Uruguay one week itinerary – road trip or by bus

Uruguay is a country you cannot afford to skip from your Latin America itinerary. It has so much to offer, whether it's surfing beaches, good wine, stunning scenery, delicious steaks and of course marijuana.

Uruguay is one of the most progressive countries in the world and certainly the most in Latin America. It was one of the first in the continent to allow gay marriages, legalise abortions in 2012 and established a welfare state in 1903.

And of course the marijuana which it's so famous for: since December 2013, Uruguay legalised the cultivation, sale and consumption of marijuana for recreational use.

uruguay itinerary 1 week marijuana in Rocha
Sebastien admiring these home grown Black Jack marijuana plants in Rocha, East Uruguay

Most will add on Uruguay as part of their Latin America trip to Argentina or South Brazil, so we set out a variety of options for a 1 week itinerary. Our Uruguay travel itinerary can also be done in 2 weeks if you like to travel at a slower pace like we do.

We also assume that you will be taking the boat from Buenos Aires to Colónia as your entry point, but you can also fly in to Montevideo and start from there.

Renting a car

Driving in Uruguay is probably the best way to move around the country. The roads are safe and in a very good condition. Distances are pretty short (by South American standards!) so you will never drive for more than 2-3 hours at a time.

We found driving in Uruguay to be absolutely fine. Other drivers are mostly courteous and safe and we never had any problems.

Uruguay itinerary road trip
Picking up our Alamo chariot in Montevideo

[learn_more caption=”Day1: Travel to Colónia Del Sacramento”]

Getting to Colónia Del Sacramento

Most people will travel to Colónia from Buenos Aires by ferry. The journey takes around 2-3 hours with 3 daily round trips. There are 3 companies to choose from: Colónia Express, Buquebus and Seacat.

On our journey into Colónia from Buenos Aires, this is what we had sitting behind us…what a way to be welcomed to Uruguay!

uruguay itinerary buenos aires to colonia pretty Uruguayan boys
Uruguayan sleeping beauties aboard the ferry from Buenos Aires to Colónia

What to do in Colónia Del Sacramento

Colónia del Sacramento is a city in Southwest Uruguay and one of the oldest in the country. It is famous for its picturesque UNESCO World Heritage Site old town with small cobblestone roads surrounded by thick fortified walls. A few of the highlights in Colónia include:

  • Exploring the Old Town: the historic quarter of Colónia is the most famous and attracts many tourists from Buenos Aires just across the river. As such it's very touristy, but no less beautiful. The city walls and the Puerta de la Ciudadela (Old Town gate), built in 1745 by the Portuguese are one of the major highlights.
  • Puerto Viejo: the picturesque Old Port area is no longer functional, but is now the perfect place for a stroll and for people watching.
  • El Faro Lighthouse: built in 1857, the lighthouse is great for climbing to awe at the views across the Río de la Plata.
  • Museums: you can buy 1 ticket to cover all of Colónia's museums for 50 Uruguayan pesos ($2/£1.50). Some of the best ones include Museo Portugués, Museo del Azulejo, Museo Español and the Museo Municipal.
  • Horse riding day trips: Colonia Horse Riding is a highly rated gay and hetero friendly company, based in Buenos Aires, who offer horse riding tours in Colónia as well as private walking tours in the Old Town.
Colónia horse riding Uruguay itinerary
Stefan horse riding in Colónia

Where to stay in Colónia Del Sacramento

You can either head straight to Montevideo and stay an extra night there or invest in a night in Colónia. A few outstanding gay friendly options include:

#1 Radisson Hotel Colónia del Sacramento

Description: prime location, right on the river front, ideal for those beautiful Instagram #sunsetporn moments. It's also minutes walk from the historic centre. Check out the infinity pool overlooking the Río de la Plata.

LocationWashington Barbot 283, Colónia del Sacramento 70000, Uruguay.

Price: rooms start from $160/£130 a night.

#2 Posada El Capullo

Description: close to the beach, with an outdoor swimming pool set in a lush garden, El Capullo is the ideal place to stay in Colónia. The rooms are decorated in earth tones with views over the garden. The breakfast is delicious and 100% home-made. The staff are extremely gay friendly and very helpful.

Address: 18 de Julio # 219, Colónia del Sacramento 70000, Uruguay.

Price: rooms start from $90/£72 a night.

