Montevideo is located on the north bank of the Rio de la Plata.
The Montevideo Carrasco International Airport (IATA: MVD) is about 15 km east of the city center. Buses depart right outside the airport to the main bus terminal, Terminal Tres Cruces, just north of many major sites downtown (easily walkable to hotels). Airport transfer by bus costs about UYU31. It helps to ask the bus driver to inform you when to get off, because the Tres Cruces terminal building is rather nondescript from some sides and you may miss it.
The Airport Taxi to the center costs UYU800 or USD40, metered and prepaid prices were about the same (Oct 2010). Payment in USD is possible, but using UYU works out to be about 20% cheaper.
Another possibility for travelers who are heading to Montevideo from nearby Buenos Aires is to take the high-speed ferry operated by Buquebus. A one-way ticket, tourist class, costs about UYU 940 and takes about 3 hours. There are several boats a day. The ferry arrives in the Ciudad Vieja district of Montevideo, situated very close to downtown - a cab ride to a hotel in El Centro or Pocitos is much shorter and cheaper than from the airport.
The city's central terminal is called Tres Cruces. Aside from being a full-fledged mall, it sports companies with fully-equipped tour buses that can take you anywhere in Uruguay and even into neighboring countries. All destinations, timetables and hours are available online.
Ferry service from Buenos Aires is also available via the same company Buquebus via Colonia. The ticket can include the bus to Montevideo from Colonia. This route is cheaper and about 1-2 hours longer than the direct crossing. The crossing from Buenos Aires to Colonia by fast ferry takes about one hour. The city of Colonia itself with its old building is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and certainly worth visiting. The bus ride from there to Montevideo's main bus terminal takes 2-3 hours and bus tickets cost around UYU188. One traveler paid UYU179 one-way to Colonia, about 2 to 3 hours. Efficient and on time.
Bus to Salto - 6 hour direct transfer is UYU640 with Agencia Central SA (June 2012) - several departs throughout the day/night. Any bus from the airport marked "Montevideo" will reach Tres Cruces in about half an hour and cost UYU31.
For those leaving from Porto Alegre, Brazil, there are two options: one that enters Uruguay via Chuí and another via Jaguarão. For both, you start by taking the route BR-116 up to Pelotas. Next, if you want to visit Chuí, the southernmost city of Brazil, or the Santa Teresa Fortress or even see the beautiful beaches of the coast of Uruguay, then, at Pelotas, take the route BR-392 to Rio Grande and next the route BR-471 all the way to Chuí. Takes about 6 hours and 30 minutes to go from Porto Alegre to Chuí. On June 6 of 2010 there were 5 tolls between those cities, a total of R$ 34.60 (it's important to note that they only accept Brazilian Real). Around 30 minutes after crossing the border, you can visit the Santa Teresa Fortress. An option is to stay a night at Punta del Diablo, in case you are too tired to keep driving to Montevideo. From Chuí to Montevideo, just stay on route 9. It takes about 4 hours and 30 minutes. Again, there are three tolls between Chuí and Montevideo, each cost UYU45. In this case, they do accept foreign money. However, it's strongly recommended that you pay in Uruguayan pesos, as they charge a lot more if you pay in reals or dollars.
If you want the fastest route to Montevideo (about 2 hours shorter than the first one), you should cross the border at Jaguarão. To reach this city, just stay in route BR-116. After that, take route 8 to Montevideo.
Montevideo is not a large city and it boasts a very efficient public transportation system, so getting around is not difficult at all. If you are not bashful about your Spanish, feel free to ask people which bus route you need to take to get to your destination as it can be effective and cheap (UYU 20 as of 2013). If you know some Spanish, two websites similar to Google Maps are useful: Cómo ir and MontevideoBus.
It is useful to know that if you choose to ride a bus, upon boarding you will pay either the driver or the assistant who sits on the right-hand side of the bus (door-side) a few seats from the entrance. There is a small device that will dispense your receipt, make sure you hold on to it for the duration of your ride as sometimes government officials will board your bus checking for these receipts (making sure no one is riding unauthorized). If you are unsure where to get off you can always ask the driver or assistant to let you know when your stop is coming up and they'll be happy to comply. Just try to remain visible so they can tell you (though if the bus gets full and you're displaced to the back they'll yell out the street name). It is also important to note that you do not need to have the exact fare as the driver or the assistant carry change. Of course, expect disgruntlement if you pay with a bill 20 times the fare.
