Written by LenR on 27 Mar, 2010
Colonia food is very similar to what you find across the river in Buenos Aires. Beef is the most important feature of many menus but innovation and a sense of subtle flavour is sometimes lacking. If you are on a budget make lunch your main…Read More
Colonia food is very similar to what you find across the river in Buenos Aires. Beef is the most important feature of many menus but innovation and a sense of subtle flavour is sometimes lacking. If you are on a budget make lunch your main meal and take advantage of the lunch specials which are available. Many visitors only spend lunchtime in Colonia if they are on a day trip from Montevideo or Buenos Aires so restaurants cater for this trade and sometimes close at night.Breakfast is usually served up until around 10am and lunch from noon to 3pm. Most restaurants don’t open for dinner until 7pm and locals come in later. Breakfast for most locals is tea or coffee and some bread, jam and butter with small sticky croissants called medialunas. Dulce de leche is often provided for spreading on toast or bread. This is a sticky substance made by boiling vanilla-flavoured milk and sugar until they almost disappear. The thick caramel is used to fill cakes and biscuits or is dolloped on other desserts.Visitors often order a lomito or a chivito (both sandwiches) for lunch but locals regard these as snacks to have between meals. Other snacks are small hot dogs with meaty sausages, the tostado which is a toasted ham and cheese sandwich, or empanadas, those small pastries with a savoury filling. Lunch for locals is either a barbecue with plenty of meat or pasta or pizzas. In my experience the pasta fillings tend to be unexciting, the sauces not particularly memorable and the pasta itself often overcooked. Pizzas on the whole are quite good.Desserts are popular in Colonia but the choice is limited. Flan, a kind of cream caramel, is popular and is often served with dulce de leche. You will also often find a syrupy version of bread pudding, fresh fruit salad with ice cream or pancakes again served with dulce de leche. Fizzy drinks are popular with people of all ages. In restaurants you will be asked if you want bottled mineral water, either still or gaseous. Coffee, tea and mate are readily available and beer or local wines are popular. You can often buy wine by the glass.There are many restaurants geared to the tourist market in Colonia that serve essentially typical Uruguayan fare. What you'll find on the menus over and over again are beef; milanesas (breaded and fried beef, chicken or fish); pastas with either "tuco" (a tomato-based meat sauce), "Caruso" (cream sauce often with pancetta) or "rosa" (tomato and cream sauce). There is some variety, but the atmosphere more than anything else distinguishes the different restaurants.The closer you are to a colonial building, the more expensive it will be. Most locals eat at spots along the main street, Avenida General Flores, away from the historic section of town. Food and drink prices seem to be higher than in Argentina and generally the quality is not as good as Buenos Aires so you could save a splurge until you cross the river. Close
The Plaza de Armas is one of the more attractive places in Colonia and naturally it has attracted a number of restaurants. There is a row of them along one side of the Plaza. To compete, each has developed its own personality so most visitors…Read More
The Plaza de Armas is one of the more attractive places in Colonia and naturally it has attracted a number of restaurants. There is a row of them along one side of the Plaza. To compete, each has developed its own personality so most visitors will be able to find one which suits them. Here are three of them.El Drugstore (Vasconcellos 179, Tel: 25 241)The restaurant has a funky ambiance in keeping with the owners’ personality. Outside there are two antique cars which have been converted into dining spaces while inside it's filled with eclectic bits of artwork and other objects. The atmosphere seems to take precedence over the food for many diners here. Eating in one of the cars would undoubtedly appeal to many customers. People we ate with ordered a chivito and a lomito (both sandwiches) and they were pleased with their simple meals. Some of the more exotic dishes we tried were less successful. The portions, though, were huge, and I felt the restaurant was a relatively good value.Viejo Barrio Restaurant and Bar (Vasconcellos 169, Tel: 25 399) This place has a truly enjoyable ambiance and it certainly is different. The waiter has probably 100 hats and every few minutes he came to the quaint dining room area wearing a different hat. It became such an amusing experience that all the restaurant customers would wait to see the next hat rather than concentrating on their meals. While the hats are the attraction for many, the food is actually quite good. The pasta in particular is superb. It is homemade with a choice of anything from gnocchi with brown butter and sage, to tagliatelle, and ravioli. For dessert they have terrific flan, dulce de leche tart, or apple pudding, amongst other things. Restaurant El Meson de la Plaza (Vasconcellos 153, Tel: 24 807) Simple dishes made with good-quality ingredients have made this fairly formal traditional restaurant a favourite with visitors to Colonia and also with tour groups. Fortunately, there are a couple of different rooms so you may not have to share with a group. Steak dishes are a specialty here and we were told that they are generally good. The comprehensive wine list showcases Uruguayan vineyards which we had never heard of and are hard to sample anywhere outside of the country. There are both inside and outside tables that sit right on the peaceful Plaza. We didn’t eat here because we were looking for something a little more lay-back at that time but I am sure it would have been fine in different circumstances. Close
