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Montevideo, Uruguay

Montevideo is the pleasant capital city of Uruguay. It is on the east bank of the Rio de la Plata. The city is home to well over a third of the Uruguayan population and the cultural and political center of the country.

Orientation

Central areas

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 are 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... Read more

Montevideo, Uruguay

Destination:

Montevideo is the pleasant capital city of Uruguay. It is on the east bank of the Rio de la Plata. The city is home to well over a third of the Uruguayan population and the cultural and political center of the country.

Orientation

Central areas

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 are 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:

  • Punta Carretas – The most upscale district includes golf greens and Hotel Sheraton and Punta Carretas Shopping, a major shopping mall that is built on the remains of prison (they preserved the prison gate inside the mall).
  • 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 - Located in the easternmost part of the city best known for the international airport.
  • 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 in-land a few blocks brings you into an older neighborhood reminiscent of San Francisco's Marina district.
  • Palermo - A district associated with the African community.

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 neighborhood 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 - Best known for its fort overlooking Montevideo from the western side of the bay.

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Montevideo, Uruguay: Port Information


Cruise ships dock at Puerto de Montevideo. The terminal is situated close to the city center.
You can easily get from your liner to the heart of the old town on foot. It will take you a few minutes.
Taxis are available at the terminal.

Get around Montevideo, Uruguay


By bus

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. If you know some Spanish, two websites similar to Google Maps are useful: Cómo ir and MontevideoBus. If you own an iPhone you can also use Bondi, it shows bus stops, lines and their arrival times, it's available in both Spanish and English. Be aware that there are no route maps at the bus stops and the route layout for many lines are rather quirky. In addition, the street signs can be hard to notice/don't exist at all at some intersections and the buses are packed at rush hours so non-locals should definitely research their routes well beforehand, especially if they aren't fluent in Spanish. Local buses are operated by several different companies, and there are differences in the fares - though most of the buses in the city center seemed to be operated by the company Cutcsa.

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 are quite a few ticket types, but the most common version is valid for one hour and for transfers. Ask for una hora (one hour), and hand over the fare. 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). Like many other major cities in the world also a system with preloaded cards called Tarjeta STM has been taken into use, and if you are staying for longer it may be practical to get such a card. Occasionally ticket sellers may ask whether you don't have a card if you pay cash.

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.

By foot

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 Batalle 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.

By taxi

Taxis are plentiful but not too cheap. It helps to know a little Spanish. 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. If you are interested in a more private and secure option, you can hire a Transfer Service. This kind of services work with prior recruitment, often have a wide range of vehicles and can be paid by credit card.

By car

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. 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.

By train

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.

By bike

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.

What to see in Montevideo, Uruguay


Plaza Independencia

The Independence square is a symbol of Montevideo and lined by several prominent landmarks.

  • 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 mausoleum.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 finally finalized as the presidential office in 2009.
  • Edificio Ciudadela. Glass framed office building at the western end of the square with a terrifying number of air conditioning units.
  • 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.

Ciudad Vieja

Probably half of what Montevideo has to offer visitors is concentrated in the area immediately west of Plaza Independencia — the old town.

Buildings and monuments

  • 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.
  • Catedral Metropolitana (Montevideo Metropolitan Cathedral), Plaza Constitución/Plaza Matriz. The Catholic cathedral of Montevideo and the seat of the Archdiocese 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 honoring 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.
  • Aduana building. Massive landmark next to Mercado del Puerto, hosting the Uruguayan customs administration.
  • 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.

Museums

  • Palacio Taranco (Museo de Artes Decorativas), 25 de Mayo 376. Mo-Fr 12:30-17:30. Seat 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 as well as ancient archeological artifacts such as Roman amphoras and furniture used by French kings. Originally the building was built as the residence of the Taranco Ortiz family. free.
  • National History Museum (Museo Histórico Nacional). Spread between five old historic houses, holds important bits of the country's history. No entrance fee.
  • 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 archeology. As the name reveals, it showcases native American artifacts from all of South America.
  • Museo Torres Garcia, Sarandí 683. Mo-Fr 9:30-19:30, Sa 10-18. Displaying works by one of the most prominent Uruguayan artists, the painter and sculptor Joaquín Torres García (1874-1949).
  • Museo del Carnaval, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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

  • 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".
  • Fuente de los Candados (The padlock fountain), Av. 18 de Julio. A small fountain at the 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.
  • 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.

