Montevideo Travel Guide
Introduction in Montevideo
Despite being separated from Buenos Aires by a boat ride of only a few hours, the differences between it and Montevideo couldn’t be more drastic. Home to just over one million people, the vibe here is much more relaxed than the frenetic pace of life that defines life in the Argentine capital.
With a charming old city, plenty of modern conveniences, and friendly locals, Montevideo could very well be one of the more surprising destinations on your Latin American itinerary.
Cultural Attractions in Montevideo
Begin your on-foot exploration of Montevideo by visiting Plaza Independencia. Surrounded by a variety of historic and interesting buildings in Montevideo’s downtown core, this public square is a hive of activity during lunch hour, evenings, and on weekends.
Within the plaza itself, a mausoleum honors the memory of national hero Jose Artigas, who resisted efforts from Spain, Argentina, and Brazil to assert control over what is Uruguay today. While he spent several years in exile in Paraguay, his efforts to help his home nation obtain independence from the political powers that surrounded them eventually succeeded in 1828.
Other noteworthy sites around the Plaza Independencia include Palacio Estevez (the former office of the president of Uruguay and now a museum) and Palacio Salvo, a 26 story skyscraper that was the tallest building in South America when it opened in 1927.
After you have finished exploring Plaza Independencia, head west into the Ciudad Vieja. Those seeking a taste of colonial era Montevideo will find plenty to love here, as there are many buildings influenced by a variety of European architectural styles, plenty of unique boutiques, and on the weekends, buskers perform for adoring audiences.
While this part of Montevideo used to be notorious for robberies, the government has cracked down in recent years, installing CCTV cameras everywhere. This has resulted in the safety of the area increasing dramatically.
While there are still signs of the disastrous economic meltdown of 2001 scattered about this barrio, visitors can wander in safety today where they couldn’t as recently as a decade ago.
If you’re looking to experience a bit of culture during your visit to Montevideo, then attending a show at Teatro Solis will satisfy your desire to see the best performing art acts in Uruguay. Opened in 1856, this neoclassical opera house has played host to many celebrated singers over the years, including Italian tenor Enrico Caruso.
Looking as opulent on the inside as it does from its exterior, make sure to dress the part if you decide to take in a performance here; the locals have a very high standard when it comes to everyday dress, so you know they will be dressed to the nines: don’t be the guy/gal that shows up in jeans!
Other Attractions in Montevideo
On a brilliant day in the city, the best place to mingle with the locals is along the Rambla of Montevideo. A curvy boulevard that follows the waterfront of the River Plate, you will find many city residents running, rollerblading, sunbathing, fishing, or just hanging out with their friends on any day when the sun is shining brilliantly.
Spanning 21 kilometers from end to end, we suggest that you rent a bike to enjoy your time along this highlight of the city of Montevideo. Just don’t forget to bring a lock, as petty theft is a big problem in this country, especially when compared to the western world.
If the weather is especially gorgeous, continue on to Playa Pocitos, which is a strip of sand that is considered to be the best urban beach in Montevideo. Punta Del Este this place isn’t, but when summer temperatures soar to 30 degrees Celsius or higher, there is no better place to seek relief from the punishing heat.
Like its neighbor Argentina to the west, Uruguay is well known for its asado, and there’s no better place in Montevideo where you can sample Uruguayan style barbecue then at Mercado del Puerto.
With the air inside being thick with the fragrant smell of wood smoke and sizzling meat, there is a dizzying array of parillas where you can pull up a stool, sit down, and order a slab of meat so large that getting out of the market without falling into a food coma will be your major challenge after your meal.