Taxis are plentiful but not too cheap. It helps to know a little Spanish. A ten-minute cab ride costs about UYU100. Taxis are metered and upon the end of your ride you are shown a chart depicting distance and cost (though on some vehicles this chart will be on the window between you and the driver). Generally there are two fare schedules. The first is for Monday-Saturday from morning to mid-evening. The second fee schedule is for Sundays and late at night, and is slightly more expensive. Tipping is not expected, but you might round up to an even number to be polite. It is also not uncommon to sit on the front.
Car rental is cheaper if booked ahead but be aware that places like the airport and the ferry terminal charge higher rates then the same agencies in other locations around the city. A few phone calls and a cheap taxi ride to a location other than the air or sea ports will save you half the rate for the same car at the same company. Gasoline costs around USD 2 per litre.
- Ciudad Vieja— Montevideo's Old Town. Enter through the portal called Puerta de la Ciudadela at one end of Plaza de Independencia.
- Plaza de Independecia. The square at the end of 18 de Julio Ave., with the latter being the main commercial artery of the city. On the last Saturday of September, all the museums and historical places of interest around the Plaza de Independencia open for free to the public. There is also a large "Murga," or a traditional South American parade in which all the Uruguayan political parties take part. The event is known as El Día del Patrimonio, the Day of Heritage.
- Palacio Salvo. Next to Plaza Independencia. Once South America's highest building, the Palacio Salvo still dominates Montevideo's skyline. You can take an elevator to the top at no cost for an excellent view of the city.
- Mausoleo de Artigas. This large monument in the Plaza de Independencia pays tribute to José Gervasio Artigas, one of the heroes of the Uruguayan Independence. Under the monument is the mausoleum, which is open on the weekends. It contains an urn with his ashes and two honor guards keeping watch.
- National History Museum (Museo Histórico Nacional). Spread between five old historic houses, holds important bits of the country's history. No entrance fee.
- The sexual diversity monument (located on Policia Vieja St., between Plaza de la Constitución and Plaza Independencia.). It reads "Honouring diversity is honouring life; Montevideo is for the respect of all identities and sexual orientations" and was erected in 2005. It's South America's first monument dedicated to sexual diversity. Other places of interest to gay people include the Edificio Liberaij, where two gay Argentine bank robbers (featured in the 1998 movie Plata Quemada) died in 1965.
- MAPI (Museo de Arte Precolombino e Indígena). Museum of indigenous art and Uruguayan archaeology.
- Museo Torres Garcia. Displaying works of this most prominent Uruguayan artist.
- Barrio Reus. A small neighbourhood with charming colorful houses.
- Palacio Legislativo. National parliament, the first one in South America and an iconic symbol of Uruguay´s long lasting democracy.
- Museum of Natural History. Built in the form of a mosque and located at the beach promenade.
- MNAV (Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales), Tomás Giribaldi 2283. National museum of modern Uruguayan art.
- Fortaleza General Artigas. At Cerro - it now houses a collection of armoury. It is the original fort from which Montevideo originated.
- Palacio Taranco. Seat of the Museum of Decorative Art.
- Mercado del Puerto. This is a covered market full of restaurants and some shops selling handicrafts. The main market is open every day during lunch hours. The restaurants around the exterior offer both indoor and outdoor seating, and they remain open for dinner.
- Cathedral Metropolitana.
- Old Sepharadi Synagogue (Sinagoga de la Comunidad Israelita Sefaradí).
- Peñarol. Not only the name of the world famous football team but also an old well preserved railway district among the oldest in South America.
- Museo Blanes. Museum of early Uruguayan art from the 19th to early 20th centuries
- Tiles Museum (Museo del Azulejo). Exhibiting around 3000 tiles.
- Central Cemetery (Cementerio Central). A historic cemetery with sculptures.
- World Trade Centre.
- Parque Rodo. Montevideo's main park with numerous amusement facilities.
- Castillo Soneira.
- Torre de las Telecomunicaciones (Torre Antel). 157 m high, this skyscraper is Uruguay's highest building. There's a viewing platform and even free guided tours (in Spanish).
- Museo del Gaucho y de la Moneda, Avenida 18 de Julio 998. Numismatic museum.
- The Rambla. This waterside roadway has people biking, fishing, drinking mate, and enjoying the great views. 22 kilometers-long (13.6 miles), the Rambla goes along Montevideo's waterfront. Lovely at sunset.
- La Feria Tristán Narvaja Flea Market. Spend part of Sunday morning with the locals on Tristán Narvaja Street, where vendors sell everything from t-shirts to antiques to kitchen supplies. It's right off of 18 de Julio Ave. and the entrance is often marked by people selling puppies.
