Montevideo is the capital city of Uruguay, located on the east bank of the Rio de la Plata. Though sometimes overlooked beside nearby Buenos Aires, Montevideo is a significant city in its own right: it's the cultural and political center of the country, home to well over a million people, more than ten times the size of the next largest Uruguayan city. The metro area has around two million—half of the population of Uruguay—but the friendliness and helpfulness of the residents will make you think you're in a much smaller city.
There are several theories about the origins of the city's name. The "monte" part is generally considered to be the hill where the Cerro fort is located. According to one theory the hill was named "Monte-VI-D-E-O(este)", which translates to Mountain six (VI in Roman numerals) From East to West. Another popular theory is that a member of Ferdinand Magellan's world circumnavigation would have shouted "Monte vide eu!", which translates to "I see a mountain!" when seeing the hill - however the circumnavigation happened two centuries before the foundation of the city so it might well have been another mountain he saw.
Construction of the Cerro fort, at the time called Montevieu fort, was started by the Portuguese in 1723. The following year the Spanish started building the city of Montevideo on the opposite side of the bay where currently Ciudad Vieja is located and occupied and colonized the rest of the region. During its almost 300 years of existence, Montevideo has been part of the Spanish and Portuguese empires, occupied by the British for a few months in 1807 and afterwards a part of Brazil and today's Argentina before finally becoming the capital of the newly-founded Republic of Uruguay in 1828.
The unrest of the mid-19th century, including an eight-year siege, was followed by a time of prosperity, and the region was a popular destination for European immigrants. The pompous villas and parks that can be seen for example in the Prado district date from this period. In the 1950s, an economic collapse led to the emergence of a left-wing guerrilla movement, followed by a military dictatorship lasting until 1985, when democracy was restored. Today, Uruguay is run by the democratic socialist party of the former guerrillas, and it is one of the safest Latin American countries with the GDP per capita being among the highest.
|Daily highs (°C)||28.4||27.5||25.5||22.0||18.6||15.1||15.0||16.2||18.0||20.5||23.7||26.5|
|Nightly lows (°C)||18.0||17.9||16.2||12.9||10.2||7.7||7.2||7.8||9.1||11.5||14.2||16.3|
Since Montevideo is south of the Equator, it is summer there when it's winter in the Northern Hemisphere and vice versa. Montevideo is in the subtropics; in the summer months, temperatures above +30°C are common. The winter can be deceptively chilly: temperatures rarely go below freezing, but the wind and humidity combine to make it feel colder than what the thermometer says. There are no particular "rainy" and "dry" seasons: the amount of rain stays roughly the same throughout the year.
After it rains, loose sidewalk tiles can hide puddles of water. Watch your step to avoid getting splashed.
The city of Montevideo extends from the extreme southeast of Rio de la Plata along a circular gulf that offers a natural harbor.
The most interesting area for visitors is the old town (Ciudad Vieja) and Centro. The city's major sights, monuments and museums but also accommodation, theater and shops can be found there. The old town stretches along a small peninsula that abuts Montevideo Bay and the Centro immediately to the east.
Avenida 18 de Julio starts at Plaza Independencia, dominated by Palacio Salvo, an Art Deco highrise of 102m that is considered the symbol of Montevideo. Another point of interest in the old town is Plaza Constitución, colloquially named Plaza Matriz. Another sight is the former city hall palace (El Cabildo).
Towards the north of the old town one can find architecture reminiscent of Buenos Aires, and in the south it is delimited by the seaside promenade La Rambla that continues all the way to Parque Rodó. This is a popular area for outdoor activities like fishing, strolling or biking.
- Barrio La Aguada is an extension of the Centro towards north whose major point of interest is the parliament, built in neoclassical style.
- Barrio Tres Cruces is an important traffic center in the other end of Avenida 18 de Julio. The intercity and international bus station is located there, together with a big shopping mall.
Eastern and Southern Montevideo
The coast east of Parque Rodó is known for its beaches. Its principal artery is Avenida Italia, a lively road connecting the city to the airport. The Rambla runs along the coast. The most important districts in this part of the city are:
- Palermo - A district associated with candombe and the Afro-Uruguayan community.
- Punta Carretas – Upscale district includes golf greens and Hotel Sheraton and Punta Carretas Shopping, a major shopping mall that is built on the remains of a prison (they preserved the prison gate inside the mall).
- Pocitos - This barrio lies about 3 km south-east of the city center. The Pocitos beach runs east from Punta Trouville for about 1.5 km. Highrise apartments ring the beach along the Rambla, but going inland a few blocks brings you into an older neighborhood reminiscent of San Francisco's Marina district.
- Buceo - East along the Rambla, home to one of the city's many beaches and the World Trade Center with its adjacent shopping mall.
- Malvín - Yet another upscale barrio with a long beach.
- Carrasco - Very upscale district with a variety of architectural styles in the easternmost part of the city.
Northern and western Montevideo
The northern and western parts include a couple of sights. The few dangerous barrios of Montevideo are located in the northwestern outskirts.
- Barrio Reus – A small neighbourhood with charming colorful houses.
- 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.
- Cerro - Seedy neighborhood best known for its fort overlooking Montevideo from the western side of the bay.
Montevideo is located on the north bank of the Rio de la Plata.
- 1 Carrasco International Airport (MVD IATA) (about 15 km east of the city center). There are flights to the airport from major South American cities as well as Panama City, Miami and Madrid.
From the airport there are two kinds of buses to central Montevideo. Public transit buses travel from the airport to the 2 Rio Branco Terminal (Terminal Baltasar Brum), a few blocks north of Plaza Independencia. The bus stop is right out the airport to the left where a big bus sign is visible. Take any bus showing "Montevideo"—all go into the centre. They go every 10-20 min, take 1-1.5 hr and tickets are U$59. You can get off at any stop before the station in case you have an accommodation somewhere between Pocitos and Cordón.
The second type of bus transportation is the intercity coaches, travelling eastbound to places like Punta del Este, or travelling westbound into the city. The westbound buses will take you to Tres Cruces bus station east of the city centre. A one-way ticket into the city on the COT line costs U$134 (Uruguayan pesos). As you exit the terminal, walk to the right, buy a ticket in the COT office (or you can buy it on board the bus) and walk further 20 m forwards, where the stop for those buses is. Since both eastbound and westbound intercity buses stop at the airport, be sure to check that you're getting on a bus going in the right direction.