El Capullo Hotel Colónia Uruguay itinerary
The cool interior of El Capullo Hotel in Colónia

[/learn_more][learn_more caption=”Day 2-3: Discover Montevideo”]

Getting from Colónia to Montevideo

The drive from Colónia to Montevideo car is around 2 hours.

You can also get to Montevideo from Colónia by bus. The bus terminal for Colónia is right next to the ferry station and there are buses every hour from Colónia to Montevideo, which take around 2.5 hours.

Montevideo selfie part of Uruguay itinerary
Our “en route to Montevideo” selfie

Where to stay in Montevideo

#1 Holiday Inn

Description: an affordable option located right in the heart of Montevideo's Old Town. The rooms are simple but spacious and comfortable. Their suites each have a large Jacuzzi, which is perfect if like us you love your bubbles!

Address: Colonia 823, Montevideo 11101, Uruguay.

Price: rooms start from $78/£61 a night.

#2 My Suites Boutique Hotel

Description: wine lovers will love this one. My Suites is a sexy, classy and extremely stylish boutique hotel, with a unique wine theme. Each floor is named after a winery, and the hotel offers guests wine tasting sessions every evening with lectures by a local sommelier.

Address: Juan Benito Blanco 674, Montevideo 11303, Uruguay.

Price: rooms start from $100/£80 a night.

#3 Sofitel Carrasco

Description: overlooking the Rambla beachfront, this glamorous former casino palace was built in 1821. It boasts a mix of French classic architecture with a modern twist. Check out the Philip Starks horse lamps in the grand, impressive lobby. Their suites offer amazing views over the Rio Del Plata, and have 2 huge walk-in showers.

Address: Rambla Republica de Mexico 6451 esq. Arocena, Montevideo 11500 , Uruguay.

Price: rooms start from $200/£160 a night.

Sofitel hotel Montevideo Uruguay itinerary
Sebastien soaking in our bathtub in our plush suite at the Sofitel

What to do in Montevideo

Montevideo offers plenty of things to do, particularly around Plaza Independencia in the Old Town (Ciudad Vieja) and the Rambla beach promenade.

  • Ciudad Vieja: Montevideo's Old Town has the famous statute of General Artigas, the national hero as well as beautiful colonial buildings dating back to the 1800s, like Teatro Solís and the iconic Puerta de la Ciudadela.
  • Sarandí promenade: this is the main pedestrian street in the city, starting from the Puerta de la Ciudadela and ending at the Rambla promenade on the coast with art galleries, buskers and shops selling handicrafts.
  • Ramblas beach promenade: the 22km long promenade avenue along the coast is perfect for people watching or for a romantic walk with your lover. The famous “Montevideo” sign is also here.
  • Bike tour Uruguay: one of the best ways to discover the city is by bike. We recommend Bike Tour Uruguay who offer tours around the Old Town and the Ramblas promenade.
  • Uruguayan wine: Uruguay is one of the top 5 wine producers in South America and you can visit wineries near Montevideo such as the Bodega Bouza as part of a day trip.
  • Mercado Agricola Montevideo (MAM): the famous market in the city where you can come to purchase fresh produce, meat, fish, Uruguayan wine, have a coffee and watch the locals go about their daily chores.
  • Tango lessons: Uruguay is just as responsible for the birth of tango as Argentina. You can learn more about it in our article about gay life in Uruguay.

If you're a gay traveller, check out our gay guide to Montevideo.

[/learn_more][learn_more caption=”OPTION 1 for Day 4-5: party crazy in Punta del Este”]

Punta del Este is THE place to come to party, especially during the summer months, December to February. Everyone comes here, surfers, beach hotties, Brazilian millionaires, the high society from Buenos Aires. It's often referred to as The Hamptons of South America. So if you're in a party mood, consider adding Punta to your itinerary.

Getting from Montevideo to Punta Del Este

Regular buses travel from Montevideo to Maldonado bus terminal terminal, which is a few kilometres north of Punta Del Este. The journey takes around 3 hours and costs 220 pesos $8/£6. From Maldonado, you can take a taxi or catch the local bus to Punta Del Este.

By car, it's a scenic 2 hours drive from Montevideo to Punta del Este. Along the way we suggest stopping at Punta Ballena to marvel at Casapueblo, the extremely pretty home of Uruguay's most famous artist, Carlos Páez Vilaró, There's a small part of Casapueblo open to public, which houses an exhibition of Vilaró's works. The rest of the building has been converted into a 4 star Hotel.

Casapueblo in Uruguay itinerary
Can you spot Sebastien hiding in front of Casapueblo?

