The secret is well and truly out. Uruguay is a fabulous destination. With a wonderfully gentle interior of rolling plains and hilly meadows it has the longest coastline with mile upon mile of spectacular beaches.

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For too long the South Americans kept Uruguay's beaches to themselves but now this coastline is one of the most glamorous places to spend the winter months. All this is just a boat ride away from Buenos Aires across the Rio de la Plata.

For a bit of culture, Colonia del Sacramento is a delightful little town, full of winding, cobbled streets and picture postcard style houses. It was originally founded by the Portuguese as a smugglers port. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is strategically positioned on the Rio de la Plata.

The capital, Montevideo, is charming and has managed to successfully combine the demands of a 21st century city without forsaking its identity. There are a couple of 'must-do's whilst here. One is to drive along 'The Rambla' which is the riverfront road bordering the city. The other is to have lunch at the port market. Today, this area is full of small restaurants, art galleries and handicraft shops. You can happily spend time wandering around here.

Continuing up the coast all the way to Brazil, you will discover miles of empty, sandy beaches, sand dunes and great scenery. This is really where to come if you want to get away from the crowds and step back in time.

Most spend the majority of the time on the Beach. The Ritziest of the resorts is Punta del Este, here celebrities mingle on the beach with local fisherman. Such is Punta del Este's popularity that the crowds are moving further and further up the coastline.

The latest in place is Jose Ignacio. Only 40 kilometres from Punta del Este, it is deliciously bohemian. Despite its position on the celebrity beach circuit it has not lost its charm. It still has the cosy atmosphere of a former fishing village.

Continuing up the coast all the way to Brazil, you will discover miles of empty, sandy beaches, sand dunes and great scenery. This is really where to come if you want to get away from the crowds and step back in time.

Inland, is also worth spending time. Stay at a family run estancia, sample the local wines and explore the area on horseback. It is utterly delightful.

There is an over-riding sense of calm, tranquillity and immense stylishness about Uruguay. We suggest that you visit it now before everyone else discovers its hidden charms.

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