- Pocitos. This barrio lies about 2 miles south-east of El Centro. The Pocitos beach runs east from Punta Trouville for about a mile. Highrise apartments ring the beach along the Rambla, but going in-land a few blocks brings you into an older neighborhood reminiscent of San Francisco's Marina district. Head uphill on 21 de septiembre St. from the Rambla at Punta Trouville for about 7 or 8 blocks to avenue Ellauri, turn left and walk another 4 blocks to Punta Carretas Shopping, a major shopping mall that is built on the remains of a prison (they preserved the prison gate inside the mall).
- Walking. Montevideo is a relatively safe city. The city is built on a slight hill, the spine of which extends into the Rio de la Plata to create the point that was the original city (Ciudad Vieja). From the Plaza de la Independencia, the main street that extends east from the plaza is 18 de Julio Ave. El Centro (downtown) is in this area and there will be lots of shops and places to change money. You can walk around without worry almost anywhere, and there are lots of side streets and areas you can explore: be aware that the port area, just off the main tourist and port terminal areas, is considered dangerous by locals as much as by the police. Parts of the city may appear run-down, but do not confuse this with it being a bad neighborhood. Along with Buenos Aires, this is one of the few cities in South America where poverty is not overly prevalent. That being said, there is simply not enough money in Uruguay to construct lots of new, modern buildings, so buildings are kept in use for long periods of time.
- Mercado de los Artesanos. This market, located on the corner of Paraguay and Colonia streets, is fantastic! An array of artists and craftspeople converge here to sell wares made from leather, paper, woodwork, and various textiles.
- Montevideo Leather Factory, Plaza Independencia 832, ☎ . This factory has a wide range of leather garments at reasonable prices, and they offer custom-made jackets tailored to your measurements in 24 hours.
- Manos del Uruguay. Several locations throughout Montevideo, including one at the Punta Carretas mall. Sells woven goods and other handcrafted items - a little pricey.
- Punta Carretas Shopping Mall. A large shopping mall located in a former prison. It has several levels of shopping, a food court, cineplex and full-service dining options. The Sheraton Hotel is connected to the mall.
- Acatras del Mercado, Yacaré 1595 ((Near Mercado del Puerto)), ☎ 29152492. 10:30 - 18:30. A gallery that specializes in ceramics and also features a selection of contemporary paintings of Uruguayan Artist, interesting sculptures in metal, wood, etc. Art pieces of more than 30 different artists from all over the country. This gallery has been operating since 2003 and is part of the MAD (Mercado Arte y diseño) circuit that joins the main galleries and ateliers in Montevideo. all.
- Meat — Uruguay is renowned for its meats, and Montevideo has many parrillas where they are grilled up to perfection.
- Chivito — This is the local sandwich, made with meat and vegetables. It can be served al plato (on a plate), which means it is going to take a fork and knife to eat it. It is tastier, cheaper and much bigger than a hamburger. Marcos Chivito is one of the best places in Montevideo to get these tasty treats, as well as La Mole, and some "Carritos". An excellent choice is to try chivitos in Bar San Rafael.
- Milanesa — is a common meat dish mostly in South America, including Uruguay. It consists of a thin slice of veal, chicken or sometimes beef. Each slice is dipped into beaten eggs, seasoned with salt, and other condiments according to the cook's taste (like parsley and garlic). Each slice is then dipped in breadcrumbs (or occasionally flour) and shallow-fried in oil, one at a time. Some people prefer to use very little oil and then bake them in the oven as a healthier alternative. Sometimes it may include a fried egg on top.
- Fresh Pasta and Fresh Gnocchis — they are everywhere on the menus, with all types of vegetarian or meat sauces... usually a cheap, filling and delicious option!
- Desserts — In Uruguay, desserts are huge and plentiful. There is dulce de leche on almost everything and stores that sell nothing but caramels. Many places sell nothing but dessert, so pick the one with the best looking pastries and cakes and enjoy!
- Churros — Find them for sale at the "Parque Rodó". Try the sweet versions - they come with sugar on top, or filled with chocolate, dulce de leche or cream filling - or the cheese-filled ones.
- Pizza — There are "pizzerías" all around Montevideo. Most make square pizzas, a traditional form in Uruguay. "Muzzas" (mozzarella) are most popular.
- Fainá — It's a mixture of Corn flour and milk, which is baked in the pizza oven. Quality is varible among pizzerías, most delicious is the thin or "de orillo" part which is crunchier!
- K Fe, ☎ 224025887. Open from 12PM to 2AM.. Corner of Juan Paullier and Maldonado, Cordon area: You will feel like in Lavapiez in Madrid, Friedrichshain in Berlin or a Melbourne back alley. Enjoy a coffee in the afternoon or a home cooked meal (always veggie option) in this unique rotiseria cultural in the hart of the city. Clothes, design, exhibition, roots, dub, dubstep, urban art.
