Fray Bentos is in Río Negro department of Uruguay, at the border with Argentina. The town is best known, at least among travellers, for its former meat-packing plant, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The town of Fray Bentos has historically been a very important center of meat and meat extract production, as reflected in the world heritage listed plants that are here.
The bus terminal, lodging, and most of the stuff in Fray Bentos is located in the downtown area, which faces the Uruguay River. As in other riverside Uruguayan towns, there is a waterfront path (rambla or costanera). But the most famous tourist attraction is in the World Heritage–listed Anglo Neighborhood (Barrio Anglo), on the river a kilometer or two west of downtown.
Buses arrive at the 1 bus terminal at the corner of Juan Manuel Blanes and 18 de Julio. There are about 12 daily buses from Montevideo, the ride taking 4-7 hours depending on the route. Less frequent buses are also available from other Uruguayan cities such as Colonia and Salto. The bus terminal has a tourist office, a convenience store, a cafe, and ATMs.
As this is the southernmost road bridge between Uruguay and Argentina, you'll likely pass near the city if you travel between these two countries overland. The city is less than 50 km from Gualeguaychú in Argentina.
Within the downtown area, it's easy to walk around. It's possible to walk to the Anglo Neighborhood as well, though it takes about a half-hour. Driving or biking is faster. To get to the Anglo Neighbrhood, just head west on Brasil or the rambla (waterfront path).
The Anglo Neighborhood (Barrio Anglo) is the historic district including the industrial landscape that was declared a World Heritage Site in 2015. The star attraction is the museum, but it's worth wandering around the neighborhood a bit, especially the large former meat-packing plant.
- 1 Museo de la Revolución Industrial (Ex-frigorífico Anglo), Rambla Andres Montaño, ☏ . Tu–Su 09:30–17:00. The UNESCO World Heritage listing "Fray Bentos Cultural Industrial Landscape" comprises the premises of the former Liebig's Extract of Meat Company, founded in 1863. From 1899 onwards the Anglo Meat Packing Plant functioned here. In its heyday it was one of the largest industrial plants in all of South America and attracted many of the region's European immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Closed in 1979, the area now includes this extensive museum of the plant's history. The displays are mostly in Spanish, but a few are in English. $50 entrance fee, $120 for a guided tour.
- 2 Barrio Obrero (Workers' Neighborhood). The area east of the industrial complex is where the workers lived. Together with the industrial complex, it formed a particularly large company town.
- 3 Casa Grande. Tours available Th Sa Su 11:00. House built starting in 1868. Inhabited by Liebig's managers when the plant was operating.
- 4 Zona de Romerías. A nature area overlooking the river that is also of historic value. Celebrations of the end of the sugar harvest were once held here. Tent camps were set up, and people of all classes of society would participate in the festivities, including from neighboring cities. The space is now available for public use.
- 5 Puerto Anglo, Ruta Panorámica. The company's old port (or what's left of it). The two original docks used by the Anglo company were joined into one. Later damaged by a fire and a flood, it was never fully repaired and is now a crumbling fragment of the former structure. It has two old rusted cranes and is pretty close to the museum.
- 6 ANGLO meat processing plant in action (El Frigorífico ANGLO en acción) (next to the museum). Photo exhibition along a walkway in the industrial plant, with interesting black-and-white photos of the plant in its heyday.
The downtown area (centro) has the feel of a typical Uruguayan city. Like other department capitals, it has its share of attractions worth seeing, but none are as impressive as the industrial plant in the Anglo neighborhood. Some things downtown were paid for by Liebig's, the company that owned the meat packing plant.
- 7 Museo Solari (Museo Luis Alberto Solari), Treinta y Tres Orientales 1879, ☏ . M–F 08:00–20:00, Sa Su holidays: 14:00–20:00. Art museum, mostly featuring the work of the Uruguayan painter Luis Alberto Solari, who was born in Fray Bentos. His signature theme is figures with human-looking bodies but animal heads or masks. In addition to a substantial collection of his work, the museum has two rooms of paintings by other Uruguayan artists. Free.
- 8 Parroquia Nuestra Señora del Pilar (Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Pilar), 25 de Mayo (next to Plaza Constitución). A church, financed by Liebig's, that includes a clock imported from France.
- 9 Plaza Constitución, 15 de Mayo and 18 de Julio. Beautiful plaza with a gazebo at its center. The gazebo, unique in Uruguay and built in England, was financed by Liebig's.
- 10 Teatro de Verano. An amphitheater by the water, surrounded by a park. Sometimes there'll be some kind of community event going on, or a performance. Even when there isn't, it's a nice place to relax and drink mate.
- 11 Teatro Young (Teatro Miguel Young), Zorrilla de San Martín and 25 de Mayo.
Because this is a border town, some places will accept Argentinian pesos and even US dollars.
- 1 El Inmigrante, 18 de Julio 1118, ☏ . Typical Uruguayan food: pizza, pasta, milanesas, etc.
- 1 Hotel Colonial, 25 de Mayo 3295, ☏ . Budget option with fast Wi-Fi and a nice, friendly lobby/common area. Private or shared bathrooms available. Breakfast and air conditioning cost extra. From U$750.
- 2 Gran Hotel Fray Bentos, Paraguay 3272, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 63-room hotel near the river.
- 3 Plaza Hotel, 18 de Julio and 25 de Mayo, ☏ , . From $1210.