Uruguay travel itinerary: Beaches of Rocha, wine, horse riding

Looking for a Uruguay travel itinerary that will take you to some unforgettable locations in the east coast? Here's your plan.
By Karen A Higgs
Uruguay travel itinerary: Rocha, beaches, horses
Last updated on March 4, 2024
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Summer is here in the southern hemisphere. Perhaps you’re looking for a travel itinerary that will take you to some unforgettable locations in the east of Uruguay? From horse riding, to a winery, and of course, there’s going to be lots of time for relaxing as well.

Often people don’t realise how close everything is in Uruguay. In the itinerary I’m going to share with you, you’re literally one hour from the airport to your first destination.

This is a Uruguay travel itinerary for anyone either coming from Montevideo or if you’re coming from the airport, it’s even quicker.

Oh, before we move east, when you’re in Montevideo, here’s an amazing new tip: the craft brewery winner of the most national and international beer awards. I went there recently to partake of my new favourite dark beer—a Negra NEIPA, or Black New England IPA—accompanied with what I will now always think of as a Uruguayan bacon, egg and chips. It’s on the menu as huevos rotos (broken eggs) and it’s a simple plate of home-made chips (a rarity in Uruguay, as I’ve complained before) topped with two fried eggs and bondiola (cured pork loin). I’ve never thought of putting bondiola together with egg and chips. It works brilliantly. Dare I say, almost as well as bacon.

So let’s get onto our Uruguay travel itinerary. Assuming you’ve just landed, pick up your hire car and then drive just one hour along the easy, well-signposted intercoastal highway to the old Solís hotel. Spend the night resting and dissolving into that Uruguayan tranquilidad before you head up the coast. Or spend a couple of days. The palm-fringed mansion, complete with team room and pool, was home to British spies during WW2 and it’s not surprising to learn that it’s regularly used as a film set.

While there, don’t miss one of Uruguay’s very best wineries close by. It was the first winery to realise the potential of the shale-y eastern Uruguayan terroir (years before blockbuster Bodega Garzón). Remember there’s no drinking and driving, but fortunately Uber is now in the department of Maldonado now (it wasn’t for the longest time).

Next day, drive two hours east to the coastal hills of Rocha to a ‘million-star’ ranch. This place is absolutely magical. I’d recommend three nights to let the sierras sink into your soul, as well as do some outstanding horse rides and eat spicy organic vegetarian Asian-fusion cuisine.

Relaxed even before you have hit the beach, jump in your car and drive just 1.5 hours to the stunning beaches of Punta del Diablo. In Rocha, you don’t need to break the piggy bank to have a memorable stay. I love this six-room 420-friendly inn a short walk from Playa Grande, which I think is my favourite beach in Punta del Diablo. But as you have at least three to choose from, plus the national park of Santa Teresa for beach hiking, you decide which is your favourite.

Oh and I forgot to mention, to get back from Punta del Diablo to the airport, it’s going to take you just four hours and 5 to Montevideo. You could even break the journey at the Solís on the way back.

Whetted your appetite for adventure? 😄 Check out our Discover Uruguay page with suggestions for where to stay, food and drink, wine and wineries and things to do. And for way more information, way better organised, The Guru’Guay Guide to Uruguay 📖

Cover photo: Rocha palm groves at sunset.

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