Port of Montevideo
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The 18th-century buildings in Montevideo's historical "Ciudad Vieja" (Old Town) are just steps away from Plaza Independencia (Independence Square), the bustling, modern main square -- and even that was once a citadel. (One gate's stone base has been left standing to mark the division between the old and new parts of the city.) Montevideo was founded in the 18th century by the Spanish, and over the years its citizens fought against the British, Spanish and Portuguese for independence, as well as neighboring Argentineans and Brazilians. Today, politically and economically stable, the city serves as Uruguay's major commercial center, though colonial customs -- long siestas, afternoon tea -- still exist.
Montevideo is the perfect "kick back and relax" respite from glitzier ports on South America itineraries. It may be sleepier and less cosmopolitan than metropolises in Argentina and Brazil, but Montevideo offers a broad range of possibilities for the day-tripper: monuments, restaurants, gorgeous urban plazas, beaches and a burgeoning arts and culture movement.
Top Montevideo Itineraries
Zaandam40-day Inca Discovery & South AmericaSeattle, Vancouver, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Manzanillo, Huatulco, Puerto Quetzal , Corinto, Fuerte Amador, Lima, Lima, Puerto Montt, Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, Stanley, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Punta del Este, Rio de JaneiroNow
Zaandam39-day Inca Discovery & South AmericaVancouver, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Manzanillo, Huatulco, Puerto Quetzal , Corinto, Fuerte Amador, Lima, Lima, Puerto Montt, Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, Stanley, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Punta del Este, Rio de JaneiroNow
Seabourn Quest60-day Continents Of the Western SeasMontreal, Quebec City, Quebec City, Sydney , Saint John , Bar Harbor, Charleston, Miami, Key West, Fuerte Amador, Lima, Lima, Puerto Montt, Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, Stanley, Montevideo, Buenos AiresNow
Le Lyrial (Ponant)15 Night Antarctica CruiseMontevideo, Nassau, UshuaiaNow
Seabourn Quest46-day Tropical & Antarctic ExplorationMiami, Key West, Fuerte Amador, Lima, Lima, Puerto Montt, Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, Stanley, Montevideo, Buenos AiresNow
Where You're Docked
Montevideo's port is actually in a terrific location, just next to the historic center of the Ciudad Vieja at the southern tip of the city. The port is small enough that you can walk right from your ship into the heart of the old town in just a few minutes.
Good to Know
Mosquitoes: They can be annoying and unwanted travel companions. Be sure to bring along some bug spray to put on before you venture off the ship.
Sundays: Many attractions and shopping stops (such as Mercado de los Artesanos) are closed, and the Congressional building does not run tours on Sundays.
Pickpocketing: Although it is not rampant, it does occur.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
The Uruguayan Peso is the official currency. For current conversion figures, visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com. There's an exchange bureau inside the port between Piers 1 and 2 and additional exchange bureaus and ATM's just outside the port entrance. ATM's are everywhere in Montevideo. You will find numerous exchange shops along Av. 18 de Julio and around Independence Square. U.S. dollars are accepted nearly everywhere, including in taxis. Credit cards are accepted in most restaurants and stores in the capital.
Spanish is the official language of Uruguay. The citizens of Montevideo share the same accent as their neighbors in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They speak Rioplatenese Spanish, the dialect common around the Rio de la Plata basin. Most Uruguayans don't speak English, but those working in the tourism business speak enough to get by.
Montevideo is a mecca for leather-lovers; you'll find great values on excellent quality jackets, skirts, pants, coats, wallets and belts in calf, antelope, suede and sheepskin.
Interested in artisan crafts? Check out Mercado de los Artesanos (Plaza Cagancha 1365). On the ground floor of this 1909-built building is a fairly sizeable boutique of handmade items, from framed drawings to gorgeous wooden trinket boxes. You can even buy handmade leather footwear. Upstairs is a fabulous market, consisting of a series of restaurants that serve local specialties.