Montevideo was founded in 1724. For much of its early history, the city consisted of what is now known as the Ciudad Vieja (Old Town). By the mid-19th century the city began to grow eastward towards what is now known as Centro. The demolition of the old fort that used to mark the eastern boundary of Old Town enabled the construction of what is now Plaza Independencia. Eventually Boulevard Artigas was built around Centro, but by 1910, suburbs were already developing beyond it which were later annexed into the growing city.
Carrasco International Airport (IATA: MVD) is about 15 km east of the city center, in the suburb of Carrasco in the department of Canelones. The airport is linked to the city center via major four-lane divided arterial roads. Route 101 (the national highway running by the airport) terminates at a roundabout where it connects to Avenida de las Americas, which in turn connects to Avenida Italia, which runs all the way to Centro.
People used to complain all the time about Carrasco's dilapidated and overcrowded old terminal. In 2009, Carrasco Airport opened a beautiful new terminal and expanded to eight gates (four jetways, four remote parking spots). Unfortunately, to pay for the $134 million terminal, the government sold a lot of bonds backed by a USD $31 airport fee charged to all departing travelers.
Based on where you are from, some airlines already include this fee in the price of the ticket (in the United States it is mandatory), but if your airline did not already charge you the fee, you will be required to go to the airport fee counter (next to the check-in counters) and pay the fee before you can leave the country.
Buses depart right outside the airport to Terminal Tres Cruces, just north of many major sites downtown (easily walkable to hotels). Airport transfer by bus costs about UYU31.
By remise from airport to center cost UYS 700 or USD 37 (http://www.bybremises.com).
The airport taxi to the center costs UYU1500 or USD70; metered and prepaid prices are about the same as of September 2012. Payment in USD is possible, but using UYU works out to be about 20% cheaper.
During weekdays one can take the normal radio taxi from the city to the airport for around 600 UYU.
Another possibility for travelers who are heading to Montevideo from nearby Buenos Aires is to take the high-speed ferry operated by Buquebus . A one-way ticket, tourist class, costs about UYU 940 and takes about 3 hours. There are several boats a day. The ferry arrives in the Ciudad Vieja district of Montevideo, situated very close to downtown - a cab ride to a hotel in El Centro or Pocitos is much shorter and cheaper than from the airport.
Ferry service to Buenos Aires is also available via the same company Buquebus or ColoniaExpress  via Colonia. The ticket can include the bus from Montevideo to Colonia, it is cheaper and about 1 to 2 hours longer than the direct crossing. You can buy a bus ticket, about 188 Uruguyan pesos from the city terminal (Terminal Tres Cruces) to Colonia, 2 to 3 hours, stay a couple of hours or days, which is highly recommended, and then buy a ferry ticket in Colonia to Buenos Aires whicht takes about 1 hour. If you book well in advance via internet (MasterCard works, even if it takes a couple of attempts) you can get the Express service (1 hour) for around 500 UYU.
Bus to Salto - 6 hour direct transfer is 640 pesos with Agencia Central SA (June 2012) - several departures throughout the day/night.
For those leaving from Porto Alegre, Brazil, there are two options: one that enters Uruguay via Chuí and another via Jaguarão. For both, you start by taking the route BR-116 up to Pelotas. Next, if you want to visit Chuí, the southernmost city of Brazil, or the Santa Teresa Fortress or even see the beautiful beaches of the coast of Uruguay, then, at Pelotas, take the route BR-392 to Rio Grande and next the route BR-471 all the way to Chuí. Takes about 6 hours and 30 minutes to go from Porto Alegre to Chuí. On June 6th of 2010 there were 5 tolls between those cities, a total of R$ 34.60 (it's important to note that they only accept Brazilian Real). Around 30 minutes after crossing the border, you can visit the Santa Teresa Fortress. An option is to stay a night at Punta del Diablo, in case you are too tired to keep driving to Montevideo. From Chuí to Montevideo, just stay in route 9. Takes about 4 hours and 30 minutes. Again, there are 3 tolls between Chuí and Montevideo, each cost UYU 45.00. In this case, they do accept foreign money. However, it's strongly recommended that you pay in Uruguay Pesos, as they charge a lot more if you pay in Real or Dolar.