Where to stay in Punta Del Este

#1 Yoo Punta del Este

Description: one of the best hotels in Punta del Este on Tripadvisor, which is what attracted our attention. Check out the rooms with sea view! Yoo is located in the 8th stop of Roosevelt Avenue, which is the heart of the Art District.

Address: Avenida Roosevelt Parada 8, 20100 Punta del Este, Uruguay.

Price: bookings are for a minimum of 2 nights and start from $230 (£175).

#2 Undarius Gay Hotel (men only)

Description: Undarius is a male only hotel located just 400 metres from the popular gay and naturist beach Chihuahua in Punta del Este. The hotel has a beautiful garden, large outdoor swimming pool and extremely romantic fireplace in the communal area.

Address: C/ La Rastrera, s/n | Chihuahua, Punta Ballena, Maldonado 20000, Uruguay.

Price: rooms start from $60 (£48) a night.

Undarius hotel Punta del Este Uruguay itinerary
A stolen kiss at Undarius Hotel's cosy fireplace

STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL

Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, avoiding any nasty surprises when you check in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off your first booking.

What to do in Punta Del Este

Punta del Este is famous for being an international beach resort, especially during the summer months of December-February when you can do parasailing, waterskiing and jet skiing. It's the perfect place for partying with many bars and clubs. Here's a few of our favourite activities in Punta del Este:

  • Punta Bike Tour: this is the perfect way to see the main sites of the most emblematic icons of the city, including the famous and bizarre fingers rising out of the beach statue.
  • Nightlife: the port area is the most happening part of the city with restaurant/bars becoming the fashion. One of our favourite hangouts include Soho bar which serve up delicious cocktails.
  • Cabo Polono day trip: Cabo Polono is a settlement of 95 people in a National Park on the Eastern coast of Uruguay on the tip of a peninsula. It's worth visiting as a day trip, which involves a 7km truck drive through the sand dunes.
Cabo del Polonia Uruguay itinerary
Sea lions basking and posing in the sun at Cabo del Polonia

[/learn_more][learn_more caption=”OPTION 2 for Day 4-5: Punta del Diablo”]

Punta Del Diablo is a small fishing town and seaside resort in Rocha, on the Eastern coast of Uruguay. Over the years it has evolved to become a prime summer getaway for Uruguayans and Argentinians during the summer months, December-February.

If you visit outside of those months however, it's more tranquil, remote and feels like you have the entire beach all to yourself, making it the ideal option if you're looking for a quiet and peaceful getaway.

Punta Del Diablo beach Uruguay itinerary
Stefan solitary on Punta Del Diablo beach

Getting from Montevideo to Punta Del Diablo

The drive by car from Montevideo takes around 4 hours.

The bus from Montevideo takes around 5 hours and buses leave frequently. The best companies offering a direct service includes COT and Rutas del Sol.

Where to stay in Punta Del Diablo

#1 Il Tano Suites

Description: a family owned guesthouse offering 2 cosy private suites with fireplace and a swimming pool. They serve delicious Italian food in their restaurant called Il Tano Cucina.

Address: Calle 5 entre Calle 20 y Calle 22, Punta del Diablo 27204, Uruguay.

Price: suites start from $150/£120 a night.

#2 Posada La Viuda Del Diablo

Description: beautiful hotel right on the beach front of Punta Del Diablo village. The rooms are huge, with a Jacuzzi overlooking the sea. The friendly staff helped us organise a romantic candlelit dinner in our room.

Address: Playa de la Viuda, Punta del Diablo 27204, Uruguay.

Price: rooms start from $180/£143 a night.

What to do in Punta Del Diablo

Punta Del Diablo was one of our favourite places in Uruguay. There's plenty to do and we truly enjoyed the tranquility of the place.

  • Playa de la Viuda: super cool and relaxed beach, which is also popular with surfers.
  • Santa Teresa National Park: pretty forested National Park, close to the Brazilian border. It's perfect for hiking and you can also visit the Fort of Santa Teresa here.
  • Horse riding: imagine horse riding at sunset on the beach, led by a handsome gaucho, then returning by moonlight. That summed up our experience with Caballos del Este who we highly recommend.
  • Cabo Polono day trip: Cabo Polono is a settlement of 95 people in a National Park on the Eastern coast of Uruguay on the tip of a peninsula. It's worth visiting as a day trip, which involves a 7km truck drive through the sand dunes.
Cabo del Polonio Uruguay itinerary
Getting ready for a bumpy truck ride to Cabo del Polonio

[/learn_more][learn_more caption=”Day 6-7: Relax at La Pedrera”]

Pedrera Village is a tranquil little village famous for having the oldest rock formations in Latin America. It's the perfect place to come if you love wildlife and nature. As with Punta Del Diablo, the summer months of December to February are peak season, attracting a large mix of  young and old.

