Montevideo (Photo:Spectral-Design/Shutterstock)
3.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Kathy McCabe
Cruise Critic Contributor

Port of Montevideo

Residents of Montevideo travel to nearby Buenos Aires or Sao Paulo when they crave big-city excitement, which may suggest that there's not much going on in the Uruguayan capital of 1.4 million. But don't dismiss it yet! Montevideo, at the confluence of the Atlantic Ocean and the Rio de la Plata, is an intriguing mix of old and new.

About Montevideo


Pro

Explore the small city or head off to a nearby estancia, winery or seaside resort town

Con

Montevideo is quieter, with fewer attractions, than other South American port cities

Bottom Line

A nice port for taking it down a notch on an action-packed cruise


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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.

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.

Language

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.

Shopping

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.


Montevideo Awards

Cruisers’ Choice Destination Awards

2017 Top-Rated Mexican Riviera, Central & South America Destinations