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Sunset in Montevideo

Best of Uruguay Self-Drive

Example 13 Day Tour
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Explore the highlights of Uruguay during this 13-day self-drive tour. Begin the 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 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 picturesque winery filled hillsides before heading south to the beaches of Jose Ignacio for the final days on the Uruguayan adventure.
South American food and wineCobblestone street in Colonia del SacramentoVineyard in UruguayCasapueblo in Punta del Este, UruguayCoast of MontevideoSunset in Montevideo
Highlights
  • 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
Places Visited
Activity Level: Relaxed
Involves minimal physical effort and is typically associated with leisurely activities. Activities are low-intensity or last less than a few hours each day.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Arrive Colonia | Walking Tour

Arrival and Transport from Colonia Port to Hotel in the Historic Quarter with Guide (Private Service).

Experience a private transfer accompanied by a guide from CYR Port to your hotel located in The Old Town. Engage in a Half Day Walking Tour featuring visits to museums and a tasting of mate (Private Service). Immerse yourself in the exploration of Colonia del Sacramento, a city designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Founded by the Portuguese and subject to prolonged disputes between the Spanish and Portuguese crowns, the enchanting history of Colonia remains undiminished. Roam the picturesque cobblestone pathways under the guidance of a local expert and uncover various landmarks including the ancient city gate (Portón de Campo), the historically significant Calle de los Suspiros (Street of Sighs), delightful plazas, and the local church known as Iglesia Matriz. This experience also incorporates mate tasting and admission tickets to local museums. Conclude with lunch at Charco Bistró.

Day 2: Bodega El Quinton | La Vigna Cheese Farm

This morning your rental car is delivered to your hotel. 

Join the guide for a drive to Bodega El Quinton, where an experience of a tour through the vineyards and olive plantations awaits, followed by a session of wine and olive oil tasting. Afterward, continue the journey to La Vigna Cheese Farm. Here, insights into the process of local cheese production await, along with the opportunity to sample some of the finest cheese varieties in the region, all under the guidance of the "Cheese Architect." Agustin and Lucila, proprietors of La Vigna, have established a uniquely special establishment driven by principles of sustainability and organic practices. There lies the chance to savor some of the most delightful and inventive cheeses. A suggested option is to consider a cheese-tasting lunch at La Vigna (cost not included).

Day 3: Carmelo | Winery Tours

Meet your guide and embark on a journey from Colonia del Sacramento to Carmelo.

Visit "La Calera de las Huérfanas" National Monument, located about 70 km/43.5 mi away and estimated to take 55 minutes by route. During the XVIII century, the Jesuits established themselves in this northern region of Uruguay's Colonia Province, constructing buildings in 1741 for their mission. This site served as a gathering place for Indians, slaves, and priests. Following the Jesuits' expulsion by the Spanish crown, Don Juan de San Martín took over the estate and discovered 1500 grapevines, marking Uruguay's wine production inception.

Afterward, engage in a Carmelo Wineries Tour, including tastings and lunch. You'll visit two Carmelo wineries:
  1. Bodega El Legado, is a family-owned winery with a unique approach to winemaking. Founded when Bernardo Marzuca and family reclaimed ancestral vineyards, they now cultivate exclusive fine wines using a wire-free vertical cord system for the vines. The guided winery tour covers vineyards, cellars, and production areas, culminating in a three-wine tasting paired with cheeses, salamis, and olives.
  2. Bodega Cordano, is a family-run winery led by Ana Paula Cordano and her spouse, representing the fifth generation. The visit includes guided tours of production spaces, vineyards, and a vintage grocery store, "Almacén de la Capilla," founded in 1855 by Antonio Cordano. The experience concludes with a three-premier wine tasting and a homemade lunch.
Return to your hotel afterward.

Day 4: Puerto Camacho | Rio de la Plata Sunset Cruise

You have the morning to enjoy your hotel at your leisure.

Later in the afternoon, drive to Puerto Camacho for a special activity:
Embark on a Rio de la Plata Sunset Cruise (approximately 1.5 hours). This serene journey takes you through the islands of the Delta, where the waters of Río de la Plata and Rio Uruguay converge – known as the meeting point or "kilometer 0" of both rivers. The excursion begins just before sunset at the secluded Club del Faro marina, where you'll board a classic boat guided by a captain. Along the way, discover legends of the Uruguayan coasts, and raise a toast to a sunset. Departure times are Winter: 16:00hs (4:00 PM) and Summer: 19:00hs (7:00 PM).