- Café Bacacay. — located very close to Plaza de la Independencia, right across the Teatro Solis and open all day for a coffee or a bite to eat, this café/restaurant offers a variety of very tasteful dishes going from traditional to more innovative cuisine. Service was excellent.
- La Pasiva. This restaurant chain is found all over the city, and specializes in beer, hot dogs, and chivitos.
- La Corte, Sarandi 586. Classic restaurant (not fast-food) in the Ciudad Vieja, with lovely decorations and great food.
- Mercado del Puerto. This touristy area houses a dozen or so restaurants. Most offer grilled meat, and you can find good paella, as well. It is usually quite busy - just find an open seat to be served.
- Montecristo, Francisco Vidal 638. Located in Pocitos, this restaurant offers innovative dishes and is housed in a castle-like building that used to be the house of an alchemist.
- Sidewalk cafes. Cafes abound in the city center along the pedestrian streets heading towards the Ciudad Vieja.
- Estancia Del Puerto. Featured on Anthony Bourdain's 'No Reservations'. It's an All You Can Eat meat bar.
- Don Pepperone. With several locations around the city, a good bet for anyone seeking a taste of an American-style chain. This Italian-American themed eatery offers a wide variety of pizza as well as other pasta dishes.
- Mate — This traditional drink is ubiquitous - find it anywhere and everywhere throughout the city! Mate is derived from the herb yerba that was originally used by the indigenous Guarani living near the Rio de la Plata. Most of the city-dwellers in Montevideo prefer to drink their mate without sugar, called a Mate amargo. Gourds and horns are constantly being refilled with the brew from sun-up to sun-down.
- Sirte — A mineral water bottled in Uruguay. If you're a little apprehensive about drinking tap water, this is a great way to go!
- Tutti Frutti — A mix of delicious freshly squeezed fruit juice with ice.
- Beer — Beer is often sold in 1 liter bottles. You basically have a selection of typical lagers. The most commonly found are Patricia or Pilsen, with Zillertal also often available. You can also order a chopp, which is a draft beer (and if not specified, it is normally Patricia).
- Uvita — A specialty of Bar Fun Fun, a liquor drink served in a shot glass and tastes of raisins. It is a secret recipe and only served at Baar Fun Fun.
- Medio y Medio — A special mix of drinks made by "Roldós", in the Mercado del Puerto
- The green hostel (In the heart of the old city), 25 de Mayo 288 esq. Colon, ☎ . Check-out: 11h. Breakfast & wifi included. Bike rental. Dorms220$ Private700$.
- Live MVD Hostel, Maldonado 1790 (Bus #300 or #407 from Terminal Tres Cruces), ☎ 24111839. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 11:30. This is a brand new hostel in the design district with cheap dorms and a central location. The owners, two girls from Montevideo, are super friendly and helpful. Free breakfast (with homemade bread!), free bike rental, and an art studio (you´re supposed to do a painting before you go). USD 10.
- Piedras de Afilar Art Hostel (Montevideo downtown), Andes 1261 (Esq. Soriano), ☎ . Art Hostel placed at the very centre of Montevideo, + B&B, WIFI, BICICLES, KITCHEN. Dorms from 250 Ur$ (13USD).
- Boulevard Sarandi Hostel, Sarandi 405 (Esq. Zabala), ☎ 915 3765 / 099 710 353. New hostel open in July 2009. Clean and spacious. Breakfast, towel, Internet and Wifi included. Free use of the kitchen. Dorms from 260 Ur$.
- Albergue Juvenil, Canelones 935, ☎ . Nice HI-Hostel close to the center. With kitchen and internet access.
- Unplugged Hostel, Luis de la Torre 930, ☎ . Located in Pocitos, one of the nicest and safest neighborhoods of Montevideo, just a few blocks away from its famous coast. Dorms from US$12
- Hotel Arapey, Ave Uruguay 925, ☎ . Rambling art deco relic with large rooms and linens as old as the building. Private bath, fans, TVs, elevator. US$32/38 single/double.
- Ciudad Vieja Hostel, Ituzaingó 1436, ☎ . Located near the historical heart of the city and in the middle of Montevideo’s nightlife. Free breakfast, internet, kitchen access. Dorms from US$11.
- Red Hostel, San Jose 1406, ☎ . A hostel set in a renovated colonial home built in 1912. Typical hostel traffic, but very nice staff who like to hang out with their friends late at night on the hostel roof.