If you want the fastest route to Montevideo (about 2 hours shorter than the first one), you should cross the border at Jaguarão. To reach this city, just stay in route BR-116. After that, take route 8 to Montevideo.
Montevideo is not a large city and it boasts a very efficient public transportation system so getting around is not difficult at all. If you are not bashful about your Spanish, feel free to ask people which bus route you need to take to get to your destination as it can be the most effective and cheap option (UYU $20 as of 2013). Alternatively if you know some Spanish there are two websites similar to Google Maps that are useful: Cómo ir and MontevideoBus.
It is useful to know that if you choose to ride a bus, upon boarding you will pay either the driver or the assistant who sits on the right-hand side of the bus (door-side) a few seats from the entrance. There is a small device that will dispense your receipt, make sure you hold on to it for the duration of your ride as sometimes company supervisors board buses checking for these receipts (making sure no one is riding unauthorized). If you are unsure where to get off you can always ask the driver or assistant to let you know when your stop is coming up and they'll be happy to oblige. Just try to remain visible so they can tell you (though if the bus gets full and you've moved to the back they'll yell out the street name). It is also important to note that you do not need to have the exact fare as the driver or the assistant carry change. Of course, expect disgruntlement if you pay with a large bill.
The city's central terminal is called Tres Cruces. Aside from being a full-fledged mall, it sports companies with fully-equipped tour buses that can take you anywhere in Uruguay and even into neighboring countries. Expect UYU $179.00 one-way to Colonia, about 2 to 3 hours. Efficient and on time. All destinations, timetables and hours are available online . Any bus from the airport marked "Montevideo" will reach Tres Cruces in about half an hour and cost a bit over 30 pesos. It helps to ask the bus driver to inform you when to get off because the Tres Cruces terminal building is rather nondescript from some sides and you may miss it.
You can use a Remise a bit like a taxi but more professional and you can ask the company to send you a driver in your language, for example: you can rent it for an hour and the cost is approximately U$S16. Here is the website http://www.bybremises.com
Taxis are plentiful but not too cheap (gasoline is expensive in Uruguay). It helps to know a little Spanish. A ten-minute cab ride costs about UYU100. Taxis are metered and upon the end of your ride you are shown a chart depicting distance and cost (though on some vehicles this chart will be on the window between you and the driver). Generally there are two fare schedules. The first is for Monday-Saturday from morning to mid-evening. The second fee schedule is for Sundays and late at night, and is slightly more expensive. Tipping is not expected, but you might round up to an even number to be polite. It is also not uncommon to sit on the front.
Car rental is cheaper if booked ahead but be aware that places like the airport and the ferry terminal charge higher rates than the same agencies in other locations around the city. A few phone calls and a cheap taxi ride to a location other than the air or sea ports will save you half the rate for the same car at the same company.
Driving in Montevideo is not too difficult, especially for those visitors from Europe or developing countries that lack strict lane enforcement and have lots of roundabouts. (Visitors from countries with few roundabouts and strict lane enforcement, like the United States, will find it baffling at first.) For a variety of political and historical reasons (similar to most other socialist countries), most Uruguayans could not afford automobiles until recently and instead developed a strong tradition of using the bus. Thus, road traffic in Montevideo is amazingly light outside of rush hour, and even during rush hour is relatively good compared to, say, North American cities of similar size.
It is not too hard to find parking in most of Montevideo. Indeed, if you do not see a "Reservado" sign, or red and white stripes or red paint on the curb, you can safely assume that one is allowed to park at any particular curb.
The only major obstacle for visitors is that from Monday to Friday, from 10 am to 6 pm, there is a "Estacionmento Tarifa" parking management system in place in much of the Ciudad Vieja and Centro. However, the exact method of properly paying for parking under this system is quite mysterious, as the city government's relevant Web page does not explain it very well at all, and the local tourist information offices are unable to explain it clearly in plain English when asked in person. The safer thing to do is to park outside of the tariffed area and walk in.
Montevideo is not a large city, and most of the sites can be seen in about a day as they are clustered together.