Menu prices are rising in historic Colonia, and I don’t think they always represent good value. The best inexpensive meals can be found at the local restaurants outside the historic district where a chivito al pan, (the classic Uruguayo sandwich comprised of a thin steak,…Read More
Menu prices are rising in historic Colonia, and I don’t think they always represent good value. The best inexpensive meals can be found at the local restaurants outside the historic district where a chivito al pan, (the classic Uruguayo sandwich comprised of a thin steak, bacon, egg, cheese, tomato and lettuce), can be found for around US$5. Most visitors, however, will eat in the historic area so the following are some places with a good reputation. Note that most restaurants in Colonia seem to open and close on the whim of the proprietor so it pays to telephone before you go.Restaurant La Florida (Florida 215, Tel: 93 036) Here an antique-filled house has been transformed into a sophisticated restaurant. This is one of the most ambitious and upscale restaurants in Uruguay and certainly the best in Colonia. The space consists of several adjoining rooms decorated with antique and vintage memorabilia, all very charming and quaint. Each room has its own special character and just one or two tables. The menu features Continental cuisine with eclectic and personal touches by owner/chef Carlos. You can try mussels in a blue cheese-curry sauce or a tenderloin of beef that is actually cooked to your specification. Carlos has a home-made version of pate de foie gras and there is a variety of truly fresh fish seasoned and cooked perfectly. La Florida is located near the entry gateway to the old city on Calle Florida.Pulpería de los Faroles (Misiones de los Tapies 101, Tel: 30 271)There's nothing particularly special about the pastas and grilled fish this tavern-style restaurant does, but the 300-year-old stone house it's in is gorgeous. Outside tables on the Plaza Mayor are the perfect place for a coffee or drinks and nibbles.Sacramento (Calle del Comercio and De la Playa, Tel: 29 245) It's in the heart of the Barrio Histórico, but the chefs’ fresh take on local ingredients is very now and the decor is postmodern. The fish of the day comes in a cashew crust and chilli sauce, the juicy steak with potatoes and bacon, and the minty, garlicky lamb is served with fried polenta chips. Set on a quiet corner, the renovated old house is light and breezy during the day, and its modern, dark wooden tables are candlelit at night. There are a few outside tables when the weather is kind. Local wine is served by the glass.El Torron (Av. Gral Flores 46)This place is set in an old tower overlooking the water. The back deck makes for a cozy, intimate spot for a romantic dinner and is also good for cocktails at sunset. The portions of food were large but nothing to write home about in terms of taste. The server wasn't terribly friendly. Great place to just chill and enjoy the views of the river while having a beer. Food however, was disappointing.Patrimonio ( de San Jose 111, Tel: 24 254)This smart modern lounge bar and restaurant is new on the scene but has been an instant success and I see why. The bar is modern and dramatic while the restaurant area on the back deck is classy but casual with a lovely river view.Restaurant dos Puertos (Santa Rita 40, Tel: 30 556)This is a very attractive restaurant, located in an ancient house with iron bars on the windows, brick walls, and tables on the sidewalk. The sidewalk is a good place to enjoy lunch under an umbrella, watching the street life. They serve a complete parrillada with meat, kidney, chorizo, morcilla, potatoes, and sweet-potatoes large enough for two which can be washed down with a great Tannat (red wine). For dessert, try a flan with dulce de leche or dulce de leche pancakes. Close
These hotels become attractive if you plan to stay for more than one night and want to enjoy some relaxation time with your sightseeing.Colony Park Plaza Unique Hotel (Rambla de las Americas Tel: 052-26280)This is a relatively new, well-decorated and attractive place with a difference.…Read More
