If you come to Bella Unión on the bus from Salto, you'll see lots of gauchos riding horses, and maybe even riding the bus with you. This is a preview of what's to come: Bella Unión is solidly in gaucho territory. It's perfectly normal to see men and even surprisingly young boys riding horses down the street, and if you head to the outskirts of town, you'll see plenty of cows and horses grazing, usually (but not always) with someone keeping an eye on them.
Aside from agriculture, Bella Unión is known for its main tourist draw: the duty-free shops (free shops). They primarily cater to visitors from across the border in Argentina and Brazil, but are open to anyone with a foreign passport.
From elsewhere in UruguayBella Unión is on Uruguay Route 3 just before it reaches the Brazilian border.
Chadre buses run twice a day from Montevideo, stopping in various cities along the way including Colonia and Salto. El Norteño buses also offer service from Montevideo, Paysandú, Salto, and other cities. COTABU serves Bella Unión as well.
Bella Unión doesn't have a bus terminal, so instead, buses stop near the centrally located Plaza 25 de Agosto, and they let passengers off on the way into town too. From Salto, expect to pay U$270–300 each way (as of 2017). El Norteño gives a discount for round-trip tickets.
Bella Unión is across the Uruguay River from Monte Caseros. There is no bridge, but boats are available multiple times a day on weekdays. It's about a 10-minute boat ride across the river.
Bella Unión is close to Barra do Quaraí, just across the border in Brazil. There is a bridge.
Bella Unión isn't exactly known for its sights. There's one museum, some public art, and a few decent parks, but this is mostly a destination for shopping rather than sightseeing.
Plaza 25 de Agostoaddress: Artigas and QuintelaThe main square, with trees, benches, and the obligatory statue of Artigas as in every other city in Uruguay. The park, which is centrally located in the city, has free, poorly maintained public toilets (underground behind the Artigas statue) and a couple of small restaurants.
Parque RiveraRiverside park to the west of the city, dotted with eucalyptus trees, brightly colored benches, and white barbecue grills. Includes a small playground for children with swings and seesaws.
Plazoleta J. Pedro Varelaaddress: Artigas and Ruta 3A small park conveniently located near one of the duty-free shops, with its own colorful benches and lovely pink blossoms at the end of winter.
Museo Santa Rosa del Cuareimphone: +598 477 92589address: Enrique Ferreira 1164A private museum with an archaeological collection from Uruguay's indigenous history.
Plazoleta de la Memoriaaddress: Rivera and RodóPiece of public art memorializing bellaunionenses who were disappeared during the dictatorship in the 1970s.
phone: +598 4779-3018address: Lirio Moraes 1415 (esq. Calle Rivera)
phone: +598 4779 4252address: General Artigas and Joaquin Suarez
phone: +598 4779 2454address: Ruta 3 Km 626
phone: +598 4779 5270address: Rivera and Lavalleja
phone: +598 4779 4001address: Avenida Artigas 685
phone: +598 4779-4848address: Avenida Artigas 757
La Exclusivaphone: +598 4779 4174address: Romero Bianchi 1489Typical inexpensive Uruguayan fare: milanesas, chivitos, pizza, pasta, and so on. Casual vibe, pop art paintings, and both indoor and outdoor seating.
phone: +598 4779 3517address: Wilson Ferreira Aldunate
Hotel Bella Uniónphone: +598 4779 3456address: Gral Fructuoso Rivera 1291
phone: +598 4779 5295address: Lirio Moraes 1427