Spectacular Places To Cycle In Uruguay

Milky Way at Cabo Polonio, Uruguay
Milky Way at Cabo Polonio, Uruguay | © Jimmy Baikovicius/Flickr
Photo of Milena Fajardo
14 September 2017

Uruguay has some of the most striking unspoiled landscapes and towns, ready for you to explore. These are some of the most spectacular cycling routes in the country but there’s no need to push yourself too hard. Calculate how many average kilometers you can do a day based on your experience level, and plot the stops on your route accordingly. Plan your sleeping arrangements ahead to avoid unfortunate surprises!

Colonia del Sacramento – Anchorena Park –Playa Seré – Carmelo: 96km, Colonia, Uruguay

Start this trip in Colonia del Sacramento, and visit its historic quarter. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its beautiful urban landscape, with cobbled streets and colonial architecture influenced by both Spain and Portugal. Ride 30.7km to Anchorena Park, where you will find a peaceful countryside landscape with some animals, the presidential holiday house, and old structures from the 1800s believed to be part of a big fortress. From there, cycle 65.3km to Carmelo, where you will find a nice beach, Playa Seré, and multiple wineries if you fancy booking a wine tour.

Carmelo, Uruguay © Mal Flickr | © Mai/Flickr

Colonia del Sacramento – Nueva Helvecia – Fomento beaches: 76.2km, Colonia, Uruguay

Spend some time before starting the ride in the historic quarter of Colonia del Sacramento, walk around the old buildings and city walls, and check out the artisanal market and many picturesque cafés and restaurants around. Cycle 60.6km to Nueva Helvecia, a small town founded mainly by Swiss and German immigrants, where you can walk a bit more, buy some of the delicious cheese made in the area and taste some artisanal beer. You can also check out the beaches at Fomento, 15.6km away.

Colonia del Sacramento, 70000 – Nueva Helvecia – Fomento, Colonia, Uruguay

Colonia del Sacramento City Walls, Colonia, Uruguay

Colonia del Sacramento City Walls © Kevin Jones Flickr | © Kevin Jones/Flickr

Ciudad Vieja – Barrio Sur – Pocitos – Punta Gorda – Carrasco: 19.4km, Montevideo, Uruguay

You can start this city tour in either end; Ciudad Vieja (West side) or Carrasco (East side). Cycle around the small streets in Ciudad Vieja, the Old City district, and discover the gorgeous architecture and city planning from the end of the 19th century. You’ll see a lot of Art Decó and Art Nouveau, large squares and cathedrals. Cycle along the Rambla, the seacoast promenade, to Barrio Sur, where candombe first started. Go back along the Rambla, which offers the most striking views of Río de la Plata, to the modern Pocitos neighborhood. Continue to Punta Gorda, and finally Carrasco, where you will find peaceful beaches, big parks and mansions.

Ciudad Vieja, 11000 – Barrio Sur, 11100 – Manuel Vicente Pagola 3336, 11300 – Rambla O’Higgins – Carrasco, 11500, Montevideo, Uruguay

Old City gate in front of Independence Square, Montevideo, Uruguay

Old City gate in front of Independence Square, Uruguay © Christina Cordova Flickr | © Christian Córdova/Flickr

Punta Ballena – Punta del Este – La Barra – Pablo Atchugarry Foundation – José Ignacio: 55.4km, Maldonado, Uruguay

Start in Punta Ballena, a stunning hill where you can see cliffs jutting into the Atlantic, and the nearby cityscapes. There you can visit the Lussich Arboretum and Casapueblo, an amazing honeycomb shaped museum. Cycle 12.1km along the coast to Punta del Este, the most luxurious city in the country. After wondering around the peninsula, keep going about 12km more to La Barra, a spot with unspoiled beaches. Then visit the Pablo Atchugarry Foundation Museum in Manantiales, about 9km away, to have a picnic in its wonderful sculpture park. Lastly, ride 22.3km from there to José Ignacio, a small but super chic bohemian village.

