whole of South America, so if you are going to visit other countries on the same trip, you only need to take out insurance.
Click here to see the travel insurance options for Uruguay and South America.
We have been traveling around the world since June/2016.
How about making your next trip cheaper?We have several discounts with our partners, click hereto check them out.
Do you know where you’re going to spend your holidays?Get inspired by our Index of Destinations.
And be sure to read Sunset at Casapueblo in Punta Ballena, from the blog Uma Viagem Different, and Tasting the Typical Foods of Uruguay, from the blog 6 Viajantes.
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