These hotels become attractive if you plan to stay for more than one night and want to enjoy some relaxation time with your sightseeing.Colony Park Plaza Unique Hotel (Rambla de las Americas Tel: 052-26280)This is a relatively new, well-decorated and attractive place with a difference. The decoration style is hard to understand. There are beautiful art objects mixed with plastic flowers arrangements. The rooms were small, but atypical, which made it interesting. The walls in some instances seem thin because you can hear conversation from the adjoining room.The hotel is set on the edge of town so there is space around you and the views are nice. The hotel provides bicycles to ride to town, or you could walk. The hotel has a car to transport guests to and from the port. Going into town for dinner may not be particularly attractive, however, because the streets are poorly lit and lonely. The hotel realises this and sometimes provides a social hour with free drinks in the evening. There is a cute bar with a piano player, a band in the dining room, and a full buffet of excellent food. There is a pay for service spa, with $30 massages. Sheraton Colonia Golf and Spa Resort (Continuación de la Rambla de Las Américas, Phone: (052-29000) The hotel is a ten minute drive from downtown Colonia and it’s about one kilometre to the city bus stop to get to the old town. Taxis to the city are expensive and not always readily available. You definitely need to rent a car if you're staying here and want to sightsee. A car costs about $50 per day and it will make the trip a lot more convenient.The hotel site is attractive but a bit barren. The design of the hotel is mediocre, with some nice features, but without much inspiration. We found the decor very bland. The pools are lovely to look at, and are at varying temperatures. It offers golf and a sort of resort feel to it, although the ‘beach’ is a river-beach and not particularly attractive. The hotel is quite new, so the general state of maintenance is good.The rooms are large, well presented and comfortable. They have all the usual facilities. There is a nice modern bathroom and toiletries are provided. The food was a disappointment. It is tired, uninspired, and really below standard in many cases. The dinner buffet was mediocre at best - plenty of bland, boring, average food. Food charges are very high even by hotel standards.The spa looked nice but it was overpriced. It offers a fully equipped gym, an outdoor and indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi and massage room. The computers in the business centre are free for unlimited use. There were swamps of kids everywhere, lots of noise during breakfast, lunch, tea or dinner and of course at night. They have a kids' club, but it seems kids are allowed to check in and out at will. Close
The Barrio Historico is the area of most interest to visitors so it makes sense to find accommodation in town. Fortunately there are a number of choices from luxury through to budget. The following are some suggestions in the upper end of the market.Radisson (Washington…Read More
The Barrio Historico is the area of most interest to visitors so it makes sense to find accommodation in town. Fortunately there are a number of choices from luxury through to budget. The following are some suggestions in the upper end of the market.Radisson (Washington Barbot 283. Tel: 052-30460).As expected, the Radisson is a very solid, comfortable choice close to the historic sites. It's not in the middle of the shopping and restaurant area so you do need to walk a bit - not long, but the street uphill is unlit at night and the sidewalk is very uneven from tree roots. The hotel is chic and very modern, the infinity pool is clean and attractive and it was great to relax in and watch the sunset after a long day of walking around Colonia. The whole pool deck is scenic overlooking the river.The rooms are clean and amply sized with nice solid wood furniture but the furnishings are a bit outdated and generic. The top floor rooms have a nice view of the pool and the river from the balcony. Some other rooms have a sliding door to a tastefully decorated Mediterranean-style courtyard. There are also some street view rooms. All seem to be fitted out with a king bed or two twins, flat screen TV and large bathroom. From a safety point of view the room doors didn't offer either a peep hole or safety chain. There is a casino right next door to the hotel for those who need this distraction.Posada Plaza Mayor (Calle del Comercio 111. Tel: 052-23193).The Posada Plaza Mayor is a small inn housed in a landmark building, and is centered on a courtyard with a lovely fountain. It is situated right on the main plaza of town and there are several restaurants all literally within steps of the hotel. In addition to the central courtyard, there is a pleasant patio/backyard in the rear with comfy chairs and shade trees, for those seeking more peace and privacy.All staff were very friendly and helpful, and the rooms are atmospheric but most are small and those on the road would be noisy. Most feature stonework and have high ceilings but we thought some smelt of mildew. The suite has a large sitting area, decent-sized bathroom and a big window that opens onto the street. Breakfast is in a river-view room on the second floor. It is a nice continental set-up, with pastries, croissants, fresh orange juice and coffee but there is a large sign forbidding you from taking any food out of the room. Very strange!There is a guest internet terminal with a good connection. We thought the place had considerable charm but had reservations about the rooms and the price which seemed very high for what you got.Posada del Virrey (Espana 217. Tel: 052-22223).This elegant, historic place has a good location with lovely river views. The rooms are air-conditioned, have cable TV and some have Jacuzzis. The buffet breakfast is excellent and the room prices are not outrageous. Close
