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  • Overview

    Located on the north shore of the Rio de la Plata, Uruguay's vibrant, eclectic capital blends Old World charm with latter-day style in an unforgettable way. Visitors will discover a laidback destination of glorious beaches, leafy plazas, colourful buildings and splendid colonial structures, where adventure awaits.

    A trip to Montevideo's Ciudad Vieja (Old Town) makes an excellent opening chapter to a stay in the capital. An elegant district of narrow cobblestoned streets and colonial buildings, it's home to both Spanish and Portuguese influences, and its fascinating museums are well worth visiting. The city's beautiful beaches, cosy tango bars, elegant old theatres and countless pavement cafes provide delightful changes of pace and, as Uruguay is renowned for the quality of its beef, foodies must eat at one of Montevideo's barbeque restaurants.

    Mercado del Puerto (Port Market)

    Set under a vast, cast-iron structure reminiscent of old European railway stations, Montevideo's Mercado del Puerto (Port Market) is a lively affair. A hive of trading activity since 1868, the area no longer operates as a market, instead housing some of the finest seafood eateries in the city and perhaps the best steakhouses in South America. Visitors should try the traditional drink called medio y medio (champagne mixed with white wine) with their meals, and linger to watch the city's talented buskers and entertainers.

    Mercado del Puerto Mercado del Puerto Phil Whitehouse
    National History Museum

    The Museo Historico Nacional is a treat for visiting history buffs. Located in the Old City, it's made up of old houses where prominent historical figures once lived, and its collection traces the history of Uruguay from before European colonisation to the mid-20th century. Exhibits include books, documents, furniture, photographs and works of art. The houses that make up the museum are Casa de Antonio Montero, Casa de Juan Antonio Lavalleja, House of Manuel Ximénez and Gomez, House of Joseph Garibaldi, Casa de Juan Francisco Giró, House fifth of Luis Alberto de Herrera and the fifth house of José Batlle y Ordóñez.

    Casa de Antonio Montero, Museo Historico
Nacional Casa de Antonio Montero, Museo Historico Nacional Nicolas Barriola
    Plaza Independencia

    Montevideo's showpiece plaza contains some of the city's most impressive architecture, including its best-known landmark, the Palacio Salvo. Designed by Italian architect, Mario Palanti, and completed between 1927 and 1928, it was originally intended as a hotel but instead came to house an elaborate collection of offices and residential apartments. It was once the tallest building in South America and was built on the site where Gerardo Matos Rodriguez wrote La Cumparsita: one of the most famous and recognisable tangos of all time. The Plaza also contains a statue of Uruguay's national hero, General Artigas.

    Plaza Independencia Plaza Independencia nouknouk
    Ciudad Vieja

    Montevideo's old city is a vibrant, fascinating district of grand historic buildings and cobbled streets. Weekends see dancers and musicians gather for impromptu performances, and artists have turned many of the decaying, ground-floor apartments into studios and galleries, where visitors can purchase works from some of Uruguay's finest. The area's iron gates and street lamps are very photogenic. Travellers are sure to find a wonderful juxtaposition of old and new, making Ciudad Vieja the purest embodiment of Montevideo's evolution.

    Ciudad Vieja Ciudad Vieja Rubén Rojas Gratz
    Estadio Centenario

    Built between 1929 and 1930, the Estadio Centenario commemorates the centenary of Uruguay's first constitution, and hosted the first-ever FIFA World Cup final, in which Uruguay beat Argentina by four goals to two. Listed by FIFA as one of the world's Classic Stadiums, the Estadio Centenario has become a bucket-list item for many football fans. Thousands of tourists visit every year, either to attend a match or to enjoy the fascinating Museo del Fútbol (Football Museum) housed within the stadium itself.

    Estadio Centenario Estadio Centenario Jimmy Baikovicius

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    Montevideo's climate is mild, with an average annual temperature of around 55°F (13°C). During the height of summer (January), Montevideo's average temperatures range from 64°F (18°C) to 82°F (28°C), while winters (June to August) are much cooler and tend to be wet. Average temperatures range between 45°F (7°C) and 53°F (12°C). Autumn is the wettest season.

    Given its temperate climate, Montevideo is a pleasant destination at any time of year, though summer and early spring are probably the best times to go.

    Carrasco International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated 11 miles (18km) to the east of central Montevideo, in the suburb of Carrasco.
    Time: Local time is GMT -3.
    Getting to the city: Buses and taxis are available from the airport to the city centre.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies represented at the airport include Avis, Budget, Hertz, and Europcar.
    Airport Taxis: Airport Taxi runs a metered service into Montevideo from the airport.
    Facilities: Airport facilities include VIP lounges, a conference room, shopping (including duty-free shops), a bank, fast food outlets, car rental companies, a hairdresser, a travel agency and currency exchange facilities.
    Parking Parking is available at the airport. There are short-term and long-term parking lots.

    Buses run all over the city until around 11pm daily, and are cheap and easy to use. Visitors can buy tickets directly from the driver or conductor, who can also offer advice on routes and destinations. Taxis are metered and plentiful.

    Otherwise, locals are generally friendly and willing to point travellers to various sights and attractions. A Spanish phrase book is useful for this reason.

    Culturally rich and home to nearly half of Uruguay's population, Montevideo is easily as captivating as South America's more famous capitals. Travellers often begin their stays with a visit to the city's gorgeous beachfront, whether they wish to windsurf, jog round the breezy ramblas (esplanades) or simply relax with their families. Ciudad Vieja (Old Town) is a must for its historic architecture and museums, and Plaza Independencia is full of photographable landmarks. Tango bars, theatres, the frenetic football stadium, Estadio Centenario, and a choice selection of excursions should also be high on travellers' lists of priorities. Foodies, however hard to please, will enjoy the destination's world-class beef, as well as its close proximity the most important wine region in Uruguay.

    Punta del Este

    Often called the 'Hamptons of South America', Punta del Este holiday resort is a favourite destination among wealthy Argentines and Uruguayans. Located on Uruguay's southern tip, its pristine, sandy beaches, yacht marinas, luxury hotels and holiday condominiums scream money. Thousands of moneyed visitors arrive during the summer holiday season, when sophisticated shops, clubs and restaurants do most of their business. The off-season sees many of Punta del Este's establishments close, transforming the area into something like a sleepy coastal town.

    Punta del Este Punta del Este Gabriel Millos
    Colonia del Sacramento

    The historic town of Colonia del Sacramento is a must-see for anyone visiting Uruguay. Situated on the River Plate, this celebrated UNESCO World Heritage Site is the oldest settlement in the country and welcomes many ferry visitors from Buenos Aires on the other side of the river. The quaint town was founded in 1680 and is home to cobbled streets and brightly coloured houses, vibrant bars, excellent restaurants, and a wonderful array of art and craft shops. Colonia is about a two-hour drive from Montevideo.

    Colonia del Sacramento Colonia del Sacramento You Need Style
    Estancias

    Estancias (ranch houses) and the gaucho (cowboy) lifestyle they preserve are integral to Uruguay's identity. Guests can enjoy fishing, tannery visits, stargazing, bonfires and horse-riding excursions across the country's pampas (grasslands), and will come away with an intimate connection to Uruguay's culture. Options range from basic ranch houses, where visitors breakfast on galleta de campana (a type of biscuit that lasts for a week), to establishments with pools, saunas and libraries. Guests will also of have many opportunities to try Uruguay's famous asado (barbeque).

    Dos Lunas Estancia Dos Lunas Estancia David
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