A private company also offers airport taxi service for a hair-raising US$60. That same company ostensibly offers a shuttle service that will run when enough passengers buy tickets. However, with the same company offering both services and the margins on the taxis service being much more profitable, the shuttle service is, surprisingly, never available.
Exchanging money at the airport is expensive with rates about 20% off the official interbank rates. So, better to opt for a "cambio" in the city centre, where rates are just about 3 % off.
Departure by plane
According to the airport's home page there is a US$40 departure tax for international flights, which can be paid cash in US dollars, pesos or by card. At the departures level between the check-in booths and the entrance to the security check there is indeed a booth that says "departure tax". As of May 2014, it looks like travelers leaving to Buenos Aires are not asked about the payment of said tax at any point so the fee is probably included in at least some tickets.
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 U$940 and takes about 2.5 hr. There are several boats a day. The ferry arrives in the 3 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.
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 hr 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 buildings is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and certainly worth visiting. The bus ride from there to Montevideo's main bus terminal takes 2-3 hr and bus tickets cost around U$188. One traveler paid U$179 one-way to Colonia, about 2-3 hr. Efficient and on time.
- 4 Tres Cruces Terminal (The station is connected to the old town by the normal bus lines 180 and 188, and cheaper line CA1, among others.). This is the city's central terminal, named after the district it is located in. Aside from being a full-fledged mall, it sports companies with fully-equipped buses that can take you anywhere in Uruguay and even into neighbouring countries. All destinations, timetables and hours are also available online. They have an excellent tourist office there as well.
Like the rest of Latin America, overland transportation is in practice synonymous with taking the bus. There are frequent buses to and from all main cities in Uruguay and from destinations in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay.
If you arrive in Tres Cruces Terminal and plan to use public transit, take the opportunity to make your free STM card at the Abitab shop on the terminal floor, as this will save you money on the bus fares.
Two companies operate the route Montevideo/Porto Alegre: EGA and TTL, both offer executivo and leito/cama class of buses and both have very similar pricing for executivo (as of Mar/2018): R$267 (US$83) if you buy the tickets in Brazil, and U$2.800 (US$99) if you buy them in Uruguay, regardless of the direction. TTL Brazil sells tickets online, and EGA Brazil sells them over the phone. It's also possible to get an open-date refundable ticket valid for one year if you buy it in Brazil.
Another possibility is to travel to the border town of Chuy on the Uruguayan side (many companies, 5 hr, U$584 or US$24), walk a few blocks and cross into the town of Chuí on the Brazilian side and catch a Planalto bus to Porto Alegre (2 services a day at 13 hr and 23:30 hr, 8 hr, between R$125-188 or US$39-58).
(Chuí-Porto Alegre tickets can only be bought in person at the Chuí bus station, but the timetable and prices are the same in both directions, so check updated information on Busca Ônibus or other search engines)
If you are driving into central Montevideo, be aware that many hotels do not have their own parking spaces and it can be challenging finding somewhere to park. Parking houses in the city charge per hour and long term parking is generally expensive. They do also not take responsibility for the cars parked there.
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,"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 U$45. 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.
Buses are the only form of mass public transit available in town, so it's likely you'll use them at some point.
STM transit cards are free, give discounts on the many types of fares and allow for buses integration: U$29 for 2 buses in 1 hr or U$44 for any number of buses in 2 hr, against U$36 for the normal fare paid in cash. You can get yours at the Abitab shop on the ground floor of Tres Cruces Terminal, or in any other agreed post. Abitab minimal top-up is of U$100.
Be aware that there are no route maps at the bus stops, that the lines deserving a certain stop might not be indicated, and that the bus stop might not have any mark at all.
There are a few routing tools to help with the task of figuring out the bus system: Moovit app is a traveller's favorite because it's available in many other cities around the globe and has an intuitive interface in many languages (most notably English, Portuguese and Spanish) and Cómo ir is the official app launched by the Montevideo Administration. Other options are MontevideoBus and Bondi.
Montevideo buses are entered through the front door. The fee is paid either to the driver or to the collector (if present) sat to the right. There are many types of tickets available and you are supposed to say which one you want: if you don't know, say una-hora. Remember to take the receipt and keep it with you for the duration of your trip because control officers might board the bus and ask for them. In many buses, the "please stop" button is located over the doors - observe others if in doubt.
Notice that the line CA1, which connects Tres Cruces Terminal to Ciudad Vieja, is exceptionally included on the "boleto céntrico" type of fare, so it's cheaper: U$20 if paid by card, U$26 if in cash (against U$29/36 for other lines on the same route).
Montevideo is a relatively safe city and if you are getting around by foot, you will have time to see the beautiful architecture of Montevideo. 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.
If you are arriving at the central bus station you can walk south along General Artigas until Parque Rodo looking at old buildings. From there you can walk east along the beach promenade which reminds of Ipanema in Rio de Janeiro. Another alternative is to walk east from the bus terminal to Parque Batlle and its Estádio Centenário - the home of Uruguay's football team and site of the 1930 FIFA World Cup. A third alternative is to walk towards the city center and the old town along 18 de Julio, it's around 4 km to Plaza Independencia.
Separate traffic lights for pedestrians are rare, in general there is just one traffic light for all traffic. Jaywalking and crossing the street outside of zebra crossings is very common. Cars are fairly respectful of pedestrians especially in the old town and elsewhere where they drive slowly. On the other hand, you're not in Northern Europe, and at the Rambla where highway speeds seem to be common, stepping out in the front of cars is an utterly bad idea!
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.
Taxis are plentiful but not too cheap. It helps to know a little Spanish. A ten-minute cab ride costs about U$100. 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 in the front. If you are interested in a more private and secure option, you can hire a Transfer Service. This service works with prior recruitment, often has a wide range of vehicles, and can be paid by credit card.
If you can, take an Uber instead—they're more popular, cheaper, and safer.
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 US$2 per litre. If moving around by car, be aware that signs and lane markings are often poor or non existent, and it's hard to see how many lanes the street really has. Drivers often yield to pedestrians, and you should not drive to close to the car in front of you as it, even while driving at high speed, might suddenly brake to let a pedestrian cross. Gas stations and their mini markets do not handle cash and only accept credit cards at night.
