The capital of Uruguay, Montevideo is a port city that is home to almost half of the country’s population. A vibrant destination with a rich cultural scene, Montevideo is home to colonial-era buildings, beautiful beaches, and an array of museums, churches and theaters. There is also a thriving night scene in Montevideo, from nightclubs and bars to world-class restaurants serving modern ethnic cuisine. In recent years, Montevideo has become an increasingly popular place to visit with lots of unique sites and attractions for visitors who travel from here from across the globe.
There are so many fun things to do in Montevideo that you’ll never have a boring moment here. Catch an opera or concert at Teatro Solis, which is the second biggest theatre in South America. A great place to grab a bite is the Mercado del Puerto (Harbor Market), which offers everything from seafood to special meats. Plaza Independencia is the heart of Uruguay history, including the remains of city walls and the town gate. Check out the Japanese garden and beautiful works of art at the Museum of Fine Arts, which was named after Uruguayan artist Juan Manuel Blanes. Another must-see is Fortaleza Del Cerro, a 19th century fort that is located on the city’s highest mountain point and offers amazing views. Do some shopping at the Sunday flea markets on Avenida Tristan Narvaja, which is located in the Cordon district. The Palacio Salvo was built in 1928 in the Italian gothic style, and for the longest time was the tallest building in South America. Guided three-hour tours are available upon request, and there is even an apartment available for rent on the 14th floor of the building. Another cool landmark to check out is the Solis Theatre, which also offers tours, and no trip is complete without at least one visit to Pocitos—an upscale beach area in Montevideo. Try and catch a sunset while taking a stroll along La Rambla, a popular boardwalk in the city that has restaurants and water views.
There are many cities and other places to visit near Montevideo, which make for great day trips if you’re seeking a change of scenery. In just under two hours, you can explore other towns that offer a glimpse at Uruguay’s unique cultural diversity. Visit the small town of Colonia del Sacramento, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was founded in 1680 and is lined with cobbled streets and colonial buildings. For a more upscale vibe, Punta del Este is just a few hours’ drive from Montevideo and is popular with all of the rich and famous. From bars and clubs to beautiful beaches and restaurants, Punta del Este is the perfect getaway—you can even rent a summer beach mansion here if you’ve got extra to splurge. Another great day trip from Montevideo is the Bodega Bouza Winery, which is just 20 minutes away by car and offers vineyard tours and tastings, along with an incredible restaurant.
Montevideo is a large city that has 62 different neighborhoods, offering a variety of accommodations depending on what you’re looking for. The two oldest neighborhoods are Ciudad Vieja (Old City) and Centro—both of which are the main business and cultural centers in Montevideo. Most of the city’s government and financial offices are located in Ciudad Vieja, which makes it one of the busiest places during the week. There are also many restaurants and bars in both places, along with lots of public monuments, hotels, art galleries, museums, and so forth. If you’re more of a beach person and don’t want to be right in the middle of the urban sprawl, the Pocitos area has access to a long sand beach, two parks, a golf course, two shopping malls, and many great apartments available for rent. It is also the safest area in Montevideo. Another great place to stay in is Carrasco, which is on the outskirts of the city and has lots of single-family homes and low-rise apartments with yards. Carrasco is near the airport, the beach, stores, and a renowned polo club.
Most people in Montevideo do not own cars, so public transportation is the most popular way to get around town. There is a regular bus service that services many routes around the city, with stops at all of the major businesses, government buildings, and tourist attractions. Taxis are also abundant and another common source of transportation for getting around.
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