Best of Uruguay: A Luxury Vacation from the Vines to the Beach

Hugged by Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay often finds itself shying away from the limelight of Latin America. But that’s precisely why we love it. Though comparatively small in stature, Uruguay packs a punch and offers up a truly authentic experience for those who know where to look. Allow us to show you the way on this ten-day journey through our favorite corners. We’ll take you through UNESCO preserved heritage to vineyards that will transport you to the Tuscan hills and onto a wild and rugged coastline dusted off with an international art scene. Along the way, you’ll meet local friends, such as Lobo and Fabio, and hole up in luxurious boutique properties surrounded by untouched scenery. This is Uruguay, as no-one knows it.

Colonial History in Colonia del Sacramento

Arriving in Montevideo, your trip stars two hours west in Uruguay’s cultural center, Colonia del Sacramento. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Colonia is characterised by its cobbled streets, historic buildings and colonial influences. Checking into the boutique Charco Hotel, you’ll be at the center of it all. Home for just tonight, head straight out on a privately guided walking tour of the city’s historic quarter, taking in all the sights and initiating yourself in the ritual of mate. A popular Uruguayan drink, an afternoon tasting will see it become a permanent fixture in the remainder of your trip.

Lend a hand at a generations-old family winery

From Colonia, you’ll continue your journey to Carmelo, the heartland of wine in Uruguay, spending two nights at Narbona Wine Lodge where just five rooms sit amid sprawling vineyards and a working winery and farm. After a tantalising first taste, you’ll set off to explore the landscapes beyond the vines with a private river cruise through the islands of the delta of the Rio de la Plata and Rio Uruguay. Leaving just before sunset, the riverbanks will be bathed in a golden glow as you glide by on your classic boat, raising a toast to this enigmatic corner. Tomorrow, you’ll visit two local, family-owned and run wineries where you’ll be able to lend a hand in the harvesting, bottling or grape selecting process depending on the season. You’ll also be shown around both vineyards by the owners themselves as they host you for wine tastings and a traditional asado lunch.

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A Cultural Encounter in Montevideo

After one last night at Finca Narbona, your trip continues in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo. Here, you’ll head straight into the heart of the old city with a stay at the boutique Alma Historica. In the afternoon, we’ll link you up with a private guide for a walking tour of the Ciudad Vieja. Where you go is entirely bespoke and your guide will tailor your route according to your interests, however, we highly recommend stopping by to see an old friend of ours, Lobo Nuñez. An Afro-Uruguayan drums luthier and percussionist, he is an icon of the Uruguayan Candombe music scene and will regale you with some incredible stories as he introduces you to this genre and the history of carnival in Uruguay. The next morning, you’ll leave the capital behind and head into the hillsides to an area dubbed ‘the Alps of Uruguay’.

Spellbinding Landscapes and Unique Flavors in Pueblo Eden

Pueblo Eden is exactly as its name suggests it to be, lush and bountiful. Lake-dappled hillsides extend as far as the eye can see here and are lit up by the area’s iconic sunrises each morning. There could be no better places to see these sunrises from than Sacromonte Landscape Hotel. A cutting-edge, contemporary hotel, the sense of serenity is overwhelming here, so much so that rooms are not ‘rooms’ but shelters set within individual mirrored-glass cabins dotted throughout the vineyards. Your first day here will be beautifully capped off with a sunset wine tasting on a remote hilltop overlooking the Sierras de Caracoles, before a leisurely bike ride out to a nearby boutique olive oil plant for a private tasting the next morning. Back at Sacromonte, there’s time for peaceful hikes and calming yoga practices amid the vines. The following day, you’ll leave Pueblo Eden behind and head for the coast, stopping first for lunch with another good friend of ours, Fabio Alberti. Get to know Argentine-born Fabio over lunch at his farm-to-table restaurant, Choto, where you’ll sample a myriad of flavors ranging from candied aubergines to asado grilled meats and local Tannat wines.

Art on the Beach in Jose Ignacio

From lunch, it’s onto the elegant shores of Jose Ignacio, the final stop of your trip. Just up the coast from the bustle of Punta del Este, Jose Ignacio has long been a favorite of the Argentine jet-set and boasts a rugged coastline, cutting-edge contemporary art and some of the country’s best restaurants. You’ll have three days to explore it all from the beachside, art-fuelled Bahia Vik where private bungalows will see you step directly onto the wild sandy beaches. Take these days to explore at your own leisure, though may we suggest a trip to the renowned Bodega Garzon? This modern, award-winning winery offers some of the best wines in the country and sits in stark contrast to the town it calls home, where time seems set back by a few decades and carries on at a carefree, unhurried pace. It’s the perfect spot for sharing a cup of mate with the locals.

Back at Bahia Vik, you’ll have plenty of time to unwind and take in the beautiful surroundings you have encountered over the last ten days. Places that few have taken the time to visit previously but places that have such unique wonder to them. Soak it all in over one last sunset before flying home the next morning.