By Gabriel Negrín -
Montevideo is the capital of Uruguay and is often considered the cultural hub of the country as well. It is a city that offers something for everyone, from art to music and food. Most of the time, its beautiful leafy streets give way to seemingly spontaneous flea markets and artisan bazaars, where you might find some interesting designs while you are also enjoying the sound of traditional Candombe drums. Also, unlike any other country in Latin America, Uruguay is regarded as one of the most socially advanced countries. This country is well-known for its high measures of personal rights, tolerance, and inclusion issues, including legal gay marriage since 2013 and legal marijuana use since 2012, particularly groundbreaking in Latin America at the time.
How Long To Stay
Montevideo seems to be a perfect city that has it all. This is the type of city that has so many places to go that you will find yourself questioning the amount of time you should stay. We recommend you to stay at least four nights to really get a flavor of the city, but if you have the opportunity to stay for more days, then it might be better to stay for a week or ten days and do some day trips.
Top Things To See & Do
Walk along the Rambla
If you want to take a break from everyday life to enjoy a sunrise or a sunset then what you need if to take a walk along La Rambla. It’s about 10 miles long and separates the city from the sea. Also, it is possible to walk from the suburban parts of the city into the old town without any interruption, which can give you a real Uruguayan experience.
Teatro Solís is the second-biggest theatre in South America and the most important theatre in Uruguay. The Italian inspired theater has hosted some of the greatest performers in the artistic world, making it an art center within the city. The main hall of the theatre offers space for 1,500 people and is used for performances of operas, but also theatre events and concerts.
If it is a hot day and you want to have a good time, you should visit Montevideo’s beaches. There are a few on the outskirts of the city, along the Rambla, and near the Old Town.
No visit to any country is complete without a trip into the heart of the city. Therefore, you must visit the Old Town which is a place full of history and attractions, and we recommend you to start by the Plaza Independencia. From there you can reach the Teatro Solís, Palacio Salvo, and will see the remains of the city walls and town gate, which is the beginning of the original town.
Museum of Fine Arts “Juan Manuel Blanes”
This museum is named after the famous Uruguayan artist Juan Manuel Blanes, and it opened in 1930. The building itself is reminiscent of the classic Italian villas built in the Renaissance style. The Museum of Fine Arts keeps paintings by Blanes but has displays of other national and international artists. Also, you cannot miss taking a stroll through the surrounding Japanese garden.
Fortaleza Del Cerro
Fortaleza Del Cerro is a fort built in the 19th century to protect the population and the port. It is located on the highest mountain in the city and nowadays, it is a popular destination to enjoy a beautiful view of the city and learn more about Montevideo’s history.
Mercado del Puerto
This building made of steel was originally a market for fruit, vegetables, and meat. Nowadays, it’s still called the ‘Harbor Market’, but there are not many market stalls and stands. Surprisingly, the Mercado del Puerto is home to a good variety of restaurants. The majority of them offer the specialty “parrilla”, a grill for sausages, meat, and seafood.
A trip to Uruguay would not be complete without “parrilla” and Yerba mate. Yerba mate tea is Uruguay’s traditional drink – it is made from herbs taken from the mate bush, over which you pour boiling water. The original way to drink it is to use a mate container, filled up with the herbs and hot water, and drink it through a “bombilla”, which works like a straw that filters the infusion.
The Candombe music and dance performances were brought to South America by African slaves and it is still practiced today. Also, the Candombe is declared as part of the world’s cultural heritage by UNESCO and is still presented on Sundays at 7 pm in the district of Palermo in Montevideo. Don’t miss the opportunity to listen to some amazing music.
When To Go
The best time to travel to Uruguay depends on what you want to do. If you want to enjoy of Montevideo’s beaches, then the best time for you is during its summer months between November and February. However, travel is possible year-round; especially if you’re focussed on visiting more cultural sites and cities.
As well as Argentina, Chile and Brazil, traveling in Uruguay is not cheap and you often spend the same amount as when you travel to the U.S. and Europe. People usually say that prices in Uruguay are even higher than in Argentina, more than 20% higher.
For short-term travelers looking for a vacation in Uruguay, we recommend having a similar budget to that you would for a vacation in the United States or Europe. For long-term travelers, we’d say that you should plan a daily budget of $45 per person, based on two sharing.
Where To Stay
One of the best things about traveling to Montevideo is that you will find a place to stay, depending on the amount of money you’re willing to spend.
Montevideo Lounge Hostel, MedioMundo Hostel, and Habemus Hostel are some of the best places where to stay if you’re on a budget, and the best part is that they include breakfast. Therefore, you’ll be saving some money.
Ciudadano Suites, Don Boutique Hotel, and Ibis Styles Montevideo offer a good location among many other things. Rooms are big, with wi-fi, TV, and air conditioning. Also, they offer breakfast.
For the luxury traveler, one of the options is to stay either in Alma Histórica Boutique Hotel or Radisson Montevideo Victoria Plaza. Both offer a huge variety of things, from wifi to TV, air conditioning, good location, and excellent service. Also, you can stay at Sofitel Montevideo Casino Carrasco & Spa, and enjoy celebrity treatment with world-class service at the most prestigious hotel in Montevideo. Featuring spa and gym facilities, and both indoor and outdoor swimming pools, just 5 minutes from the airport.