Things To Do In Montevideo
Montevideo is a harbor city that lies on the broad mouth of the Rio de la Plata. It is Uruguay’s capital city and one of the foremost hubs of economy, business, and technology. When you stroll through the Old City of Montevideo or the City as it is known now, you cannot help but feel overwhelmed that you are walking in an old city that managed to defend a fortified Hispanic and Lusitanian domain. There are still remnants of the old fortifications that once served to protect the city during the time of Spanish colonization (1726-1828).
An elaborate bronze statue in Montevideo (La Carreta) celebrates the early Spanish settlers. They crossed the country with ox-drawn carts to build farms and inland towns. At the Rambla de Montevideo, you can go on foot, bike, or car and in every curve you will discover a new panorama that surrounds the charming city of Montevideo.
When To Go:
If you live in the northern half of the globe then your summer months will generally be June until September. But since Montevideo is situated in the southern half of the globe, its seasons are in the opposite way. The summer season and ideal time to visit the city of Montevideo is from December – February, this is the official time to go and have fun in the beach. If you don’t like going around in thick clothes and freezing atmosphere avoid travelling during the months of June - September because these are the coldest months of the year.
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Ready your keen sense of curiosity and adventurous travel adrenaline to discover a city that is divided into three barrios; Ciudad Vieja, Pocitos, and Carrasco. Be enthralled and amused as each city offers one diverse cultural and historic attraction after another.
Before you plan your solo adventure, family vacation or next honeymoon destination, below is the list of things to do and places to see in the city of Montevideo:
Mercado del Puerto
It is thrilling to see and experience the emblematic Mercado del Puerto where it’s old building, its grilled meats, the corner singers, drums playing, antique dealers, and each part has historic memories. The famous market is located just opposite the port of Montevideo. It has a collection of the best restaurants specializing in grilled food or the "Parillada" cooking method.
The busy open kitchens are quite a sight with its large and bright barbecue grills full of meat. To enjoy this traditional dish, a small glass of Middle y Medio as an aperitif (white wine and sparkling wine) or Tannat (a red wine grape) is often paired along with a serving of baked potatoes and grilled pepper.
Rambla de Montevideo
The Rambla de Montevideo is a place where you can safely walk and admire the views of the city, play some sports, do sunbathing and even swim. It is a pleasant place to stay and unwind while in the city. This well equipped promenade stretches nearly 4 miles - from Rodo Park up to the Old Town. It is lined with granite all throughout. You can walk slowly, and adore the views of the Gulf of La Plata, and the open Atlantic Ocean. It is most often used for local sports, in addition to having traditional jogging paths there are a couple of sites with gym. But the embankment actually looks empty - no cafes or restaurants.
The Rambla is a large and very nice walk to enjoy. The river view is beautiful and goes through various neighborhoods with different types of buildings. The impressive skyline of Pocitos, the wide sidewalks of Malvin, and gorgeous homes with spectacular gardens of Carrasco, the entire set is highly pedestrian and almost everything is more comfortably explored on foot than ride cabs or taxis.
Pocitos is one of the best parts of Montevideo, and most of all it is known for its beach which has great sea, white sand, and warm waters, and located near the Punta del Este. It is also full of buildings that line the beach. You can take a stroll in the evening or go to the beach during the day. Pocitos and the coast is a major attraction of the city. The neighborhood and tall apartment buildings coexist with streets of houses with their gardens and many of which were built during the early last century.
The busy barrio consists of major houses that have installed the embassies of Spain, Italy, and Russia. It has two major shopping centers; the Punta Carretas Shopping located in the area of the same name, and in the west of Pocitos; the Montevideo Shopping East where the Buceo quarter begins. It is an area in which there are many new hotels in general and plenty of restaurants to suit all tastes and pockets. It is a busy neighborhood street with all kinds of small businesses. It is located in a wooded area, with some squares and parks like; the Villa Biarritz. From all areas there are good transport points to reach the other different places in the city.
