Overview

Punta del Este, Uruguay
Punta del Este, Uruguay © Jimmy Baikovicius

Being one of South America's smallest countries, the Republic of Uruguay is largely overshadowed on the tourism map by its more popular neighbours, Brazil and Argentina. That said, this largely flat destination of rolling plains and hilly meadows is every bit as enticing to sun chasers. Visitors can expect fine sandy beaches, an atmospheric capital (Montevideo) and some of the world's cheapest and most delectable steaks.

The cobbled old town of Colonia del Sacramento adds another dimension to the country's charm. Flowering jasmine is a city-wide feature in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors should also venture to Uruguay's cattle ranches, where rugged gauchos (cowboys) labour on the open plains. By contrast, travellers seeking action should head to the upscale international beach resort of Punta del Este.

Otherwise, Uruguay is politically stable and has one of the lowest crime rates in South America. Its welcoming people and sultry summer sunshine make it a definite bucket-list candidate.