Museums

  • 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).
  • Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Avenida 18 de Julio 965. Small contemporary art museum owned by the newspaper El Pais.
  • Museo de Historia del Arte (MuHAr), Ejido 1326. Tu-Su 12-17:30. Archeological museum with exhibits both from Uruguay and other parts of the world, the exhibits include even Egyptian mummies. free.
  • 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.
  • Tiles 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 not only Uruguayan tiles on display, but also 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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Holocaust memorial (Memorial al Holocausto del Pueblo Judío). A work of contemporary art, located at the beach in Punta Carretas.
  • 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.

Museums

  • 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.
  • Museum of Zoology, Rambla República de Chile 4215. Built in the form of a mosque and located at the beach promenade.

Parks

  • 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.
  • 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.

Districts

  • 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 very nice restaurants to eat outside 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

  • 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.
  • Fortaleza General Artigas. Located on the top of the Cerro Hill, this fort now houses a collection of the armory. 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.
  • 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).
  • Castillo Soneira. Neogothical building from the 19th century that used to be the residence of a wealthy family.
  • 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.

Museums

  • 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.

Parks

  • El Prado (Parque 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.
  • 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. The animals of the park will be joined by the ones from the infamously badly maintained and crammed zoo in the east of the city which is due to close in 2014 - it will be a better place for them. Parque Lecocq also borders the wetlands (humedales) of Santa Lucía.

What to do in Montevideo, Uruguay


  • There are practically no old movie theaters left in Montevideo. In the last 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   Estadio Centenario. The national stadium is where the first football (soccer) world championships were 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.
  • 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 is regarded as the home of tango, but this is not the whole story. It is also a popular song and dance style on the right bank of Rio de la Plata, and one of the most famous tango songs, La Cumparsita, was composed by Gerardo Rodriguez, a Montevidean composer, in 1916. There are occasionally tango dancing events on the streets as well as performances at some restaurants like Mercado del Abundancia, Baar Fun Fun near Teatro Solis and Restaurant Facal at Avenida 18 de Julio. At some places, you can participate if you like. Naturally, you can also find dance schools in the city where you can learn to dance.
  • 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 a ticket may vary depending on the type of match.

What to eat and drink in Montevideo, Uruguay


Eat

  • 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.

What

  • 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.   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 the most popular pizzerías all around Montevideo. 
  • Fainá — It's a mixture of Corn flour and milk, which is baked in the pizza oven. Quality is varied among pizzerías, most delicious is the thin or "de pizzerías, most delicious is the thin or "de orillo" part which is crunchier!

Budget

  • La PasivaPasiva. 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 Pasiva specializes in beer, hot dogs, and chivitos.
  • 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.
  • El Navio (18 de Julio, corner of Rio Branco). Great chivito and empanadas.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Mid-range

A good selection of medium level restaurants is to be found in Pocitos and Punta Carretas in the south of the city.

  • Mercado del Puerto. just open for lunch, closes at 6 PM. 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!
  • Trouville, Chucarro 1031 (in Pocitos).
  • La Taberna del Diablo, Av. Gonzalo Ramírez 2054.
  • 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.
  • K Fe, J.Paullier 1102, ☎ 224025887NOCC. Open from 12 PM to 2 AM. 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 a veggie option) in this unique rotiseria cultural in the heart of the city. Clothes, design, exhibition, roots, dub, dubstep, urban art.
  • 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 very tasteful dishes going from traditional to more innovative cuisine. Service was excellent.
  • 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.

Splurge

  • Panini's, Bacacay 1341, ☎ +598-2 916-8760. Italian restaurant.
  • Café Bar Tabaré, Zorrilla de San Martin 152, ☎ +598-2 712-3242. A bar-restaurant with a classic interior for people with a large budget.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Los LeñosLeños, 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.

