While there are fascinating things to visit across Uruguay, the major tourist attractions are centered around the shore. Unsurprisingly, the capital, Montevideo, has the greatest concentration of things to visit. General Jose Artigas lies in a tomb under an equestrian statue of himself in the center of Plaza Independencia, surrounded by structures distinctive to the capital such as Palacio Salvo, the ancient and new presidential residences, the city gate, and the Edificio Ciudadela. Passing through the city gate, one arrives at Montevideo’s old town, which has many museums, ancient buildings that were formerly the homes of rich families, and the Puerto del Mercado. Other must-sees in Montevideo include the neoclassical legislative complex Palacio Legislativo, the Centenario Stadium and the accompanying football museum, and the 22-kilometer-long seaside promenade Rambla, which runs down the Atlantic coast and is home to many attractions.
A two-and-a-half-hour bus ride west will take you to Colonia del Sacramento, a Portuguese-founded city founded in 1680. While the modern part of town isn’t particularly appealing to tourists, the barrio historico can brag about being Uruguay’s only UNESCO World Heritage site. It is also a popular daytrip for tourists to Buenos Aires, since it is just one hour by catamaran from the Argentine city.
Punta del Este, a seaside resort popular with the wealthy and famous, is situated east of Montevideo, as is the Los Dedos sculpture and the Casa Pueblo resort museum. The city of Maldonado, with its José Ignacio lighthouse, is not far from Punta del Este. The city of Piriapolis, which is closer to the capital, is worth a visit, as is the Castillo de Piria.