There's no rail traffic in the city itself. Administración de Ferrocarriles del Estado (AFE) operates local trains to suburbs and towns northwest of Montevideo in the departments of Canelones, San José and Florida. These trains depart from a terminal about 500 m north of the majestic former central station - Estación Central General Artigas - that was abandoned in 2003.
Less windy days are good for bike rides along the beach promenade. If something on your bike breaks, head for one of the Bicipuntos service points. Most city streets do not have designated bike lanes, so cycling around can be challenging, especially on weekdays. However a bike is a good way for getting around the parks in and around the city.
Bikes can be rented at reasonable rates at some hostels and at Plaza Matriz in the old town.
The Independence square is a symbol of Montevideo and lined by several prominent landmarks.
- 1 Plaza Independencia. 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 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. On the middle of the square there is a statue of general José Artigas, and under it, his mauseoleum.
- 2 Palacio Salvo. Eastern side of Plaza Independencia. Once South America's highest building, the 95m high Art Deco building Palacio Salvo still dominates Montevideo's skyline. In the past there used to be an observation deck that could be accessed for free. $200-300 for 30 min tour including observation deck.
- 3 Mausoleo de Artigas. This large monument in the Plaza 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.
- 4 Palacio Estévez (Estévez Palace). The Palacio Estévez was the office building of Uruguayan presidents until 1985. Today it is a museum of the Uruguayan presidency.
- 5 Torre Ejecutiva. The current presidential office, next to the former. The Executive Tower was first planned as a courthouse in the 1960s, the project was halted several times until the house was finalized as the presidential office in 2009.
- 6 Edificio Ciudadela. Glass framed office building at the western end of the square with a terrifying number of air conditioning units.
- 7 Puerta de la Ciudadela. A gate to the old town; if you pass through it you're at Sarandí, Montevideo's main pedestrian street. This is one of the few remaining parts of the old city wall.
- MUSEO DEL TANGO de Montevideo (Tango Museum of Montevideo), Plaza Indepepndencia 846 (On the main square of Montevideo. Plaza Independencia. Palacio Salvo. Ground floor), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. The historic place of Tango music inUruguay.
It is the place where La Cumparsita, the Tango of all Tangos was first played 100 years ago, in 1917.
It conserves the original pieces of the time, and a large collection of uruguayan Tango history.
Working victrols play tango all day long on original records.
One of the most visited sites in Montevideo.
Probably half of what Montevideo has to offer visitors is concentrated in the area immediately west of Plaza Independecia — the old town.
Buildings and monuments
- 8 Mercado del Puerto. This is a covered market full of restaurants and some shops selling handicrafts and souvenirs - worth seeing both as a sight, an eating place and as a place for shopping. 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.
- 9 Catedral Metropolitana (Montevideo Metropolitan Cathedral), Plaza Constitución/Plaza Matriz. The Catholic cathedral of Montevideo and the seat of the archidiocese of Montevideo. The cathedral features beautiful artwork, among them the picture of Our Lady of the Thirty-Three, the patron saint of Uruguay. Mass at least one time per day, the schedule is posted outside the door so you can check the schedules in the case you want to attend one or if you want to have a closer look at the church without disturbing a ceremony.
- 10 Old Sepharadi Synagogue (Sinagoga de la Comunidad Israelita Sefaradí). Synagogue in the old town that was opened in 1956. It was inspired by the Portuguese synagogue in New York.
- 11 Teatro Solís, Bartolomé Mitre. The main theater of Montevideo — consider going here if you want to see a theater performance. Also hosts a museum of its own history and is itself one of the old town's most iconic buildings.
- 12 The sexual diversity monument (located on Policia Vieja St., between Plaza de la Constitución and Plaza Independencia.). Basically a work of modern art, graffiti painted fences and walls, all located at a side alley that should probably be avoided after dusk. 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.
- 13 Aduana building. Massive landmark next to Mercado del Puerto, hosting the Uruguayan customs administration.
- 14 Cathedral of The Most Holy Trinity (Templo Inglés). An Anglican church and the oldest non-Catholic place of worship in Montevideo. Looks more like a Roman temple than a church.
- 15 Palacio Taranco (Museo de Artes Decorativas), 25 de Mayo 376. Mo-Fr 12:30-17:30. Location of the Museum of Decorative Art with over 2000 exhibits from all periods. Here you can see works by European masters from the last five centuries and ancient archeological artefacts such as Roman amphoras and furniture used by French kings. The building was built as the residence of the Taranco Ortiz family. Free.
- 16 National History Museum (Museo Histórico Nacional). Spread between five old historic houses, holds important bits of the country's history. No entrance fee.
- 17 MAPI (Museo de Arte Precolombino e Indígena), 25 de Mayo 279. Mo-Fr 11:30-17:30, Sa 10-16. Museum of indigenous art and Uruguayan archaeology. As the name reveals, it showcases native American artefacts from all of South America. U$65.
- 18 Museo Torres Garcia, Sarandí 683. Mo-Fr 9:30-19:30, Sa 10-18. Displaying works by one of most prominent Uruguayan artists, the painter and sculptor Joaquín Torres García (1874-1949).
- 19 , Rambla 25 de Agosto 1825. We-Su 11-17. Small museum with carnival costumes and paraphernalia. If you don't have the opportunity to visit Montevideo during the yearly carnival, at least you will get to see some costumes and drums here. U$80.
- 20 El Cabildo (Cabildo de Montevideo), Juan Carlos Gomez 1362. Mo-Fr 12-17:45, Sa 10-16. During the Spanish rule in the early 19th century and the first decades of independence, El Cabildo was the parliament building. Later on various governmental departments were housed there, but since 1959 the building has been a museum, Museo Histórico Municipal, displaying the city governments archives. free.
- 21 Casa de Lavalleja, Zabala 1469. The house of Juan Antolio Lavalleja, leader of the Thirty-Three Orientals who fought against Brazil for Uruguayan independence in the 1820s. Part of the National History Museum.
- 22 Casa de Fructuoso Rivera, Rincón 437. Mo-Fr 11-16:45. The home of the first president of Uruguay is today a museum of the country's political history.
