WEDGED BETWEEN ARGENTINA AND BRAZIL along Rio de la Plata’s Atlantic waters, Montevideo may be small, but it remains one of the most sophisticated and progressive capital cities in South America. Locals take pride in their city’s cleanliness, quality of life and vibrant culture. Many spend their mornings and afternoons in-line skating, jogging or lifting weights along the city’s 17-mile-long seafront esplanade before gathering for cortados and dulce de leche pastries during a 5 p.m. merienda (Uruguayan afternoon tea/snack).
“Uruguay is an incredible country with a wide range of options for honeymooners, family trips, friends’ trips but also solo travelers,” explains Diana Wrangham, Uruguay travel expert, Black Tomato. “The countryside that surrounds Montevideo is a destination in itself, boasting rolling plains and [a] wide range of wineries, while Montevideo houses many of the most beautiful and well-kept buildings of Latin America, including Palacio Salvo and Cerrito de la Victoria.”
Uruguay can also boast about its environmental policies. In less than 10 years, the country slashed its carbon footprint and lowered electricity costs without government subsidies. Renewables now provide 94.5 percent of the country’s electricity.
Rated as one of the most literate countries in South America, Uruguay’s low crime rate and corruption-free government cultivate a capital city in which creative energy thrives. Montevideo houses countless art galleries such as Museo Torres García, Museo Gurvichand Espacio de Arte Contemporaneo, but it’s the culinary arts that now flavor the city with creativity.
Nearly every culinary tour includes a visit to one of Francis Mallmann-protégé Chef Lucia Soria’s market-driven restaurants, Jacinto Café and Restaurant and Pizzeria Rosa. However, the offerings from Bueme’s Travel take visitors behind the scenes to explore the colorful markets and even meet the makers themselves with hands-on charcuterie workshops, wine blending sessions and cooking classes with Montevideo residents.
Montevideans celebrate their rich gaucho heritage daily, cooking hearty cuts of grass-fed steaks over urban asado grills and pairing them with heavy pours of local Tannat wine. Visitors can get the true gaucho experience with Lares Tours. The local company pioneered active and experiential tourism in Uruguay, offering tours on horseback, bicycle and paddle boards, along with a wide range of specialty tours focused on everything from family-friendly activities to birding. Consider its self-driving tour of Montevideo and the surrounding areas for a great way to take in the city’s natural beauty at your own pace.