Click the dots on the map above to view pictures I have taken in these locations.
I did not have a whole lot of time to spend in Uruguay but enough to give an impression. I originally had no intentions of going to the country. But after I realize it was a simple one-hour ferry ride from Buenos Aires, I decided to give it a shot.
Uruguay is a relatively expensive country. In all of my travels in South America, this was the most expensive country. A cheap meal in a restaurant will cost at least $7 USD, and the cheapest hostel I could find in Montevideo was $22 USD per night. That’s a huge jump from the $5 USD I was paying in Bolivia and even the $12 USD in Buenos Aires. This is important to point out because, as a frugal traveler, it’s important to pick your spots based on value.
The ferry from Buenos Aires lands in Colonia Del Sacramento, a beautiful little town hosting a well-kept downtown with cobblestone streets, nice restaurants, and picturesque views off into the waters of the Rio de la Plata. Colonia is perfect for a day-trip. The old town is small enough to see everything in a day, and it’s stunning looks will keep you wanting more throughout the day. The problem with a place like this, for a solo traveler like me, is there isn’t so much do to and not enough people around to keep me occupied. Solo travelers typically like to meet other people, and a small town like this without any hostels, makes it a difficult task. However, I’m extremely happy with the sunset over the water in the clear-blue sky!
After Colonia, I bused to Montevideo and spent a few days there. Montevideo is one of the few capital cities I’ve ever seen with nice beaches. Because it was mid-summer there and temperatures were reaching the high 90s F (33 C), I spent a full day there with people I had met at the hostel. Being from Iowa, I thought the beaches were fantastic. But others who are used to more beaches thought they were just “okay”.
A fun, cheap activity in Montevideo is to rent a bicycle and ride along the paths near the beaches. If you ride on paths on a hot, you’ll see the beaches fill up with locals drinking maté. The bike leads from beach to beach, from the more crowded to the more tranquil, so it’s easy to spend an entire day exploring on bicycle.
To be honest, Montevideo isn’t the easiest on the eyes. The old-town hosts some beautiful Spanish colonial architecture, but overall the buildings just aren’t that beautiful.
One thing I was surprised about in Montevideo is the use of horses for transportation and hauling stuff. It wasn’t around every street corner, but it’s not unusual to see a horse hauling a small carriage or trailer, transporting different goods. I had never seen this before, so it was quite interesting to see.
Unfortunately, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time in Uruguay. I had a good time there, but I can’t saying I’m dying to go back. I know there is more to offer than what I saw. I won’t say that I will never go back, but it’s not at the top of my list.
Uruguay Frugal Travel Tips
- Rent a bicycle in Montevideo. It’s cheap and will provide a whole new way of exploration.
- Spend a day in Colonia. Buy your lunch from a small shop or find a restaurant with a special. Restaurants are generally expensive but it’s possible to find a good deal.