As a travel specialists with a focus on creating tailor-made itineraries to South America, we get used to hearing the same travel plans on repeat. If the itinerary focuses on Argentina, most people will at some point mention Mendoza for the typical wine tasting tours.
Mendoza is a beautiful town and its backdrop of the Andes combined with vineyards, coffee shops, parks and delicious restaurants make it an obvious tourist attraction. However, to somebody really wanting to explore South America and its various cultures, I can’t help thinking that Mendoza is a bit overvisited. After all, you can buy a Malbec from Mendoza in any supermarket around the world. It’s also not particularly easy to get to and requires a two-hour flight from Buenos Aires.
There is however, an alternative to Mendoza in the shape of Uruguay. Below, we have suggested a 3-night alternative which takes you on an adventure to the Uruguayan winelands of Carmelo via the beautiful, cobbled, colonial town of Colonia del Sacramento.
Day 1 – Buquebus from Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento:
For its size, Colonia has a remarkable number of museums (eight) which are all worth a quick visit. There’s also a lovely lighthouse you can climb. However, above all, Colonia is a charming town littered with lovely old cars parked up on cobbled streets and after a night here, you should have managed to get the feel for the place and its relaxed atmosphere.
Suggested accommodation: El Charco Hotel
Day 2 – Private transfer up to Carmelo (1 hour):
From Colonia, you can be picked up by your drive the next morning and taken north to one of Uruguay’s wine producing regions called Carmelo. The region grows a variety of grape called Tannat. For wine aficionados out there, you will know that Tannat has its roots in South West France and due to the high numbers of French immigrants in the 1800s, this variety of grape is now well established in Southern Uruguay. There are various wine lodges you can stay at which offer various packages, most of which (of course) include wine tastings.
Suggested accommodation: Posada Campotinto
Day 3 – At leisure in Carmelo
Whilst you may simply want to relax at your wine lodge and unwind, in the tranquil Uruguayan countryside, there are also various river beaches with white sands that you can explore. One of these is called Zagarzazú (good luck pronouncing it).
Day 4 – Return to Buenos Aires
This morning, you’ll be transferred back to Colonia del Sacramento’s ferry port and take the trip back across the river towards Argentina with a true understanding of what Uruguay means to the Uruguayans.