When you think about traveling south of the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll find a small country in South America with beautiful coastline beaches, tender beef, and a sense of home.
Still, it’s not Brazil, Argentina, or Peru – it’s Uruguay. And if you’re wondering why the name looks foreign, that’s because it is. Uruguay comes from the Guarani translation “river of painted birds.”
Guarani culture predates Spanish and Portuguese 17th-century colonization and makes its presence known in 21st-century Uruguay culture in many ways.
So much so that despite its Spanish-speaking heritage, you can find variations of yerba mate, basket weaving, feathery ornaments, and wood carving just about anywhere.
However, the blend of Guarani, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, British, Argentine, and Brazilian forces shape Uruguay into one of the unique welcoming travel destinations.
Why You Should Visit Uruguay
Uruguay welcomes everyone – surfers have no problem finding the best wave at Punta del Este and San Bernardo de Rocha. Wine lovers always manage to pair their favorite varieties with delicious local South American BBQs.
And the country charms visitors with its deep historical attractions like Carnival, vibrant nightlife, and sweet escapes into Laguna Garzon.
Aside from the plethora of small country attractions, the weather is excellent. Uruguay experiences all-season subtropical climate temperatures. That means the three months of summer are warm and humid from December to March.
And the winters are chilly, wet, breezy, and partly cloudy from May to August, with July taking the prize as the coldest month of the year. And the South Carolina-like climate isn’t the best part of Uruguay. The best part is the people. Uruguay is clean, safe, and friendly.
Overall Best Time to Visit Uruguay
Hands down, the best time to visit Uruguay is during the country’s summer season. The temperatures seem just right – hot, dry, and bright blue skies.
That means you’ll want to book your travels between December and February. However, January is known for being the warmest month of the year and attracts thunderstorms and midday sunburn.
Everything you love about the coastal lifestyle, such as surfing, windsurfing, sailing, and tanning on the beach, you’ll quickly find in Uruguay.
You’ll also find Santa Teresa National Park with moderately easy hiking trails, wildlife, and the Fortress of Santa Teresa – where Uruguay fought to win independence against conquering nations.
In addition, you’ll have the option to tour the land of Spanish and Portuguese conflict blended to form the historic quarter of Colonia del Sacramento. Or travel back in time, north of Tacuarembo, to the origins of gaucho culture and basque in the birthplace of the tango phenomenon Carlos Gardel.
Whatever you choose, the best time to receive Uruguay with wide open arms is during its summer months when the tourist season is booming, and the weather is a little more than perfect.
Cheapest Time to Visit Uruguay
When you’re on a budget and looking for the cheapest time to visit Uruguay from the United States, check out March. March sits in Uruguay’s autumn season.
That means the summer temperatures are simmering into cool, warm overcasts and the quiet side of the end of the busy tourist season. And if you love wine, autumn is the most captivating time of the year.
At the end of the summer, the country begins harvesting its finest grapes in preparation for wine festivals and underground events at vineyards across the country that only the locals usually get to indulge in.
However, it is essential to remember that there is no such thing as a cheap visit.
When budgeting for your vacation to Uruguay, it is best to budget in the same way that you would be traveling to places like Argentina or the United States: transportation, food, accommodation, entertainment, and miscellaneous expenses in case of emergency.
The cheapest way to travel to Uruguay is in March. However, if you plan on traveling during the country’s off-season, you can expect its cities to look like ghost towns, like most cities that make most of their money from tourism.
In addition, you can save money by drinking tap water instead of buying water and cooking your food – Uruguay has safe tap water to drink from, and the produce is fresh. For cheap travel, you can opt for prepaid public transportation packages.
However, the bus is an accessible mode of transportation in Uruguay, is relatively safe for foreign travel, and is quite easy if you have a map and a little Spanish in your pocket.
And minibusses are perfect in small coastal towns. However, for quick trips around town, it is easier to hop in a taxi or rideshare service like uber.
Least Busy Time to Visit Uruguay
If crowds of tourists aren’t your thing, go to Uruguay in November. November marks the end of the spring season when the temperatures become warmer, and the salty coastal breeze makes its way to the land.
And the best part – most of the tourists and locals don’t seek out the beach until Summer begins, starting in December. November is lowkey boasting of wildlife and good food. Wildlife prowls near the largest coastal lagoon, The Laguna Negra or Laguna de Los Difuntos.
This rainwater-fed lagoon stretches over 17,500 hectares and 7 meters deep of peat that colors the lagoon black. You can birdwatch, kayak, and hike around the lagoon’s marshy meadows and rolling plains.
Other bodies of water that are worth visiting before the tourists arrive include:
- The Bay of Montevideo – This is the bay that surrounds the beautiful resorts of Montevideo.
- Rio de la Plata is a body of water where the water meets the Atlantic ocean between Argentina and Uruguay. You can access this body of water from De Los Pocitos Beach.
