The Best Weekend Getaways from Montevideo

Punta Ballena, Uruguay
Punta Ballena, Uruguay
Photo of Milena Fajardo
30 October 2017

A lot of travelers make the mistake of only visiting a country’s capital, which, although is understandable in terms of time and budget, means they are only getting to know the tip of the iceberg. This is particularly true in Uruguay, because most of the country’s beauty lies in the less populated places, the unspoiled natural landscapes. Montevideo is a must-see, and there’s plenty to do. But if you’re planning to spend all your time there you might want to consider one of these weekend getaways to see more of what Uruguay has to offer.

Las Cumbres

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  • You can rent a car in Montevideo and drive for about two hours to get to Las Cumbres, an area up on the hills near the coast of Punta Ballena. There are several hotels and houses to rent there, where you can enjoy a stunning view of the coast and the illuminated Punta del Este cityscape. The area at the bottom of the hills is beautiful and perfect for cycling, since it’s very peaceful with barely any traffic, although the cycle up is tough. There’s an arboretum very close by, a viewpoint and museum in Punta Ballena, and of course Punta del Este city center nearby. Stay at Las Cumbres Art Hotel & Spa to have the most relaxing spa weekend.

    Art & Spa Las Cumbres

    Spa Hotel
    Las Cumbres Art Hotel & Spa, Uruguay
    Las Cumbres Art Hotel & Spa, Uruguay | © milebrum/VSCO

    Stay at Las Cumbres to experience its privileged location: as its name “the hills” indicates, the hotel is situated on top of the highest hill allowing for a magnificent view of the forests, city, and sea far below. The property is owned by the architect who constructed it, a well-traveled man who brings back souvenirs to decorate the hotel with from all over the world. The decorations are almost collections of interesting pieces of art, intricate objects and photographs. The rooms are decorated in a very old-fashioned way, which also shows the style of the architect. The food is sublime and so are the spa facilities.

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    There are numerous hotels and houses where you can stay for a proper traditional escapade to the Uruguayan countryside. You will enjoy delicious traditional meals, grandma-style, featuring the very best of Uruguayan comfort food: tortas fritas, pastries, empanadas, tartas, asado, flan, and of course dulce de leche. The best part? You will need all this extra energy for the hikes, horse riding, canoeing, kayaking, and other nature activities available to do in the countryside.

    Become a gaucho for the weekend | © Bicentenario Uruguay/Flickr

    Thermal springs

    The northwest region of Uruguay is famous for its thermal springs, which emanate straight from the underground delivering the purest, naturally hot water full of rejuvenating minerals. Drinking and soaking in thermal water has plenty of good properties for the skin and body. There are a number of spa resorts and hotels in the area to make this getaway as relaxing as it gets.

    Thermal Springs in Salto, Uruguay | © milebrum/VSCO

    Buenos Aires

    You can take a ferry from either Montevideo or Colonia and visit the bustling Argentinian capital for the weekend. There is a lot to do there, for every taste; from impressive museums, to extensive parks, shopping streets, a hectic and varied nightlife, and a myriad of restaurants and shows. Do your research and make sure to stay as near as you can from most activities you wish to do, because public transport and traffic in general is hectic to say the least. If you’re spending a tranquil vacation in Montevideo and want to spice things up a little, Buenos Aires is definitely the place to go.

    Snapshot of Buenos Aires | © Hernán Piñera/Flickr

    Colonia del Sacramento

    The historic quarter in Colonia del Sacramento is a very romantic, quaint little part of the city of Colonia. Its cobbled streets and colonial architecture, a product of both Spanish and Portuguese influences, granted it UNESCO World Heritage Site status. A weekend is the perfect amount of time to spend here, to explore the historic quarter, its street market, and great quality bars and restaurants. You can also go for a walk along the City Walls, visit the Ocean Museum, and the river water beach.

    Colonia del Sacramento | © Philip Choi/Flickr

    Punta Ballena

    Have an unforgettable weekend in one of the most striking viewpoints near Punta del Este. Rent a house in Punta Ballena to have walking access to the famous Casapueblo Museum, a unique building designed by the Uruguayan artist and architect Carlos Paez Vilaró. From the viewpoint you will enjoy spectacular sunrises and sunsets, the twinkling lights of Punta del Este city center in the distance, and you can even spot sea animals, like the southern right whale, who visits these shores in the winter.

    Sunrise in Punta Ballena, Uruguay | © milebrum/VSCO

    José Ignacio

    Spend a weekend in this spot deemed as the most chic beach town in Uruguay. José Ignacio has the allure of top-quality restaurants and accommodation, art galleries and shops, while maintaining its original low-key vibe. Imagine José Ignacio as a Punta del Este that doesn’t wish to be glamorous. The beach is made of white, fine sand, and the Atlantic Ocean. There’s a beautiful lighthouse on the shore, very worth visiting.

    Lighthouse in José Ignacio | © Marcelo Campi/Flickr


    Garzón is a classic Uruguayan town that seems to have been suspended in time back when the trains were still functioning in Uruguay. It’s very near to Laguna Garzón, a beautiful lake right next to the Atlantic, where you can stay in a floating hotel and see one of the weirdest-shaped bridges in Uruguay. Garzón town is renowned for having a Michelin starred hotel and restaurant, which is glorious. You should also visit Garzón Hills, to see stunning views of the countryside, the lake and the Atlantic, and book a tour around either (or both) Garzón olive oil plantation and Colinas de Garzón vineyard, which are right on the hills.

    Laguna Garzon Lodge, El Caracol

    Map View

    Different cabins are suspended on Garzón Lake providing a unique, intimate experience of being at one with nature. The lake is a protected natural area, and being able to enjoy it by living on it is an unforgettable experience. The capacity is limited to 12 rooms, services are customized to the needs of each traveler. Enjoy ecological food from the restaurant that is also on the water, standing on stilts rather than floating. There are various eco-tourism activities offered, such as bird watching, trekking, water sports, and excursions to the wonderful beaches nearby.

    Garzón Hotel & Restaurant

    Boutique Hotel, Suite Hotel, Independent Hotel

    This boutique hotel is set in the old brick house that was formerly used as a warehouse in Garzón. The five rooms in the hotel are decorated differently, in a very chic, quaint style that blends in with the modern. They all feature king size beds, a fireplace, and a spacious ensuite bathroom. There is an annexed building with four additional rooms each with the same amenities plus a large garden and pool. Room bookings include breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner, all cooked in the famous Michelin-starred restaurant owned by chef Francis Mallmann. There is also free use of bicycles, laundry service, and an open bar with house wines.

    Garzón, Uruguay | © Martin Varsavsky/Flickr


    Spend your weekend under the stars by visiting one of the many campsites in Uruguay. You have a choice of campsites near rivers, where you can borrow fishing rods, canoes or kayaks, or even book a horse riding trip. There are also some campsites near the different mountain ranges, where there’s usually rock climbing, canopy, rappelling, and hiking trails. Otherwise, you can always book a camping weekend to a forest or beach campsite, where you can relax and reconnect with nature.

    Camping on the beach, Uruguay | © Stolencompass / Flickr

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