Uruguay, South America - Stein Travel



    • 16+ years

    • 12-15 years

    • 2-11 years

    • 0-23 months

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Welcome to Uruguay

Being one of the smallest South American countries, the Republic of Uruguay is largely overshadowed on the tourism map by its more popular and bigger neighbours, Brazil and Argentina. However this largely flat country of rolling plains, hilly meadows and rivers, bordered by hundreds of miles of fine sandy Atlantic beaches, sports some fascinating towns (including its atmospheric capital, Montevideo), unspoilt seaside resorts, and some of the cheapest and most delectable steaks you will find anywhere.

From the charming cobbled old town of Colonia del Sacramento (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) hung with flowering jasmine, to its cattle ranches populated with daring gauchos(cowboys) and the bright, brash international beach resort of Punta del Este, Uruguay is a playground to delight any traveller.

Uruguay was first colonised by Spain during the 16th and 17th centuries, having been spared the worst of the conquest of the Americas by the fact that the country had no gold or silver. The Spanish introduced cattle farming, and beef exports today remain the mainstay of the Uruguay economy, along with a fast-growing tourism industry.

Politically the country is stable, economically it is fairly prosperous, and it has one of the lowest crime rates in South America. Add to this its friendly and welcoming people, and the wonderful, sultry summer sunshine, and most people will find that Uruguay is one of the world's most accommodating destinations.


Uruguayans enjoy discussing politics and answering questions about their country. Meetings tend to be highly formal but seldom start on time. Most businessmen speak English but always arrange for an interpreter as a sign of consideration.


Uruguay enjoys a subtropical climate, and temperatures can soar during the summer months, particularly along the Rio Uruguay, which separates the country from Argentina. The interior and Atlantic coast is slightly cooler. Strong winds and rainstorms can occur between late April and November.


The international direct dialling code for Uruguay is +598. The government-operated telephone service is efficient. Area codes are in use for cities, e.g. (0)2 for Montevideo. ANTEL is the major mobile phone operator and a GSM 1800 network is available with good coverage in urban areas. Internet cafes are available in Montevideo and the main towns.


Uruguay is a secular and progressive state, and is welcoming to gay and lesbian visitors. Avoid making critical comments about the country, or comparing it to Argentina, Chile and Paraguay. In conversation, Uruguayans are direct and stand close together, and it is considered rude to back away. Close acquaintances may greet with a kiss on the cheek, but a handshake will suffice for introductions. While gender equality is progressive in Uruguay, women may experience a fair amount of attention, including staring and comments, that can at times border on harassment but is largely ignored.

Duty Free

Visitors to Uruguay do not need to pay customs duty on 400 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 500g of tobacco; two litres of alcohol; two items of electrical or optical equipment (including cameras); and up to 5kg of foodstuffs.

Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. There are various types of plugs in use, including ?Schuko' plugs and receptacles with side grounding contacts, and the plugs commonly used in Australia.

Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for visitors to Uruguay, and visitors are advised to take precautions against mosquito bites because of a high risk of dengue fever. Medical facilities in Uruguay are adequate for general problems, with 24-hour emergency care available at the British Hospital in Montevideo. Most doctors and hospitals expect payment in cash. Serious medical problems require air evacuation to a country with better medical facilities, therefore travel health insurance is strongly recommended. Pharmacies supply most drugs and medications imported from the USA or Europe, many of which are available without a prescription. Visitors are advised to take sensible precautions regarding the consumption of food and water; bottled or purified water should be used, and food should be eaten washed, peeled and/or well cooked.

The official language is Spanish.

The official currency of Uruguay is the Uruguayan Peso (UYU), but US Dollars are also accepted by some tourist businesses, retailers and taxi drivers. The peso is divided into 100 centécimos. Currency can be exchanged at banks and Money Exchange Shops, which both offer similar exchange rates. Exchange rates tend to fluctuate frequently. There are plenty of ATMs available in shopping centres and attached to banks in commercial areas, but not all cards are accepted. Credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club, are widely accepted by shops and restaurants. Travellers cheques are easiest to exchange if in US Dollars.

Passport Visa

All visitors to Uruguay must hold an onward or return ticket and documents for next destination. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.


Visits to Uruguay are generally trouble free, with a low risk of terrorism and no political instability. There are occurrences of street crime in Montevideo, but police patrols are active and act as a good deterrent. Visitors should, however, take sensible precautions with their valuables and when using ATMs.

GMT -3 (GMT -2 from October to March).

Tipping is discretionary in Uruguay, but a gratuity of between 5% and 10% of the bill is usually offered in restaurants. Rounding up the bill is sufficient for taxi drivers, and hotel porters receive about US$1 per bag.

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