Become part of the community when visiting this laid-back, culturally rich city – just don’t compare the locals with Argentinians or Paraguayans. Uruguayans are fiercely patriotic and it’s easy to see why with their delicious assados, stunning landmarks and gorgeous markets. Visit the country’s capital and you will understand why Montevideo consistently rates highly for quality of life among its Latin American counterparts.
Stroll through the Plaza Matriz (considered the heart of the city) to take a tour of the Museo Historico Nacional and get an insight into Montevideo’s past and eclectic culture. The Plaza Independencia is also a must-see for history buffs. It holds many of Montevideo’s celebrated buildings and monuments such as the statue of General Jose Gervasio Artigas and a mausoleum that holds his remains. Artigas was the man behind the independence movement of the 19th century and is considered the father of Uruguay.
Take a tour of the famous Teatro Solis theatre or buy tickets to concerts and plays held there throughout the year. The Playa de los Pocitos is popular beach where you’ll find people jogging and enjoying a sunset walk. The “Montevideo” sculpture here makes an iconic backdrop for tourist photos.
Eat and Drink
Uruguayans have a reputation as meat lovers and it is evident in the traditional cuisine and cooking styles of Montevideo. The assado or barbecue, grilled on a parrilla, is one of the most popular meals in the city.
Carnivores seeking an exceptional steak must try the popular La Pulperia restaurant. Snacks like chivitos (traditional steak sandwiches) and empanadas are also very popular and often cooked at local markets.
Sip on the traditional beverage of Montevideo called medio y medio, champagne mixed with white wine. You must also try the classic Uruguayan favourite bizcocho, a pastry that can be both sweet and savoury, often eaten at breakfast.
Where to Stay
Just outside the Centro, Montevideo’s historical main district, is the Pocitos area. It is a more modern neighbourhood that is home to most of the city’s hotels, restaurants and nightlife. It is considered one of the safest areas in the city and has an extensive community of foreigners and English-speaking expats, making it ideal for tourist stays.
While there are shopping centres and avenues in the city, visit the markets to get the most out of a memorable Montevideo shopping experience. At the traditional Feria de Tristan Narvaja market, on Sunday mornings, you can find trinkets, antiques, second-hand goods and souvenirs.
Another must-visit weekend market is the vibrant Mercado del Puerto, with street musicians and works by local artisans. Other recommended markets for crafts and accessories include the Plaza Cagancha, the Parque Villa Biarritz, El Galeon and Giamen.
Montevideo Like a Local
Buenos Aires might consider itself the world’s tango capital, but Uruguayans fiercely argue that the dance originated with them. Tango is very popular in Montevideo and numerous variations of the dance are performed in tango bars across the city. Join in the fun and let the professionals show you how it’s done.