Teatro Solis is a fantastic theater with 1500 seats, very stylish, and equipped with excellent acoustics and perfect organization making it one of the most important theaters in South America. The exterior looks good and you can make guided tours in several languages (Spanish, English, and Portuguese). In addition, the visits are quite frequent during the day and the cost is very affordable. Take the free and guided tour of the history of the theater done in stages starting from the outside and ends within it.
The theater tour is in fact very interesting as it takes you gradually into the theater and you want to enjoy doing it without seeing everything right away. The theater is well maintained and it is quite hard to find words to describe its immaculate charm. If you have enough time while you are in the city, try to watch an opera or a musical show. If you go to Montevideo you cannot miss this spectacular theater, it is highly recommended!
Mercado Agricola Montevideo – MAM
This market has been restored and opened to the public a couple of years ago. Inside you will find cozy bars, including a craft brewery, a parrilla (grilled meat restaurant) and shops of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, tea, and much more. The Mercado Agricola Montevideo – MAM is one of the most important tourist attractions of Montevideo, it has a good variety of restaurants, some shops and stalls to buy souvenirs.
It is very neat and organized and if you want to enjoy a good cup of coffee, you can find it here. This market is just two blocks away from the Legislative Palace of Uruguay.
Museo Andes 1972
The Museo Andes 1972 is dedicated to the victims and survivors of the famous plane crash of 1972. The story begins when a plane carrying the Uruguayan to Chile crashed into the Andes and only 16 survived after 72 days of severe suffering. Every guest here is well received and accompanied by a desk girl who will narrate the whole story of the struggle for survival of the group. It is an amazing and inspiring story of human survival, determined spirit and bravery that is well worth a visit. For anyone who was touched by the film and the story, this museum is a must. It is not hard to understand the pieces of the plane, images, personal things of the survivors, and the story of the plane’s fateful crash because there are English translation for every items presented.
Here in Uruguay, the disaster is more popularly known as "The Miracle of the Andes" for it certainly was a miracle and the stories of those who survived were very inspiring. Despite so many deaths, the story had a happy ending as 16 people survived. It also includes a chronological time line that passes through the 72 days since the departure of the plane from Uruguay airport and its fall to the rescue of the 16 survivors. It is quite an eye-opening experience to witness and understand everything about that ill-fated flight here in the Museo Andes.
Mirador Panoramico de Montevideo
The Mirador Panoramico de Montevideo is located on the 22nd floor of the Municipality of Montevideo and this lookout offers spectacular views of the city. There are information panels provided here that discuss the main buildings of the city and can be seen from this viewpoint and observation deck. You can also visit the museum located within the building to see their interesting art collections.
Montevideo is a small town, but nonetheless it is nice and quaint. From the glassed observation tower, the city is surrounded by beaches, overlooking the Cerro de Montevideo with intermittent lamppost, the entire island can be seen from there, La Teja refinery, tall buildings, and towers of the Iglesias. Do not miss this 360° panoramic view of the whole Montevideo, it is all worth the climb and the effort.
The Palacio Legislativo is among the most beautiful buildings in Uruguay, no doubt. Imposing on the outside and luxurious on the inside, it is the official seat of the Senate and House of Representatives of the country. It is all built in different types of marble with Italian stained glass complete with beautiful details. It is a must see attraction in Montevideo City. There are guided visits in Spanish and Portuguese.
For the admission fee, it costs $3.00 per person and only certain parts of the building are open to the public. Picture taking with no flash is definitely allowed.
The guided tours are offered from Monday to Friday at two times: 10:30 am and 15:00 pm. For tourists and guests, they must buy tickets and make the visitation starting from the back of the building. The Legislative Palace tour usually lasts not more than 40 minutes and you will learn so many things about the place where most of the laws or statutes for Uruguay is created, deliberated, and passed.
Catedral Matriz (Cathedral of Montevideo)
The Catedral Matriz or the Cathedral of Montevideo is the central attraction of the renovated part of the Old City; in particular, the square (with its beautiful fountain) and the lateral Peatonal Sarandì are two places that must not be missed seeing when in Uruguay. The Cathedral is a typical end '700 (out of the ordinary conical shape of the bell tower), which became the official Cathedral of the city about 100 years ago.
