Explore the highlights of Uruguay during this 11-day self-drive tour. Begin your journey in the romantic city of Colonia del Sacramento, explore the charming cobblestone streets and learn about the Portuguese and Spanish influence. Drive northwest along the coast where you will spend two days in the Carmelo region, enjoy a sunset cruise on the Uruguay River, visit wineries and Jesuit Ruins. Head to Uruguay's capital, Montevideo for a taste of both the historic city center and the La Ciudad Nueva's tree-lined streets and modern shops. Spend two days in the Puerto Eden region overlooking the picturesque winery filled hillsides before heading south to the beaches of Jose Ignacio for your final days on your Uruguayan adventure.
Visit multiple local wineries and taste their fantastic Uruguayan wines
Explore Montevideo both 'La Ciudad Nueva' and the Old City
Relax on the beaches of Jose Ignacio
Taste traditional mate and walk the cobbled streets of old town Colonia
Arrive in “Colonia Del Sacramento” and transfer to your hotel, located in the city's Old Town district. Meet your guide for a walking tour to explore the city, declared a World Heritage by UNESCO. Founded by the Portuguese and disputed for years by the crowns of both Spain and Portugal, Colonia´s magical history remains intact. Walk along the charming cobbled streets and discover the different sites such as the old city gate (Porton de Campo), the historical road Calle de Los Suspiros (Street of Sighs), the lovely squares, and the local church Iglesia Matriz. Take a break and enjoy a mate tasting before returning to your hotel.
Day 2: Carmelo | Puerto Camacho Sunset Cruise
This morning your rental car is delivered to your hotel. Drive from Colonia del Sacramento to Carmelo (without your guide).
Along the way, stop for an optional visit of Calera las Huérfanas National Monument (estimated distance: 70 km/43.5 mi - one hour en route). During the XVIII century, the Jesuits settled in the north of the Province of Colonia in Uruguay, where they continued their mission and built the first buildings in 1741. This is where Indians, slaves, and priests would gather. After the Jesuits were expelled by the Spanish crown, Don Juan de San Martín took the administration of the estancia and planted 1500 stocks of the grapevine; this is how wine production was born in Uruguay.
This afternoon, drive to Puerto Camacho where you will embark on the Rio de la Plata Sunset Cruise (approximately 1.5 hours). Board the classic boat just before sunset and enjoy a relaxing tour sailing through the islands of the Delta, where the waters of Río de la Plata and Rio Uruguay meet; this spot is considered to be “kilometer 0” of both rivers. Discover the legends of the Uruguayan coasts and their shipwrecks and toast to an amazing sunset!
Day 3: Jesuit Ruins Tour & Winery Visit
1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
After breakfast, meet your guide for the Tour Jesuit Ruins & Carmelo's Wineries. Tour two wineries of Carmelo’s region. Bodega Cordano is a small family-run winery led by Ana Paula Cordano, a 5th general win maker, and her family. Discover the “Almacén de la Capilla”, a vintage grocery shop founded in 1855 by Antonio Cordano. Tour the production areas and enjoy a beautiful walk through the vineyards and a wine tasting. You will feel like you traveled back through time.
Next, tour Bodega El Legado, a boutique family-owned winery. The winery’s name, meaning “Legacy,” was Luis Mazurka, who bought the land and planted the first grapevines. Bodega El Legado refers to the material legacy and the Legacy of passing toward the new generations, the passion of the work, and the love for the land. Enjoy a wine tasting and a typical "Asado" lunch (the traditional Uruguayan barbecue).
Drive from Carmelo to Montevideo, where you meet with your local guide for a Montevideo Walking Tour of the Old City. Discover the historic city center of Montevideo in depth. Learn about the history of the buildings, including the landmark Palacio Salvo, the President´s office, and the mausoleum of national hero José Artigas. Stroll along the Sarandi pedestrian area, and walk through to the Matriz Square, where the Cathedral of Montevideo and the town´s Cabildo are located. Continue through the streets of the historic city center until arriving at the Port Market, a vibrant market hall with a wide variety of restaurants and typical Asado Grills. A perfect spot to enjoy lunch.