- 23 Museo Andes 1972, Rincón 619. In October 1972 a plane carrying Uruguayan rugby players to Santiago crashed in the Andes, 16 of the passengers managing to survive over two months in terrifying circumstances before they eventually were found and rescued. This museum tells the story of the event, known as the 1972 Andes flight disaster. U$200.
Along Avenida 18 de Julio
Sights located along or near Avenida 18 Julio from Plaza Independencia to the football stadium, in other words, the commercial center of Montevideo.
Buildings and monuments
- 24 The obelisk of Montevideo (Obelisco a los Constituyentes de 1830) (corner of Av. 18 de Julio and Bv. Artigas). A 40m high obelisk that was built in 1930 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first Uruguayan constitution. The three statues next to the obelisk represent "law", "liberty" and "force".
- 25 Fuente de los Candados (The padlock fountain), Av. 18 de Julio. A small fountain at corner of Yi, completely covered by locks. Similar to bridges in many European cities, couples come here to attach a padlock to it. If they do so their love is supposed to last forever and they will also return to Montevideo someday.
- 26 Palacio Municipal (Intendencia), Av. 18 de Julio 1360. The massive brick building is not just a city hall but also hosts the museums of photography and art history (MuHAr). There is a viewing platform in the tower that is open to the public.
- 27 Museo del Fútbol (Football museum) (Estadio Centenario). Mo-Fr 10-17. Located in the stadium where the first football world championships were held in 1930 you can see old photos, flags, jerseys, posters, trophies, flags and such. You will also get access to the stadium itself (unless there is a game going on). U$100.
- 28 Museo de Historia del Arte (MuHAr), Ejido 1326. Tu-Su 12-17:30. Archeological museum with exhibits from Uruguay and other parts of the world, the exhibits include even Egyptian mummies. free.
- 29 Museo del Gaucho y de la Moneda, Avenida 18 de Julio 998. Mo-Fr 10-17. Two museums in one building. The one showing the gaucho (South American cowboy) culture has everyday objects from drinking horns to weapons, as well as silverware, all from the 19th century, when the gauchos were riding around on the Pampas. The other museum, Museo de la Moneda, is a numismatic museum featuring bills, coins and medals from the last centuries. The museums are located in Palacio Heber Jackson, a Cultural Heritage Monument and one of several iconic buildings along the avenue. free.
- 30 Tile Museum (Museo del Azulejo), Yí 1444. Tu-Su 12:15-17:45. Exhibiting over 5000 different colorful decorative tiles used in various buildings throughout the centuries. There are tiles from Uruguay and from other parts of Latin America and Europe. Also features special exhibitions of ceramics and paintings. free.
South and east
Sights located in the Parque Rodó and Punta Carretas districts and eastwards along the Rambla which features seemingly endless beaches.
Buildings and monuments
- 31 Castillo Pittamiglio, Rambla Gandhi 633. 17:00 on Tu, Th, Sa, Su. Eccentric small brick castle located at the beach. A guided tour, arranged four times a week, is the only way to see the inside of the castle. U$100.
- 32 World Trade Center. The largest concentration of glitzy skyscrapers in Montevideo, consisting of five towers and a square in the middle of them which is used both for business and cultural events. The complex also incorporates a major shopping mall, the Montevideo Shopping.
- 33 Holocaust memorial (Memorial del Holocausto del Pueblo Judío). A work of contemporary art located at the beach in Punta Carretas. It's intended to be experienced by walking through it from northwest to southeast.
- 34 Punta Carretas lighthouse (Faro de Punta Carretas). On the southernmost peninsula of the city. You get to walk a bit to get there. For a small fee you can get up in the tower, but the view over the city across the small bay is good from the ground too. The peninsula seems to be a quite popular spot for hobby fishers. U$20.
- 35 MNAV (Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales), Tomás Giribaldi 2283. Tu-Su 14-19. National museum of modern Uruguayan art, exhibiting paintings. They have a permanent exhibition featuring works of Juan Blanes, Rafael Barradas, Pedro Figari and José Cuneo. free.
- 36 Museum of Zoology, Rambla República de Chile 4215. Built in the form of a mosque and located at the beach promenade.
- 37 Central Cemetery (Cementerio Central). A historic cemetery with sculptures. Founded in 1835 and the final resting place for many important Uruguayan politicians, authors and artists.
- 38 Parque Rodó. The main park of southern Montevideo, named after the writer José Enrique Rodó and there is also a memorial in the park dedicated to him. The district north of the park is also named Parque Rodó, but the park itself stretches down into Punta Carretas. That part of the park is called Parque de las Instrucciones del Año XIII in homage to the document from 1813 demanding independence for the provinces of east of Rio de la Plata (today's Uruguay) and has a nice little lake. West of Avenida Cachon there is a small hill from which you can get a good view over Montevideo. Parque Rodó also features an amusement park (closed in the Southern Hemisphere winter) as well as outdoor sports facilities and a market on Sundays.
- 39 Pocitos Beach, on the water next to Pocitos. Perhaps the nicest beach in Montevideo. At its eastern edge is the famous sign (Cartel/Letrero de Montevideo) that spells Montevideo in big letters—a popular spot for photos, and well known enough that it has inspired similar signs in other Uruguayan cities like Colonia and Rivera.
- 40 Carrasco. Reached by bus or taxi it is a beautiful neighborhood full of trees by the beach twenty minutes from the Ciudad Vieja. It has nice restaurants with outdoor tables. Its really nice to walk around and visit the small upscale boutiques in nice houses, bookstores, a small shopping center Arocena and a movie theater. The best ice cream parlor Las Delicias. If weather permits the beach is really nice and good for long walks and swimming. There is a very large street fair on Wednesdays full of fruits, foods, and clothing, especially bathing suits! Also has upscale hotels.
North and west
Sights north of central Montevideo. The area with most points of interest here would be Parque Prado and its surroundings with interesting residential buildings from the early 19th century.
Buildings and monuments
- 41 Palacio Legislativo. National parliament, the first one in South America and an iconic symbol of Uruguay's long lasting democracy. The building was completed in 1925, inaugurated the same year to celebrate the centenary of the country's declaration of independence. It is a National Historic Landmark and quite impressive as it stands in the middle of a large square. It houses the legislature and the general assembly.