Ciudad Vieja — Montevideo's Old Town. Enter through the portal called Puerta de la Ciudadela at one end of Plaza de Independencia.
Plaza de Independecia — The square at the end of 18 de Julio Ave., with the latter being the main commercial artery of the city.
Palacio Salvo — Next to Plaza Independencia. Once South America's highest building, the Palacio Salvo still dominates Montevideo's skyline. You can take an elevator to the top at no cost for an excellent view of the city.
Mausoleo de Artigas — This large monument in the Plaza de Independencia pays tribute to José Gervasio Artigas, one of the heroes of the Uruguayan Independence. Under the monument is the mausoleum, which is open on the weekends. It contains an urn with his ashes and two honor guards keeping watch.
National History Museum — Spread between five old historic houses, holds important bits of the country's history. No entrance fee.
The sexual diversity monument, erected in 2005, is located on Policia Vieja St., between Plaza de la Constitución and Plaza Independencia. It reads "Honouring diversity is honouring life; Montevideo is for the respect of all identities and sexual orientations". It's South America's first monument dedicated to sexual diversity. Other places of interest to gay people include the Edificio Liberaij, where two gay Argentine bank robbers (featured in the 1998 movie Plata Quemada) died in 1965.
El Día del Patrimonio, — On the last Saturday of September, all the museums and historical places of interest around the Plaza de Independencia open for free to the public. There is also a large "Murga," or a traditional South American parade in which all the Uruguayan political parties take part.
MAPI - museum of indigenous art and Uruguayan archaeology.
Museo Torres Garcia - displaying works of this most prominent Uruguayan artist.
Barrio Reus - a small neighbourhood with charming coulorful houses.
Palacio Legislativo - national parliament, the first one in South America and an iconic symbol of Uruguay´s long lasting democracy.
Museum of Natural History - built in the form of a mosque and located at the beach promenade.
MNAV - national museum of modern Uruguayan art.
Fortaleza General Artigas at Cerro - it now houses a collection of armoury. It is the original fort from which Montevideo originated.
Palacio Taranco - seat of the Museum of Decorative Art.
Mercado del Puerto - this is a covered market full of restaurants and some shops selling handicrafts. The main market is open every day during lunch hours. The restaurants around the exterior offer both indoor and outdoor seating, and they remain open for dinner.
The Rambla — This waterside roadway has people biking, fishing, drinking mate, and enjoying the great views. 22 kilometers-long (13.6 miles), the Rambla goes along Montevideo's waterfront. Lovely at sunset.
BIKE RENTAL - Bicicleteria Sur (Aquiles Lanza 1100 y Durazno) - Monday to Friday 9 -13:00 and 15-19:00 Saturday 9-13:00 For rentals on Sunday or the price for a day, should do consultations. $20 pesos per hour. Phone: 901 07 92.
La Feria Tristán Narvaja Flea Market — Spend part of Sunday morning with the locals on Tristán Narvaja Street, where vendors sell everything from t-shirts to antiques to kitchen supplies. It's right off of 18 de Julio Ave. and the entrance is often marked by people selling puppies.
Pocitos — This barrio lies about 2 miles south-east of El Centro. The Pocitos beach runs east from Punta Trouville for about a mile. Highrise apartments ring the beach along the Rambla, but going in-land a few blocks brings you into an older neighborhood reminiscent of San Francisco's Marina district. Head uphill on 21 de septiembre St. from the Rambla at Punta Trouville for about 7 or 8 blocks to avenue Ellauri, turn left and walk another 4 blocks to Punta Carretas Shopping, a major shopping mall that is built on the remains of a prison (they preserved the prison gate inside the mall).
Walking — Perhaps not an especially beautiful city, Montevideo is a relatively safe one. The city is built on a slight hill, the spine of which extends into the Rio de la Plata to create the point that was the original city (Ciudad Vieja). From the Plaza de la Independencia, the main street that extends east from the plaza is 18 de Julio Ave. El Centro (downtown) is in this area and there will be lots of shops and places to change money. You can walk around without worry almost anywhere, and there are lots of side streets and areas you can explore: be aware that the port area, just off the main tourist and port terminal areas, is considered dangerous by locals as much as by the police. Parts of the city may appear run-down, but do not confuse this with it being a bad neighborhood. Along with Buenos Aires, this is one of the few cities in South America where poverty is not overly prevalent. That being said, there is simply not enough money in Uruguay to construct lots of new, modern buildings, so buildings are kept in use for long periods of time.
