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5 Reasons to Travel to Uruguay with Kids

Travel to Uruguay with Kids


Uruguay has so much to offer as a family-friendly destination. We traveled to Uruguay with kids exactly a year ago and this beautiful destination checks all the boxes when traveling with kids. Although I realize that many of us aren't traveling right now, you'll want to make sure to add travel to Uruguay with kids to your bucket list. Here's why...


Nestled between Argentina and Brazil, this small laid-back country (the second-smallest country of South America) offers visitors authentic experiences like nowhere else. With more than 400 miles of shoreline, spectacular architecture, and a wealth of cultural and historical sites to explore, including two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Uruguay offers traveling families experiences for everyone to enjoy. Here you'll find agro-tourism experiences in abundance, rich and lively culture, and exceptional food too! In addition, Uruguay's friendly people and laid-back vibe  make it an ideal destination for traveling families. Uruguay is not to be overlooked!

 

Travel to Uruguay with Kids

Why Travel to Uruguay with Kids?


Our trip to Uruguay included an entire month of travel through the countryside, stopping at sleepy beach towns, taking in gorgeous sunsets, visiting historic sites, art centers, and not to be missed the the capital city of Montevideo. In upcoming posts, I'll share many more details about our unforgettable month-long trip to Uruguay with kids -- cultural experiences not to miss, what to see, where to stay, what to eat, and so much more! Stay tuned here to learn all about why you'll want to travel to Uruguay with kids.

I could go on... There's a long list of reasons why you need to add Uruguay to your family's travel bucket list. Today I'm listing just a few. These include some of the things I personally look for when determining if a destination is family-friendly and worth the trip. As I said before, Uruguay checks all the boxes when traveling with kids but these are just some basic ones.

Travel to Uruguay with Kids
We stayed in a beautiful Airbnb rental on the 10th Floor of the Palacio Salvo, at the city center of Montevideo in the old city, known as "Ciudad Vieja".



1) Uruguay Includes Kids

Family is everything!

Uruguay is a very family-oriented country where family (and kids) play a big role in everyday life. Family bonds extend much deeper that what we're used to in the United States. Most families have a few kids (2 is average), but extended family can include distant cousins and often even neighbors and childhood friends who are treated like members of the immediate family. 

Uruguayan kids spend most of their days gathering and playing outdoors with cousins and friends and the adults understand that "kids will be kids". For me, this is probably one of the top reasons that makes Uruguay a great destination to visit with kids. Uruguayans take kindly to kids and all their quirks. Kids are welcomed pretty much everywhere you go -- from restaurants to world class wineries! Kids are always included as far as locals are concerned. And because this is a relatively safe little country (a bit more on this later in the post), it's okay to let your kids roam free. You don't need to hold their hands everywhere you go and it's totally okay for the kids to walk a few steps behind. 

Travel to Uruguay with Kids



You should know that as soon as we arrived at Montevideo's Carrasco's International Airport we began to experience just how family-friendly Uruguay is. Free strollers were available for use within the airport. Also, family bathrooms and baby rooms for feeding were easy to access. 

We also found that everywhere we went, attractions such as museums and cultural centers/events were free admission for kids under 12. Free always makes it easier to travel with kids so you gotta love that!

If you're traveling with picky eaters, you'll be happy to know that the foods your kids might prefer -- french fries, hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken fingers, pizza, and pasta -- are always on the menu here, pretty much no matter where you eat in Uruguay. More on the foods of Uruguay later on in this post.

2) Uruguay is Safe

Safety is extremely important to families traveling with small children. Rest assured that Uruguay is one of the safest destination you can visit -- currently the most peaceful country in South America. Ranked #1 as most peaceful country in South America by The Global Peace Index in 2020, Chile and neighboring Argentina coming in at 2nd and 3rd place, respectively. Uruguay's social and political stability, as well as its sustained economic growth make it an ideal place to live, work, and travel too! 

Many locals, especially in touristy areas or in the capital city, speak some level of English. The capital city, Montevideo, is one of South America’s most interesting cosmopolitan areas. You'll find that many of the main streets here are under video surveillance and during busy times of day you will see safety officers and policeman posted along popular streets and touristy areas. There’s plenty of shopping, sidewalk cafes and stroll-worthy sidewalks too! Safe and easy to get around, even with a baby stroller! 

