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5 Reasons Why This Lesser Known South American Country Is Surging In Popularity

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South America is the leading destination for Americans this winter, with U.S. citizens going wherever it's warmer, cheapest, and where the culture is more vibrant.

In a way, it's hardly a surprise major countries like Argentina and Brazil have been gaining traction lately.

View Of Casa Pueblo, A Historical Landmark In Punta Del Este, Uruguay, South America

Though it is also part of the region's revival, very little is said about Uruguay, a small state sandwiched between the aforementioned countries that has hosted over 3 million guests since December, the official start of the season, and looks set for a truly historical 2024.

As it turns out, Uruguay does not need a world-famous Copacabana nor the timeless charm of Buenos Aires to woo tourists back, and these are five of the main reasons why:

Uruguay Is Sunny And Warm This Winter

Sea Port In Punta Del Este During Sunset, Uruguay, South America

As noted by Tabare Viera, the Uruguayan Minister of Tourism, the country is off to a pretty strong start this summer – that is, Southern Hemisphere summer – having hosted more tourists so far than it did in the previous season. In actual figures, that would be more than 2.9 million arrivals.

The spike in visitors is not incidental: it coincides with the dropping temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere, marked by an exodus of sunseekers and renewed interest in tropical getaways.

Uruguay is not your traditional beach hotspot, but it does straddle the coast and is not as crowded.

The Port In Montevideo, Uruguay, South America

Cities like Punta Del Este, dubbed the South American Miami, and La Pedrera, an off-path spot bounded by golden sands, offer U.S. escapees the sunny climate and laid-back atmosphere they so desperately crave right now, with a 77°F average and affordable pricing throughout.

This leads us to point number two.

Uruguay Is Still Pretty Affordable

A Man Wearing A Green Hoodie As He Puts Dollars Away In His Wallet

Though it may not be the cheapest South American destination by any standard – in fact, prices can be a lot higher than in Argentina or Colombia – it is still pretty cheap for U.S. visitors, thanks to the devalued local currency and Americans' higher purchasing power.

According to Budget Your Trip, travelers should plan to spend around $62 per day when vacationing in Montevideo, the eclectic Uruguayan capital, famous for its charming colonial core, incredible restaurants, and fine white sand beaches straddling a deep blue Atlantic.

Woman standing in a hotel at the window

For a one-week stay, a couple should budget a mere $873, and this should cover accommodation, food, and sightseeing expenses.

Needless to say, this might not be enough to pay for hotel rates alone in certain parts of Rio de Janeiro, not to mention secondary costs.

Uruguay Is A Lot Safer Than Most South American Countries

Another positive factor is that Uruguay is quite safe.

uruguay legislative palace with statue

While Argentina is often considered South America's safest and Brazil one of the most dangerous, Uruguay once again finds itself being the ‘middle' one: violent crime is uncommon, but pickpocketing and petty crimes cannot be ruled out.

These often occur in large urban centers like Montevideo and Salto, but Americans should know crime rates are still pretty low, and as long as they do not display unnecessary signs of wealth and stick to touristy zones, chances are they will be fine.

The U.S. Government considers Uruguay a Level 2 destination, meaning it is as safe as a majority of states in their all-time favorite country of Mexico.

If anything, they should simply exercise greater caution when in crowded areas, and adhere to general safety guidance.

Connectivity Is Improving

Then, there is Uruguay's improved connectivity this year.

While the country is not exactly a major hub for aviation, unlike its neighbors, its links to international destinations have certainly improved lately, a clear sign of growing demand.

view of a young woman on an airport

Montevideo is now linked to 16 global cities, including the Americas and Europe, which may not sound like a lot, but it's a huge improvement over the health crisis when flights had been all but halted altogether. Plus, Uruguay is a small country home to only 3.4 million residents.

Carrasco International, which serves the capital, is the main entry point for Americans landing in Uruguay, as it hosts a nonstop seasonal flight from Miami, Florida, with American Airlines.

Alternatively, visitors can choose between different connecting hubs in Latin America reaching Uruguay.

Aerial View Of Punta Del Este, Uruguay, South America

Culture At The Front Of The Tourism Offer

The relevance of culture in Uruguay's rebounded tourism cannot be so easily overlooked.

Like many Latin American states, it is a melting pot of different ethnicities as a result of mass immigration during the colonization period.

Most modern-day Uruguayans are European descendants, tracing their origins back to Spaniards and Lusophones (or Portuguese) who settled the land, and the Iberian heritage can still be seen across centuries-old cities and traditional settlements.

Colonia Uruguay

As one of the oldest, Colonia del Sacramento should definitely be added to your bucket list.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site and picturesque small town recognized for having a well-preserved historic center, it dates back to the arrival of its Portuguese founders in 1680.

Americans Don't Need Visas For Uruguay

Finally, Uruguay's friendly visa policy has definitely not hurt its tourism sector.

Traveler Holding USA Passport At Airport

Unlike Brazil, which is set to impose stricter visa requirements on Americans starting April, or Bolivia and Venezuela, which have been openly anti-American for years, Uruguay welcomes blue passport holders with open arms.

U.S. citizens can stay for 90 days visa-free as long as they are visiting for tourism purposes.

They do not need to fill out an electronic form in advance, pay fees, nor deal with immigration bureaucracy upon landing.

Colourful Street Market Selling Fruits, Vegetable and Produce. Montevideo, Uruguay Flag

Touching down in Montevideo, crossing by ferry from Argentina, or walking over the land border from Argentina or Brazil, they will be issued a three-month entry stamp, which is more than enough time to sample the culture and see the main sights.

When planning to stay longer, Americans can even request a visa extension for an additional 90 days.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.