♦Currency: Peso Uruguayo
♦Zone: -3 GMT
♦Phone Code: +593
♦Best time to visit: Sept-Nov and Mar-Jun
♦Must eat: Bife de Chorizo/ Dulce de leche
♦Must drink: Yerba Mate
♦Don't miss: A sun set from the Old City
♦ Number of times visited: 2
Getting there and transportation: If you are travelling direct to Uruguay, the only way is to arrive to it's capital, Montevideo, by plane. Iberia and Air France offer direct links to Europe and American Airlines if coming from USA. If travelling from other south american capitals LATAM or Gol are very popular.
Food and drink: Uruguayans love to eat meat above anything else, the most common restaurants are Parrilladas (grill-rooms), where huge racks of beef sizzle over hot coals. Italian food is also popular, thanks to the many immigrants who came from Italy in the early 20th century, while seafood is excellent along the Atlantic coast.Specialities include: Bife de chorizo, a sirloin steak. Asado de tira, short ribs, and other barbecued meats, predominantly beef and lamb. Chivito, steak sandwich with accompaniments including cheese, lettuce, tomato, bacon, ham, olives and pickles. Morcilla, blood sausage served either dulce (sweet, made with orange peel and walnuts), or salada (salty). Dulce de leche boiled milk and caramel; typically spread on toast and used as the filling in Alfajores biscuits, which are very popular snack in Uruguay.
As for drinks, Uruguayans as well as Argentinians, drink plenty of Yerba mate, a bitter tea of a native herb that’s extremely popular with locals. They take it often in flasks into work, walking or at social gatherings. Other drinks also popular are Caña, a clear liquor made from sugarcane and Grappa, a grape based brandy with Italian origins. As for spirits, Uruguayans love their whisky and even make their own, which is called Dunbar. Uruguayan wines are of good quality, particularly reds of the tannat grape variety. Popular wine-based drinks include clericó (wine mixed with fruit juice) and medio y medio (half dry white wine and half sparkling wine).
Weather and temperature: Montevideo enjoys mild temperatures by being on the edge to Rio de la Plata. Mostly the temperatures won't go below 10C so visiting anytime of the year is good. However summer's (December to February) can be hot reaching above 30C and with a dry feeling. The best time is the Spring (September to November) and Autumn (March to June) where temperatures are much more comfortable to be out both day and night and walk around, approximately 20C on average.
Transportation: Arriving in Montevideo is easy with many options to consider. If arriving to the airport, there are intercity busses which connect to the city centre at Terminal Tres Cruces. Companies like COPSA or COT offer many services leaving every 30min from arrivals. Cost is about €5. There is also an even cheaper option if you have spare time and don't have much luggage. Taking local busses which pass near the same terminal, taking about 45min but for a cost of €0.60!
If taking the local bus from the city to the airport, go to the Tres Cruces terminal, between the streets of Eduardo Victor Haedo and Acebedo Diaz you will find the stop. Be aware that these busses don't have luggage space and can be busy at peak times.
However most travellers often arrive to Montevideo by ship, with Buquebus. The port is located only steps away from the old city, where you will find locals markets and restaurants. Walking to the city centre will only take 15min from the port via main shopping streets and historical areas. When staying in the city the most common way of public transportation is by bus. Most busses are comfortable and safe. However some lines can still use very old vehicles. There is no metro and even the main train station remains closed.
Tip: When visiting Montevideo for a first time, there are tours available lasting most of the day. Organised by Buquebus, they are very popular as they will take you to places not available by foot. To take advantage of all the corners of the city it's highly recommended to go by tour and explore the city centre at the end where the tour either drops you back to the port or at a shopping centre.
What to see and do? Montevideo has a rich history after forming part of the Spanish colonisation, which established the city in the 1720's .
Montevideo has consistently been rated as having the highest quality of life of any city in Latin America, described as a vibrant, eclectic place with a rich cultural life and a thriving entrepreneurial culture. It is also high on equality and over the last decade it has passed many new laws for same rights and better protection for women, domestic violence, child protection and gay rights for example. The city has also a strong commerce influence and the port is one of the most important of south america.
