Montevideo is the pleasant capital city of Uruguay, a country in South America. It is situated on the east bank of the Rio de la Plata.
The Montevideo Carrasco International Airport (IATA: MVD) is about 15km east of the city center. 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 UYU16. Cabs to the center should cost little more than UYU200.
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 UYU880 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. It is generally faster to clear Uruguayan customs when entering or exiting the country by boat.
Ferry service to Buenos Aires is also available via the same company Buquebus 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 USD $8.00 from the city terminal (Terminal Tres Cruces) to Colonia, 2 to 3 hours, stay a couple of days, highly recommended and then buy a ferry ticket in Colonia to Buenos Aires about 1 hour crossing.
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. It can be effective and cheap - about $16 to get most places. Buy the ticket from the driver and get it punched. Be sure to hold on to the ticket until you exit the bus.
Local buses, from the city centre terminal, very nice terminal/shopping mall, good buses with bathrooms, we paid USD UYU8.00 one-way to Colonia, about 2 to 3 hours. efficent and on time.
Taxis are cheap and plentiful. It helps to know a little Spanish. A ten-minute cab ride costs about UYU95. Taxis are metered and there should be a chart showing distance and cost, generally 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.
Car rental is cheaper if booked ahead but be aware that places like the airport and the ferry terminal charge higher rates then 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.
Ciudad Vieja — Montevideo's Old Town. Enter through the portal called Puerta de la Ciudadela.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. It has several levels of shopping, a food court, cineplex and full-service dining options. The Sheraton Hotel is connected to the mall.
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 and vegetables. It can be served al plato (on a plate) what means it is going to take fork and knife to be eaten. It is tastier, cheaper and much bigger than a hamburger.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sirte — 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.
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 230 Ur$.
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$28/38 double/triple.
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
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: <firstname.lastname@example.org>) . 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: <email@example.com >) . 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: firstname.lastname@example.org>) . 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.
Colonia - A pleasant little World Heritage colonial town. A nice chance to get away from the noisy city and relax for a while.
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