- The Guarani Aquifer is the second-largest underground reservoir in the world, feeding Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. You can visit the aquifer at Las termas de salto Grande.
But you’ll probably be hungry after you’ve toured each beautiful water landmark. And the least busy time to food-tour Uruguay is in November. Unfortunately, Uruguay’s food tours are not vegan or vegetarian-friendly.
Still, The food is quite deliciously meat heavy. So if you love barbecued beef, pork, or lamb, also known as Asado, you’ll feel right at home.
Remember how friendly and accommodating Uruguay can be? Although the meat menu is long and winded, vegetarians can opt for eggplant, bell peppers, cheese, and other vegetarian combos per request with ease.
While you’re there, you must try:
- The country staple multi-layered Chivito sandwich – think beef, ham, bacon, fried egg, olives, and more.
- Milanesa, it’s a Wiener Schnitzel the Uruguay way
- Choripan is a chorizo sausage grilled on top of chimichurri, onions, tomatoes, and a baguette.
And the list continues. November is the best time of the year to visit Uruguay when you want the wild unknown and delicious food at your fingertips without waiting in a long line of tourists.
Worst Time to Visit Uruguay
Fortunately, there is no such thing as the worst time to visit Uruguay. The temperature rarely fluctuates between scorching hot desert weather and extreme tundra winter months.
Instead, its coastal geography keeps the country at a steady temperature year-round. Think island life without being on the island.
There is no hurricane season to worry about; the last major earthquake was on a Sunday, June 26, 1988, with a magnitude of 5.1 in the upper Rio de la Plata. And tropical diseases like malaria, dengue, and yellow fever do not pose risk to the country.
However, skip the rainy season from October to April if you’re trying to stay dry. But bring your raincoat just in case. Uruguay can undergo heavy rains, flooding rivers, thunderstorms, and strong winds or pamperos at any time of the year.
Things to Consider
At this point, you’re probably excited to book your ticket to Uruguay, but before you do, take a few safe traveling notes:
- Be familiar with Uruguay’s currency, the Uruguayan peso (UR$). And be mindful when you’re getting cash from the ATM. It is better to acquire your money from an ATM at a bank than a street ATM.
- Pickpockets, car break-ins, and car and home robberies towards tourists that locals may perceive worth stealing are not uncommon.
- Avoid dangerous neighborhoods in Montevideo – the capital of Uruguay.
- If you’re nomadic, remember to pack your pharmacy kit that includes ear and eye drops, bandaids, gaze, alcohol, antibiotic ointment, mosquito repellent, and ear plugs.
Otherwise, you should also consider letting loose and having fun. Uruguay is one of the safest countries in Latin America for men, women, and LGBTQ+ that live and travel there.
In addition, speaking English is expected in tourist areas, so it would be wise to consider learning Spanish. Spanish, especially the Spanish dialect Rioplatense, is the official language spoken in Uruguay.
And since the 1870s, various Italian, Portuguese, and Brazilian dialects have influenced the country. But, only a tiny portion of the native population speaks English.
Useful phrases that you can use to help you connect with locals in Uruguay are:
- Dónde Está? Meaning: where is?
- Permiso means ‘excuse me,’ and perdon means ‘excuse me, my apologies, or can I have some help
- If you’re looking for an English speaker, ask: Halas ingles
- When you can’t find the right words, ‘No hablo castellano.’
However, if learning Spanish seems overwhelming, stay near cities where English is more common, and you’ll get around just fine. For example, Uruguay is one of Latin America’s friendliest countries.
Frequently Asked Questions
Haven’t you booked your flight yet? Then, check out these frequently asked questions before adding Uruguay to your itinerary:
Is Uruguay good for tourists?
Uruguay is generally considered the safest country in South America for tourists and locals alike. However, be cautious of crime as you would in any other country. Theft, petty, and violent crimes tend to occur in urban and suburban areas where foreigners usually stand out.
However, foreigners should purchase travel insurance to help lighten the load of unexpected emergencies, such as medical emergencies caused by tropical diseases and bacteria, adventure-related injuries, natural disasters, and unexpected crime.
What are Uruguay’s three main tourist destinations?
When in Uruguay, you should visit the capital Montevideo from February to March, the Famous beach resort of Punta Del Este, nestled on the east coast of Uruguay. And the Countryside is rich with cattle and sheep ranches, vineyards, and rolling plains.
How many days should you spend in Uruguay?
Although Uruguay is a small country, you should spend at least seven days in the summer to get the most out of the trip.
So, When Is the Best Time to Visit Uruguay?
The best time to see Uruguay is in the beautiful southern hemisphere summer months between October and March.
Although you’ll have to share with another tourist, the summer is the northern hemisphere’s perfect winter getaway into warmer weather, great food, wonderful people, and a fascinating country. Happy travels!