- Spléndido Hotel, Bartolome Mitre 1314, ☎ . Rumor has it that this hotel was originally built by a former president at the turn of the 20th century for his mistress. The hotel is located near the Plaza de Independencia and the Teatro Solis. Many of the best restaurants, music, bars, and sightseeing spots are literally within a few steps of the front door. Prices from US$11-38.
- Pocitos Hostel, Av. Sarmiento 2641, ☎ . In nearby Pocitos, a beach suburb,is a purpose built hostel with free breakfast, internet, kitchen, fireplace, backyard and the most friendly and helpful staff. They have bicycles for hire, don´t miss the bike ride from Pocitos to Carrasco (45 minutes) or Pocitos to Escollera, Old Town, 20 minutes. Dorms from US$ 12
- Four Points Sheraton, Calle Ejido 1275, ☎ . Close to one of Avenida 18 de Julio. In walking distance of Plaza Independencia and Ciudad Vieja. Has a pool and a small gym. Rooms are quite nice, but without balconies and you can't open any windows (a shame in the summer time). Friendly staff and an excellent restaurant.
- Fully Equipped Short Term Apartments, Calle 21 Septembre (in Pocitos), ☎ . Very central and in a good neighborhood. Perfect solution if you plan to stay for several days and want to have the comfort of your own home.
- Ibis Montevideo, Calle La Cumparsita 1473, ☎ , fax: +598 2 4136245, e-mail: email@example.com. A 5-minute walk from the old town, this chain hotel has simple but comfortable rooms and is bookable over the internet.
- Radisson, Plaza Independencia 759, ☎ , fax: +598 2 902-1628, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Located in the heart of Montevideo's financial and commercial district. Features include a pool, gym, high-speed internet, and views of the city from the Restaurant Arcadia, located on the 25th floor.
- Nh Columbia Hotel, Rambla Gran Bretana 473, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. This hotel is near the Ciudad Vieja with views of the Rambla. A modern hotel with a huge breakfast and free internet access, it has plenty of parking and a friendly staff.
- Casa Sarandi (email: firstname.lastname@example.org), Buenos Aires 558. Named after the atmospheric breakwater that makes the port of Montevideo one of the best in South America, offers guests a warm and inviting residential ambience with modern conveniences. A four-room guest house occupying the entire third floor of a 1930s art deco style residential building in the Old City, called Ciudad Vieja in Spanish, the heart of Montevideo's artistic and intellectual life since the 1800s.
- Bolivia, Prudencio de Pena 2469 (between Cambell st. and Ponce st.), ☎ (+598) 2708 3573, fax: (+598) 2708 0066, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Brazil, Bulevar José G. Artigas 1394, ☎ (+598) 2707 2119, fax: (+598) 2707 2086, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- France, Av. Uruguay 853, ☎ (+598) 1705 0000.
- Germany, La Cumparsita 1435, ☎ (+598) 2902-5222, fax: (+598) 2902-3422, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Greece, Bulevar Jose G.Artigas 1231, ☎ (+598) 2408 9224, Emergencies:(+598) 9 495-8087, fax: (+598) 2402 0360, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Israel, Bulevar Artigas 1585, ☎ (+598) 2400 4164-66, fax: (+598) 2409 5821, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Italy, José Benito Lamas 2857, ☎ (+598) 2708 0542, (+598) 2708 4916, (+598) 2708 5316, (+598) 2708 4634, fax: (+598) 2708 4148, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Japan, Bulevar Artigas 953, ☎ (+598) 2418 7645, fax: (+598) 2418 7980.
- Lebanon, Av. Gral. Rivera 2278, ☎ (+598) 2408 6640, fax: (+598) 2408 6365, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Russia, Bulevar España 2741, ☎ (+598) 2708 1884, fax: (+598) 2708 6597, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- South Africa, Gabriel Otero 6337, ☎ (+598) 2601 7591, fax: (+598) 2600 3165, e-mail: email@example.com.
- South Korea, Av. Luis Alberto de Herrera 1248, Tower II, 10th floor, WTC, ☎ (+598) 2628 9374/5, fax: (+598) 2628 9376, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- United Kingdom, Marco Bruto 1073, ☎ (+598) 2622 3630, (+598) 2622 3650, fax: (+598) 2622 7815, e-mail: email@example.com.
- United States, Lauro Muller 1776, ☎ (+598) 2 1770-2000, fax: (+598) 2418-8611, e-mail: MontevideoVisas@state.gov MontevideoACS@state.gov; MontevideoVisas@state.gov.
- Colonia - A pleasant little World Heritage colonial town. A nice chance to get away from the noisy city and relax for a while.
- Punta del Este - A seaside town 120 km east of Montevideo.