Written by Valerita on 07 Nov, 2008
Every year, January 16th, my family and friends have an appointment: we prepare the mate (typical Uruguayan beverage and something that we cannot live without), buy some bizcochos (pastries), fill the gas tank and officially inaugurate the beginning of our holiday. The journey usually takes…Read More
Every year, January 16th, my family and friends have an appointment: we prepare the mate (typical Uruguayan beverage and something that we cannot live without), buy some bizcochos (pastries), fill the gas tank and officially inaugurate the beginning of our holiday. The journey usually takes three hours and we arrive to La Paloma at around 9am. We leave our luggage, prepare the mate again and go for our first walk of the year on the beach. Last year was a particularly special holiday because most of our friends managed to go. We rented the same house as previous years, which at this point is kind of our second home. Although there are many hotels in La Paloma, the most required accommodation are rental houses. Price ranges vary a lot, depending on the zone, the distance to the beach, etc. A house close to the beach for 4-5 people cost around US$ 80 per day. "Our house" is located in Costa Azul and it is only one block from the beach. Although La Paloma is a small town, we always find something to do. Everyday we get up early, have breakfast under the trees while we listen to the ocean sounds, and go to the beach. Barbecuing is mandatory, not everyday but most days! Then nap time and in the afternoon we go to the beach until sunset. Sunsets: another chapter. La Balconada is the place to go. It is said that the most beautiful sunsets are enjoyed there, and when the sun disappears in the ocean, the enthusiastic audience starts to clap.There are some interesting options for those who enjoy going out at night, from art and craft fairs, to cinema, restaurants, pubs, and three or four discos that are the centre of attention for young people. A couple of years ago, all the discos that were located in La Pedrera (another seaside in Rocha) moved to La Paloma, changing most young people’s destination for their holidays. People start going to the discos at around 4am and leave the place at around 11am or even later, especially during the first two weeks of January.I highly recommend this beach, both for families and young people who want the beauty of the beaches and a place with interesting options to have fun after the sunset. Fortunately, I have already booked the house and in a couple of months I will be under the gentle sun of La Paloma. Close
Written by cheryl morris on 19 Oct, 2000
If you are made squeamish by machismo, are burdened by a beer gut or cellulite or hold any strong Marxist beliefs, you may want to reconsider traveling here!
This posh South American resort is the playground for Latin America's rich and famous, with a…Read More
If you are made squeamish by machismo, are burdened by a beer gut or cellulite or hold any strong Marxist beliefs, you may want to reconsider traveling here!
This posh South American resort is the playground for Latin America's rich and famous, with a few Italian playboys thrown in. Women are gorgeous and barely dressed, and the men are rich and, er..., appreciative of feminine pulchritude. You can almost smell the money burning and the pherenomes wafting through the Atlantic breeze!
The north of Punta is filled with some of the finest residential areas in South America. With their distinctive 'mound landscapes' this area of the Maldonando Region is a 'must see' for tourists and visitors. Rather expensive golf and tennis clubs can also be found in this vicinity.
The seaside is divided into two parts by a point of land: the Playa Brava, with the roughest waves, is good for surfing, and its beach is marked by the presence of an enormous hand reaching out of the sand. Near this beach is the Playa Ingleses, which can be quite dangerous due to its strong currents and sharp rocks. The quieter side of the ocean (the 'Mansa' side) is host to beachgoers of all types, but especially families. The tip of the point is host to an outdoor market, and the place where sea lions beg for fish from the boats that later stock the restaurants with their catch of the day.
The sea lions come from opposite the large peninsula separating the two waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Rio de la Plata. Their home is the islands of Isla Gorriti and Isla de los Lobos, which was threatened by a huge oil spill just a few years ago. This has since been laboriously cleaned up, but which caused much damage to marine life.
Crowded beaches in-season are expected but only a few miles north towards La Barra, one can find the peace and rhythm of the South Atlantic Sea.
Accessible by car, La Barra del Maldonado, a beautiful inlet that flows from the back bay area of Maldonado out to the Atlantic Ocean, is found even further in the north. This area is where the locals go to get away from the crowded beaches, and where you can find some amazing restaurants and sunsets.
