Curta a Cidade em até 5 dias!

Enjoy the city within 5 days!

South America

It was once part of Spain, dominated by the Argentines and conquered by Brazil, there in the times of the Empire. Today, visiting the capital of Uruguay is one of the simplest overseas trips you can make – it’s easy to plan and equally quiet to like there. In this text, you will find those basic tips of Montevideo: what to do, sights, tours, when to go, how many days to stay and tips of hotels and restaurants.

Also be sure to read the rest of our content about Uruguay:

Wineries in Uruguay – one step by step to visit the wineries near Montevideo
Shopping in Uruguay – what is worth and what is not worth bringing there
Travel itinerary with Uruguay and Argentina – 5, 7 and 12 days
Where to stay in Montevideo, neighborhood by neighborhood

As many days as

It’s so close that a lot of people go to Montevideo to stay for two days – or a weekend – and nothing more. Is it time? Give it. To tell you the truth, Montevideo is not that type of city with so many tourist spots that no traveler can complete the checklist. It is more: the kind of city that you can take a walk here, another there, but whose main grace is in enjoying the day to day, without haste, feeling what it would be like to live there.

So I think you can only stay one weekend in Montevideo. But those who spend more time will not have to complain – with something between 3 and 5 days the idleness is free, with how many breaks to mate on the water you want. And those who have more time can also make trips around the Uruguayan capital. There are several wineries awarded there.

Due to the short distance to Rio Grande do Sul and the even greater ease of displacement to Argentina (g't to go and return from Buenos Aires by boat), Montevideo is always full of gauchos and portenhos.

When to go

Montevideo can be visited all year round. In summer temperatures rise – and often exceed 30 degrees Celsius. Winter, from June to September, brings temperatures below 10oC, while spring and autumn have a pleasant weather, with that cold, say, interesting.

Precisely because it is summer, the December period to early March is the high season in Punta del Este, a city near the capital and which is the main resort of the country.

The carnival in Montevideo is usually empty city, with several shops closed. The New Year is a family party, without great pomp – which does not mean it is unfeasible to travel at that time. I spent the 18/19 turn in Montevideo. And I loved it. It has a great popular party in the afternoon, near the Mercado del Puerto, where the tradition is to wet the other with sparkling wine. At night there is a fireworks show at Pocitos Beach.

What currency to take

No complication: take real and period. It is easy to exchange the Brazilian currency in the city and the price in general is good – it is more worthwhile to take reals than buying Uruguayan pesos in Brazil. Only take U.S. dollars if you already have them and want to spend them. Otherwise, you will lose money in double conversion.

Learn more: Which currency to take to Uruguay and how the VAT exemption works

bodega pizzorno, no Uruguai

Winery around Montevideo

Use and abuse the credit card. Due to the exemption from VAT, guaranteed to tourists who pay bar and restaurant bills with international credit cards, the account can be up to 18% cheaper. The exemption is also valid for car rentals and daily hotel rentals.

Hotel tips

Stay in Pocitos or Punta Carretas, which are by far the two most pleasant regions of the city.

  • Hotel Gema – I have stayed there, on a family trip, and recommend it. It is close to the beach and bars and restaurants.
  • Mercure – In the same region and facing the waterfront. The daily rates are a little more expensive, but the price is compensated in sight.
  • Destination 26 – Good hostel option there. It is highly praised by guests, especially in location and cost/benefit.

I don’t think staying in the center or in the Old Town are good options, unless you really need to save. Or, of course, if you are in the city because of some commitment in these regions. If these situations do not weigh on you, invest in accommodation in Pocitos / Punta Carretas and the chance of you falling in love with Montevideo is much greater.

See more lodging options in Montevideo

Montevideo: sights

Are we going to set up a meeting point to start our tour? In Montevideo, nowhere is better than Avenida 18 de Júlio, the main city and named because of the date of promulgation of the 1st Constitution of Uruguay, which was born on the 18th of Julius of 1830.

Do not expect a huge and lanes road, along the lines of July 9, in Buenos Aires. The Uruguayan avenue is much smaller and, in some senses, even quiet.

O que fazer em Montevidéu

Walk along the avenue observing the daily life of the Uruguayans. In the middle of the way you will find squares and monuments, such as Fuente de los Candados, this one from the photo above. On this avenue is also the Municipality of Montevideo, a building with nothing special, were it not for the viewpoint of the terrace. At 80 meters high, this is one of the most beautiful views of the city. Entrance to the Intendencia de Montevideo Mirador, to use the name in the local language, is free. It operates Monday to Sunday, from 10am to 4pm.

One of the largest street fairs in South America has been held every Sunday for about 100 years, right in the center of the capital of Uruguay – it is Tristán Narvaja. In the beginning, the fair occupied only the corner of Tristán Narvaja street (which at the time had another name) with Avenida 18 de Julho, the main one in the city.

