Must see attractions in Uruguay

  • Top ChoiceSights in Montevideo

    Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales

    Uruguay’s largest collection of paintings is housed here in Parque Rodó. The spacious rooms are graced with works by Blanes, Cúneo, Figari, Gurvich, Torres García and other famous Uruguayans. For a closer look at some of these same artists, visit the Museo Torres García, Museo Figari and Museo Gurvich in Ciudad Vieja, or the Museo Blanes in the Prado neighborhood north of Centro.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Punta del Este

    Casapueblo

    Gleaming white in the sun and cascading nine stories down a cliffside, Uruguayan artist Carlos Páez Vilaró’s exuberantly whimsical villa and art gallery sits atop Punta Ballena, a jutting headland 15km west of Punta del Este. Visitors can tour five rooms, view a film on the artist’s life and travels, and eat up spectacular sunset views at the upstairs cafeteria-bar. There’s a hotel and restaurant adjacent. It's a 2km walk from the junction where Codesa’s Línea 8 bus drops you.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Montevideo

    Teatro Solís

    Just off Plaza Independencia, elegant Teatro Solís is Montevideo’s premier performance space. First opened in 1856, and completely renovated during the past decade or so, it has superb acoustics. Regularly scheduled tours provide an opportunity to see the actual performance space without attending a show.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Fray Bentos

    Museo de la Revolución Industrial

    Possibly the words 'tour an old meat extraction plant' don't appear on your list of must-dos for Uruguay, but Museo de la Revolución Industrial highlights a major part of the country's history, when the British beef barons moved in and started the Uruguayan beef industry in earnest.

  • Sights in Montevideo

    Plaza Matriz

    Also known as Plaza Constitución, this leafy square was the heart of colonial Montevideo. On its west side stands the Iglesia Matriz, Montevideo’s oldest public building, begun in 1784 and completed in 1799. Opposite is the Cabildo, a neoclassical stone structure finished in 1812. Benches under the trees and eateries along the adjacent sidewalk offer opportunities for a noon break.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Punta del Este

    La Mano en la Arena

    Punta’s most famous landmark is this monster-sized sculpted hand protruding from the sands of Playa Brava. Constructed in iron and cement by Chilean artist Mario Irarrázabal, it won first prize in a monumental art contest in 1982 and has been a Punta fixture ever since. The hand exerts a magnetic attraction over thousands of visitors every year, who climb and jump off its digits and pose for photos with it. Look for it just southeast of the bus station.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Montevideo

    Mercado del Puerto

    No visitor should miss Montevideo’s old port market building, at the foot of Pérez Castellano; the building's impressive wrought-iron superstructure shelters a gaggle of bustling parrillas (steak restaurants). On weekend afternoons in particular, it’s a lively, colorful place where the city’s artists, craftspeople and street musicians hang out.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Montevideo

    Museo del Gaucho

    Housed in the ornate Palacio Heber, this museum eloquently conveys the deep attachments between the gauchos, their animals and the land. Its superb collection of historical artifacts includes horse gear, silverwork, and maté (a bitter ritual tea)and bombillas (metal straws with filters, used for drinking maté) in whimsical designs.

  • Sights in Montevideo

    Palacio Legislativo

    Dating from 1908, and still playing host to Uruguay’s Asamblea General (legislative branch), the three-story neoclassical parliament building is also open for guided tours at 10:30am and 3pm Monday to Friday.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Montevideo

    Palacio Salvo

    On the east side of the Plaza Independencia, the 26-story structure with the crazy beehive hairdo is Palacio Salvo, the continent's tallest building when it opened in 1927.

  • Sights in Montevideo

    Plaza Independencia

    Montevideo's largest downtown plaza commemorates independence hero José Artigas with a 17m, 30-ton statue and the subterranean Mausoleo de Artigas, where an honor guard keeps 24-hour vigil over Artigas’ remains. Other notable structures surrounding the plaza include the stone gateway Puerta de la Ciudadela, a lonely remnant of the colonial citadel demolished in 1833; the 19th-century Palacio Estévez; and the 26-story Palacio Salvo, the continent’s tallest building when it opened in 1927, and still a classic Montevideo landmark.

  • Sights in Laguna de Castillos

    Monte de Ombúes

    On Laguna de Castillos' western shore (near Km 267 on Ruta 10), brothers Marcos and Juan Carlos Olivera, whose family received this land from the Portuguese crown in 1793, lead two- to three-hour nature excursions. Tours begin with a 20-minute boat ride through a wetland teeming with cormorants, ibis, cranes and black swans, followed by a hike through the ombú forest.

  • Sights in Montevideo

    Museo de los Andes

    Opened in 2013, this unique museum documents the 1972 Andean plane crash (made famous in the book Alive!) that cost 29 Uruguayans their lives and profoundly impacted Uruguay's national psyche. Using original objects and photos from the crash site, it tells the story of the 16 survivors, who battled harrowing conditions for 72 days before returning alive to a stunned nation. The museum is a labor of love for director Jörg Thomsen, a personal friend of many of the families affected.

  • Sights in Colonia del Sacramento

    Centro Cultural Bastión del Carmen

    Incorporating part of the city’s historic fortifications, this theater and gallery complex adjacent to Colonia's Puerto Viejo hosts rotating art exhibits and periodic concerts. The grassy riverside grounds out back, with outdoor sculptures and an industrial chimney dating from 1880, make a picturesque spot for a midafternoon break.

  • Sights in Montevideo

    Museo del Carnaval

    This museum houses a wonderful collection of costumes, drums, masks, recordings and photos documenting the 100-plus-year history of Montevideo’s Carnaval. Behind the museum is a cafe and a courtyard where spectators can view performances during the summer months. Touch-screen displays offer limited English-language commentary.

  • Sights in Valle Edén

    Museo Carlos Gardel

    Housed in a former pulpería (the general store/bar that used to operate on many estancias), this sweet little museum documents Tacuarembó’s claim as birthplace of revered tango singer Carlos Gardel – a claim vigorously contested by Argentina and France! Turn off Ruta 26 at Km 208, head about 1km south, cross the river and turn right to reach the museum.

  • Sights in Colonia del Sacramento

    Faro

    One of the town’s most prominent landmarks, Colonia’s 19th-century working lighthouse provides an excellent view of the old town and the Río de la Plata. It stands within the ruins of the 17th-century Convento de San Francisco, just off the southwest corner of Plaza Mayor 25 de Mayo.

  • Sights in Punta del Este

    Isla Gorriti

    Boats leave every half hour or so (daily from December through Carnaval, weekends rest of year) from Punta del Este’s yacht harbor for the 15-minute trip to this nearby island, which has excellent sandy beaches, a couple of restaurants and the ruins of Baterías de Santa Ana, an 18th-century fortification.

  • Sights in Punta del Este

    Isla de Lobos

    About 10km offshore, this small island is home to the world’s second-largest southern sea-lion colony (200,000 at last count), along with colonies of southern fur seals and South America’s tallest lighthouse. The island is protected and can only be visited on an organized tour.

  • Sights in La Paloma

    Laguna de Rocha

    An ecological reserve protected under Uruguay’s SNAP program, this vast and beautiful wetland 10km west of La Paloma has populations of black-necked swans, storks, spoonbills and other waterfowl.