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Montevideo Travel Guide

About Montevideo

Perched on a peninsula jutting out into the River Plate, Uruguay’s capital city, Montevideo, has been captivating visitors with its blend of Old and New World charm for centuries.

Elegant, if slightly down at heel, the narrow cobblestoned streets, historic buildings and atmospheric plazas of Montevideo’s Ciudad Vieja (Old Town) cluster along the banks of the extensive estuary and sit across from the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires.

Neighbours they may be, identical they are not: Uruguayans blend old-fashioned formality with laidback South American style, far removed from the openly effusive Argentineans. Locals may seem reserved at first, but things are changing rapidly in a city where former President, Jose Mujica, authorised same sex marriage and legalised marijuana.

Montevideo isn’t a pot smoking paradise, but visitors will find a relaxed pace of life. Its countless pavement cafés, particularly along the pedestrianised Peatonal Sarand, are ideal for watching the world stroll by as you sip a café con leche (milky coffee).

But don’t get too lost in just looking - Montevideo is about exploring. To the east, the modern city centre has wide, tree-lined avenues and art deco buildings that stand next to soaring skyscrapers; while its alluring seafront promenade, La Rambla, stretches to the greenery of Parque Rodo.

Near the airport, the upmarket Carrasco neighbourhood is home to the city’s most beautiful beaches, some of which could capture Copacabana’s crown if the secret got out. Then there’s the art and literature; Montevideo gave us masters like Juan Manuel Blanes and Joaquín Torres García, not to mention the writer Eduardo Galeano.

The annual Montevideo Carnival, meanwhile, cannons out each spring like a colourful celebration of existence. This raunchy, Rio-style fiesta sets the standard for the city’s infallible nightlife, which gyrates from rowdy discos to fiery tango bars. Still, there’s room for theatre, plus a fledgling foodie scene built on giant, mouth-watering steak sandwiches.

As with most of Latin America, dinner and dancing start late and end even later, so you’ll have all day to discover Montevideo, the pearl of Uruguay.

Key facts

1,328,606 (2010).
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Featured Hotels


Hotel Palacio

With a great old-timey feel, this ageing classic is a favourite for travellers on a budget. Touches like original tile work, brass bed heads and a few sticks of antique furniture add to the appeal. Rooms at the front have small balconies but can be noisy, while those at the back have good views over the plaza.

La Baguala

A slice of paradise set within 400 acres of privately-owned land, this hotel will see to nearly every need, from a spacious outdoor pool to its own private beach, à la carte dining options to entertainment for the little ones with a fully equipped games room. Breakfast is complimentary and rooms come furnished with flat-screen TVs, safety deposit box and minibar.

Caballo Loco Hostel

Centrally located, just a few metres from Plaza Cagancha in Montevideo's historic centre, this hostel offers between four and ten bed shared dorms. Basic and a little drab, the facilities are extensive and include a bar, cafe, bike hire, laundry service, free Wi-Fi and a communal kitchen.

Cala di Volpe

Guest rooms in this modern hotel, right on the waterfront, are tastefully decorated with dark wood fittings and white walls. Light, modern cuisine is on offer in the restaurant, and the pool and spa have pleasant views over the river.

Four Points

Cheaper and more central than its elder brother the Sheraton Montevideo, this hotel scores highly in all categories, although the competition is hardly fierce. There is a small indoor pool and spa, while guest rooms are modern and clean, if lacking inspiration. A full complement of business facilities makes this hotel a popular choice for those visiting the city for work.

Hotel Oxford

Recently renovated, but still with old-fashioned touches, this cheap Montevideo hotel is a popular bolthole for business travellers on a budget, though its city-centre location is good for tourists too. The restaurant is basic, but there are plenty of other dining opportunities nearby.