Why Uruguay is Top of Our 2022 Travel List

Sandwiched between Argentina and Brazil, less-explored Uruguay is at the top of our 2022 travel hit-list. Here’s why it should be high on yours, too.

Often overlooked by travellers making their way straight for Argentina or Brazil, Uruguay is an off-the-radar travel destination for most Europeans, despite its familiar-looking landscape. With an economy largely based around agriculture, the country is nicknamed "the Switzerland of South America" for its rolling hills and pea-green pastures. Look beyond its verdant farmland, though, and you'll be met with thumping nightlife, clean-as-they-come beaches and a sizzling culinary scene. Just get there before everyone else does.

Five reasons to visit Uruguay now


1. Its coastline is pristine and (genuinely) untouched

"Untouched" might just be the most flexibly used word in modern travel writing but, in the case of Uruguay's coastline, it is appropriately employed. One of the least-populated shores in the world, the country's entire south-east coast is laced with pristine beaches that are empty for 10 months of the year. Coastal towns range from hippie hideaways like Rocha, near the Brazilian border, to pounding Punta del Este - dancefloor to South America's starry elite - and José Ignacio, a chilled-out fishing village that's home to Posada Ayana, an artist's retreat we've earmarked as our favourite waterfront bolthole-to-book.


2. You can party from dusk till dawn

Uruguay might be known for its laid-back vibe, but head to its big cities and you'll find late-night restaurants, glamorous partygoers and myriad reasons to stay up late. A magnet for the country's most up-and-at-it crowd, Montevideo offers every flavour of nighttime haunt, from old-school bars and cocktail joints to Irish pubs and big-beat clubs. Once you've maxed out on the capital's evening escapades, head east to party-till-you-drop Punta del Este, where trendy types let off steam on the beach to the beat of big-name international DJs.


3. Locals are friendly, and their love for their country is infectious

South America's high crime rates are no secret but, fortunately, Uruguay hasn't been tarred with the same brush. As the safest country on the continent and the 35th most peaceful place in the world, according to the Global World Peace Index, it is home to some of the most welcoming locals we've ever met. Most citizens' love for their country means that if you stop to ask for direction, they'll happily show you around town themselves. There's a well-preserved historic quarter in almost every city, so there'll be plenty for you to be shown. Plus, the way things roll in Uruguay, you may well wind up at a bar with your newfound local friend that evening.


4. You’ll be in prime barbecue country

Although Argentina tends to steal the global limelight on the steak front, its Uruguayan neighbours take the sport of barbecuing just as seriously. One of the world's most important beef exporters, the country's abundance of lush green pastures means that grass-fed cattle is the norm, and steak sandwiches the usual order of the day. Barbecues are so integral to Uruguay's identity, in fact, that in 2015 the country's most significant meat-packing quarter, the Fray Bentos Industrial Landscape, received Unesco Industrial Heritage status.

5. You’ll return with a sense of inner peace

We've said it once and we'll say it again, mindful travel is the next big thing. For the uninitiated, that means embarking on adventures that go deeper than your average wellbeing trip and fast-track you to a place of inner stillness, usually through nature. Uruguay is known for its slow-as-you-go pace and outstanding natural beauty, with scores of remote spots to find yourself in, so it's no surprise we're calling it out as mindful travel's hot-ticket destination for 2022. Prepare for peace and quiet like you've never known before.

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