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Montevideo Travel Guide

Montevideo is the political, financial and cultural heart of Uruguay. It is a medium-sized city with a small town feel. Almost half of Uruguay’s 3.4 milion inhabitants call Montevideo home.

Often overshadowed by its big neighbor Buenos Aires, Montevideo is a charming yet humble city with beautiful architecture, a rich history and an interesting blend of cultures.

The people of Montevideo are very friendly and helpful, the way of life is more relaxed than other cities of its size and crime is relatively low. Montevideo is a low-key city with much to offer and explore.

Virtual Uruguay

Montevideo attractions worth visiting during your stay:

Cerro Fortress

The Cerro, which means ‘hill’ in Spanish, is located across the bay from the main city. Atop the Cerro lies the city’s fortress and the General Artigas Fortress Military Museum (Museo Militar Fortaleza General Artigas). This fortress was constructed in 1808 by the Portuguese, the last military construction built during the colonial period. It was not intended to be part of the city’s defense; rather its purpose was to protect the lighthouse. Great to visit for an hour or two. Beautiful view of the city.

TIP: Go to the Cerro in taxi. If you do go in bus make sure you are with a local, and dress down. The area below the Cerro is not exactly one of Montevideo’s finest areas. Don’t get scared off – nothing happens around the fortress since it is guarded by the Uruguayan military.

Ciudad Vieja

The Ciudad Vieja district is the historic center of Montevideo. A visit to the Ciudad Vieja starts with the Plaza Independencia, site of the mausoleum of José Artigas – the national hero who fought for Uruguay’s independence. The mausoleum is open to visitors all day, every day and is always guarded.

Once in the Plaza Independencia, you will see the Puerta de la Ciudadela, a huge stone door-like structure that is the entrance to the old city. As you stroll through the gate, you will come across an assortment of jewelry stores, offices, restaurants and cafes. This is a great area to grab a coffee or drink or to have a bite to eat. Bartolomé Mitre boasts a great nightlife, as the street is lined with typical Uruguayan bars, Irish pubs and dance clubs.

For lunch, visitors must go to the Mercado de Puerto for steak and a bottle of Medio y Medio. The Mercado del Puerto is an open air complex with dozens of restaurants inside. Not just any restaurants, but parrillas. Vegetarians beware – this place has the meanest parrillas (barbecues) in town.

Historic Centenario Stadium

When in Uruguay, one must not miss the chance to see a soccer game at the historic Estadio Centenario. The stadium itself is very important because it was where the first World Cup was held. Perhaps the most exciting game you can go to is the Clásico – which is played between the two most popular soccer clubs in Uruguay – Peñarol and Nacional. The energy in the stadium during these games is amazing.

Palacio Salvo

Located in the intersection of 18 de Julio Avenue and the Plaza Independencia, this building 26-story building was once was the tallest in South America. It was originally intended to be a hotel but is now home to a multitude of residential units and office spaces.

Punta Carretas & Pocitos

The upscale riverfront neighborhoods of Punta Carretas and Pocitos boast a beautiful seaside promenade – aka the rambla. It is really a beautiful walk, especially on Sunday afternoons when swarms of locals go to the rambla to sit and drink mate or lay at the beach.

Tristán Narvaja Street Market

The feria Tristán Narvaja, is the biggest and most popular street market in Montevideo.  This street market is a paradise for collectors and is Uruguay’s center for antiques, records, artesanias, and more. Shop around for secondhand books, pets, fruits, vegetables, and fish in this one-of-a-kind market. The feria spans from downtown to the Cordón neighborhood and is open every Sunday.

One Comment »

  • Escape Hunter said:

    I read about Montevideo in my teen years and I’d love to explore it, take photos and publish the experience in the future!

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