Squished between Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay sometimes seems like the dowdy second cousin who received the pity-invite for Thanksgiving. It’s, well, just kind of there, forever condemned to “Switzerland of South America” status by many travel guides. On the contrary, for the traveler, Uruguay is no neglected cousin at the Thanksgiving dinner table, but rather the perfect place to be if you’ve got the big-city blues in BA.

 Life here is just more laid back than in Argentina—and that is by no means synonymous with boring. It’s simply a world apart, a destination that will provide some thrilling contrasts, and some similarities (they like soccer and beef here, too), with Argentina. 

Colonia, Punta del Este, and Montevideo are well worth the visit!


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Montevideo by Sea 

To get there, there is the open sea—or river, we should say. It may feel like an ocean, but taking a boat between Argentina and Uruguay amounts to nothing more than the longest river crossing—ever. Ferries traverse the Río de la Plata on a daily basis, whizzing (or slowly lumbering along, if it’s an old vessel) passengers between Buenos Aires, Colonia, and Montevideo. It is by far the cheapest and most practical way to travel between Argentina and Uruguay. Book far in advance, especially if it’s summer (Dec.-Mar.) or a weekend—or, for the double whammy, a summer weekend. Expect fares to be higher during the summer and even more expensive on weekends. Some companies recommend arriving 90 minutes before your departure time. While this may be unnecessarily lengthy, allow for at least 45 minutes to check luggage and go through customs, and to accommodate traffic or any other hurdles. Keep your passport handy throughout ticket purchasing and customs. If you’re afraid of sea monsters, we’re pretty sure there’s no cause for concern. The brown waters of the Río de la Plata probably wouldn’t be very fun to live in, even for a monster.

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Colonia del Sacramento

Just one hour from BA by catamaran, Colonia’s tree-lined avenues and uneven colonial streets provide a breath of fresh air after the big city, and, if the well-preserved Barrio Histórico is any indication, time here really does move in a different dimension. Since its declaration as an UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995, Colonia has developed into a tourist mecca, included in most itineraries from Buenos Aires as a daytrip, or even a longer excursion. Of course, a journey to Colonia is particularly important for travelers looking for more impressive-looking passport stamps.

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Punta del Este

Punta del Este is THE place to be in January in South America. The otherwise unspoilt peninsula of Punta del Este is all about the paradisaical oceanic beaches, exotic sophistication, beautiful people and ardent night scene. It's the Monaco of South America. You'll find everything you need to know about the place at www.ilovepunta.com/?lang=en. And of course, if you wrangle up an invitation to a party at Shakira's place there, we'd all love to hear about it!