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Wedged between Argentina and Brazil, South America's largest countries, Uruguay often gets overlooked. It's bigger than the map implies — about the size of England and Wales combined — and its attractions are similarly underrated. Famed singer Carlos Gardel first made his name in Montevideo, Uruguay's capital, where the melancholy dance and song are no less popular than in Buenos Aires. Studded with museums, barely two hours from BA by boat, its colonial Ciudad Vieja has undergone a renaissance, with colonial buildings transformed into stylish restaurants and nightspots. Meanwhile, the city's outskirts are home to a gaggle of new boutique ...

Wedged between Argentina and Brazil, South America's largest countries, Uruguay often gets overlooked. It's bigger than the map implies — about the size of England and Wales combined — and its attractions are similarly underrated. Famed singer Carlos Gardel first made his name in Montevideo, Uruguay's capital, where the melancholy dance and song are no less popular than in Buenos Aires. Studded with museums, barely two hours from BA by boat, its colonial Ciudad Vieja has undergone a renaissance, with colonial buildings transformed into stylish restaurants and nightspots. Meanwhile, the city's outskirts are home to a gaggle of new boutique wineries whose specialty is the rare red Tannat.

Even closer to Buenos Aires — less than an hour by hydrofoil across the River Plate — the walled city of Colonia del Sacramento is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that's a favorite weekend getaway from Argentina's capital, but other foreigners are catching on. Beyond Montevideo, the resort of Punta del Este has long drawn Argentina's elite for summertime hedonism on its river and ocean beaches, but the rest of the year it's more relaxed. Uruguay's interior is still gaucho country, where many estancias (ranches) are now open to paying guests. Near Garzón, new vineyards and a destination winery — Bodega Garzón — have sprung up, promising fine dining with a celebrated chef as well as fine wines.

Wayne Bernhardson
About the Expert

Wayne Bernhardson is the author of Moon Handbooks to Argentina, Buenos Aires (including coastal Uruguay), Chile (including Easter Island), and Patagonia (including the Falkland Islands).

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Wayne Bernhardson for Triporati

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