Consider having dinner at Basta Pedro, situated at the Marina (cost not included).
 

Day 5: Montevideo Old City Walking Tour

Drive independently from Carmelo to Montevideo.

Upon arrival in Montevideo, store your luggage at the hotel and enjoy a satisfying lunch at the Port Market.

Afterward, join your local guide for a Montevideo Walking Tour of the Old City (Private Half Day Tour with Guide). Discover the heart of Montevideo's history as you begin from your hotel and head to Independence Square, where the former town gate stands. Explore nearby landmarks like Palacio Salvo, the Presidential office, and the mausoleum honoring national hero José Artigas. Navigate the historic city center, strolling along the Sarandi pedestrian area and reaching Matriz Square, home to the Cathedral of Montevideo and the town's Cabildo.

Continuing through the historic streets, you'll reach the vibrant Port Market, a bustling hub hosting diverse restaurants and traditional Asado Grills for a leisurely lunch. Along the way, seize the chance to visit two museums, selected based on your preferences and their opening hours. Options encompass the MAPI – Museum of Pre-Columbian and Indigenous Art, the Torres Garcia Museum, and the Gurvich Museum, which spotlights their eponymous artists (kindly communicate your preferences beforehand). Note that the Gurvich Museum is closed on Sundays. Keep in mind that the tour's sequence might also commence from the Port Market, and museum and theater visits hinge on their operational hours.

As the tour concludes, you'll be transported back to your hotel.

Day 6: La Ciudad Nueva | Montevideo New City Tour

Meet your local guide for a distinctive Modern Montevideo Tour, including a visit to Lobo Nuñez's studio.

Explore Montevideo's diverse neighborhoods that prospered after demolishing the Old City Walls in 1829. La Ciudad Nueva (the new city), in contrast to the Old City, boasts wide tree-lined streets, upscale shops, and residences. Starting from Plaza Independencia, observe a city oriented towards the future, marked by varying-height buildings and styles, and the origin of the main avenue, 18 de Julio. Nearby, experience Plaza Fabini or "Plaza del Entrevero," featuring José Belloni's striking sculpture depicting a battle between early Spanish settlers and natives. From here, glimpse the opulent Palacio Legislativo (Congress), a multi-colored marble marvel. The excursion proceeds to the "Ciudad Abierta" (open city), a Montevideo area transformed into lush parks, iconic monuments, and residences. Notable sights encompass the famed "Estadio Centenario," the Monumento a la Carreta, and the residential areas of Carrasco and Punta Gorda.

In addition, explore Lobo Nuñez's studio—a masterful Afro-Uruguayan drums luthier and percussionist acclaimed as a "legend" in Uruguayan Candombe music. Discover the origins of the Uruguayan Carnival, tracing back to 1760 when slaves were permitted to celebrate on specific occasions. This encounter immerses you in the captivating world of Uruguayan drums.

Day 7: Pueblo Eden Olive Oil & Winery Tour

Travel independently from Montevideo to Sacromonte, situated near Pueblo Edén.

En route, take a pause at Olivos de las Animas' olive plantations, where you'll gain insights into the production of extra virgin olive oil and savor a tasting session accompanied by lunch.

Upon arrival at Sacromonte, relish a Welcome wine tasting experience atop the hill, offering panoramic views of the "Sierras de Caracoles" hills. This experience encompasses a tasting of 3 wines and champagne.

Day 8: Pueblo Eden and Viña Eden Hike

Today, trek between Pueblo Eden and Viña Eden with an experienced guide.

Your journey kicks off with transportation to Pueblo Eden, where you'll have the chance to explore the chapel and main square of the town. The hike begins along a local trail that's commonly used by locals to connect different ranches in the area. As you make your way, you'll encounter "porteras" (countryside gates), native trees, vast prairies populated by cows and sheep, and a gentle stream. This path will unveil a picturesque landscape characterized by slopes and rolling hills. Once you've covered around 8 kilometers, the hike will conclude, and you'll proceed to the Viña Eden winery for a well-deserved lunch break. During this time, you can enjoy the scenic beauty of the vineyards (note that the cost of lunch is not included).