- 42 Fortaleza General Artigas. Located on the top of the Cerro Hill, this fort now houses a collection of armoury. It is the original fort from which Montevideo originated. The fort sits on the top of a hill and can be seen from many places in the city - and you'll have a fantastic view of the city from the fort. Actually visiting the fort itself can be hard, as the Cerro district itself is somewhat of a shantytown and reportedly not safe to wander around in — though it is possible to reach the fort by car or taxi.
- 43 Torre de las Telecomunicaciones (Torre Antel), Guatemala 1075. 157 m high, this skyscraper is Uruguay's highest building. There's a viewing platform and even free guided tours (in Spanish).
- 44 Castillo Soneira. Neogothical building from the 19th century that used to be the residence of a wealthy family.
- 45 Hipodromo Nacional de Maroñas. Accessible by car or taxi because surrounding neighborhoods are not the safest it is a great place to spend a weekend afternoon at the horse races. The building is absolutely gorgeous build in 1874 surrounded by a beautiful park a horse pool and the track. They have a restaurant and you can see the races and have drinks on the terrace. There is plenty to see for children and space for running around.
- 46 Museo Blanes, Av. Millán 4015. Tu-Su 12-17:45. Museum of Uruguayan art from the 19th to early 20th centuries, named after one of the most famous Uruguayan painters, Juan Manuel Blanes. Also features a Japanese garden. free.
- 47 El Prado (Parque del Prado). The largest park in the city proper, located a few kilometers north of Palacio Legislativo. It is bisected by a creek named Miguelete. The botanical garden of the city is located here too, as is the Juan Blanes museum and several pretty residences from the turn of the century. A popular place to hang out for locals.
- 48 Parque Lecocq. A conservation area of over 50 hectares northwest of the city. It is a kind of semi-open zoo where both Uruguayan animals and animals from elsewhere are roaming around. You can see llamas, capybaras and ostriches here, among others. One of the largest colonies of the critically endangered white antelope, native to the Sahara, lives here as well. Parque Lecocq also borders the wetlands (humedales) of Santa Lucía.
- There are practically no old movie theaters left in Montevideo. In recent years they have been rebuilt into churches. However there are good movie theaters with the newest movies in the shopping malls. All foreign movies are in the original language with Spanish subtitles.
- Take a boat trip in a small boat from the pier near Mercado del Puerto.
- Watch a football match at 1 Estadio Centenario. The national stadium is where the first football (soccer) World Cup was held, won by the host nation. Today it is used both by the national team and the clubs of the city.
- In some parks there is public training equipment.
- 2 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.
- Tango. Argentina claims to be "home of tango", but Uruguay was equally important on the development of this music and dance style: one of the most famous tango songs, La Cumparsita (which refers to Montevideo Carnival's cumparsas) was written by an Uruguayan composer and premiered in Montevideo, and the passport Carlos Gardel held at the time of his death stated he was born in Tacuarembó, Uruguay (although France and Argentina also claim to be his motherland). Contrary to the extremely coded and exhibitionist milongas of Buenos Aires, its Montevidean counterparts are laid back, boast a great level of dance and are almost solely frequented by locals. Hoy Milonga Montevideo lists the action, which takes place in dedicated places, bars or public squares.
- 3 Estadio Gran Parque Central, Carlos Anaya 2900 (in La Blanqueada neighbourhood). The Gran Parque Central is the stadium of Club Nacional de Fútbol, and it is the oldest football stadium in the Americas. It was also one of the venues of the 1930 FIFA World Cup. Both Uruguayan championship matches and international matches are played here. Price of ticket may vary depending of the type of match.
- New Year - Uruguayans celebrate the new year a bit differently from others. Festivities start before noon on December 31st in the old town. In the evening people spend time with their families, but as midnight approaches people gather at Pocitos beach to welcome the new year. After that they continue partying at bars in Pocitos.
- Carnival - The carnival of Montevideo is not as famous as the ones in Brazilian cities. However it goes on for about 40 days, starting the last week in January and considers itself the longest carnival in the world. As other Latin American carnivals it contains both European and African elements. European influences include the parade with colorful carnival dresses and the most visible African feature are the drums around which the music style candombe is centered. This music style is traditionally associated with Uruguayan carnivals and it's inscribed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. The highlight of the Montevidean carnival is actually the Parade of the calls (desfile de llamadas) and subsequent music festival on the streets of Montevideo held the first Saturday in February - both focusing on candombe music. Another important part of the festivities are the murgas, musical-like stage performances by actors in carnival costumes held in several parts of the city.
- Montevideo Comics, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. This is the largest comic convention in Montevideo and the whole country, with conferences, expositions, selling of local, American, European and Japanese comics and souvenirs, RPGs and card games, movies, cosplay contests, among other activities. Usually it takes place in a weekend of May.
- Spanish — there are language institutes offering language courses of one or several weeks. Examples include Academia Uruguay and La Herradura.
- Tango — one of the world's most famous partner dances and the music style accompanying it originated in this region a century ago. Today UNESCO has it listed as an Uruguayan and Argentinian Intangible Cultural Heritage. Tango balls are called milongas and classes are usually offered before they start - check Hoy Milonga Montevideo for up-to-date information. Joven Tango is also a traditional tango school.
Foreigners are required to have a work permit, which reportedly is easy to get (Citizens of Mercosur countries are allowed to live and work freely here). Many native English speakers work as language teachers; however, the pay is not always good. As most Uruguayans only speak Spanish, Spanish language proficiency is needed if you intend to work and live in the country.
- Many establishments also accept payment in American dollars or Brazilian reales (in addition to pesos and cards). However, as in most other parts of the world, the exchange rate in the stores is lousy; hence, it's advisable to exchange your foreign currency to pesos first.
- Often stores do not open before 10:00.
- 1 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, bespoke coats take a few days.
- 2 Manos del Uruguay. Several locations throughout Montevideo, mostly at shopping malls. Sells handcrafted home decoration items and fashion for ladies - a little pricey.
- 3 Acatras del Mercado, Yacaré 1595 (Near Mercado del Puerto), ☎ . 10:30 - 18:30. A gallery that specializes in ceramics and also features a selection of contemporary paintings of Uruguayan artists, 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.
