Should you visit Uruguay or Brazil?As travel costs are compared, Uruguay is more expensive than Brazil. Uruguay is actually one of the most expensive travel destinations in South America, while Brazil has plenty of affordable destinations. Both countries offer beautiful beaches and plenty of activities for visitors.
Uruguay is much smaller than the rest of the Spanish speaking countries in South America. Many travellers ignore it and prefer to visit more popular destinations. Yet after two centuries living in the shadow of its neighbors, Uruguay is finally getting a little well-deserved recognition. Whether it is in Punta del Este or other satellite towns such as La Barra, Manantiales and Jose Ignacio, Uruguay's summer scene is about the beach. The beach destinations along the country's Atlantic coast are simply marvelous. However Uruguay also offers many other outdoors activities in its underpopulated landscape. From taking on the waves at Punta del Diablo, trekking with gauchos in Tacuarembo to kitesurfing at Laguna Garzon or hot air ballooning over vineyards, Uruguay's outdoor is opened to you and you might even end up being the only one there!
Thanks to Uruguayans' relaxed attitude toward life, Montevideo is a very chilled-out capital. Montevideo is a combination of colonial architecture, low-rise skyscrapers and 15 miles of beach-side rambla. Still wonder why it is home to about half the country's population? Even though the walkable city has a very sedated pace, it contains many great attractions to keep you busy, including picturesque Ciudad Vieja and Barrio Sur neighborhoods and the fun if sometimes overrun Mercado del Puerto market. As a prime beef exporter and consumer, Uruguayans take barbecues just as seriously as their Argentine neighbors. Expect to eat enormous amounts of tasty meat! Uruguay's Carnaval is also great fun! The two-month celebration, which starts mid-January, is largely based on candombe, dance and rhythms devised by African slaves in the 19th century. Drumming and energetic dancing are at the heart of every street party, a more grassroots affair than its Brazilian cousin. Visit Colonia del Sacramento and its Havana-esque ambiance that will take you back to the 1680's when it was founded by the Portuguese. This sleepy riverside town is one of Uruguay's oldest and has managed to preserve its 17th-century convent, lighthouse and drawbridge in the UNESCO-protected Barrio Historico. Another of the many laid-back town of Uruguay is Carmelo, which takes relaxing to a heightened level of chic. Located upriver and surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, visitors are entertained by water sports, golf, horse racing and polo.
If you decide to travel to Rio de Janeiro, you will discover a very exciting atmosphere. You can relax on the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, experience the Brazilian party scene, enjoy the view of the city from the Christ Redeemer on Corcovado Hill or learn more about Rio's historical past. And depending of the season, you can even take part in the Rio Carnival or the Oktoberfest. Rio de Janeiro is a large city, which can be a little overwhelming for visitors who are travelling for a getaway from a chaotic city or environment.
The Iguazu Waterfalls and Its 275 individual waterfalls spread over 3 km are a completely unique natural wonder. Just next to the waterfalls, you can also see visit the bird park and discover some beautiful birds such as the Hyacinth Macaw and toucans.
When is the best time to visit Uruguay and Brazil?
Brazil is made up of several climatic extremes, none of which are severe enough to prevent travel to any part of the country at any given time. Across the country, the warmest months are November to March, also a perfect time for enjoying New Year and Carnival celebrations. The northeastern coast experiences some rain in June and July, but usually only in the form of afternoon showers. The Pantanal's driest months between April and October are a good time to visit Brazil, but like in the Amazon, its wetter months offer distinct wildlife spotting opportunities and experiences. While Brazil is an all year round destination, the time you decide to visit can be relevant depending on the activities you have planned. Mid-summer, between January and March has warmer days that are accompanied by the start of the rains in the Amazon and the Pantanal. February is a particularly popular time for Brazilians to travel, as the Carnival often falls in this month. April and May are a great time to travel as the high temperatures of the last few months are starting to decrease and the Pantanal enters in its dry season towards the end of April. In June and July, evenings are cooler, but the air is fresh and the sea is still warm, which makes it a perfect time to explore the Green Coast between Rio and Sao Paulo. As June arrives, so does Bahia's rainy season, but it is usually fine to plan your day around the few afternoon showers. The best time to visit Rio is perhaps in August, September or October, when spring is arriving, there are few clouds in the sky and the temperatures are on the rise. During the summer months you can expect high temperatures across the country. Rio de Janeiro tends to be hot and dry in November and December, but it can be particularly busy as visitors flock to the city to celebrate Christmas and New Year. Most of the northeast tends to experience similar hot and dry weather, which also makes the water levels in the Amazon very low in December.
Why is Uruguay more expensive than Brazil?The trendy resorts on the Uruguayan Atlantic coast, such as Punta del Este and Jose Ignacio are stunning but the prices are eye-wateringly high. These places are aimed at the local and international celebrities who vacation there, not backpackers on a tight budget. Make no mistake; prices in Uruguay are close to 'Western' prices and you should budget accordingly.
In recent years, the Brazilian economy has boomed. As a result, increased wealth and inflation have augmented the prices. However it is difficult for some to keep up with the prices and the country's economic expansion is not necessarily benefiting the lower classes. While some services are less expensive in other areas of the country, food and transportation are quite costly around many areas in Brazil and especially in big cities including Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Therefore research, plan and budget accordingly as you don't want to find yourself short of money while visiting.
What are the most expensive and cheapest cities and regions in Uruguay and Brazil?
In Brazil, the Northeast and Southeast are the most expensive regions of the country. Northeast is the Brazilian region with the largest coastline of the country, which makes the region very appealing to tourists around the world. They are a very important source of income for the Northeast, thousands of foreign and Brazilian tourists visit the Northeast annually in search of beautiful beaches, views and sun. The Southeast is the vital center of the country, where the largest cities, the highest population density, and the best ports are concentrated. It's the most important industrial, commercial and financial region of Brazil.
How you can save money when visiting Uruguay and Brazil?In Uruguay, save money on your food budget by shopping in the supermarkets. Also, water is sometimes as expensive as beer, or beer is often as cheap as water. In Uruguay, it pays to shop around as prices for items vary greatly. Prices can vary greatly from store to store even if they are right next to each other.
Cash is King. You will get the best deals if you are carrying US dollars. Prices can easily be negotiated when a Uruguayan shop owner knows you are dealing with US dollars.
Don't use your hotel's laundry service. The cost can easily work out to USD$35, which is sometimes as much as the actual hotel room itself. Check with the concierge before you send your laundry away or you might be in for a costly surprise.
Tips and gratuities aren't usually included in your food bill and an average tip should be about ten percent of the food bill. However if you give them a little more, even an insignificant amount to you, which probably means a lot to the people who work in Uruguay, you will make a local friend which will save you plenty of money and time when trying to figure out local customs, as well as finding reasonably priced accommodations and other special deals.
You should also agree on taxi prices for your journey with the taxi driver before setting off but taking the bus is much better most of the time. You can use couchsurfing for accommodation, which connects you with locals who will give you not only a free place to stay, but also a local tour guide who can introduce you to all the great places to see. If you prefer to stay in a hotel get a double room. In Brazil, you will pay a premium for a single room, almost twice the cost of a double. Pair up with a friend to halve the cost of your accommodation if you're not keen on staying in a dorm. Finally, if you can, travel off season if you want to keep prices low.