Day 9: Punta del Este City Tour

Drive independently from Sacromonte to Punta Del Este.

Meet up with your local guide for a Punta del Este City Tour (Half Day).

Punta Del Este stands out as one of South America’s most luxurious resorts. During the tour, you'll encounter numerous beaches, elegant coastal residences, high-rise apartments, upscale hotels, and chic dining establishments. The excursion will guide you through Punta Del Este's highlights, including the Main Avenue, Juan Gorlero, the artisans market, the yacht port, Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria church, the lighthouse, beaches, and residential areas like Golf, San Rafael, Beverly Hills, Rincón Del Indio, and Cantegril. A drive over the undulating bridge to La Barra reveals its surfer-favored beaches, vibrant houses, an abundance of restaurants, and a more relaxed ambiance. The journey includes a stop in Punta Ballena, where you'll encounter Casapueblo – a distinctive and eccentric structure crafted by renowned Uruguayan artist Carlos Páez Vilaró (entrance fee included). Here, you'll be treated to breathtaking ocean vistas and a remarkable sunset.

Day 10: Uruguayan Tuscany Tour

Travel to Bodega Garzón for a Tour with Lunch and Tasting:

Embark on a journey to Garzon, often referred to as the "Uruguayan Tuscany." The excursion commences with a visit to the tranquil town of Garzon, where you'll pause at the central square, chapel, and train station. From there, proceed to Garzon Winery for a comprehensive visit that includes both tasting and lunch. Perched atop a rocky elevation, the winery affords spectacular vistas of vineyards clinging to the hillside, nurtured by mineral-rich, well-draining soils that yield top-notch grapes. After enjoying lunch, you'll be transferred back to your hotel.

Day 11: Cabo Polonio Hiking Tour

Travel to Cabo Polonio to rendezvous with your local guide for the Cabo Polonio Hiking Tour.

Begin your day with a drive to the quaint Village of Valizas. From there, embark on a sand-dune journey to the village of Cabo Polonio, going barefoot through the dunes. In Cabo Polonio, you'll have the opportunity to witness one of the largest sea lion colonies in South America. Secluded from nearby towns by expansive sand dunes, the village maintains its unique charm and character. This captivating three-hour trek will transport you from the heart of the desert to offering awe-inspiring vistas of the Atlantic Ocean. The expedition encompasses visits to the lighthouse and a sea lion reserve.

Following this, proceed with a 4x4 monster truck ride out of the village before returning to your hotel.

Day 12: Horseback Ride to the Beach

Drive to the equestrian facility for a Horseback Ride to the Beach.

During this ride, you'll traverse various local estancias and eventually arrive at the sandy shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Journeying through the countryside via these trails, you'll have opportunities to encounter indigenous wildlife like capybaras, Ñandúes (American Rheas), armadillos, and local deer. After making your way through a pine tree forest, the route leads to the beach's sand dunes. Here, you'll relish the liberating sensation of riding along the shoreline in sync with the waves. As you take in the breathtaking vista of stretching dunes and the ocean, the ride continues until you arrive at the western arm of Laguna Garzon. This adventure presents an unforgettable encounter against the backdrop of Uruguay's most captivating scenery.

Day 13: Transfer to Montevideo

Transfer to Montevideo’s Airport / Port. 

Accommodations

Finca Narbona

Finca Narbona
Finca Narbona
Finca Narbona

Charco Hotel

Alma Historica

Sacromonte Landscape Hotel Punta del Este

Bahía Vik

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$6,692 2-3 travelers

Notes

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Included
  • 12 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
  • 12 Nights Accommodations
  • 6 Days Locally Hosted Guide Service
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
Excluded
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)

Map

When to Go

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
Chance for unpredictable weather but with fewer visitors.

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This was my first experience with Adventure Life - and I couldn't have been more pleased with the trip. The guides and local staff in both Buenos Aires and Uruguay were terrific - extremely helpful and accommodating. I really enjoyed meeting the friendly staff in Buenos Aires in person (I left my bags with them for the afternoon).
Karen Snider

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