- 4 Puro Verso (Libreria del Edificio Pablo Fernando), Sarandi 675. Mo-Fr 10-20, Sa 10-18. The pretty Pablo Ferrando building is worth seeing as a sight, but if you're into books, do by all means enter the building. It namely hosts an extensive book store named Puro Verso. There is also another Puro Verso book store at Yi 1385.
- The main street of Montevideo, Avenida 18 de Julio, has many stores is considered "the largest shopping mall in the country".
- 5 Punta Carretas Shopping Mall, Jose Ellauri 350. A large upscale 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.
- 6 Montevideo Shopping Center, Luis Alberto de Herrera 1290. Upscale shopping mall that is part of the World Trade Center complex. Around 180 establishments. Much of what is on sale here seems to be priced in dollars.
- 7 Shopping Tres Cruces, Bv. Artigas 1825. bus station daily 7-23, stores usually shorter. Which is also the main intercity bus terminal. Basically everything that has with the bus traffic to do is located at the lower floor, together with newspaper kiosk and fast food outlets. The upper floor is the shopping mall with most stores selling fashion. The toilets for the shopping area are somewhat hard to find, you need to follow the signage towards the parking house and go up the stairs.
- 8 Portones Shopping, Av. Italia 5775. Shopping mall in Carrasco, on the road to the airport. Around 120 establishments.
Markets and fairs
- 9 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.
- 10 The fair at Plaza Constitución (in the old town). each Saturday. Antique fair in the old town.
- 11 Villa Biarritz fair. each Saturday. Focusing on women's fashion and home decoration but there are also food products for sale.
- 12 Parque Rodo fair. Sundays. A competitor to Tristán Narvaja, it's a good opportunity to buy clothes and presents.
- 13 Mercado de los Artesanos, Plaza de Cagancha. This is definitely the place to go to if you want to buy authentic Uruguayan souvenirs or perhaps even Christmas or birthday presents - the catch is that you absolutely need some Spanish proficiency to shop here. An array of artists and craftspeople converge here to sell wares made from leather, paper, woodwork, and various textiles in this indoor market on two floors. Everyone will find something interesting here. The artists usually have their own table or rack with their products. When you have found something you like, notify the artist (if they haven't already started discussing with you). They will take aside the piece for you, and write you a small receipt. When you are done shopping, go to the checkout desk on the right hand side of the bottom floor with your receipts and pay. Take the stamped receipts and go to the desk to the left where your purchases are wrapped and ready.
- Potatoes, rice, salad and such is usually ordered separately. If you just order e.g. a steak as it is stated in the menu and you will literally only be served a steak. Portions are usually large. In areas frequented by tourist restaurants often offer menus with several courses.
- Cover charges (cubierto) are frequent in Montevideo's restaurants. They are usually around U$50.
- Meat — Uruguay is renowned for its meats, and Montevideo has many parrillas where they are grilled up to perfection. If you would like a large beef meal, you should head to Mercado del Puerto in the old town. In and around the Mercado there are several such restaurants. Good paella is also available there.
- 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. 1 Marcos Chivito is one of the best places in Montevideo to get these tasty treats, as well as 2 La Mole, and some "Carritos". An excellent choice is to try chivitos in 3 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 — made from chickpea flour and baked in the pizza oven. Quality varies among pizzerías, most delicious is the thin or "de orillo" part which is crunchier!
- 4 La Pasiva. There are several restaurants of this chain in Montevideo, however the two you are likely going to encounter are the ones at Sarandí in the old town and at Avenida 18 Julio opposite to Plaza Fabini. La Pasiva specializes in beer, hot dogs, and chivitos. Chivito al pan U$285, beer U$65.
- 5 Mercado de la Abundancia (Mercado de los Artesanos). Founded in 1836, it's the oldest market in the city. Like the one in the port it also has steak and paella restaurants, and you can buy things from vegetables to art there or dance tango. It is located in the central part of the city, not far from Museo de la Historia del Arte.
- 6 (18 de Julio, corner of Rio Branco). Great chivito and empanadas.
- 7 Pizzeria Rodelu (corner of Requena and Saramiento). Good place for a quick bite in Parque Rodó. They specialize in pizza of various kinds but do also have other dishes.
- 8 Heladeria La Cigale. Chain of ice cream bars, several locations.
- Sidewalk cafes. Cafes abound in the city center and along the pedestrian streets in the Ciudad Vieja.
- 9 Citadelle, Edificio de la Ciudadela, Sarandí 690. An array of typical Uruguayan food, surprisingly cheap considering its prime location. It's kind of hidden away, though—to get there from the Plaza Independencia, walk through the old city gate into the Ciudad Vieja, and after just a few meters, go through the glass doors at Sarandí 690 (just to the left of the "Bookshop") to enter the Edificio de la Ciudadela. The restaurant is straight ahead. U$200–300.
A good selection of medium level restaurants are to be found in Pocitos and Punta Carretas in the south of the city.
- 10 Mercado del Puerto. just open for lunch, closes at 6PM. This touristy building 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. The most famous of the restaurants there is likely Estancia del Puerto, which was also featured on Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations", although do keep in mind that there are several other restaurants here as well, worth trying!
- 11 Trouville, Chucarro 1031 (in Pocitos).
- 12 La Taberna del Diablo, Av. Gonzalo Ramírez 2054. Good-value suburban family restaurant with a huge empanada menu, along with chivitos and similar.
- 13 Don Peperone. 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. Also local dishes such as chivito and milanesa can be had here. around U$400.
- 14 K Fe, J.Paullier 1102, ☎ . Open from noon 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.
- 15 Café Bacacay, Bacacay 1306. — 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 tasty dishes going from traditional to more innovative cuisine. Service was excellent.
- 16 Facal, Av. 18 de Julio 1247 (corner of Yí). Fairly touristy café and restaurant next to the Fuente de Candados. Varied menu and tango performances.
- 17 Panini's, Bacacay 1341, ☎ . Italian restaurant.
- 18 Café Bar Tabaré, Zorrilla de San Martin 152, ☎ . A bar-restaurant with classic interior for people with a large budget.
- 19 La Corte, Sarandi 586. Classic restaurant (not fast-food) in the Ciudad Vieja, with lovely decorations and great food. Four different set lunch menus on weekdays. More expensive menu on weekdays with several choices.
- 20 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.
- 21 Los Leños, San José 909. Slightly upscale steakhouse with both the ubiquitous asado served with a fairly wide range of wines as well as several other kinds of dishes. In this restaurant some waiters do speak English as well.