Getting to La Pedrera

#1 From Punta del Este

The drive from Punta del Este takes around 1 hour. By bus, there are frequent services between Punta Del Este and La Pedrera by COT, which take around 2 hours.

#2 From Punta Del Diablo

The drive from Punta Del Diablo to La Pedrera takes around 1 hour. If you travel by bus, you will need to take a bus to Rocha then catch the COT bus to La Pedrera. It will take around 3 hours. Check with you hotel if there are any direct services or in the alternative or what would be the cost of a taxi.

La Pedrera village Uruguay itinerary
The famous beach stairs of La Pedrera village

Where to stay in La Pedrera

Alma de la Pedrera Villaggio & Spa

Description: Alma Spa offers both a comprehensive spa experience as well as all equipped individual houses, each with private terrace, outdoor barbecue, and with all the services you can expect from a high end hotel.

Address: Lechuza & Zorzal, La Pedrera, Uruguay.

Price: the casas/houses start from $120/£95 a night.

What to do in La Pedrera

La Pedrera only has 215 residents and is a quiet unassuming village for most of the year. However during the carnival in February, it really comes to life with an invasion of visitors from all over, tripling its size!

Playa del Barco is the beach in La Pedrera and the ideal spot for surfers. It's also beautiful to relax on or enjoy a few romantic sunsets.

For lunch, we recommend Don Rómulo restaurant. It's THE place all locals here rave about!

La Pedrera beach Uruguay itinerary
Playa del Barco: the beach of La Pedrera

[/learn_more][learn_more caption=”Return to Colónia or Montevideo”]

The drive from La Pedrera to Colónia takes around 6 hours.

There are no direct buses between La Pedrera to Colónia, but you can take a direct bus to Montevideo, then change for another bus bound to Colónia.

[/learn_more]

OUR FAVOURITE TRAVEL TIPS

⭐️ TRAVEL INSURANCE — We recommend you always take out travel insurance before your next vacation. What happens if you suffer from illness, injury, theft or a cancellation? With travel insurance, you can have peace of mind and not worry. We love World Nomads travel insurance and have been using it for years. Their comprehensive coverage is second to none and their online claims process is very user friendly.

⭐️ SAFETY & SECURITY — All travelers can sometimes encounter danger when traveling. CloseCircle is your “virtual body guard” mobile app which provides security alerts and support wherever you are in the world. They have a 24/7 emergency response team monitoring their users who will contact you immediately if the SOS swipe button is activated. Support can include anything from practical advice, to free evacuation from areas with extreme weather or security risks. You can read more about CloseCircle in our article about how to stay safe whilst traveling.

⭐️ ONLINE ANONYMITY — A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a must in many countries: it allows you to surf anonymously and maintain your privacy whilst traveling. You'll particularly need it in countries where dating apps are blocked by the government. We recommend ExpressVPN, a reliable and cost effective service which we used and loved during our travels.

⭐️ HOTELS or APARTMENTS — When we plan a trip, we always look for the best hotel deals. We love Booking.com because not only do they have a comprehensive listing of accommodation options, they also offer the best prices. Added bonus: they provide 24/7 support and free cancellation for most listings.

⭐️ SIGHTSEEING and ADVENTURES — When we travel somewhere, we like to seek out the best experiences, whether it is cooking with locals in Bangkok, hiking on a glacier in Patagonia, or going on a wildlife safari in Sri Lanka. Our favorite place to look is GetYourGuide because they have over 30,000 highly rated activities, a user-friendly booking process with free cancellation and a 24 hour customer support.

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6 thoughts on “Uruguay one week itinerary – road trip or by bus”

  1. Techinically we’ve been to Uruguay having spent 24 hours transiting between Brasil and Argentina. I keep wanting to return and give Uruguay the time and attention it deserves. Well and to drink lots of wine and eat lots of beef.

  2. Thanks for breaking it down! How did navigating through Uruguay compare to other Latin American countries? I’m a touch hesitant to drive myself around.

    • Uruguay is one of the most developed countries we’ve been to. Drivers are very courteous, roads in excellent condition and driving around was extremely safe. You’ve nothing to worry about here 🙂

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