I’ve been living in Montevideo for the last 2 months. I didn’t want to spend this much time ’cause there aren’t many things to do and see, but that was the deal I made with the hostel, so I had to stay here until the end of the high season.
Everything looks a lot more european. I think it has more history and historical identity than other cities I’ve seen so far. On the other side, Uruguay is the most expensive country in South America, so everything here will cost a lot of money. Another thing I dislike is that the museums don’t have free-entrance days, so you won’t be able to visit unless you pay.
As I’ve written in my previous post, I believe a few days will be enough to visit everything there is to see, but if you’re in a hurry one day will do.
A. Streets and neighbourhoods
1. La Rambla
Probably a walk on the rambla will give you an inside of how the uruguayans live. People of all ages enjoy daily walks along the river. Some are jogging, skating, bicycling etc. some are fishing and some bring chairs from home to chill while watching the sunset. Most of them are drinking mate.
The best idea is to rent a bike because it spreads for a few kilometers. There are some nice beaches along it and a memorial of the Holocaust.
2. Avenida 18 de Julio
Like a friend told me, everything in Montevideo happens on 18 de Julio. A really nice commercial street where you can find anything you want. Interesting mix between restaurants, stores and public squares.
The name of the avenue commemorates the date when the first Constitution was aproved in 1830.
Don’t forget to check out the Independence square between the Old City and 18 de Julio! Downstairs you can visit the tumb of General Artigas and learn intereting facts about Uruguay’s history.
This is the neighborhood where I lived. It’s a quiet borough with small individual homes where you can find beautiful examples of eclectic architecture.
During the week-ends the community gathers on the streets to practice for the carnival parade. There are three groups: a group of dancers, a group of singers with big drums (tambores) and the crowd that is following them. I believe that this community keeps the community united.
4. Avenida General Artigas – the part between the Rodo Park and the bus terminal.
Beautiful european-style houses
5. Old City (Ciudad Vieja) – can be dangerous at night
Museums, artisans’ and antiques fairs, parks, shops, cafes
6. Tristan Narvaja – every Sunday 09:00-14:00
Colourful fair where you can find everything you want, from food and pets to books and antiquities. A good opportunity to try the empanadas or other local recipes. Buying food from here will diminish the living costs with about 40%.
The fair spreads around a few streets, so visiting it it’s like going on a treasure hunt.The shops and restaurants on these streets are always opened while the fair takes place.
I like the books section where you can buy new and used books. I also discovered many collections of old comics and children’s stories. I bought an used english spanis/spanish-english dictionary for the equivalent of 1USD.
7. Artisans’ fair in the Old City – during week-days, sometimes on weekends. Occurs only when it’s not raining
Artisans gather here to sell their jewellery, antiques, mates (cups to drink yerba mate), magnets etc. Really makes the walks to the old city a lot more fun. Great opportunity to buy souvenirs.
8. Mercado del Puerto
Beautiful building near the harbour with many restaurants and cafes where you can try all kinds of uruguayan foods.
9. Teatro Solis
10. Museum of Pre-columbine Art
11. The Carnival Museum
12. Museum of Decorative Arts – Palacio Taranco – FREE!
A beautiful residence that used to belong to a noble man. In the basement they have an interesting collection about perfumes during Antiquity. Upstairs a collection of old furniture, pianos and paintings. Catch a glimpse of how Uruguayan noblemen used to live!
13. Garcia Torres Museum
14. Botanical Garden – FREE!
15. Japanese Garden – FREE!
16. Rodo Park
Beautiful quiet park with a small lake with boats, a library, statues and temporary open-air exhibitions.
Uruguay has a lot of beautiful beaches on the coast. Montevideo is opened towards Rio de la Plata that is actually an estuary, not a river. Unfortunately the water is polluted and most days it has a brownish colour, but people still go swimming. The beaches are not particularly beautiful or interesting, but if it’s your only option you can relax there.
Don’t forget to try some of the local specialties like empanadas, chivitos, steak (considered by some better than the argentinian one). Don’t miss the wine!