Welcome to Montevideo, Uruguay!
A culmination of European influences fused into a vibrant South American metropolis, Montevideo holds an old-world charm with youthful energy. The bustling streets of Uruguay’s capital hold an abundance of gems to discover and worldwide locals can unearth the city’s unmistakable charm with this insider’s guide to Montevideo.
Venture into Montevideo’s Most Unique Museum
Montevideo is home to a quirky contemporary art museum housed in a disused prison. Eerie chills come upon you as you walk towards the building, hinting of potentially gruesome activities during its active years. However, as soon as you walk into its hallways, the tension subsides, as the interiors have been transformed into a modern space for captivating artwork. Each cell on its west wing holds exhibits from individual artists, while the east wing is still full of abandoned cells, over 25 years since their last inmate left.
Worldwide Local Tip: The best way to travel around Montevideo is by taxi. They are very cheap and easy to flag down, making them a convenient mode of transport. There are 2 rates, Monday-Saturday, where the “flag-down” rate starts at 39 UR$ ($1.14), and Sundays, holidays, and at night, where the rate starts at 49 UR$ ($1.43). Pick one up outside of your Montevideo hotel and head off on an adventure.
Shopping in Montevideo: Markets and More
Montevideo’s many markets are a local institution and a cultural experience for visitors. There are several markets specializing in different items and each has its own distinct flair. There are three notable markets that should be part of your trip.
Mercado del Puerto is by far the most popular in the city. This is a market filled with food stalls serving delicious dishes such as parrillada, a type of succulent Uruguayan barbeque. The place fills up during the weekends, as the members of the Montevideo population flock to grab a drink and a bite to eat with friends, chatting the night away.
If you want to take a piece of Montevideo with you, the best place to buy authentic, locally-made souvenirs is the Mercado de Los Artesanos. Here is a place where local artists gather and set up little stalls selling their crafts from delicate bracelets to colorful plates.
Finally, every Sunday morning on the streets of the Cordon neighborhood is the Feria de Tristan Navaja, a bustling flea market where you can find charming antiques and vintage items from classic books to traditional old clothing. Shuffle around different stalls and enjoy the Montevideo weather--you may find a rare item for a bargain!
Worldwide Local Tip: Catch a great view of the city by heading to Montevideo’s municipal building, Intendencia Municipal de Montevideo, and taking the elevator to the 25th floor. Not only are you treated with sweeping vistas of the city, but the entrance to the observation deck is also free of charge!
Music and Culture
In Montevideo, time passes with a bouncing beat. The city has a rich local music scene, with many of its influences coming from cultures across the globe. Pulsing with the vigorous beats of the milonga and the murga, the city beats harmoniously with its music. Join one of the longest and most extravagant carnivals in the world, running from January until March, where you’ll find a vivid display of colors in the street parades, the distinct rhythm of the drums flooding the city, and a vibrant, festive atmosphere.
Worldwide Local Tip: Grab a ‘bombilla’ and fill it up with a traditional drink that the locals absolutely adore. The Yerba Mate is made from infused herbs and is mixed with boiling water. There is no one specific cafe to get this drink, instead, take a drink with you and explore the city as you sip mate, just as the locals do.
Have an Amazing Time in Montevideo!
Home to proud and welcoming locals, Montevideo is a humble city saturated with quaint architecture and fascinating culture. Worldwide locals can discover so much in this hidden gem of South America and won’t want to leave its colorful sights and mesmerizing sounds.