- 22 Locos de Asar, San José 1065. 11:30AM-12:30AM Tu-Su. Higher-end parilla with top quality meats and vegetable grills, as well as seafood.
- Mate — Mate is derived from the herb yerba that was originally used by the indigenous Guarani living near the Rio de la Plata. This traditional drink is ubiquitous - you will see more people carrying a mate gourd and thermos bottle on the streets of Montevideo than people with take-away coffee in New York. Most of the city-dwellers in Montevideo prefer to drink their maté without sugar, called a Mate amargo. Gourds and horns are constantly being refilled with the brew from sun-up to sun-down. But as everyone prepares their own maté, cafés and restaurants seldom serve it. If you would like some, the tea can be purchased in any supermarket - then you need some hot water and a cup, or preferably a drinking gourd with a bombilla (metal straw), available on street markets, some ordinary stores and souvenir shops.
- Salus — 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). Uruguayan beers can be bought at U$80 in supermarkets.
- 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
- Paso de los Toros (an exotic pomelo-based soda)
- Compared to Brazil the coffee served in both cafés and hotels is reportedly rather tasteless, however in the ice cream café chain Freddo they do have good coffee.
There's a wide choice of places in Montevideo for going out for a drink. However, before midnight there is very little going on, and while bars are open before that you might be the only patron. In the old town it is not hard to find cafés and dance and music locals where you can experience the local culture. The street Bartolomé Mitre in the pedestrian area of the old town has plenty of cafés and bars to choose among, but prices tend to be higher than elsewhere in Montevideo. Many establishments have a happy hour and by good weather you can enjoy your drink outside. The streets of 25 de mayo (Bacacay) and Sarandi are pedestrianized and have a range of bars and restaurants with good atmosphere. A little bit to the east, the streets San José and Soriano run parallel to Avenida de 18 Julio. On both of those streets you can find good places to spend the night. Finally, district of Pocitos is also a popular place for drinking and partying with several popular bars.
- 1 la Ronda Café, Ciudadela 1182. Mo-Fr 12-late, Sa-Su 19:30-late. A small café with nice interior where you can enjoy music and drink or eat. The food is a combination of Uruguayan and Mexican cuisine.
- 2 Cheesecake Records, Ciudadela 1118. A record store serving cheesecakes, milkshakes and various drinks.
- 3 Cafe Brasilero, Ituzaingo 1447. Chic café with regular live performances. The oldest working café in Montevideo, it was opened in 1877 and retains a historical atmosphere with historical photos and paraphernalia. You can have different sandwiches and croissants here.
- 4 Porto Vanila. Chain of several cafés, located both in shopping malls and on the street. A big variety of sandwiches and pastries.
Bars and pubs
- 6 El Pony Pisador, Bartolomé Mitre 1325 (corner of Buenos Aires). A bar/club that also has regular live music performances.
- 7 Café@, Bartolomé Mitre 1322. In daytime it is a bar, but later in the evening it becomes a disco.
- 8 Bar Fun Fun, Soriano 922 (near Teatro Solis). This classic tango bar is one of the oldest bars in Montevideo, 100 years old. Many famous tango artists have played here. Weekend nights there are live performances, which means that there is an entrance fee. Both the atmosphere and the clientele of this bar is a combination of old and young. There's both indoor and outdoor seating (the latter is open in the winter too). Try the house specialty Uvita, a drink of grenache wine and port wine.
- 9 La Bodeguita del Sur, Soriano 840. 23:00-late. Basically a dancing school and a bar. Here you can have a drink, dance or learn to dance - both salsa and other dances.
- 10 La Casa de Becho, Nueva York 1415.
- 11 AlmodoBar, Rincon 626. Reportedly a trendy pub in the old town with dancing.
- 12 Nueva York (corner of Colón and Cerrito). Sympathetic bar in the old town. Good place to enjoy tapas and chivitos and a beer. It's open both in the day and until late at night.
- 13 El Milongón, Gaboto 1810. A place with typical Uruguayan dance and music, like tango and candombe.
- 14 Tras Bambalinas (corner of Maciel and Piedras). Good food with big portions and typical Uruguayan carnival music.
- 15 El Clasico Futbol 5 (Futbol 5 Montevideo), Dr. Alejandro Gallinal 2014 (Malvin neighborhood), ☎ . This snack bar on El Clasico Futbol 5 is a good place to drink and eat something after your 5 aside football match.
- 16 Key club, 25 de Mayo 745. An underground techno venue.
- 17 SONIC, Buenos Aires 584. Electronic music with international DJs.
Many hotels in central Montevideo are dated and badly maintained, but this does not apply to all hotels there. The ones near Plaza Independencia are of high standard and popular among foreign dignitaries. Districts to find good hotels include Parque Rodó, Punta Carretas, Pocitos, Buceo, Punta Gorda and Carrasco.
In Uruguay it is not uncommon that hotel rooms are priced in American dollars.
If you're traveling on a shoestring it's advisable to pick hostels or hotels that are simpler equipped but better located and cheaper. Hostels generally do not have private rooms, only dormitories. Usually, cooking and washing facilities are available and wifi is included; some hostels also have computers with Internet access and a TV room.
- 1 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$18.
- 2 Hotel Arapey, Ave Uruguay 925, ☎ . Rambling art deco relic with large rooms and linens as old as the building. Private bath, fans, TVs, elevator. single: US$32, double: US$38.
- 3 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..
- 4 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..
- 5 Pocitos Hostel, Av. Sarmiento 2641, ☎ . In trendy Pocitos, a 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$18.
- 6 Destino26, 26 de Marzo 1125, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Friendly hostel in Pocitos with free breakfast and wifi, a lounge with a shared computer and TV, and a fully equipped kitchen. Dorms from US$18.
- 7 Ukelele Hostel, Maldonado 1183, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Dorms from US$14 in the low season, US$18 in the high season.
- 8 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.
- 9 Ibis Montevideo, Calle La Cumparsita 1473, ☎ , fax: , 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.
- 10 Radisson, Plaza Independencia 759, ☎ , fax: , 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.
- 12 Hotel Los Angeles, Avenida 18 de Julio, 974, ☎ , .
