America,  Country Guides,  TDM,  Tips,  Uruguay

12 day tour in Uruguay: Review, itinerary, guide, practical advice…

Uruguay is one of the countries we are very eager to discover. We have the impression that it is the most developed country we have visited in South America. A lot of small details give us this impression: the fact that everything is on time, to the minute (buses, breakfast, shows), buses only stop at bus stations (instead of stopping anywhere to pick up passengers), credit card accepted everywhere, super clean beaches and streets, shopkeepers preferring to spend time with their families instead of trying to scratch a few pennies, free wi-fi everywhere (even on long distance buses), high speed internet, many public buses even on weekends, a feeling of security…

Really, it is surely a very pleasant country to live in for the long term. And one of the safest in South America! It is also a country with beautiful, super long beaches (miles and miles of fine white sand). The water is more or less deep so we will not have pictures of beaches like those in Thailand, but unlike Thailand, at least, here you can really swim.

Its geographical position (wedged between Argentina and Brazil) makes it an ideal stopover to connect Argentina to Brazil, or to make some nice stops on the way to Puerto Iguazú -> Buenos Aires (this is our case).

The bus network in Uruguay covers all tourist cities. Buses are comfortable, with Wifi, cheaper than in Argentina, and the roads are paved and at the top.

In the beginning we wanted to stay 30 days in Uruguay, to learn Spanish. But along the way, for cost reasons, we preferred to shorten our stay and learn Spanish in Bolivia. This is a wise choice because (1) the cost of living in Uruguay is much higher than in Bolivia (2) the Uruguayan accent is difficult to understand


  • Montevideo (3 days): one day by bus from Puerto Iguazú (Argentina). Quiet weekend to enjoy the typical Uruguayan carnival (which lasts 40 days in all) and the deserted streets of Montevideo on the weekend
  • Punta del Este (3 days): 2h30 bus ride from Montevideo Punta del Este is very well known for its two beautiful beaches: one with strong waves and the other quiet
  • Piriapolis (2 days): 30mn bus from Punta del Esta. The beach of PIriapolis is my favorite, and the sunset from the beach of Piriapolis is breathtaking
  • Colonia del Sacramento (4 days): one day by bus from Piriapolis. The city does not deserve so much time but we want to rest a little (but it is missed).



Punta del Este


Colonia del Sacramento


I think I left an arm and a leg in Uruguay. I don’t even dare to calculate the total amount of the stay anymore. I will just give you the main expenses, to give you an idea:

  • Montevideo :

    • A hotel during the Carnival: 47€ to 80€/night double room
    • Food: 15€ + 10% tip for a good grilled steak.
    • Normal dishes (bold) : 250$UR/flat

  • Punta del Este: ohlalaa prices

    • Youth Hostel: 17€/person/bed in dormitory
    • Normal dishes (bold): 380$UR/flat

  • Other cities: hostel to avoid: El Viajero Hostel, full of fleas

    • Youth Hostel: 15€/person/bed in dormitory
    • Normal dishes (bold) : 300$UR/flat

  • Transportation :

    • Concordia (Argentina) -> Salto (Uruguay) : 100 Argentine pesos
    • Salto -> Montevideo : 984$UR/person
    • Montevideo -> Punta del Este : 272$UR/person
    • Punta del Este -> Piriapolis : 122$UR/person
    • Piriapolis -> Colonia del Sacramento : 550$UR/person
    • Colonia del Sacramento -> Buenos Aires (by boat with Colonia Express): 950$UR/person


  • Transportation: I really liked the COT company that I chose for all my long trips on the coast. I also recommend Chadre, Agencia Central for the other routes; and Colonia Express (boat from Colonia to Buenos Aires)
  • Urban bus: the price varies according to the distance (it’s like the 1-2-3 zones in Paris), to know the price to pay, it’s better to announce your destination to the driver so that he sells you the right ticket (checks are very frequent).
  • Pay the restaurants by credit card because you will automatically get a 22% discount which corresponds to the VAT (this only applies to foreign credit cards, Uruguayans pay full price).
  • All travelers in South America suffer at one time or another from Carnival (February – March), so look for the dates of the carnival (it varies from country to country) and try to book hotels in advance (not like us, we almost slept in the street).
  • In Uruguay, public vacations and vacations mean that these weeks can be very expensive. It isn’t uncommon for restaurants to be closed too:

    • Carnival Week
    • Easter Week (also called Tourism Week)
    • Christmas – New Year

  • At the ATM you can only withdraw a maximum of 5000$UR (Uruguayan pesos) at a time, for a fixed fee of 5.5€. One can also withdraw max 300 US dollars for the same fixed fee. It can be interesting to withdraw dollars because the room prices are always indicated in USD.
  • Uruguay allows the consumption of cannabis but the sale of cannabis to tourists is prohibited.
  • This guide is exceptionally short compared to the other guides because I found a site that is hyper complete on Uruguay, which I invite you to consult.

Balance sheet

Unfortunately, as for Paraguay, our balance sheet is a little bit mixed. Our stay was strongly influenced, in the wrong direction, by our poor choice of dates and accommodations.

We visited Uruguay from February 26th to March 8th 2017, which unfortunately corresponds to the week of Carnival, attracting many Argentinean, Brazilian… and also Uruguayan tourists who travel with their families. This creates a shortage of economical accommodation (even though prices are already very high in summer anyway). We must therefore lodge ourselves for the most part in youth hostels. Youth hostels in Uruguay attract youngat heart, young in mind travelerswho don’t correspond to our definition of politeness, cleanliness, good manners… in short, when we are tired and can’t get a good night’s sleep because of the noise/smoke… or even bed fleas (!!!!), we just want to leave.

I’m sure our experience would have been better if we were in a hotel all the time. With hindsight, I think we should have made this observation earlier and found a suitable solution, on the contrary, we were very passive by putting all this on the “cultural difference” trying to adapt, but in fact, it’s just not our rhythm/style and we won’t be able to adapt in such a short time.

Added to this is a catastrophic gastronomy composed essentially of hamburgers (including chivito, the typical Uruguayan dish which is a hamburger version XXXL), pizzas and pasta. It’s very hard to find good salads, and when you do, it’s very expensive. Vegetables in the supermarket are at best expensive, at worst, faded. But hey, that’s the problem in South America in general. Apart from juicy meat (almost as good as in Argentina), there isn’t much to dig into.

But that’s just our personal experience, eh, we went at the wrong time, in the wrong places. We still recommend Uruguay, especially for those who are currently in Buenos Aires or Sao Paulo, because it is rare to be able to enjoy such beautiful beaches in South America in perfect safety.


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