Mercado de los Artesanos — This market, located on the corner of Paraguay and Colonia streets, is fantastic! An array of artists and craftspeople converge here to sell wares made from leather, paper, woodwork, and various textiles.
Montevideo Leather Factory, Plaza Independencia 832, + 598 2 908-9541 . This factory has a wide range of leather garments at reasonable prices, and they offer custom-made jackets tailored to your measurements in 24 hours. Opening hours: SAT till 1700hrs, SUN till 1400hrs.
Manos del Uruguay — Several locations throughout Montevideo, including one at the Punta Carretas mall. Sells woven goods and other handcrafted items - a little pricey.
Punta Carretas Shopping Mall — A large shopping mall located in a former prison where the military regime used to torture dissidents. It has several levels, a food court, cineplex and full-service dining options. It is currently the most upscale mall in Uruguay (although still small by U.S. standards) and features several boutiques for international fashion brands. The Sheraton Hotel is connected to the mall. The mall has ample parking, but because the developer had to build around the existing prison as part of the development deal, the parking garages are very confusing and difficult to navigate.
Montevideo Shopping Mall — Another large modern shopping mall in the Pocitos neighborhood of Montevideo. It has one huge parking garage (which is easier to navigate then Punta Carretas) but is not quite as upscale.
Meat — Uruguay is renowned for its meats, and Montevideo has many parrillas where they are grilled up to perfection.
Chivito — This is the local sandwich, made with meat (skirt steak, not goat as Argentines might guess from the name), slices of hard-boiled eggs, and vegetables. It can be served al plato (on a plate), which means it is going to take a fork and knife to eat it. Like a hamburger, it is traditionally served with fries, but it is tastier, cheaper and much bigger than a hamburger. Several guidebooks (correctly) call the chivito a "cholesterol bomb." After eating one or two of these delicious monsters, you will begin to understand why so many elderly Uruguayans have pot bellies (not from eating at McDonald's).
"Marcos Chivito" is one of the best places in Montevideo to get these tasty treats, as well as "La Mole", and some "Carritos". An excellent choice is to try chivitos in "Bar San Rafael".
Milanesa — is a common meat dish mostly in South America, including Uruguay. It consists of a thin slice of veal, chicken or sometimes beef. Each slice is dipped into beaten eggs, seasoned with salt, and other condiments according to the cook's taste (like parsley and garlic). Each slice is then dipped in breadcrumbs (or occasionally flour) and shallow-fried in oil, one at a time. Some people prefer to use very little oil and then bake them in the oven as a healthier alternative. Sometimes it may include a fried egg on top.
Fresh Pasta and Fresh Gnocchis — they are everywhere on the menus, with all types of vegetarian or meat sauces... usually a cheap, filling and delicious option!
Desserts — In Uruguay, desserts are huge and plentiful. There is dulce de leche on almost everything and stores that sell nothing but caramels. Many places sell nothing but dessert, so pick the one with the best looking pastries and cakes and enjoy!
Churros — Find them for sale at the "Parque Rodó". Try the sweet versions - they come with sugar on top, or filled with chocolate, dulce de leche or cream filling - or the cheese-filled ones.
Pizza — There are "pizzerías" all around Montevideo. Most make square pizzas, a traditional form in Uruguay. "Muzzas" (mozzarella) are most popular.
Fainá — It's a mixture of Corn flour and milk, which is baked in the pizza oven. Quality is varible among pizzerías, most delicious is the thin or "de orilla" part which is crunchier!
K FeCorner of Juan Paullier and Maldonado, phone: 224025887 Cordon area: You will feel like in Lavapiez in Madrid, Friedrichshain in Berlin or a Melbourne back alley. Enjoy a coffee in the afternoon or a home cooked meal (always veggie option) in this unique rotiseria cultural in the hart of the city. Clothes, design, exhibition, roots, dub, dubstep, urban art. Open from 12 pm to 2 am.