The decades have passed, the Uruguayans have tasted for the fair, which has been growing, growing, growing… until reaching the current size, occupying several blocks not only of Tristán Narvaja, but also of several streets around. It is impossible not to remember the San Telmo fair in neighboring Buenos Aires. But if the portenha fair has many souvenirs, handicrafts, antiques and things like that, Tristán Narvaja goes beyond: there are those who sell fruits, cheeses, vegetables, clothes, puppies of animals, flowers, books and many other things – even washing machines. The Tristán Narvaja fair takes place from early morning to mid-morning on Sundays.

Feira Tristán Narvaja, Montevidéu

the Tristán Narvaja Fair

You went back to July 18? Pay attention to the Salvo Palace, a remarkable building of Uruguayan architecture that is close to Plaza de la Independencia, which is located at one end of the avenue. The building was planned by the same architect who erected the Barolo Palace in Buenos Aires. With 95 meters, Salvo was one of the largest skyscrapers in South America for quite some time.

Onde ficar em Montevidéu

Salvo Palace (in the background) and statue of Artigas

The Salvo Palace has gone through decades of abandonment, but the phase is now good. There is a lookout and guided visits to the building, which take place every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, at four times: 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 17:00 and 6 p.m. The meeting point is in the hall of the building and the tour costs 200 Uruguayan pesos. Details and reservations here.

Since you are in front of the Plaza de la Independencia, cross the street and go there. This square was designed after the growth of the city, so it is strategically located between the Old Town and the Center (which is where the 18 de Julho Avenue is located).

In the center of the square is a statue of José Gervasio Artigas, national hero. The remains of Artigas are in a Mausoleum that is under the Square (and can be accessed by side stairs).

O que fazer em Montevidéu

Mausoleum Artigas, national hero of Uruguay

In the square is also the Puerta de la Ciudadela, the only part of the wall that once surrounded Montevideo that still remains standing. As this wall surrounded only what is now the Old City, you can pass under Puerta to continue with the ride.

O que fazer em Montevidéu

Before that, notice at the Estévez Palace, former headquarters of the Presidency of Uruguay, and in the Executive Tower, the current headquarters. The Teatro Solís is also close there, already in the Old Town area. There are guided tours of the place, which take place Tuesdays and Thursdays, at 4 p.m., Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, at 11: 12 p.m. and 4 p.m., and Saturdays, at four times: 11:00, 12:00, 13:00 and 4 p.m. Admission costs 90 Uruguayan pesos, but it is free every Wednesday. Details on the official website.

Pontos turísticos de Montevidéu

the Solís Theatre

Invading the Old Town

You crossed the door? Then you are in the Old City. If it is a weekday, expect to find busy streets, that muvuca typical of a capital’s centrão. But on the weekends the opposite happens – the streets are more empty.

The heart of the Old Town is Plaza Constitución, where the Metropolitan Cathedral is built in 1790. This square was the main square of the colonial Montevideo, a kind of Plaza Mayor. The current name is another reference to the Constitution of Uruguay, which was promulgated there, on July 18.

Praça e Catedral de Montevidéu

Plaza Constitución

In the center of the square there is a fountain. It was inaugurated in the 19th century as part of the contract of a private company that became responsible for water distribution in the city.

Many historic buildings and mansions complete the Old Town, which has been undergoing a restoration process. From this point you have two options: follow the Ramblas, which face the sea (or better, to the Río de la Plata, but it is so much water that we can call the very sea). The number two option is to take the route in the opposite direction and descend to the port of Montevideo.

Porto? What the hell am I going to do in a port? Eat well, dear reader. Especially if you are the carnivore type to the teeth. Run to the Puerto Market, which has several restaurants with the famous Uruguayan meats.

The most amusing stories about the origin of this building have the way of legends: there are those who say that the metal structure of the market arrived in Uruguay by chance. And it wouldn't be without reason that the place would have a train station face. According to this version, a ship was carrying the parts of a train station to Bolivia, but the government of that country stopped the check and declared the default. In order not to be at a loss, the company that owns the structure decided to sell the station in Montevideo for a comrade price. Entrepreneurs from Montevideo saw in the offer a good opportunity, bought the structure and set it up behind the port, but as a market.

mercado del Puerto, Uruguai

Another theory, even more interesting, says that a ship transported the structure along the coast of Uruguay. Until the shipwreck came. It is known as (the story does not give these details) the pieces would have been rescued and sold as scrap in Montevideo, giving rise to the Market.

And the truth, what is it? It seems that neither version, although I prefer those than the officer. A group of businessmen realized that it would be a good business to build a market in the vicinity of the port, both to supply the many ships that stopped there, as well as to meet the demand of the wealthiest classes of the city, who lived not far from there. With this in mind, they bought the land and commissioned the design of the building of England, which was done following the fashion of the time, with metal structures.

In 1868 the structure arrived at the port of Montevideo, was transported to the terrain and assembled, as a puzzle. Okay, the most traditional and well-known market in the country was born, much to general astonishment. Astonishing: the population of Montevideo was so impressed with the building that soon began to appear the rumors and legends mentioned above.

For decades the Market was the best place to buy fruits, vegetables and meats, but over time these establishments were replaced. Today, the place is dominated by restaurants, mainly steakhouses.