Tour your choice of two museums: the MAPI – Museum of Pre-Columbian and Indigenous Art, the Torres Garcia Museum, and the Gurvich Museum, mainly dedicated to their eponymous artists. After finishing your tour, be taken back to your hotel.
Please note the tour order is subject to the opening/closing times of the museums. Your choice of museums should be communicated in advance.
After breakfast, meet your local guide for a tour of modern Montevideo. Enjoy a time in Montevideo's different neighborhoods, which started developing after the demolition of the Old City Walls in 1829. Unlike the Old City, La Ciudad Nueva (the new city) was planned with wide and tree-lined streets, with magnificent stores and residences. From the Plaza Independencia, admire the surrounding buildings of different heights and styles, defining it as a city facing the future. A few blocks away, visit the Plaza Fabini or “Plaza del Entrevero," with a magnificent sculpture of a horse battle between the first Spanish settlers and the native inhabitants, a masterpiece of the Uruguayan artist José Belloni. Continue onto the “Ciudad Abierta” (the open city), the area of Montevideo, which gradually grew into an empty city of green parks, famous monuments, and residential areas. See the famous “Estadio Centenario”, Monumento a la Carreta and the residential area of Carrasco and Punta Gorda. You will also visit the studio of Lobo Nuñez, an Afro-Uruguayan drums luthier and percussionist considered a “legend” within the Uruguayan Candombe music genre. Learn about the first signs of Carnival in Uruguay traced back to 1760, when slaves were only allowed to celebrate on specific special dates. This is a memorable cultural encounter that will give you insider access to the secret world of the Uruguayan drums!
Day 6: Drive from Montevideo to Sacromonte
1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
Today, drive from Montevideo to Sacromonte, near to Pueblo Edén (without a guide). Upon arrival, enjoy a welcome wine tasting on top of the hill, overlooking the hills of the “Sierras de Caracoles” with champagne and lunch.
Day 7: Pueblo Eden Olive Oil & Winery Tour
1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
This morning, your guide picks you up at your hotel for a day tour of Pueblo Eden. The day begins at an olive oil plantation where you learn about the olive oil production in Uruguay and enjoy a tasting. Continue to Viña Eden, located on the rocky outcrops of Pueblo Eden. On this prime spot, the climate of the hills and freshness of the Atlantic ocean create a unique wine-growing microclimate. Enjoy a tasting of the Eden Wines, including a Chardonnay, a typical Tannat Reserva, and the Cerro Negro wine. Hectares of olive trees and vineyards surround the village, making this region known as the "Uruguayan Tuscany." Continue onto Altos de la Ballena Winery, where you will enjoy a lovely picnic lunch overlooking the vineyards.
Drive from Sacramonte to Punta del Este, where you meet your local guide for a half-day Punta del Este city tour. Punta del Este is one of South America’s most glamorous resort towns. You will be able to see many beaches, elegant seaside homes, high-rise apartment buildings, luxury hotels, and glitzy restaurants. The tour will take you through Punta del Este’s attractions: the main Avenue, Juan Gorlero, the artisans market, the yacht's port, the church Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, the lighthouse, the beaches, and the residential neighborhoods of Golf, San Rafael, Beverly Hills, Rincón del Indio, and Cantegril. Drive over the undulated bridge to La Barra with its beaches chosen by surfers, colorful houses, many restaurants, and a more relaxed atmosphere. Stop in Punta Ballena, where you will see Casapueblo, a unique and quirky building constructed by the famous Uruguayan artist Carlos Paez Vilaró. Here you can see stunning views of the ocean and a spectacular sunset.
This morning after breakfast, drive approximately 45 minutes to Bodega Garzón for a winery tour. Enjoy a beautiful view of the vineyards, learn about their terroir and the strains they develop, visit the winery and learn more about the production processes while tasting 3 of their Estate wines during the tour. Enjoy a four-course lunch at the Bodega Garzon Restaurant while taking in the stunning view of the countryside, the hills, and the vineyard.
Kate was great to work with in the planning stage. She was prompt, helpful, and efficient. Our tour guide, Edwin, was knowledgeable and passionate. We were very happy to have traveled with Adventure Life, it made the trip easy and a true pleasure. We could concentrate on enjoying the experience rather than the details of travel.