- 13 Hotel Iberia, Maldonado 1097, ☎ .
- 14 Gema, Roque Graseras 644, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 29-room hotel located a few blocks from the beach in the trendy Punta Carretas neighborhood. A good choice for Orthodox Jewish travellers, with a tasty kosher breakfast and information about local synagogues. From US$55.
- 15 Hotel Mercosur Universitas, 8 de Octubre 2481, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. 11-story hotel with suites including mini-kitchens. Free buffet breakfast including hot food and cakes. Located a block and a half from Tres Cruces bus terminal.
- 16 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.
- 17 Casa Sarandi, Buenos Aires 558, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
- 19 Holiday Inn Montevideo, Colonia 823, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Glitzy hotel one block from Plaza Independencia. The rooms are in good shape and there are widescreen cable tv, minibar, and bathtub even in the most affordable room type. The view from the windows is not too wonderful, however. The price for the breakfast buffet is rather steep (US$16), so if it is not included in your room price you would probably be better off having breakfast at some nearby café instead. As of May 2014 the pool and the gym are under renovation. Wi-Fi is available in some of the rooms as well as in the conference center. rates from US$134.
Montevideo used to be safer before, however it is still a safe city compared to e.g. Brazilian cities. Pickpocketing occurs downtown so backpacks and handbags should preferably be worn so that you can see them.
The most secure neighbourhoods, according to a report from a realtor magazine, are Buceo, Pocitos, Punta Carretas and Parque Rodó, followed by Colón, the downtown, Sayago and Conciliación.
The old town outside the pedestrian area is considered dangerous after dark. This also applies to the beach promenade outside the old town. In the daytime there are frequent police patrols on old town's streets and many establishments have security guards standing outside the door. In the summer the beaches of Ramírez and Pocitos should be avoided at nighttime.
If you are an obvious foreigner you are more frequently targeted by beggars. However they aren't violent. Near attractions there are often people presenting themselves as "keepers" that allegedly will look after your parked car for a fee. Unlike in other places they reportedly don't ask for payment in advance and don't behave in an intimidating way.
Tourists are advised not to visit certain peripheral suburb neighbourhoods known for being sources of insecurity, such as 40 semanas, Barrio Borro, or the outskirts of Casabó. Although some of them are not slums at all, the level of crimes is higher than the downtown or the suburbs. The Cerro district west of the bay, famous for its fort, is also reportedly one of the districts you should not be wandering around in as a tourist and absolutely not alone, specially at night.
The police can be called by dialing 911.
Like elsewhere in Uruguay, driving with any blood alcohol level greater than 0 is prohibited. Do not drive under the effects of alcohol. Also in Montevideo as well as the rest of the country, smoking is prohibited in public enclosed spaces. Violation of this policy may carry fines.
Regarding the legality of marijuana, possession for personal use is not penalized if it concerns minor quantities (a few grams). Possession of major quantities is illegal and punishable by law. Remember that the recent legalization of this drug as for the personal use (medicinal or recreational), sale or storage of the plant (~480 grams per year) is only for Uruguayan citizens of 18 years and above (natural or legal citizenship) with legal capacity. Likewise with alcohol, driving under the influence of marijuana is not allowed, and such breach may carry a fine.
The city has several public and private hospitals, with a cluster of them located in the area around Tres Cruces bus terminal. Among the publics, there are:
- 1 Hospital Maciel, 25 de Mayo 174 (in the Old Town, near the Mercado del Puerto), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 2 Hospital Pereira Rossell, Bv. Artigas 1550 (ambulance entrance), Lord Ponsonby W/N (public entrance), ☎ (to 44), e-mail: email@example.com. Hospital for women and children.
- 3 Hospital Pasteur, Larravide W/N between Asilo and J. A. Cabrera, ☎ (Int. 130).
- 4 Hospital de Clínicas, Avenida Italia W/N (Near the Estadio Centenario), ☎ . Universidad de la República's university hospital.
Among the private institutions, there are: British Hospital, Italian Hospital, Médica Uruguaya, Asociación Española, and some other minor ones. Also, there are many policlínicas (medical consultories) for minor cases around the city. The Hospital Policial and Hospital Militar are for the police and the armed forces respectively — these are not open to the public.
The emergency number is 104.
- Wireless Internet is popular and can be found at Carrasco Airport, Tres Cruces bus terminal, most hotels and many restaurants and bars (usually they are advertising it with a sticker in the window). Many of them are free to use and reportedly connections are fast and reliable enough for Skype communication. Some public parks also advertise Wi-Fi availability, and so do most public schools.
- Firefighters (emergencies), Colonia 1665 (headquarters), toll-free: 104.
- Police (emergencies), toll-free: 911.
- Bolivia, Prudencio de Pena 2469 (between Cambell st. and Ponce st.), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- France, Av. Uruguay 853, ☎ .
- Greece, Bulevar Jose G.Artigas 1231, ☎ , (Emergencies), fax: , e-mail: email@example.com.
- Lebanon, Av. Gral. Rivera 2278, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Portugal, Av. Dr. Francisco Soca 1128, Ap. 701, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Mon–Fri 09:00–12:30.
- South Africa, Gabriel Otero 6337, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- South Korea, Av. Luis Alberto de Herrera 1248, Tower II, 10th floor, WTC, ☎ , , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com.
- United Kingdom, Marco Bruto 1073, ☎ , , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- United States, Lauro Muller 1776, ☎ , (ACS), (emergencies), fax: , e-mail: MontevideoVisas@state.gov MontevideoACS@state.gov; MontevideoVisas@state.gov.
As the national capital, Montevideo has bus connections all over the country, indeed many of Uruguay's attractions can be visited even as a daytrip by bus or car.
- Colonia – A pleasant little World Heritage colonial town, 180 km west. A nice chance to get away from the noisy city and relax for a while and certainly worth seeing if you are interested in history.
- La Paloma – Beach resort further east, also contains some historical buildings, 227 km to the east.
- Piriapolis – A smaller and more laid-back version of Punta del Este, also containing a castle. 100 km east.
- Punta del Este – The most important beach resort town in the country, 120 km east of Montevideo.
- Salto – Hot springs, a Spa resort and a hydroelectric dam. 6 hour direct bus transfer is U$640 with Agencia Central SA (June 2012) - several depart throughout the day/night.