Drink

What

  • Maté — Maté 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 amargoamargo. 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. 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).
  • 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 (a pomelo based soda, very exotic)
  • If you are going to a café it is recommended to try some of the local bread, it's of great quality and there are many different kinds to choose from. 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.

Where

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 tow,n it is not hard to find cafés and dance and music locals where you can experience the local culture. The street Bartolemé 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 Jose and Sariano run parallel to Avenida de 18 Julio. On both of those streets, you can find good places to spend the night. Finally, the district of Pocitos is also a popular place for drinking and partying with several popular bars.

Cafés

  • la Ronda Café, Ciudadela 1182. Mo-Fr 12-late, Sa-Su 19:30-late. A small café with the nice interior where you can enjoy music and drink or eat. The food is a combination of Uruguayan and Mexican cuisine.
  • Cheesecake Records, Ciudadela 1118. A record store serving cheesecakes, milkshakes, and various drinks.
  • 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.
  • 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

  • Shannon Irish pub, Bartolomé Mitre 1318. Many different beer brands and regularly live bands.
  • El Pony Pisador, Bartolomé Mitre 1325 (corner of Buenos Aires). A bar/club that also has regular live music performances.
  • Café@, Bartolomé Mitre 1322. In daytime, it is a bar, but later in the evening, it becomes a disco.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • La Casa de Becho, Nueva York 1415.
  • AlmodoBar, Rincon 626. Reportedly a trendy pub in the old town with dancing.
  • 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.
  • El Milongón, Gaboto 810. A place with typical Uruguayan dance and music, like tango and candombe.
  • Tras Bambalinas (corner of Maciel and Piedras). Good food with big portions and typical Uruguayan carnival music.
  • El Clasico Futbol 5 (Futbol 5 Montevideo), Dr. Alejandro Gallinal 2014 (Malvin neighborhood), ☎ +59891918435. This snack bar on El Clasico Futbol 5 is a good place to drink and eat something after your 5 aside football match.

Night clubs

  • Key club, 25 de Mayo 745. An underground techno venue.
  • SONIC, Buenos Aires 584. Electronic music with international DJ's.

Shopping in Montevideo, Uruguay


  • 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.

Stores

  • Montevideo Leather Factory, Plaza Independencia 832, ☎ +598 2 908-9541. 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.
  • Manos del Uruguay. Several locations throughout Montevideo, mostly at shopping malls. Sells handcrafted home decoration items and fashion for ladies - a little pricey.
  • Acatras del Mercado, Yacaré 1595 (Near Mercado del Puerto), ☎ 29152492NOCC. 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.
  • 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.

Shopping malls

  • The main street of Montevideo, Avenida 18 de Julio, has many stores is considered "the largest shopping mall in the country".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 on 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.
  • Portones Shopping, Av. Italia 5775. Shopping mall in Carrasco, on the road to the airport. Around 120 establishments.

Markets and fairs

  • 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.
  • The fair at Plaza Constitución (in the old town). each Saturday. Antique fair in the old town.
  • Villa Biarritz fair. each Saturday. Focusing on women's fashion and home decoration but there are also food products for sale.
  • Parque Rodo fair. Sundays. A competitor to Tristán Narvaja, it's a good opportunity to buy clothes and presents.
  • 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.

Safety in Montevideo, Uruguay


Security
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 neighborhoods, 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 neighborhoods 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, especially at night.
The police can be called by dialing 911.

Drugs
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.

 

Language spoken in Montevideo, Uruguay


Spanish is the official language of Uruguay. English is widely understood in tourist places.

LOCAL TIME

10:27 am
November 17, 2019
America/Montevideo

CURRENT WEATHER

25.75 °C / 78.35 °F
sky is clear
Mon

21.18 °C/70 °F
moderate rain
Tue

20.64 °C/69 °F
sky is clear
Wed

25.4 °C/78 °F
broken clouds
Thu

22.04 °C/72 °F
light rain

LOCAL CURRENCY

UYU

1 USD = 0 UYU
1 EUR = 0 UYU
1 GBP = 0 UYU
1 AUD = 0 UYU
1 CAD = 0 UYU

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