From Colonia’s tree-shaded cobblestone streets to the hot springs of Salto, the slow-paced river towns of western Uruguay have a universally relaxing appeal, with just enough urban attractions to keep things interesting. Here, the border with Argentina is defined by the Río de la Plata and the Río Uruguay, and the region is commonly referred to as el litoral (the shore).

Further inland you’ll find the heart of what some consider the ‘real’ Uruguay – the gaucho country around Tacuarembó, with estancias sprinkled throughout the rural landscape and some beautiful, rarely visited nature preserves.