Uruguay is not yet globally known as a tourist destination, but it might be one of the best places to visit for first-time travelers. For one, it’s ideal for those who don’t want crowded landmarks. Secondly, it boasts a wide range of attractions for history buffs, spa-lovers, pilgrims, and even the LGBT community.

This South American country is tourist-friendly, rightly so because it has a lot to offer. It may not be the richest nation in the region, but it sure knows how to flaunt its wealth in surprises. From its Atlantic beaches to the historic towns, Uruguay knows how to wow.

10 The Diversity Of The Capital

Montevideo is among the safest South American cities, so travelers need not worry about anything except enjoying its historic landmarks and iconic attractions. It’s a tourist-friendly town because it’s the country’s financial hub. In Ciudad Vieja, tourists can check out some of the city’s oldest buildings, art galleries, museums, restaurants, and even nightclubs. Another point of interest is the Plaza Independencia, from which travelers can easily locate landmarks such as Palacio Salvo, Solis Theater, and other Art Deco buildings. Montevideo is one lively and lovely town that’s just raring to be explored.

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9 Chasing The Sun In Punta Del Este Is Always Fun

If there’s one thing Uruguay is famous for aside from former president Jose Mujica, it’s Punta del Este. Dubbed the ‘Pearl of the Atlantic,’ this seaside town is the place to be for sunkissed memories. Aside from its inviting beach, other awe-inspiring landmarks dot the town — like the giant sculpture of La Mano. Other scene-stealers are the Santorini-inspired Casapueblo, the circular Puente Garzón bridge, and the iconic Hotel L'Auberge Inicio. In Punta del Este, the shore is the jump-off point of adventures because inland, there are more surprises.

8 There’s A Museum With Interesting Artworks

Lovers of the art should not miss visiting Montevideo’s Museo Torres García. Famous among students because of its theater and library, this place also showcases interesting cubist paintings and unique portraits. The museum was established after the death of Uruguayan artist Joaquin Torres-Garcia. Through the years, it has become an important cultural hub in the country where students and tourists alike can try their hands at creating art all the while appreciating various masterpieces at the center. From local craft to international works, Museo Torres García always delivers.

7 It Has A Classic Football Stadium

In Uruguay, football fans can see the world’s first and to date, the only Historical Monument of World Football recognized by FIFA. It was opened in 1930 in time for the World Cup that year. It remains the country’s source of sports glory and to this day recognized as among the world’s best. It’s a place of history since it was created to commemorate the centenary of the country’s first constitution. The stadium is home to the national Uruguayan team and serves as concert grounds for many international artists. Seeing it first-hand, especially for die-hard football fans, will be one for the books.

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6 Unmatched Natural Wonders

One key natural attraction is Santa Teresa National Park, which protects a forested area and a historic fort. It’s home to more than two million exotic and native trees, making it a thriving habitat for birds, capybaras, lizards, deer, wild boars, and many more. Aside from its beaches, Uruguay is also proud of its lagoons and wetlands. In Cabo Polonio, dunes can be checked out while in Treinta y Tres, Quebrada de Los Cuervos is an ideal birding spot. Ancient rock formations, meanwhile, can also be explored in Palace Cave. Indeed, from its waterways to geological features, Uruguay won’t disappoint.

5 A Wet And Wild Adventure Is Guaranteed

From a mellow paddle to the adrenaline-filled watersports, there’s something for everyone in Uruguay’s splashing destinations. The country’s four main basins are perfect for fishing and cruising. Cabo Polonio, meanwhile, is one big playground for sun-worshippers, with its waves raring to play with surfers. Other surfing spots include Santa Teresa for soloists, Punta del Diablo for beginners, Rocha with its giant waves, and Canelones for those who want to have a side trip to coves. Thanks to the Atlantic Ocean, Uruguay’s waters are always fine.

4 Spa Tourism Is Thriving

Weary travelers who want to have a relaxing dip can have their much-needed rest in Salto or Paysandu. Peace is always at hand in these departments’ thermal resorts, and whichever tourists choose, they’re guaranteed a good time. In Salto Grande Hot Springs, guests can choose from a variety of hydromassage facilities. They even have a wave pool. Guaviyu Springs is another option, and it’s perfect for those who want to cap off their day in a pool after trekking, biking, and sightseeing. Just the thought of that warm water is already relaxing.

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3 Religious Tourism Offers Refuge

For tourists who make sure they visit religious attractions in their travels, Uruguay has vast options for a pilgrimage or just a quick look. One such destination is Calera de las Huérfanas, a Jesuit heritage site that acts as a marker of the past. Tourists can also visit the quiet Grotto of Padre Pio, the colorful Fenocchi Chapel, or the historic cathedrals in any of the departments. When visiting for the Holy Week, pilgrims can take part in traditions like Stations of the Cross in Soriano, Rocha, or Canelones. In Uruguay, a retreat is on every corner.

2 Uruguayan Cuisine Is Tasty

South America is not all about yerba mate. In Uruguay, one famous dish is the parrilla (grill), best combined with wine. The juicy grilled beef will satisfy even those who have already full tummies. For the drink, Uruguayans are proud of their Tannat. Going back to the mate, those visiting Uruguay should try it at least once because when they do so, they’ll ask for more. Dessert lovers, meanwhile, should have their share of dulce de leche. From breakfast to midnight snacks, it’s always yummy in Uruguay.

1 The Culture Is Wonderful

Just like the cuisine, the culture of Uruguay is inspiring. The country has a rich past, evident in its various destinations. But what makes the country even more special is its inviting traditions like the lively carnival, the aromatic winery scene, and tango, listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, alongside candombe. Theaters also thrive in the country, with at least 70 of them entertaining crowds. Aside from the usual museums, historic neighborhoods, religious sites, and cultural centers, what makes Uruguay unique is its people: welcoming, all smiles, and ready to be anyone’s friends.