If you get sick of the beach and the parties, there is great shopping in Punta, with all of the major South American brands present and accounted for.
Written by Robert Raymond Ingledew on 05 Feb, 2007
Uruguayans call this area the Golden Coast. Whoever has seen a sunrise or a sunset on the River Plate will easily understand why. Travelling along the River Plate from Montevideo to Punta del Este is a delightful experience. Water is so clear, and there are…Read More
Uruguayans call this area the Golden Coast. Whoever has seen a sunrise or a sunset on the River Plate will easily understand why. Travelling along the River Plate from Montevideo to Punta del Este is a delightful experience. Water is so clear, and there are many pine tree forests along the road. Beaches on the River Plate in Argentina normally have a "coffee-colored" water, while on the Uruguayan side they are nearly transparent. Why is this? Because 200 miles north of the River Plate, waters of the Uruguay River settle down at the Salto Grande dam, and are far clearer than the water of the Paraná River that enters into the River Plate on the Argentine side. And the Uruguay River feeds the Uruguayan side of the river. Also, Montevideo is far nearer the sea than Buenos Aires, and clear water from the sea comes in when the tide is high. If you look at a map of the River Plate, you will easily understand what I am talking about. The nearer you get to the ocean, the water will be far clearer. We have already spoken of the cities facing the Uruguay River (from north to south: Salto, Paysandu, Fray Bentos, and Mercedes). On the River Plate coast we have a number of tourist destinations: Carmelo, Colonia, Montevideo itself, Carrasco, Atlántida, Solymar, Piriápolis, Solanas, and Punta Ballena nearer to Punta del Este. CARMELO: This small city was founded in 1816. The scenery here is the typical scenery of the Parana River Delta (although with clearer water), very similar to the Tigre in Buenos Aires. There are direct motorboat services from the port of Tigre in Buenos Aires, Argentina (the name of the company that offers this service is Cacciola) that come over here. Carmelo has very nice beaches, and Four Seasons Hotels has a comfortable resort in Carmelo with everything you would want to find. A beautiful golf course designed by American Golf Course Design combines the attractives of the Uruguayan countryside with the golf course, including challenging white sand bunkers and artificial lakes. The hotel has a beautiful swimming pool, tennis courts, and recreation activities. They also have a program of activities for children from 5 to 12 years old. COLONIA: This city was declared Cultural Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO and is one of the historical treasures of Uruguay. I have been through this city many times on my way to Montevideo or Punta del Este, and did not have the slightest idea of the historical treasures I was missing. The colonial part of the city really deserves a visit. The city also has a bullring. Colonia is also very near Montevideo (2 hours by bus). Travelling through the old city is really fantastic, and as I do not have photos of my own, I suggest you have a look at this link, where you will find some beautiful photos: http://www.guiacolonia.com.uy/Colonia/index.htm. Then click on "lugares" (places). Colonia has amongst other things the oldest church in all Uruguay, cobblestone streets, colonial constructions, the ruins of the San Francisco Convent, and the Casa del Virrey (Spain's Governor's House). I suggest spending at least one full day to tour the city. There are at least five museums in Colonia that hide many historical treasures. There are inexpensive 1-day tours from Buenos Aires, sold by Buquebus, that will take you all around, including an all-you-can-eat barbecue. And if you are staying at Montevideo, you are very near Colonia. POCITOS: This is the tourist area of the city of Montevideo, the Uruguayan capital. It has its own skyline facing the River Plate, very nice beaches, and clear water. The Pocitos Plaza Hotel (12 floors with only 50 rooms) is conveniently located in a very nice panoramic area. CARRASCO: Near the capital, next to the international airport, and facing the River Plate, it is a residential area. ATLÁNTIDA: The most important beach between Montevideo and Piriápolis, located 28 miles to the east of Montevideo. It is a small village with a permanent population of 2,500 inhabitants. From here onwards you will see a number of beach resorts with pine tree forests, like Solymar, very near Atlántida. PIRIÁPOLIS: The panoramic view of this beach is just beautiful. Although hills are low (maybe 1,500 feet tall) they are very near the sea, and form a very pleasant combination with the beaches and the sea. This was the first beach resort in Uruguay, and it was founded by an Argentinian called Piria, so the town has this name in his honor (the city of Piria). Prices are lower