As previously mentioned, it is located on Calle Sarandi, and also the largest Catholic church all throughout Uruguay. It is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and the Apostles Philip and James, and officially recognized as a National Historic Monument. In its early years it was used as a military stronghold and as a place of refuge; for years it has been a silent witness to many demonstrations and protest movements in time of war or protest. It is a building not very large or very luxurious; but indeed it affects the simplicity of the interior that welcomes everyone with so much peace and serenity.
Plaza de Independencia
The Plaza de Independencia is one of the official symbols of the city. The large square in the center with the monument of independence is also within the premises of the Government Palace where the president resides. It is the main square of Montevideo and across from it are the row of luxury hotels, government and historic buildings. Don’t forget to visit the Mausoleum of Artigas. It has free access and there are lots of great things to see. You can go down the stairs and find yourself in a large room with concrete walls where you can see the middle part where the urn of the general is kept and preserved.
It is surrounded by the main points of interest in Montevideo City. Except from the palace, you can see the Theater Solis, Port de la Ciudadela. This square is a must and one of the best starting points and landmark of the city. The famous square is the main historical area of the city. From it begins "Old Town". This Old Town is encompassed by old colonial houses built in the late 19th century. Across from it is the Hotel Victoria (one of the most beautiful and prestigious hotels in the city). From the square, the busy street begins with its wide spaces, lots of shops, people, and tall buildings. A visit is mandatory when in Montevideo.
The Palacio Taranco is an old house that was converted into a museum. It is located in the city center and just one block away from the Montevideo Cathedral. A visit is interesting for adults and children. The architecture is beautiful inside, same with the high ceilings, huge windows and curtains, and decorated frescoes. There are several well-preserved furniture and decorations, although there are many rooms that were closed for public viewing. Most of the explanations are in Spanish and no photos are allowed inside. If you schedule a tour on a Tuesday, entrance is absolutely free.
Iglesia de las Carmelitas
The Iglesia de las Carmelitas is in a residential neighborhood of Montevideo and stands in a wooded area across the street. The beautiful architecture draws attention aside from the deep devotion of the people to the faith. It is a favorite postcard impression of Montevideo City. Its Gothic style and collection of images and sculptures are of extraordinary dimensions, and it is proudly displayed from the different corners of the church.
If the outside is beautiful, it is more inside. The stained glass windows that illuminate the nave are of incredible beauty. The Church of the Carmelites is an architectural gem that makes the people of Uruguay proud.
The El Prado is an amazing neighborhood surrounded by so much history and traditions. There are lots of places and things to do on this part of Montevideo. There are tree-lined avenues and stately mansions. The Hotel del Prado is a lovely place to stop by for a tea. The Rose Garden is a magical place, same with the Blanes Museum with its built-in Japanese garden. The Botanical Garden is not to be missed with its amazing trails. The Church of the Carmelites of the Sacred Heart symbolizes the oasis of peace where guests can find solemnity and calm while in the midst of a busy neighborhood.
The Prado is an emblematic symbol of Montevideo that is a bit away from the city center and lined with many green areas and preserved gardens. It is quiet and filled with clean and beautiful old streets and aristocratic mansions, monuments, and it was dedicated to the last Indians that served for the Uruguayan territory. It’s a little off the beaten path adventure, but it is all worth the visit. The location is wonderful, yields wonderful photos, and there are several museums to know and explore.
The best way to enjoy a holiday adventure is to spend a relaxed time in a great place, and Montevideo has everything. Aside from the longest promenades with an admirable perspective of the ocean, it has lots of dining places to eat, run, go cycling, or just sit and admire idyllic scenery. Each attraction is strategically arranged with well placed entry points and landmark signs, so even if it’s the first time you visit the city you can never get lost.
You can spend several hours or watch a beach football/volleyball game or a lively concert as it all takes place right in this vibrant city. Since every corner connects to the beach at all corners you can swim, take lots of memorable pictures, or simply frolic on the sand. It is a great hangout for people of all ages and a wonderful choice to spend a pleasurable holiday in Uruguay.
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