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.