here than in Punta del Este, and homes and hotels are not as luxurious as in Punta del Este. There is a very nice coastal avenue or boulevard, and a chairlift to the nearby hills (remember, there are no high mountains in Uruguay). WHAT TO SEE IN PIRIÁPOLIS: As I have already mentioned, this city (Piriápolis) was set up by an Argentinian and was the first tourist resort in Uruguay. Most important works started in 1910, and the name of the city is in honor of its founder (Piriápolis = the city of Piria). There are many attractions in the area, and these are some of them: 1) ARGENTINE EXPLANADE. Its construction started in 1910 and was inspired by European seaside resorts like Nice. 2) ARGENTINE HOTEL. Inspired by Italian palaces, it is 400 feet long along the street and 200 feet deep. It has 350 rooms for 900 people. Years ago it was the largest hotel in all South America. The Uruguayan government took it over in 1942. Recently it was privatized and refurbished. 3) PAN DE AZÚCAR (SUGAR LOAF) PARK. For the protection of fauna and flora. It may be visited from 7am to 7pm. 4) EL SAUCE LAGOON. It is the most important fresh water reserve in all the area. Has a surface of 12,500 acres and a depth that varies from 20 to 40 feet. Motor navigation and fishing are prohibited here. Water sports are allowed. You have the best view of this lagoon from Punta Ballena, near Punta del Este. You will see the Pan de Azucar mount in the background, behind the lagoon. 5) LA CASCADA PARK. A very nice 17 foot tall waterfall. There are campfires and an amphitheater. 6) And, of course, the chair lift. As you may easily understand, there is a lot to see in Piriápolis. The city is very pleasant to walk around, and it is about 2 hours away from Montevideo and only half an hour away from Punta del Este. Prices here are substantially lower, so if you are a budget traveler, this is your choice. SOLANAS: A very fashionable beach, preferred by teenagers and young people, near which is Chihuhua, a naturist beach, where you are not allowed to take photos without the consent of the person(s) involved. This beach (Solanas) normally is empty during the morning, and gets crowded in the afternoon. It is supposed to be a topless area, but don’t run any risks, watch what the people do, and don`t try to be smart... PUNTA BALLENA: Here you have the most beautiful panoramic view of what they call the "costa de oro," or Golden Coast. You will see Mediterranean constructions, what seems to be the sea (remember, it is the River Plate—here it is nearly 200 miles wide), and the skyline of Punta del Este. Casa Pueblo with its beautiful constructions is in this area. And after that, already in PUNTA DEL ESTE: A visit to the "Mansa" (mild) beach on the River Plate, the "Brava" (brave) beach on the sea, the port of Punta del Este, and a trip to the Isla de los Lobos (Seals Island) and a tour through the beautiful Cantegril Country Club, will complete this delightful visit to the Uruguayan beaches. Did you ever imagine that there are so many beautiful spots in Uruguay? Enjoy your stay in Uruguay, but don't forget to visit Argentina, with its Iguazú Falls, the glaciers down south, the Andes, and many other prime attractions. Close
Written by Robert Raymond Ingledew on 31 Jan, 2007
The city of Montevideo: Montevideo is a beautiful city and probably the safest capital in all Latin America. It has about one million inhabitants, while the whole country has a population of 4 million. Uruguay was originally a part of Argentina, but became independent on…Read More
The city of Montevideo: Montevideo is a beautiful city and probably the safest capital in all Latin America. It has about one million inhabitants, while the whole country has a population of 4 million. Uruguay was originally a part of Argentina, but became independent on August 25 of 1825 with the help of Great Britain, that was interested in having a neutral country between Brazil and Argentina. Relations between both countries have always been friendly, although presently there is a dispute regarding the potential contamination of the Uruguay river, that divides both countries, due to the installation of a paper mill in Fray Bentos, Uruguay, that is already 80% complete. Roads from Argentina to Uruguay are frequently blocked by protesters at the 3 international bridges (Gualeguaychú-Fray Bentos, Colón-Paysandu and Salto Grande, Concordia-Salto), and the recent ruling of the International Court of Justice of The Hague that these blockings do not constitute a permanent damage to Uruguay might extend these blockings in time, unless the mediation of the King of Spain attains some compromise between both countries, something that seems improbable at this time. If for any reason all 3 international bridges are blocked, the best way to cross, is to continue to Paso de los Libres, cross over to Uruguayana (Brazil) that is very near Artigas (Uruguay) and continue your travel from there to Montevideo.
