Your tour begins in the capricious city of Montevideo with its historic quarter, its fast-paced modern area and its delightful open spaces and wide boulevards. Then you’re transported back to old Lisbon by the charming streets of Colonia, founded by the Portuguese in the 1680s, before taking your taste buds to stay at a working vineyard and farm – the ideal place to enjoy the local wines and specialist dishes of Carmelo.
London – Madrid – Montevideo
Fly out of London in the evening bound for Madrid where you’ll meet your connecting flight to Montevideo, departing just before midnight.
You’ll be met on arrival in Montevideo and escorted to your boutique hotel in a restored 1920s period townhouse in the city’s visually appealing historic district. It’s the ideal starting point for a walking tour beginning in Independence Square and continuing on to Puerta de la Cuidad – the ancient fortified gateway to the citadel of Montevideo. Your tour also takes in the Solis Theatre, Torres Garcia Museum and the “Puro Verso” library. You’ll also see Constitution Square, the Cathedral, the Cabildo and the Carnival Museum in the Old City, and lunch in the bustling Port Market.
The following day shows you a different aspect of Montevideo. Your tour of the New City’s boulevards, modern stores and grand residences includes fashionable Avenida 18 de Julio and the area’s theatres, museums and galleries. Plaza Fabini features a huge sculpture by José Belloni depicting a horse battle between the first Spanish settlers and the native inhabitants. Even more impressive are the views of the city from Montevideo City Hall Observation Deck, whilst a visit to the boutique winery of Artesana will give you a completely different taste of Uruguay.
Stay: Two nights in a superior room at the Alma Historica Hotel.
If you know the old quarter of Lisbon you’ll recognise Colonia, just an hour and a half from Montevideo. Much of the old Portuguese architecture remains, complete with winding streets laced with trees, quaint bars, tiny shops and colonial-style houses. Small wonder the city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a tour will reveal its old city gate, the Street of Sighs, Casa del Virrey and Plaza de Toros. If you’re an aficionado of great museums you can choose from the Portuguese, the Municipal, the Tile Museum, the Historic Archive, the Indian Museum, Nacarello House, the Spanish and the Palaeontology Museum.
Stay: Two nights in a suite at El Charco.
Now it’s time to take your taste buds on holiday. You’ll move on to the wine-producing area of Carmelo and discover the origins of Uruguayan wine making at La Calera de las Huerfanas and the Zubizarreta vineyards where the region’s first vines were planted. Then follows a tour and tasting at El Legado winery plus a trip around Bodegas Cordano to learn about the history of the vineyard. You’ll be staying at Finca Narbona on the outskirts of Carmelo, a historic winery and organic farm – so your holiday will take on a definite gastronomic flavour with fine dining on local produce and superb wine, served in the restaurant or al fresco. You’ll even take a gourmet picnic amidst the fragrant vines and enjoy generous cheese and wine tasting sessions.
Stay: Three nights in a vineyard view suite at Finca Narbona.
Your return trip to Montevideo takes about two hours and you’ll be staying in a new countryside hotel just 40 minutes from the city centre – and you’ll have over 400 hectares of grounds for relaxation, walks, horse riding, cycling or playing tennis. Your hotel also offers magnificent views over the River Plate.
Stay: One night in a superior suite at La Baguala.
Montevideo – Madrid – London
You’ll fly out of Montevideo in the early afternoon, bound for Madrid where you’ll meet your flight to London – landing at Heathrow the following morning.