Montevideo Tourism Information
The capital of Uruguay is the biggest city, concentrating most of its population around the city. Montevideo has come along way since it was first founded in 1726 by the governor of Buenos Aires at the time. It was a key strategic point and a defence structure similar to a fortress was built to counteract the Portuguese advance into the area from Brazil.
In 1828 the Treaty of Montevideo was signed, making it the country independent.
The city nowadays sustains it's growth in industry, services and more recently tourism. It has many beautiful promenade walks to stroll down and watch the sun set.
It's a relaxed city, where time sometimes seems to have stopped, lack of traffic congestion, impressive buildings and local markets are all reasons to come to visit.
Montevideo enjoys mild temperatures by being on the edge to Rio de la Plata. Mostly the temperatures won't go below 10°C so visiting anytime of the year is good.
However summer's (December to February) can be hot reaching above 33°C and feeling dry.
The best time is the Spring (September to November) and Autumn (March to June) where temperatures are much more comfortable to be out with approximately 20°C on average.
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 30 min 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 45 min 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'll find locals markets and restaurants. Walking to the city centre will only take 15 min 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.
Montevideo has a rich history after forming part of the Spanish colonisation, which established the city in the 1720's. The city 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.
- Mercado Agricola, 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.
✔️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!
One of the best things to do in Montevideo on your trip is to watch the sunset over the Atlantic! This makes for the perfect end to any day tour or just stroll along and enjoy the magnificent views. To get the best views go to Plaza España 📍 and walk along the Rambla Gran Bretaña street or find a spot to sit down and view the sunset.
Like most of Latin America, nightlife starts late in Montevideo, with locals eating dinner around 2200, clubbing at midnight and going home at 0400 or 0500. The city does not have the same breadth or depth of cosmopolitan clubs as Buenos Aires, but it does have a decent local bar and café scene; indeed, bars, cafés and restaurants tend to be rolled into one. Montevideo also has a rich cultural life, especially considering its size, but bear in mind that many performances are in Spanish only.
Montevideo offers a wealth of shopping opportunities. The larger shopping centres sell brand name items as well as woollen wear and locally produced ceramics; while the wide range of ferias (markets) in the capital sell crafts, clothes and antiques.
The shops around Plaza Independencia sell all types of leather, including rabbit, but do check the quality of both the material and the workmanship.
The Feria de Tristán Narvaja is a bustling Sunday street market that sprawls for several blocks, starting at the corner of Avenida 18 de Julio and Calle Tristán Narvaja. You'll find everything from second-hand clothes to souvenirs to live animals (and much more) on sale. Mercado de los Artesanos, at San José 1312, is another decent crafts market, open most days except Sunday.
Punta Carretas Shopping at José Ellauri 350 was once a prison but is now the city's largest shopping centre. It houses fashionable shops, a multiplex cinema and restaurants. Montevideo Shopping Centre on Avenida Luis Alberto de Herrera was the city's first shopping mall.
For souvenirs, typical items include highly-polished, semi-precious stones, leather goods and wood craft items. Yerba mate (a South American caffeine drink) mementos, such as delicately engraved bombilla straws (drinking straws), are particular favourites.
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 reasonable and as well as plenty of hostels in the city centre. Also Airbnb is becoming more popular for private accommodation and cheaper.
Prices range from €40 in the city centre and cheaper as you move away.
Depending of your budget and itinerary Montevideo is a city which can be seen easily within a day 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.
However if you want to stay longer and visit museums and learn more about the city perhaps a 2 night stay would be ideal as the city is not that big.
Montevideo Photo Slide 📷