Although the city authorities have been largely successful in discouraging petty crimes in recent years, they still haven't completely eradicated the vice of pickpockets. As a precaution, I always recommend staying aware of your surroundings and keeping an eye on your belongings. When traveling to a foreign country that's always a good rule of thumb to follow. After all, you can never be too safe when traveling with the family!

Travel to Uruguay with Kids


Uruguay's good standards of hygiene and a well-established healthcare system make this country an overall safe place to visit. In a region that's been ravaged by the current Pandemic, Uruguay has acted swiftly by shutting down potential centers of crowding, closing schools and borders, and asking people to stay home (no mandatory stay at home orders needed since the government has been able to appeal to the nation's civic sense of collective responsibility and solidarity). Uruguay has successfully implemented a meticulous contact tracing system and offers frequent testing, making it's response the reason why Uruguay is wining against COVID-19.

For now, the country's borders with Brazil and Argentina remain closed until further notice but in a pandemic, there's probably no place you'd rather be than Uruguay. If you're wondering if you can get into Uruguay right now, click here to read about entry requirements or visit the U.S. Embassy in Uruguay website for current travel restrictions.

3) Uruguay is Easily Accessible


Montevideo is well served by international airlines, including some cheaper carriers. Once you've arrived in Uruguay, there's no need for internal flights to get you from one city to the next. Families traveling to Uruguay will appreciate how easy it is to see it all! Just rent a car, as we did, and explore Uruguay at your own pace. You can rent a car right at the airport when you arrive and take a laid-back road trip to see all the sights.


Travel to Uruguay with Kids
Empty roads and beautiful sunsets!

The country is small and many main attractions are close together. You won't be driving for more than 3 hours at a time which makes it doable to take a beautiful road trip with the kids. Driving in Uruguay is easy and safe. Main roads are well maintained and GPS can take you pretty much anywhere you want to go. Even without GPS, main roads are well indicated and easy to navigate. However, do keep in mind that driving during daylight hours is best. Especially when exploring the countryside as many roads are not lit, making them harder to find or navigate once it's dark out.

Uruguay's main roads (or what we would consider highways here in the U.S.) are pretty empty. No traffic to worry about, just beware of gauchos on horseback and the occasional animal crossing. Also, don't expect to see many traffic lights along your ride. Especially true when traveling the countryside or exploring places outside of Montevideo. Not to worry though, most Uruguayan drivers are extremely polite and patient (no-one's in a hurry), stopping to give you the right of way and even raising a hand to give you a friendly greeting as you roll by.

Travel to Uruguay with Kids - Road Trip
Wildlife Crossing

Uruguay consists of 19 departments (the equivalent to U.S. states) and during our month long trip to Uruguay we drove through many of them as we visited top destinations and off the beaten path ones too. We traveled a bit over an hour from Montevideo to the country's interior and the department of Florida where we enjoyed an unforgettable week-long stay on a sheep and cattle ranch (known as an "estancia"). From Florida we drove to the city of Colonia del Sacramento and then to the sleepy beach town of La Paloma in Rocha. We also visited more popular beach towns like Punta del Este and Jose Ignacio. Road tripping Uruguay's Southern Coast was easy and so enjoyable!

4) Uruguay is a Foodie's Paradise


Love food? Look no further! From Uruaguayan "asado" (grilled meat) to traditional street foods, from award-winning cuisine to great food truck eats, add in savory desserts and pastries, Uruguay is a true foodie's paradise!

Travel to Uruguay with Kids
Chivito al pan -- delicious!

Travel to Uruguay with Kids
Shop local bakeries! They're everywhere you turn.

Travel to Uruguay with Kids
Flaky and fluffy, Uruguayan "medialunas" are to die for!


Go ahead! Indulge in the French-inspired baked breads, "medialunas" or croissants, and pastries known as "biscochos". Share a "milanesa a la napolitana" -- thin meat that is breaded and fried (can be steak, chicken, and even pork meat), topped with ham, mozzarella, tomato sauce, and tomato slices or enjoy it on bread as a sandwich. Eat a delicious chorizo sandwich known as "choripan" and don't leave Uruguay without trying the Chivito -- Uruguay's national dish which consists of thin sliced tender beef steak (churrasco), topped with lettuce, tomato, mayo, ham, mozzarella cheese, bacon, and a fried egg too, served over a huge serving of french fries, or in a sandwich with fries on the side. Either way it's delicious! 

Also, not to be missed is a trip to the steakhouses of the iconic Mercado del Puerto, an old port market in "Ciudad Vieja", or the old city part of town in Montevideo. Here you can enjoy an authentic "parillada", a meal of a variety of meats that are grilled or barbecued for a dinner big enough to feed an entire family.



