Situated only 143 miles from bustling Buenos Aires, Argentina, sits Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital city. While the two cities may be close in proximity, residents of both will be quick to point their differences – the biggest being pace. Montevideo is a slow paced city of only 1.3 million people and on any given day you can expect to see business men casually wondering through plazas as they make their way to work, or cars actually stopping for pedestrians – a real rarity in South America.
Besides the laid back feel, Montevideo has a lot to offer. By day you can check out the city’s gothic European style architecture or catch an exhibit at one of the many excellent museums (many offer free admission on Tuesdays). By night, be sure to take a stroll down Boulevard Sarandi and indulge in a customary late night dinner around 10PM or 11PM.
And don’t forget the yerba maté. Argentines claim to be maté lovers, but wait until you go to Montevideo. Montevideo is maté country so be sure to invest a few dollars in a Thermos and gourd cup so you experience the delicious tea and mingle with the locals. You may be surprised to see the maté phenomenon almost everywhere in Montevideo despite the impracticality of balancing a rounded cup while walking.
There is no doubt that Montevideo is beautiful but it certainly comes at a price. Uruguay and its capital city are not cheap so if you are coming from any other South American country you may want to brace yourself for the price increase and put aside a little extra cash. Many travelers call it a necessary expenditure and are rarely disappointed.
Plaza Independencia – The monument of General Artigas hides an underground mausoleum that protects the urn of the country’s hero. At noon you can watch the changing of the guards.
Ciudad Vieja – The archway off of the Plaza Independencia notes the division between the Old City and the New City. The Old City has cobbled streets, pedestrian-only walkways and outdoor cafés.
- If you arrive out of Carnival season, the museum is the next best thing. Costumes, photos and a short video presentation will get you in the festive spirit. Located beside the Mercado del Puerto, Rambla 25 de Agosto and Maciel, Montevideo. Tel. (5982) 916-5493
Museo del Gaucho y de la Moneda – The collection of antique coins and cowboy accessories is impressive – as is the beautifully restored building that houses all the antiques. 18 de Julio 988, Montevideo. Admission is free.
Pocitos Beach – Take any bus marked ‘Pocitos’ from downtown Montevideo. The beach is a relaxing getaway surrounded by classy cafés and apartments.
Museo Pedagógico José Pedro Varela – This unique museum documents the history of education and child rearing in Uruguay. The museum is built around a functioning school and you can see classes in progress. Avenida General Rondeau, Montevideo. Tel. (5982) 902-0915
Centro Municipal de Fotografía – A small collection of local photography that changes every few weeks. Worth a visit. San José 7360, Montevideo.
– This underground gallery is both underground literally and culturally. The exhibits change frequently and feature avant-garde artists and themes that challenge social norms. Not always suitable for minors. Plaza Fabini, 18 de Julio and Julio Herrera y Obes, Montevideo. Daily noon to 9PM. Tel. (5982) 908-7643
Mercado del Puerto – This isn’t your typical fruit and vegetable market. The Mercado del Puerto is the place to feast on a traditional Uruguayan steak with all the trimmings. Grab a seat around the grill and watch your lunch sizzle to perfection.
Calle Bartolomé Mitre – This street is busy every night of the week and you are guaranteed to find something to suit your mood. New arrivals pop up frequently, but some of the favourites include the Pony Pisador
and the Shannon Irish Pub
Tel. (5982) 916-9585
– Reconquista and Bartolomé Mitre, Montevideo. Tel. (5982) 1950-3323
W Lounge – Two levels and guest DJs. Rambla Wilson in the Parque Rodó
– Not as classy as W Lounge, the vibe at Mariachi is more rowdy. Foam parties, flare shows and strippers are the norm. Avenida Uruguay 1136 and Rondeau, Montevideo. Tel. (5982) 901-6264
Budget Hotels Montevideo
Hotel America Budget hotel in Montevideo City centre, next to local attractions. Tel. (598) 2 902 04 85
Che Lagarto If partying is your main priority then the Che is the place for you. Discounts available if booked directly on the Che Lagarto website. Calle Plaza de la Independencia 713, Montevideo. Tel. (5982) 903-0175
- The common areas and dorm rooms are clean and full of character. Sarmiento 2641, Pocitos, Montevideo. Tel (5982) 711-8780
Boulevard Sarandi Hostel
Great location and overall feel to the hostel. A lack of restrooms is the only downfall. Boulevard Sarandi 405 and Zabala, Montevideo. Tel. (5982) 915-3765
Palermo Art Hostel
- A hipster hangout filled with art, avant-garde design and murals – a hostel where your eyes never rest. Gaboto 1010, Montevideo. Tel. (5982) 410-6519
Old architectural charm and great location close to museums and the main shopping and dining streets. San Jose 1406, Montevideo. Tel. (5982) 908-8514
A hip chain of budget hostels revolutionizing the backpacking world. Two locations, Soriano 1073, Montevideo. Tel. (5982) 908-2913 / Ituzaingó 1436, Montevideo. Tel. (5982) 915-6192
Midrange Hotels Montevideo
Outstanding location and concierge team. Tel. (598) 2 902 04 08
Convenient location within walking distance to restaurants and museums. Colonia 823, Montevideo. Tel. (5982) 902-0001
Una Noche Más
A bus ride away from old and new Montevideo. Una Noche Más is four blocks from the beach. Punta Carretas, Montevideo. Tel. (5989) 622-7406
A high-end feel accommodating to business travelers. Calle Plaza de la Independencia 759, Montevideo. Tel. (800) 395-7046 Toll free from Canada or the United States / (5982) 902-0111
Four Points by Sheraton Montevideo
The surrounding neighbourhood can be rough at night but the hotel itself is safe and well maintained. Taxis at night are recommended. Ejido 1275, Montevideo. Tel. (5982) 901-7000
Luxury Hotels Montevideo
After Hotel In Montevideo
First non smoking hotel in Montevideo. Located next to WTC and the Yacht Club. Tel. (598) 2 628 28 28
Plaza Fuerte One of the most beautiful and stylish boutique hotels in Montevideo. You will not be disappointed. Bartolomé Mitre 1361, Montevideo. Tel. (5982) 915-6651
In a quiet more green area of Montevideo. R. Héctor Miranda 2361, Punta Carretas, Montevideo. Tel. (5982) 710-3800
Cala Di Volpe
Another chic boutique hotel for those looking for something more than just a place to sleep. R. Mahatma Gandhi and Parva Domus, Montevideo. Tel. (5982) 710-2000