Montevideo surprised me with its effortless blend of old world charm and modern comforts. The backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean gives this city with a decidedly urban feel a splash of color and beauty that sets it apart. The streets are clean, the food is good, and the wine is amazing. Whether you are planning a weekend trip from Buenos Aires or if you plan to make Uraguay a trip of its own, Montevideo is a great place to start.
Getting to Montevideo
There are basically two options for getting to Montevideo from Buenos Aires.
Fast Ferry: As the name would imply this is the faster of the two ferry options. It takes about two hours to get from the port in Buenos Aires to the port in Montevideo. There are no stops but it cost about twice as much as the other ferry option. Approx. Price: $200 USD Roundtrip.
Ferry + Bus: This is the option we choose. We thought it was just a slower ferry (the ticket agent that sold us the tickets said that was the case) but it ended up being a 3 hour ferry to Colonia and then a 1.5 hour bus to Montevideo. We were disappointed as we thought we would have the ferry the whole way but the bus ended up being pretty nice. The ferry is large and has a snack / souvenir store onboard. Insider tip: if you go upstairs there is a larger area that is less crowded where you can stretch out. From the bus station we were able to get a Uber to town for around $5 (CHK). Approx. Price $100 USD Roundtrip.
Buquebus and Colonia Express are the main ferry companies.
What to Do in Montevideo
After arriving in Montevideo and checking into our hotel we got a Uber to Bodega Bouza. The winery is a bit out of town and you truly get that vineyard feel. We had a reservation but judging by the amount of open tables in the tasting area you could probably walk in if you don’t have one. The tasting took place in a large modern building with classic cars on display. We enjoyed the wine and ended up ordering a bottle to take outside. The vineyard has all sorts of animals wandering around and it is a great break from the city life we were used to in Buenos Aires. I made friends with a donkey that was missing half an ear while Rachel and Alexis chatted on the great outdoor furniture.
Read about all of our South American wine tasting recommendations here.
This trendy new space in downtown Montevideo reminded me a lot of the indoor markets in Buenos Aires and Medellin. It is small but there is a fresh juice store, gift shops, a wine store, and small tiendas selling snacks. It looked like they were adding a new restaurant upstairs so by the time you read this there might be even more to check out.
The Lab Coffee Roasters
Having spent a lot of time in the coffee belt we are sort of coffee snobs. Luckily we found The Lab while in Buenos Aires and they pointed us to their sister location in Montevideo. This place is GREAT. They have beans from all over the world, they roast on site, and they can prepare it however you like (we usually go with V60). Not to mention they have tables with swinging chairs and wonderful snacks!
Old town Montevideo is very walkable, safe, and charming. We wandered though cool book stores like Libreria Puro Verso, bought a Uruguay patch from the street vendors, and enjoyed the colonial style plazas and buildings.
Walk La Rambla
La Rambla runs all along the coast of Montevideo proving easy walking, jogging, biking, and exploring of the city. This has to be one one the fittest cities we have been to as it seemed like the entire city was out exercising on La Rambla. We walked a few miles and took selfies next to the big Montevideo sign and beach.
Where to Eat and Drink in Montevideo
Montevideo is definitely not known for its nightlife or entertainment scene. We were told by a few taxi drivers that most of the 20 somethings move away to more “hip” cities. That being said we did find a few great places to eat and drink.
This place is trendy and serves up somewhat fancy American food that is actually very good. They also have a great cocktail list and everyone we met was super nice. We went to dinner around 7:00pm and were the only people in the restaurant. I am not sure if it was just an off night or if, like Buenos Aires, dinner is not a thing in Montevideo. Either way we still enjoyed Jacinto.
This trendy bar restaurant is primarily set up for visiting business people staying at the nearby hotels. On the night that we were in Montevideo (Monday) it seemed to be the only place open. The bartenders were super nice and promised that on weekends there is more to do. We were content with the relaxed vibes and ability to walk back to our hotel.
Where to Stay in Montevideo
A Loft Hotel
Our friend Alexis was visiting us while we were in Uruguay so we got to stay in a “real” hotel thanks to her points. We stayed at the A Loft in downtown which was super nice and had a view of the water. It was walking distance to a few restaurants and bars but Uruguay has Uber so we took that most places.
Overall I would definitely recommend a few days in Uruguay. The people are exceptionally nice and the city is clean, safe, and beautiful. The water was too cold to swim in but having this city set against such a beautiful backdrop gives it a completely different feel than its neighbors.
Want more information to plan your trip to Buenos Aires? Check out the Buenos Aires Lonely Planet here.
Want more information to plan your trip to Montevideo? Check out the South America on a Shoestring Lonely Planet here.
Loving Unique Uruguay,