Enjoy a typical "parillada" at el Mercado del Puerto.


There are so many great foods you'll want to try in Uruguay and I bet your kids will find something they love too! My own kids loved all the fresh pasta choices (homemade ravioli were a big hit with my kids), juicy food truck hamburgers, choripan, and the yummiest hot dogs or "panchos" as they're known in Uruguay. Finding foods that the kids will eat is easy in Uruguay, plus everything comes with a side of fries!

Uruguay with Kids
My kids loved la Milanesa al pan, with fries of course!

For the adults in the family, there's also the wine. Did you know that Uruguay is the fourth-largest producer of wine in South America? Most known for red wines produced from local Tannat grapes.

5) Uruguay Has Something for Everyone

Whether a family vacation means relaxing and recharging by the ocean or filling your days with outdoor activities and sports or cultural and historical tours, Uruguay offers a great variety of experiences for families traveling with kids.  

We loved walking the bustling streets of Montevideo and taking lazy afternoon strolls along the historic streets of Colonia del Sacramento. We enjoyed stays at centrally located airbnb rentals by the beach and at the capital's city center. We even stayed on a working "estancia". We loved visiting Estadio Centenario (stadium), home to the Uruguayan national soccer team and birthplace of the World Cup. A real treat for any soccer fan!

Uruguay with Kids
The only building of it's kind, Estadio Centenario was declared by FIFA to be the only historical monument of world football -- such a treat for soccer fans to visit!

We took in cultural experiences with visits to Casapueblo and el Museo del Carnaval. We even got to experience Uruguayan Carnival and went to see "el Desfile de Llamadas" (the Calls Parade), a spectacle unlike any other in the world where you can see and hear thousands of drums parading down the street. Did you know that Carnival in Uruguay is the longest celebration in the world, beginning in late January and lasting as long as 40 days, through the end of February?


Uruguay with Kids
Elaborate costumes on display at el Museo del Carnaval.

Casa Pueblo - Traveling with Kids
Casapueblo, home of Uruguayan artist Carlos Paez Vilaro, is also a hotel where no two rooms are the same and guests enjoy amazing ocean views.

Casa Pueblo - Traveling with Kids
Visiting the art gallery at Casapueblo and admiring the artwork of Uruguayan artist Carlos Paez Vilaro.

La Balconada, La Paloma - Traveling with Kids
Breathtaking sunsets at Playa la Balconada in La Paloma, Rocha.

In conclusion, Uruguay is a travel destination not to be missed! Bucketlist worthy if you ask me and the kids! From gorgeous beaches to unique cultural experiences, beautiful landscapes to delicious foods, this often overlooked little country offers something for everyone. 

Go! Start planning your own Uruguay trip with kids.

As you begin planning your own trip to Uruguay, let me leave you with this great little travel video from my friend, Karen, over at the Guru-Guay website. She's an expert in all things Uruguay and her Guru'Guay Guide to Uruguay and Guide to Montevideo are great resources that can help you easily plan your trip. Each of Karen's guides is super informative and includes loads of first hand-knowledge that only a person living in this small South American nation can provide. She was a helpful resource for us when planning our own trip and I highly recommend you check her out!


You Know Uruguay Belongs on Your Family's Travel Bucket List!

By now, I think you'll agree with me that you are most definitely missing out if you've never considered Uruguay for family travel. It's an amazing destination not to be overlooked! When we traveled in February 2020, Lonely Planet had just named Uruguay #BestInTravel2020 and listed it as one of the Top 10 Countries to visit in 2020. Of course, that was short lived because travel remained closed for most of 2020 but I'm sure that when travel is back, Uruguay will be the next off the beaten path South American destination many will want to explore.


Estancia el Ceibo - Travel to Uruguay with Kids
We absolutely loved our stay at Estancia el Ceibo!


To learn more or book your own estancia stay visit the Estancia el Ceibo website or find them on booking.com like we did!

I personally feel so blessed that we got to go to Uruguay when we did. It's bittersweet that this was our last family trip before the world closed down. Now I can't wait until we get to go back and I encourage you to add Uruguay to your own travel bucket list for when you're ready to travel again!




Remember to PIN this post so you can access it later when planning your own trip to Uruguay. Also, share this with your #travelbug friends so they can discover South American gem too!

Traveling to Uruguay with Kids




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