When visiting highlights of the city include: Palacio Legislativo, finished constructing in 1925 it's Uruguay's Parliament. Plaza Independencia, it's Montevideo's most important plaza. It separates Ciudad Vieja from downtown Montevideo, and it's the starting for the famous 18 de Julio avenue. Palacio Salvo, originally intended to be a hotel, but since then it has since been occupied by a mixture of offices and private residences. The building has a height of 95 m making it truly stand out from the skyline. Solis Theatre, opened in 1856 located right next to the Plaza Independencia, it's famous for it's excellent acoustics. Artigas Mausoleum, is a monument to Uruguayan hero José Artigas, located in Plaza Independencia also. Palacio Taranco, located in the heart of the old city, it's a palace erected in the early 20th century with the architectural style influence by the French architecture. Montevideo Cathedral, the main Roman Catholic church of Montevideo. Museo Torres García, art museum where unusual portraits of historical icons and cubist paintings akin to Picasso's paintings. Estévez Palace located in Plaza Independencia. Pocitos, is an upscale beach neighbourhood, good for walks and restaurants.
Tip: Opposite to the Biblioteca Nacional, the national library, you will find a Sunday market in which fresh produce can be found, as well as clothes, souvenirs, antiques and practically anything you can think of!
Suggestion: Visit the Mercado Agricola de Montevideo, its the Agriculture Market which over the years has evolved, not only selling primary food products but nowadays offers all kind of good quality meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, organic produce and naturally farmed. In addition you can find souvenirs,money exchange, cafes, hand craft or pastry shops amongst many more interesting stalls.
Accomodation: The city is clearly divided by the old town (Ciudad Vieja) and the downtown. So it's better to find accommodation in between so not to walk all the time from one side to the other. Hotels can be resonable and as well as plenty of hostels in the city centre. Also Airbnb is becoming more popular for private accommodation and cheaper. Prices are from €40 in the city centre and cheaper as you move away.
Recommended duration: For a trip to Montevideo it's enough to see most sights from the comfort of the tour busses and walk around the shopping streets in the evening before going back to Buenos Aires, as most tourists tend to do. So a day tour is enough to appreciate the city. However if you want to stay and visit museums and learn more about the city perhaps a 2 night stay would be ideal as the city is not big.
Colonia del Sacramento is the official name for the one of the oldest towns in Uruguay. It is renowned for its historic quarter, designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is a popular tourist attraction for visitors, specially from Buenos Aires. The historical section is very beautiful, with many cobblestone streets, hand-craft shops, galleries and historic buildings giving the area a true historic feel.
Weather and temperature: Colonia is very similar like Montevideo, it enjoys mild temperatures by being on the edge to Rio de la Plata. Mostly the temperatures won't go below 10C so visiting anytime of the year is good. However summer's (December to February) can be hot reaching above 30C and being very crowded with tourists.The best time is the Spring (September to November) and Autumn (March to June) approximately 20C on average.
Transportation: Getting there is easy by bus from Montevideo with frequent departures from Tres Cruces terminal. However most visitors travel to Colonia by ferry from Buenos Aires, taking just over one hour for the crossing. within the city there is very limited transport. So taking tours is the best alternative to see most of the city.Tip: Buquebus provides tours to the city so buying in advance and getting the best deals is always advised as they fill up quick, specially at the busy months during December to January.
What to see and do? Dating back many century's this city is a paradise for it's rich history and what is left of it's remains will truly impress you. Founded by the Portuguese in 1680, the city was of strategic importance in resisting the Spanish. After being disputed for a century, it was finally lost by its founders. The well-preserved urban landscape illustrates the successful fusion of the Portuguese, Spanish and post-colonial styles.
Key highlights to see include: Old Town Walls with the the Old Town Gate, also called Puerta de Campo or Puerta de la Ciudadela built in 1745. It marks the limit between the new part of the city and the historic part, also called the Barrio Histórico. Church Matriz, considered the oldest church in Uruguay. Also found here is the Plaza de Armas, It is nearly in the same condition as at the moment it was built. El Faro, it's the lighthouse, built in 1857 and is worth seeing because of its special shape and design. One thing not to be missed is to climb up and enjoy the beautiful view over the city and the Río de la Plata. Casa Nacarello, one of the prettiest colonial homes open to the public, with period furniture, thick whitewashed walls, wavy glass and original lintels.
Tip: If staying in Colonia and wish to visit the museums there is a single cost of UR$50 that gives you access to all 8 museums.They include the historical museums like:Spanish Museum, Portuguese Museum, Museo Paleontológico, Museo del Ferrocarril, Museo del Azulejo or Museo Municipal.
Recommended duration: Since Colonia is a small city and when travelling there you can take a day tour it's not really worth staying a long time, unless you want to relax and unwind. Staying one night if visiting with more detail would be enough.