Mild and sunny year-round, Uruguay comes alive during the South American summer (December to February), when temperatures hover in the 80sF. Punta del Este kicks into full swing in late December, when the masses arrive for flamboyant New Year’s celebrations. Summer days can be sweltering in Colonia del Sacramento, making its freshwater beaches popular. During the winter months (June to August), temperatures range between 43F and 59F during the day. In beach towns like Jose Ignacio most restaurants and shops close for the winter or open only at weekends.
Carnaval, during the week before the start of Lent, is a very popular time to visit. Montevideo hosts the country's main events, but parades, dance parties and spirited celebrations are widespread.
Uruguay virtually shuts down during Semana Santa (Easter Holy Week) and celebrates with gaucho-style barbecues, parades and local folk music.
On New Year's Eve the country's beaches are packed with champagne-swilling revellers awaiting spectacular midnight fireworks displays.
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URUGUAY: BY AIR:
From the Americas: try Aerolineas Argentinas and Pluna, Gol, Pluna, American Airlines.
From Europe:with Iberia, Air France. There is a flight from London Gatwick via Madrid on Air Europa
BY SEA: Many visitors to Uruguay arrive by ferry from Buenos Aires. There are regular Buquebus hydrofoil services to Colonia del Sacramento (a journey of 50 minutes) and Montevideo (3 hours).
BY CAR: Buenos Aires and Uruguay are connected by a series of road bridges. If you plan to hire a car in Argentina and drive to Uruguay check that your vehicle can be taken across the border and that you have the necessary insurance. See our care hire recommendations.
Rent a mountain bike, motorbike, golf cart or four-wheeler to explore small towns like Colonia del Sacramento and Jose Ignacio. Otherwise, taxis and buses are plentiful and cheap. There’s really no reason to drive unless you want to explore the countryside (if so see our car rental recommendations). Uruguayan drivers tend to speed and by their own admission are unpredictable on the road. Taxis stop to drop off fares on main routes.
There are no obligatory inoculations unless you're arriving from a high risk area. The most likely complaint is diarrohea, usually from a change of diet rather than encountering anything too unhygienic. The best cure is to drink plenty of bottled water and eat bland food. If symptoms persist over a few days you should seek medical advice. The local consulate or tourist office can usually recommend someone reliable (who will expect to be paid in cash). Most antibiotics can be bought over the counter at a chemist (make a note of any medication you are allergic to).
A 10% tip is customary in bars and restaurants when a service charge isn't included in the bill. If the service is exceptional, then of course tip more at your discretion. Taxi drivers don't expect a tip unless they have been heaving your bags about.
Be ready for rapid-fire Uruguayan Spanish, peppered with slang. Most Uruguayans living in the cities have studied some English at school but don't actually speak it. There are few fluent English speakers outside Montevideo and Punta del Este.