AS ONE OF THE MOST SOCIALLY liberal nations in the Western Hemisphere, Uruguay is a natural choice for LGBTQ globetrotters looking for a welcoming experience. The government decriminalized homosexuality way back in 1934 and made even more progress in the 21st century, with laws prohibiting discrimination in effect since 2003 and allowing same-sex marriage since 2013.
“Uruguay is historically a vanguard nation in terms of legislation and social rights,” said Adrián Russo, president, the Cámara de Comercio y Negocios LGBT Uruguay (Uruguay LGBT Chamber of Commerce and Business). In terms of visiting, “The peak season is summer, thanks to the sun and sand, water sports and other entertainment that’s available,” Russo said. “But Uruguay has something to offer for every season. Wine tourism, design, shopping, adventure, wellness and culture are some of the reasons why LGBTQ travelers visit our country.”
The point of entry for most visitors is the capital city, Montevideo. There, Russo recommends the culinary offerings in gaypopular restaurants like Francis, La Cocina de Pedro and 1700. Top sightseeing attractions include the historic Solis Theater and National Auditorium, as well as La Rambla, a verdant avenue that runs between the city and the sea.
For after-dark fun, top choices include Cain Club, a disco that stages a different show every night; Il Tempo, a dance club that attracts a variety of LGBTQ and straight night owls; and Chains, which targets an over-30 gay male clientele.
Gay-friendly accommodations in Montevideo include Casa Roberto and Casa Sarandi, both bed-and-breakfasts set in historic homes. Among the top internationally branded hotels in Montevideo are the Sheraton Montevideo, Sofitel Montevideo Casino Carrasco and Spa and Hyatt Centric Montevideo.
Another must-see destination — especially in the warmer months — is Punta del Este, an international hot spot for sun worshipers. Playa Chihuahua, a nudist beach, is among the popular gathering places for LGBTQ travelers. Find gay-specific accommodations at Undarius, a men-only hotel, while mainstream luxury hotels include the chic Hotel Fasano Punta del Este and spacious Conrad Punta del Este Resort & Casino.
As I arrived at the Air Canada check-in counter, the helpful staff directed me to the security checkpoint. Once through the line, and a bit strapped for time, I walked quickly to my gate, where an extremely kind concierge service member greeted me. She asked how my trip was and said she had been watching for me so she could assist me with boarding early to ensure a calm and easy departure. She assisted me earlier that week when I processed through security from Toronto to London, so it was nice closing my trip with a friendly face. She escorted me onto the plane and to my seat in the beautiful Signature Class cabin of the Boeing 787-8, introducing me to the flight attendant who would be directing cabin staff during my flight. I thanked the concierge for her hospitality throughout my journey.
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