Café Bacacay — located very close to Plaza de la Independencia, right across the Teatro Solis and open all day for a coffee or a bite to eat, this café/restaurant offers a variety of very tasteful dishes going from traditional to more innovative cuisine. Service was excellent.
La Pasiva — This restaurant chain is found all over the city, and specializes in beer, hot dogs, and chivitos.
Le Corte — Classic restaurant (not fast-food) in the Ciudad Vieja, with lovely decorations and great food.
Mercado del Puerto — This touristy area houses a dozen or so restaurants. Most offer grilled meat, and you can find good paella, as well. It is usually quite busy - just find an open seat to be served.
Montecristo — Located in Pocitos, this restaurant offers innovative dishes and is housed in a castle-like building that used to be the house of an alchemist.
Sidewalk cafes — Cafes abound in the city center along the pedestrian streets heading towards the Ciudad Vieja.
Estancia Del Puerto — Featured on Anthony Bourdain's 'No Reservations'. It's an All You Can Eat meat bar.
Cru — Considered Montevideo's finest restaurant, with a good sampling of Uruguayan New Cuisine.
Don Pepperone — With several locations around the city, a good bet for anyone seeking a taste of an American-style chain. This Italian-American themed eatery offers a wide variety of pizza as well as other pasta dishes.
El Mate — This traditional drink is ubiquitous - find it anywhere and everywhere throughout the city! Mate is derived from the herb yerba that was originally used by the indigenous Guarani living near the Rio de la Plata. Most of the city-dwellers in Montevideo prefer to drink their mate without sugar, called a Mate amargo. Gourds and horns are constantly being refilled with the brew from sun-up to sun-down.
Salus — A mineral water bottled in Uruguay. If you're a little apprehensive about drinking tap water, this is a great way to go!
Tutti Frutti — A mix of delicious freshly squeezed fruit juice with ice.
Beer — Beer is often sold in 1 liter bottles. You basically have a selection of typical lagers. The most commonly found are Patricia or Pilsen, with Zillertal also often available. You can also order a chopp, which is a draft beer (and if not specified, it is normally Patricia).
Uvita — A specialty of Bar Fun Fun, a liquor drink served in a shot glass and tastes of raisins. It is a secret recipe and only served at Baar Fun Fun.
Medio y Medio — A special mix of sparkling wine and white wine made by "Roldós", in the Mercado del Puerto
La Taqueria, Jose Marti 3373, ☎ 27093206, . La Taqueria, situated just a few steps from Pocitos beach, offers excellent Mexican food at very reasonable prices. Run by two friends, this is a great place to eat and drink in Montevideo among the locals. Service is excellent and English spoken as well. Try the Taco del diablo and mojitos!edit
The green hostel (In the heart of the old city), 25 de Mayo 288 esq. Colon, ☎ 0059829169789. checkout: 11h. Breakfast & wifi included. Bike rental.Dorms220$ Private700$. edit
Live MVD Hostel, Maldonado 1790 (Bus #300 or #407 from Terminal Tres Cruces), ☎ 24111839, . checkin: 13:00; checkout: 11:30. This is a brand new hostel in the design district with cheap dorms and a central location. The owners, two girls from Montevideo, are super friendly and helpful. Free breakfast (with homemade bread!), free bike rental, free Wi-Fi, and an art studio (you´re supposed to do a painting before you go). Very clean. English and some Portugues is spoken.USD 10. edit
Piedras de Afilar Art Hostel (Montevideo downtown), Andes 1261 (Esq. Soriano), ☎ +598-29016817, . Art Hostel placed at the very centre of Montevideo, + B&B, WIFI, BICICLES, KITCHEN.Dorms from 250 Ur$ (13USD). edit
Boulevard Sarandi Hostel, Sarandi 405 (Esq. Zabala), ☎ 915 3765 / 099 710 353. New hostel open in July 2009. Clean and spacious. Breakfast, towel, Internet and Wifi included. Free use of the kitchen.Dorms from 260 Ur$. edit
Albergue Juvenil, Canelones 935, +598 2 908-1324. Nice HI-Hostel close to the center. With kitchen and internet access.
