Home to almost half of Uruguay’s population and an incredible mixture of the past and present is Montevideo. This capital city has become an increasingly popular tourist destination due to its historical landmarks and intriguing culture. Montevideo was founded in 1726 by the Buenos Aires governor, Bruno Mauricio de Zabala, to stop the Portuguese advance from Brazil. British, Argentine, Spanish and Portuguese influences run throughout Montevideo, as each occupied the city at some point.
While there is plenty to do, Montevideo is quite a relaxed city, especially compared to its Argentine and Brazilian neighbours. Siestas are still a long-running tradition within the city, so be prepared to both explore and relax while visiting this unique destination.
Cruise ships set anchor at the Port of Montevideo, which is located on the southern tip of the city, right next to Montevideo’s historic Ciudad Vieja.
There are quite a few facilities located near the Port of Montevideo. Stalls and restaurants are located across the road, and it is about a 25 minute walk to the centre of the city. There are a few transport options available as well.
How to Get Around
Experience Montevideo by walking to many of its attractions and landmarks. As the port is located quite close to the city’s centre, travelling on foot is one of the best ways to get around. Otherwise, many cruise lines organise shuttle buses to take passengers from the port to Independence Square. There are generally plenty of taxis at the port as well, and many of these are metered.
Travel times from the Port of Montevideo:
It is a 4 minute journey to the Carnival Museum
It is a 20 minute journey to Independence Square
It is a 12 minute journey to Ciudad Vieja (Old City)
It is a 4 minute journey to Mercado del Puerto.
It is a 5 minute journey to Independence Square
It is a 4 minute journey to Ciudad Vieja (Old City).
Currency – The official currency in Montevideo is the Uruguayan peso ($U). Coins in circulation include 1, 2, 5 and 10 pesos, and notes come in denominations of $U20, $U50, $U100, $U100, $U200, $U500, $U1,000 and $U2,000.
Time Zone – Montevideo falls into Uruguay Time (UYT), putting it 3 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Daylight Savings Time is observed from October to March.
Weather – Montevideo is characterised by a subtropical climate. The city’s average annual temperature is around 15 degrees Celsius. January is the warmest month of the year with daily temperatures around 22 degrees Celsius, and July is the coldest, with 10 degree temperatures.
Carnival Museum – The perfect place to kick off your adventure through Montevideo is at the eclectic Carnival Museum. This museum pays homage to Uruguay’s popular celebration, the Uruguayan Carnival. Considered to be the longest-running carnival in the world, it starts from the middle of January and ends late February, all the while infusing African and European traditions. The museum itself showcases elaborate and colourful costumes, masks and drums from the last century. Guided tours are taken through the museum and sometimes visitors can even see some of the items being constructed in the workshop.
Independence Square – The centre of Independence Square is home to the tomb of General Jose Artigas, who was considered Uruguay’s father and fought for the country’s independence. On top of the tomb is a bronze statue of Artigas riding a horse, and inside the basement of the tomb are his ashes. Visitors can descend the stairs located around the statue to see the guarded urn.
Old City – Pay a visit to Old City, otherwise known as Ciudad Vieja, to take a step back in time to learn about Montevideo’s origins. Just as its name suggests, Old City is the oldest part of Montevideo, and is an extremely popular tourist destination. The small area is home to intricate architecture, musicians and street vendors - all of which create an interesting blend of old and new. Many buildings are being restored and newer bistros are moving in as well.
Solis Theatre – With its first performance in 1856, the Solis Theatre is one of the oldest and most popular theatres in Montevideo. This theatre was built to further develop Uruguay’s culture and national identity. Since its opening, it has undergone many improvements and renovations; the theatre now boasts an overall neoclassic design. Actors in character typically lead visitors on tours throughout the theatre, and tickets can be purchased to view shows.