The central interior of Uruguay includes the departments of Cerro Largo, Durazno, Flores, Florida, Lavalleja and Treinta y Tres. The Central Interior has rolling hills, cow country, lakes, history, a border with Brazil, and more—including lovely, quiet spots for a visit.
- 1 Cerro Colorado – small town with a historic estancia ranch nearby
- 2 Durazno – something of a hub as it's centrally located in the middle of the country
- 3 Florida – best known for the annual pilgrimage of San Cono
- 4 Fray Marcos – a small town
- 5 Melo – capital of Cerro Largo Department
- 6 Minas – a hidden gem with beautiful countryside sunsets and ranches, but also with nearby outdoor adventures, as well as a Buddhist monastery and picturesque picnic sites at the lake for travellers in search of tranquility
- 7 Río Branco – a border town just across a river from Brazil
- 8 Treinta y Tres – capital of the department of the same name
- 9 Trinidad – an unremarkable town out of a sketch book, but with the interesting Grutas del Palacio nearby
- 10 Veinticinco de Agosto – a small railway town
- 11 Villa Serrana – idyllic, relaxing vacation town in the hills
- 1 Grutas del Palacio (Palace Cave), near Trinidad, Flores department. A natural formation of caves forty-six kilometres from Trinidad and recognized by UNESCO.
- 2 Quebrada de los Cuervos (near Treinta y Tres) - considered the most beautiful national park in Uruguay.
- 3 Rincón del Bonete (near Durazno) - A huge hydroelectric power station with a large artificial lake popular for fishing. It is possible to visit the interior of the station.
Most (but not all) bus routes begin or end in Montevideo. For buses that do start or end in Montevideo, you can find schedules at the Tres Cruces Bus Terminal website. For other buses, such as the Nossar line from Colonia to Trinidad and Durazno or the Tureste line from Maldonado to Treinta y Tres, you'll just have to ask around or look at individual bus companies' websites.
Highways crisscross the region, providing good connections with Montevideo and decent to good connections with other parts of the country. You can also drive from Brazil, crossing the bridge between Jaguarão and Río Branco.
Fly into Carrasco International Airport (MVD IATA) outside of Montevideo. If you're going to the eastern departments of Cerro Largo, Treinta y Tres, and Lavalleja, you can probably catch an intercity bus at the airport. Otherwise, take a bus to Tres Cruces terminal in Montevideo and get an intercity bus from there.
If you're trying to travel between two places that are more or less on a straight line from Montevideo, like Florida and Durazno or Treinta y Tres and Río Branco, buses should be frequent and convenient. Otherwise, you'll probably have to change buses, and in many cases the easiest way to get from one city to another may be to transfer in Montevideo.
Probably more convenient if you plan to explore the region in depth. Some rural attractions are not served by bus routes.
- 4 Chamangá (near Durazno, in Flores department). An area with numerous remains of Guarani Precolumbian settlements including rock temples, cemeteries and pictographs.
- 5 Salto del Penitente (you need a car to get there). A small waterfall and pool to refresh in the hot summer. Enjoy watching the iguanas line up on the rocks to catch the rays of the heating sun. Otherwise you can do zip-lining across the pool, or hike the rugged hills and enjoy spectacular scenery. There is also a restaurant there.
- Buddhist Temples (41 km south of Minas in the hills, 10 km from the main road), ☎ . Call ahead or ask tourism information. Interestingly, two temples have found themselves in the middle of nowhere.
- 1 Lago de Paso Palmar (National Park) (Rio Negro Dam) (After the first bridge going north, there is a road toll station, which you do not have to pass if you enter the park through the managed camping ground on the west right before the toll station. This also brings you directly to Geopark Bartolomé Hidalgo.). Camp, see the sunset, and take a dip in the refreshing cold water. If you wander around a little, remote and quiet camping places off the official ones can be found, e.g. at the 9 Geopark Bartolomé Hidalgo. Free.
Minas is known for its alfajores, a very sweet dulce de leche cookie sandwich. Alfajores are available throughout Uruguay (and in various other Spanish-speaking countries), but true aficionados say the best ones are found in the Minas area. If you're taking a bus that goes through Minas, look out for vendors getting on board to sell this famous local product.
- Atlantic Coast – fantastic beaches ranging from glamorous Punta del Este to rustic Cabo Polonio
- Northern Interior – gaucho culture at its finest, as well as lively border towns like Salto and Rivera
- Rio de la Plata – from the capital city of Montevideo to the smaller historic towns of Colonia and Fray Bentos
- Rio Grande do Sul – cross the border at Río Branco/Jaguarão to start exploring Brazil's rich and varied culture and landscape