I have already explained in the Overview how to get the Uruguay (ship, bus, and airplane alternatives and the names of the companies) and in Where to Stay in Uruguay you will find information on hotels. Please refer to these sections. The beaches Montevideo has on the River Plate in the area known as Pocitos and Carrasco are really beautiful. All the area from the port towards the east, including the beaches and marinas, really deserves a visit. I really enjoyed walking along all this area, although I must recognize that the Punta del Este area, especially from Solanas towards the East, is far more beautiful. Unlike Buenos Aires, where large extensions of land were gained to the river and all natural beaches disappeared, leaving mud instead of sand, Montevideo has very nice beaches, with clear water. This is because the water of the Uruguay river, that runs into the River Plate near here, settles down at the Salto Grande dam (Concordia/Salto) and downstream of the dam water is pretty clear. Of course, it all depends on whether there has been some flood in the Uruguay or Parana rivers recently (both rivers form the River Plate).
Although Pocitos and the coastal avenue are the nicest spots in Montevideo, there are many other places worthwhile visiting, like its parks and its monuments. There are a number of museums in the city. The José Battle park, with a beautiful pink marble entrance, and both zoological gardens (Dolores and Lecocq) are three other places you will want to visit. There are also historical and panoramic places you will want to visit, like the Fortaleza del Cerro fortress, park Rodó, the Citadel gate (Puerta de la Ciudadela) and the Main Square. The city of Montevideo has well over one million inhabitants, but is pretty safe, so you can enjoy walking it.
Hotels in Montevideo are not expensive (unlike Punta del Este, where they cost a lot) and there are regular bus services to Punta del Este (one hour and a half travel) and organized tours to Piriápolis and Punta del Este that are not expensive. In Montevideo I would recommend the Hotel Presidente in the downtown, a nice 3-star hotel. If you want something better, try the Posta Carretas hotel. Days Inn hotels in Uruguay are not expensive.
Durazno and Rincon del Bonete: Durazno is a small city (30,000 inhabitants) in central Uruguay, probably some 2 to 3 hours north of the city of Montevideo. It is on the Negro river, the most important river in the country, a tributary of the Uruguay river, and has the most important hydroelectric project in the country, Rincón del Bonete. The dam (240 feet high) forms an artificial lake, and dorado fishing is popular in this river, although the size of the fish is not as large as those fished at Concondia (Argentina) nor as those of the Parana river. It is a pleasant area, nice for camping, with a mild climate. There is a nearer (and smaller) dam called Paso de los Toros. El Sauzal is a nice bathing resort in this area, and it has a nice campground, called Treinta y Tres Orientales.
The Durazno – Tacuarembó – Rivera area is dedicated mostly to cattle raising (Uruguayan meat is excellent) and agriculture. The Rincón del Bonete dam and some other smaller reservoirs in the area have optimized agricultural possibilities in their area of influence. Travelling to the north you will find an important city (Rivera) that together with Santana do Livramento (Brazil) form really one sole city. It is a pleasant rolling area, and to get there you go through the agricultural area of Tacuarembo. There are smaller populations to the Northwest, like Artigas, just in front of Coarao, and quite near to Uruguayana, Brazil, that is an important city. Don't expect much more than that, because there are no high mountains in Uruguay, the highest hills are probably 1,300 feet high. Durazno is located in the center of Uruguay and is near any destination in the country. However, it is nearer the Uruguay river than the Atlantic Ocean, and very near the cities of Fray Bentos, and Paysandu (the second most important city in Uruguay). Both these cities have international bridges over the Uruguay river that connect respectively with Gualeguaychu and Colon, both in Argentina.
Paysandú is the second city of Uruguay, and is on the Uruguay river. The environment of the whole area is very pleasant. You can cross from here to the Argentine city of Colon, very near the El Palmar National Park in Argentina. Salto is the third city, and is just in front of the city of Concordia. There are regular suburban buses from Salto to Concordia, and you can also cross the river on motorboats. Buses pass on top of the Salto Grande dam, an excellent area for dorado fishing. There are regular bus services from Montevideo to both these cities, and travel takes some 5 hours to Paysandu and 6 hours to Salto. On the Argentine side, at Colón, you have one of the best 5-star Health and SPA Resorts of Argentina, the hotel Quirinale. And from Concordia (just in front of Salto) you have direct bus services to the Iguazú Falls (12 hours travel, Expreso Tigre-Iguazu). Enjoy your visit to Uruguay.