Unplugged Hostel, Luis de la Torre 930, +598 2 712-1381 . Located in Pocitos, one of the nicest and safest neighborhoods of Montevideo, just a few blocks away from its famous coast. Dorms from US$12
Hotel Arapey, Ave Uruguy 925, ☎ +598 2 900-7032, . Rambling art deco relic with large rooms and linens as old as the building. Private bath, fans, TVs, elevator.US$32/38 single/double. edit
Ciudad Vieja Hostel, Ituzaingó 1436, +598 2 915-6192 . Located near the historical heart of the city and in the middle of Montevideo’s nightlife. Free breakfast, internet, kitchen access. Dorms from US$11.
Red Hostel, San Jose 1406, +598 2 908-8514 . A hostel set in a renovated colonial home built in 1912. Typical hostel traffic, but very nice staff who like to hang out with their friends late at night on the hostel roof.
Spléndido Hotel, Bartolome Mitre 1314, +598 2 916-4900 .. Rumor has it that this hotel was originally built by a former president at the turn of the 20th century for his mistress. The hotel is located near the Plaza de Independencia and the Teatro Solis. Many of the best restaurants, music, bars, and sightseeing spots are literally within a few steps of the front door. Prices from US$11-38.
Pocitos Hostel, Av. Sarmiento 2641, +598 2 7118780 . In nearby Pocitos, a beach suburb ,is a purpose built hostel with free breakfast, internet, kitchen, fireplace, backyard and the most friendly and helpful staff. They have bicycles for hire, don´t miss the bike ride from Pocitos to Carrasco (45 minutes) or Pocitos to Escollera, Old Town, 20 minutes. Dorms from US$ 12
Hotel Embajador, San José 1212, ☎ +598 2 902 0012, . checkout: 11:00. Nice and clean city hotel with a very good breakfast. The hotel is located parallel to Avenida 18 de Julio, hence very central. Staff is friendly and speaks Spanish, English and some German. The hotel boasts a pool, gym, free-to-use Computers in the lobby, and free Wi-Fi on the rooms.Double from US$ 100. edit
Four Points Sheraton, Calle Ejido 1275, +598 2 901-7000 . Close to one of Avenida 18 de Julio. In walking distance of Plaza Independencia and Ciudad Vieja. Has a pool and a small gym. Rooms are quite nice, but without balconies and you can't open any windows (a shame in the summer time). Friendly staff and an excellent restaurant.
Fully Equipped Short Term Apartments, Calle 21 Septembre in Pocitos, +598 99 600-455. Very central and in a good neighborhood. Perfect solution if you plan to stay for several days and want to have the comfort of your own home.
Ibis Montevideo, Calle La Cumparsita 1473, +598 2 413-7000 (fax: +598 2 413.6245, email: <email@example.com>) . A 5-minute walk from the old town, this chain hotel has simple but comfortable rooms and is bookable over the internet..
Radisson, Plaza Independencia 759, +598 2 902-0111 (fax: +598 2 902-1628, email: <firstname.lastname@example.org >) . Located heart of Montevideo's financial and commercial district. Features include a pool, gym, high-speed internet, and views of the city from the Restaurant Arcadia, located on the 25th floor.
Nh Columbia Hotel, Rambla Gran Bretana 473, +598 2 916-0001 (<email: email@example.com>) . This hotel is near the Ciudad Vieja with views of the Rambla. A modern hotel with a huge breakfast and free internet access, it has plenty of parking and a friendly staff.
Casa Sarandi (email: firstname.lastname@example.org), named after the atmospheric breakwater that makes the port of Montevideo one of the best in South America, offers guests a warm and inviting residential ambience with modern conveniences. A four-room guest house occupying the entire third floor of a 1930s art deco style residential building in the Old City, called Ciudad Vieja in Spanish, the heart of Montevideo's artistic and intellectual life since the 1800s.
Colonia - A pleasant little World Heritage colonial town. A nice chance to get away from the noisy city and relax for a while.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!