San Gregorio De Polanco: Uruguay's Answer To England



De Polanco jinks past the last defender, lines up his shot, he shootsÂ… he scores. GOOOAAALLL!

But no. Uruguay has already proved it has a better answer to the England football team in the World Cup 2010. This time we're not talking about football. San Gregorio de Polanco is a place. And it's as beautiful as some of our favourite places in England... with the added advantage of buckets of sunshine.

the-river-near-graciellas-house
If we didn't know we were in Uruguay we really could have been in England

So what's so special about San Gregorio de Polanco

There's a few things that make San Gregorio stand out as a place to visit while you're in Uruguay.

First of all, because it's in the interior of the country and away from the famous East coast beaches, it's not on the popular tourist trails. Where places like Punta del Este are heaving with the rich and famous during the high season, San Gregorio is laid back and chilled out. It has all the same sunshine with just as many beaches, but none of the crowds and price rises of the high life.

Uruguayan art is another good reason to visit San Gregorio

What's the second reason that makes this area stand out? Well it's a place that doesn't seem to publicise the fact (we couldn't find any information anywhere), but it's home to some very unique Uruguay art. In fact, it's the town itself that's the art gallery.

mural-of-carlos-cardel
The mural of Carlos Cardel in the town

There are murals all along the main street, Gral. Jose Gervasio Artigas, as well as around the camping ground near the Hotel Los Medanos. Some are not as well looked after as others, but they're all worth a look. There's even one of the famous father of tango himself, Carlos Gardel, on one of the main corners of the main plaza.

Just go for a stroll and enjoy the art work as you go.

a-mural-painted-on-a-house-in-town
One of the murals in town. This one was multi-media and 3D. Amazing : )

Besides art and country stuff, what else can you do here?

Well San Gregorio may be located in the interior of Uruguay, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have beaches. Why? Because the River Negro feeds into the lake, Embalse de Rincon del Bonete, where it's located. And it's a big lake. There are sandy beaches all the way around, and by the camping ground there are watersports in all shapes and sizes: swimming; banana boats; canoeing; paddle boats; and the inevitable jet skis. There's plenty to do!

Is there anything else special about San Gregorio?

Yes. It's a friendly place. As a visitor you get a really strong sense of the local community here and you're made incredibly welcome by people you get talking to. Even if they don't speak any English and you only speak a little Spanish you'll find people happily chatting away to you regardless of how much you're understanding. You may even get lucky and get yourself invited to a local home for lunch or dinner. That's exactly what happened to us and we were served a really excellent home-made asado meal for Sunday lunch.

on-the-beach-by-the-lake
Part of the beach where people chill out in the sunshine

Why do we say San Gregorio is Uruguay's answer to England?

It's because of the landscape that surrounds you. It reminded both Stuart, my partner, and I of some of the typical landscapes we've seen in England. The rolling green landscape with trees and local wildlife often made us think we could have been back home... except for the sunshine of course ; ) That bit was definitely different to England.

So what kind of people visit here?

It's a great place for families, especially with young children. It's a safe environment surrounded by broad open spaces for walking, playing, or relaxing in. Besides families, couples or senior travellers looking for a getaway place with beautiful sunsets and sandy beaches will also have a great a time here.

How do you get to San Gregorio?

Because it's a little off the beaten track there are not as many routes for getting here. If you're coming from Montevideo then the Nossar bus company serves the area. If you're traveling from Tacuarembo, the Daniel Posada bus is the one you need to catch.

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The ticket office for the bus to San Gregorio from Tacuarembo bus station

The other option is to drive. From Montevideo you take National Route 6 and then change to Route 43. From Tacuarembo take National Route 5 heading South and then turn onto Route 43 for San Gregorio.

What about accommodation? What's available?

If you think this is the kind of place you'd like to visit, you need to know about your accommodation options. The good news is that it's a lot cheaper than some other areas in Uruguay. Head over to our San Gregorio accommodation section to see what kind of places are available and how much they cost. And remember, if you've ever fancied England but were put off by the lack of sunshine, San Gregorio is Uruguay's answer.

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