Written by Robert Raymond Ingledew on 22 Jan, 2007
Please keep in mind that I am updating prices from the Internet, and that it is advisable to double check rates with the hotels before travelling.
PUNTA DEL ESTE is expensive, and I have never stayed in the city, except once when I took an…Read More
Please keep in mind that I am updating prices from the Internet, and that it is advisable to double check rates with the hotels before travelling.
PUNTA DEL ESTE is expensive, and I have never stayed in the city, except once when I took an aparment in the Cantegrill Country Club through a timesharing exchange. I really enjoyed it. The country club was full of beautiful residences with fantastic parks, and was halfway between both beaches, with both near. It is a very quiet spot for staying, while it is not far away from the downtown. If you have timesharing in any other part of the world, try and exchange through RCI or any other reliable timeshare organization. But keep in mind that most timeshare exchange fees are not refundable, even if the desired exchange is not available. It is a sort of administrative fee. For a complete list of hotels in Punta del Este and other destinations, visit www.topuruguay.com and then click on hotels. This site also has a beautiful photo gallery of Uruguay. As a general reference, three-star hotels in Punta del Este are costing some 120 dollars per night for a double room, while two-star hotels cost some $45 per night. That is nearly double the price you would pay in Mar del Plata, Argentina, but Punta del Este is beautiful. But you will find cheaper hotels on the above website.
PIRIÁPOLIS: Here the average cost of a three-star hotel is $50 to $60 per night for a double room. It is about half an hour away from Punta del Este by bus, and the whole trip is really enjoyable. When going towards Punta del Este, get a window seat on the right-hand side and you will enjoy the scenery. I have been through Piriápolis many times, but have never stayed there. Generally speaking, I used to stay at Montevideo. The whole trip from Montevideo to Punta del Este on the bus (two hours and a half) is beautiful. To choose your hotel at Piriápolis, visit www.topuruguay.com Then click on hotels, and after that on Piriápolis.
MONTEVIDEO: Here you can find two-star hotels for as little as $18 per night (Arapey) or three-star hotels for $39 (Ibis). The Days Inn Montevideo charges $39 per night for a double room (four-star rating), but you might prefer the Pocitos Plaza Hotel (four stars, $63), because it is on the Pocitos Beach, next to the sea. I stayed at the Hotel Presidente (three stars); it was good and inexpensive. A single room costs $35 and a double room, $40. They are located on Ave. 18 de Julio 1038, phone +598 (2) 902 00 03 - 908 48 50. Buses to Punta del Este leave from the Tres Cruces Bus Station, and take two hours and a half to get to Punta del Este. But the tour from Montevideo to Punta del Este is far more convenient, because you will stop at all the points of interest on the way, including Piriápolis and Punta Ballena.
COLONIA: The Days Inn Casa del Sol Resort (four stars) could be a very nice option
CARMELO: Based on the information I have, the Four Seasons hotel is the very best. I have not stayed at Carmelo.PAYSANDU: You will find three-star hotels like the Mykonos for $27 per night.SALTO: The best option seems to be the Hotel Horacio Quiroga (five stars); that also has thermal baths, and a double room costs $106
BEST WAY TO GET AROUND: One word of caution: as long as the confrontation between Argentina and Uruguay continues regarding the installation of paper mills next to the Uruguay River, you stand a high chance of being unable to cross to Uruguay. And with yesterday's ruling of the International Court of Justice of The Hague that these blockings do not cause a permanent damage to Uruguayan economy, this situation could last for months. Roads are blocked at all international bridges (Gualeguaychu-Fray Bentos is where the protest is more active, but the bridges at Colón-Paysandu and Concordia Salto are also blocked frequently by protesters). So the safest way to get around is travelling by Buquebus from the Port of Buenos Aires to Uruguay, or by plane. Uruguay has very good bus services that cover the whole country. EGA (Empresa General Artigas) seems to be one of the best, and it goes from Montevideo to Buenos Aires and also to Córdoba (Argentina). However, read the previous paragraph regarding road blocking and check with the bus company to see if services are running normally. This page gives valuable information regarding bus services inside Uruguay: www.visit-uruguay.com/es/comollegar.htm. (Buses from Montevideo to Punta del Este, Piriápolis, and other destinations). All buses leave from the Tres Cruces Bus Station in Montevideo. Taxis in Uruguay are more expensive than in Argentina, but far cheaper than in the US or Europe.