Uruguay is sandwiched between two large and vibrant countries, so it doesn't get a whole lot of luxury travel press attention from North America and there are relatively few tourists from the U.S. or Canada. This doesn't mean it's unpopular though. In the South American summer, the Punta del Este resort area is flooded with European club kids, Buenos Aires families, and jet-setters from Chile and Brazil. For a month or two it becomes the most cosmopolitan small town in Latin America, with a feel some compare to the French Riviera. There's more to Uruguay than Punta del Este though, with more mellow beach areas further up the coast, the vibrant capital of Montevideo, and the aptly name town of Colonia.
Uruguay shares a lot of cultural traits with Argentina, including a love of music, mate tea, and beef. The country has a similar neo-European café culture in the cities, but the gauchos rule the countryside. Here the South American cowboys seem to be even more prevalent than in Argentina and this can be an alternate place for a stay on a working ranch.
There is almost no mass tourism in Uruguay. Even in Punta del Este, many families and groups are renting houses or apartments rather than staying in hotels. Travelers who make it here will find it easy to get away from the crowds and create a private experience. Flights to Uruguay from North America are not direct, so most visitors tend to fly into Buenos Aires and then take a fast ferry, a short flight, or even a helicopter trip to the other side of the Rio de la Plato.
A New Level of Style in Punta del Este — Punta del Este, Uruguay
Uruguay’s Punta del Este: Still a Hot Market, Even with Sky-high Prices — Punta del Este, Uruguay