Arboretum Lussich, Av. Antonio Lussich, 20003 – Casapueblo – Rbla. Lorenzo Batlle Pacheco, Punta del Este – 10, La Barra – Foundation Pablo Atchugarry, Ruta 104 Km. 4.5 C.P. 20003, El Chorro – José Ignacio, Maldonado, Uruguay

The beach at Punta del Este, Maldonado, Uruguay

Punta del Este, Uruguay © Gabriel Millos Flickr | © Gabriel Millos/Flickr

José Ignacio – Laguna Garzón – Pueblo Garzón – Colinas de Garzón: 60.9km, Maldonado and Rocha, Uruguay

José Ignacio is a small but very chic village where you will find art galleries, shops, and nice restaurants next to beautiful beaches. After wandering around, start your trip by visiting Garzón Lake, 13.4km away. Find stunning views and wildlife in this protected natural reserve. Then, cycle 39.6km to Garzón village, a quaint little town that seems suspended in time a century ago, but that also is home to a Michelin-starred restaurant and hotel. 7.9km away, lie the hills of Garzón, featuring some enchanting country roads with views of the countryside, animals and vegetation. You can book a tour to the famous olive oil farm and the winery of the same name.

José Ignacio – Laguna Garzon – Garzón, 20401 – Colinas de Garzón, Camino Arco del Sol, Maldonado, Uruguay

Bridge crossing Garzón Lake next to the Ocean, Maldonado, Uruguay

Bridge crossing Garzón Lake next to the Atlantic © Jimmy Balcovicius Flickr | © Jimmy Baikovicius/Flickr

Playa Verde – Piriápolis – Piria Castle – Cerro Pan de Azúcar – Pueblo Edén – Salto del Penitente: 115km, Maldonado and Lavalleja, Uruguay

Start this long journey in Playa Verde, a small seaside town. Cycle 7.6km to Piriápolis, a coastal city with old architecture. Visit Piria’s (Piriápolis’ founder) castle, completed in 1897, 5.8km away. Continue riding for 2.4km to Cerro Pan de Azúcar, an iconic hill with a cross on its top. A natural reserve with autochthonous species of plants and animals, it’s worth spending time visiting and climbing to the top. From there, cycle 39.4km to Pueblo Edén, a charming small town that “takes life with a lot of calm”. The last stretch is 59.8km long, towards Salto del Penitente, an amazing camping spot featuring a mountain range, a waterfall and adventurous activities.

Playa Verde, 20303, Maldonado, Uruguay – Piriápolis – Castillo De Piria, 37 Km. 7, 20200 Piriápolis – Cerro Pan de Azúcar, Piriápolis – Salto del Penitente, Lavalleja, Uruguay

Waterfall at Salto del Penitente, Lavalleja, Uruguay

Salto del Penitente © Mai Rodriguez Flickr | © Mai Rodriguez / Flickr

Punta del Diablo – Santa Teresa National Park – Fortress of Santa Teresa – Cerro Verde – Fort of San Miguel – San Miguel National Park: 57.7km, Rocha, Uruguay

Map View
View from Cerro Verde, Uruguay
View from Cerro Verde, Uruguay | View from Cerro Verde, Uruguay
Visit the wild beaches of Punta del Diablo, a small fishermen’s town that is surrounded by nature. Cycle 8.4km to Santa Teresa National Park, a massive nature reserve with innumerable species of trees, animals and other vegetation, 50 meters from the Atlantic. There is a campsite nearby that is very popular amongst locals. 4.3km away visit the old Fortress of Santa Teresa, but don’t miss out on all the beaches nearby too. From the Fortress, go around 5km to Cerro Verde, a protected area with green hills surrounded by beaches. You might spot sea turtles, dolphins and even whales in this magical natural paradise. Finally, cycle 36.6km to the old Spanish fort of San Miguel, along Uruguay’s border with Brazil, and 3.4km more to the National Park.

La Pedrera – Palmares de Rocha – Punta Rubia – Cabo Polonio – Valizas – Castillos Lake: 40.9km, Rocha, Uruguay

Start in La Pedrera, a small coastal town with a great local atmosphere and beaches. Right next to La Pedrera you will find extensive areas full of palm trees, unique to the area, called Palmares de Rocha. Ride 3.4km to Punta Rubia, where you’ll find accommodation and a campsite, and visit the Indigenous Mount; a protected hill with a native habitat that has remained untouched. From there, cycle 37.5km to Cabo Polonio, a remarkable place that you can only access in big trucks designated by the government so as to not ruin its massive sand dunes, or by walking or horseback riding from Valizas, a nearby bohemian village. Castillos Lake is right beside it and you can book an excursion there to visit the Ombú forest, a forest with rare vegetation exclusive to the area.

La Pedrera, Rocha, 27004 – Palmares de Rocha, La Pedrera – Punta Rubia, 27004 – Cabo Polonio, 27202 – Laguna de Castillos, Rocha Department, Uruguay

Sea lions at Cabo Polonio, Uruguay

Sea lions at Cabo Polonio, Uruguay © Leo Alvarez / Flickr | © Leo Alvarez/Flickr