Mercado del Puerto, Montevidéu

Two other Montevideo markets worth the visit are theThe Market of Abyss(Rua San José, 1312), which is less touristy, has more affordable prices and is close to July 18, and the Agricola Market (MAM), a great place for shopping and also works in a beautiful building, declared a National Historic Landmark. It is on Rua José L. Land, 2220.

The Ramblas

The whole itinerary presented above fits perfectly in one day, without turning your trip into a marathon. Therefore, if your travel style is more relaxed, leave the next trips for the second day. Don't you have time? Then run with digestion and then go to the Ramblas.

The name is in the plural, but in reality it is a Rambla only – or avenue – that changes its name along its 22 kilometers in length, all bordering the Río de la Plata. Sud America, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Argentine Republic are some of the names of this huge Avenue.

– In a good one? This was the tour I liked to do in Montevideo, on my two trips there, in 2014 and in 2019. Walk along the boardwalk, preferably at the end of the day, and see the Uruguayan relationship with Rio. They play football, ride bicycles and do physical exercises there. Many others prefer a lighter program – taking a mate while the day comes to an end. On weekends the boardwalk is crowded with beach chairs, all properly occupied by Uruguayans that carry coffee and thermal baths full of hot water.

Passeios em Montevidéu

If you have breath, it is worth renting a bicycle and going down the Ramblas, observing the change of scenery. Also include in your itinerary Rodó Park, the main public area of the city and which is glued with the Río de la Plata.

It is in this region are the neighborhoods of Pocitos and Punta Carretas, which have great nightlife.

Montevidéu, Uruguai

Things to do in Montevideo: other tours

Montevideo also has several museums that seem interesting, like the Museum of Carnaval, which is close to the Mercado del Puerto, and the Andes Museum 1972, about the crash of the plane with Uruguayan athletes (yes, that accident that turned film). Other well-known museums are Torres García, dedicated to the famous Uruguayan painter and designer, and the Museum of the Memoria, reminiscent of the horrors of the Uruguayan military dictatorship.

There is also the guided tour of the Legislative Palace, one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, and the visit to the Centennial Stadium, which was built to host the first World Cup in 1930. We haven’t done this tour, but you get more details on the blog Check-in Around the World.

Tips of restaurants and where to eat

  • Mercado del Puerto – There are several restaurants in the market, which can be a more expensive place, but worth the investment. There, we tested El Peregrino, which earns points in the decoration, with naval themes.
  • La Perdiz – Great restaurant, is close to the Punta Carretas shopping mall.
  • La Pulperia – Contled (always has queue at the door) and highly praised by the residents of Montevideo. Specialist, of course, in meats.
  • La Estacada – On the waterfront, you have options of meat and seafood. Despite the location, the view is not exactly a high point, since you can not see much of the tables, but the food is good.

Bathteller from Montevideo

The most common are for Punta del Este and Colonia del Sacramento. The first city is 120 kilometers from Montevideo; the second is 180 km away. Therefore, Punta fits better in a hit-back scheme, but the good thing is to dedicate at least one night to this city.

In the case of Colonia the situation gets more complicated: it is 2h30 by bus and a little less by car, which would make a trip of a day only quite a race. Can you do it? Yeah. Yes. But it will be tiring and you tend to miss the night (and sunset) of Colonia.

Therefore, in practice the most common swings from Montevideo are for the wineries that are located in the outskirts of the city, such as Bouza, Pizzorno, Juanicó and H. Stagnari.

See also: Things to do in Colonia del Sacramento
How to get to Colonia del Sacramento

Rio da Prata em Colonia del Sacramento

Colonia del Sacramento

Should I rent a car?

If it's just to stay in Montevideo, no. You can get to know the Uruguayan capital quietly without a vehicle – just walk, take buses and taxi. Mobility apps also work well there – I walked from one side to the other of Uber, no problem.

Renting a car is only worthwhile if you decide to leave from Montevideo to other cities, such as Punta del Este and Colonia del Sacramento, or if the idea is to stretch even more, reaching Punta del Diablo, for example. Those who will only visit the wineries should consider the issue alcohol x direction. Certainly, renting the car is much more economical than paying the transfers from the agencies, but the Uruguayan traffic laws are quite strict in this matter. So unless someone sticks don’t drink, it’s best to go from Uber or spend more and go with the agencies. We have a complete guide with the rules and suggestions of script for a road trip through Uruguay.

Are you renting a car in Montevideo? Learn how to ensure the best value/benefit

Insurance trip to Uruguay

Travel insurance is not mandatory to pass through Uruguayan immigration, but it is recommended by the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, since “Uruguayan hospitals only serve local citizens for free.”

Health insurance for Uruguay is not expensive – less than R$ 10 per day of travel. Affinity, Travel Ace and Assist Card are some companies that offer competitive prices. See our article about the best insurance for South America.

It is not necessary to have a valid passport to visit Uruguay – Brazilian tourists can disembark there only with the RG, as long as in good condition and with current photo. If you only go with the identity card, it is necessary to fill out a specific form at the time of immigration, dispensed for those who present themselves with the passport.

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Explore the wineries of Uruguay: the wine map near Montevideo Veja.

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