La Paloma is a small seaside town on the Southwest coast of Uruguay just north of Montevideo. Much smaller than the more widely known beach resort of Punta del Este.
Montevideo | Take a quick tour of the city with Andiamo Amigos
Montevideo is one of the smallest capital cities in the world with under 1.4million inhabitants but its considered to be one of the safest. It’s language is Spanish and the currency is the Uruguayan peso. Like all of Uruguay its an expensive city but if you take the time you can seek out the deals to be had for dining, accomodation and sights. Its a progressive city with a historical element and prides itself on its impressive beach front hotels and apartments. The long 22km stretch of La Ramblas is used by locals and visitors alike to bike, jog, walk and just generally take in the vibe of this city.
How did we get to Montevideo?
We visited Montevideo after spending a few days in Colonia del Sacramento after crossing the Rio del Plata from Buenos Aires. There is a regular four hourly bus link from Colonia to Montevideo each day. There are a couple of bus services running this route and we purchased our tickets at the Colonia bus station the day before we travelled. The cost was around £15.00 and the journey takes around three hours. It was a pleasant journey, mostly hugging the coastlin, although we rarely saw it. Once we arrived in Montevideo we found ourselves at the Three Crosses (Tres Cruces) bus station and shopping centre. Not knowing the lay of the land of the city we took a taxi to our hostel but there are regular local buses running from this station to the centre of town for a fraction of the cost of a taxi. You can catch a local bus right outside the front of the bus station and pay the driver. The bus you’re looking for, if you’re staying in the centre of town is the Cuidad Vieja The cost is only a few £’s and there is a place for luggage on the local buses so travelling with your rucksack or suitcase shouldn’t be a problem, unless its rush hour then it may be a squeeze.
Where did we stay in Montevideo?
We chose a fairly central hostel called Circus Hostel and it was a really good choice. The main reception desk was manned with friendly young people, some who could speak English. There was a large notice board with loads of things to do such as tours, walks, sights to visit and bike hire prices. There was a shared kitchen area with free tea and coffee. A lounge area with televisions and a roof terrace with chairs, tables and a fantastic view of the city and the coast. Our room had a comfortable bed, great wifi, air conditioning and the shower pumped out plenty of hot water. It was super. The location was a couple of blocks away from the main Plaza and one block from the seafront and La Ramblas. There are other more affluent places to stay such as Pocitos but this area lacks the old world charm of the historical city.
What did we do in Montevideo?
Visit both the old and new city
The old town of Montevideo encompasses much of the port area right up to the Portezuelo which is an old wall which separates the old city from the new. The old wall or city gate is prominent because it represents the beginning and end of the old city and the start of the new. The city portezuelo, located opposite Independence Square allows visitors to get a glimpse of both sides of the city. On one side the modern city can be seen with important government buildings twenty stories high while the other side invites you to walk and discover the beautiful architecture of colonial Montevideo with the nostalgia of the old city. It really is a city of two halves and intermingled with its many plazas and parks makes it a lovely city to walk or bike around.
Hire bikes and cycled the Rambla of Montevideo
The Rambla is one of the worlds most continuous seafront walkways and is a magnet for joggers, cyclists and walkers keen to enjoy the views of the shoreline. Cycling is one of the best ways to see 22km route and explore all the beaches and parks along the seafront. We hired our bikes from the hostel and looking back we should have really researched this more and got ourselves some better maintained bikes. As keen cyclists at home we are used to cycling distances but with dodgy brakes and no gears and a very thin saddle we struggled after a few hours, or at least I did. The route is spectacular though, taking you from the port area in the historical centre, up past the Montevideo sign, right out to the north of the city where there are some of the more affluent houses and apartments. The one thing lacking was coffee shops or restaurants along the route so take some water with you or if you want to stop then go a few streets in from the seafront where you’ll find refreshments. The bikes from our hostel cost approximately £10.00 for the day each.
See the city from a panoramic viewpoint
There is a fantastic panoramic viewpoint located on the 22nd floor, approx 80mtrs high, of Montevideo’s city hall. The best thing about it is that its free. You make your way to the city hall and follow the yellow signs to an elevator which will take you to the viewing platform. From the platform you can see the whole of the city and there are indications of the important buildings you can see shown on information boards. We tried to see all the buildings listed but some were tricky but is a good puzzle to try and solve. There is a small cafe and a gift shop at the top so you can grab a coffee whilst watching over the city. Opening hours are Monday to Sunday, from 10am to 4pm.
Visited the Mercado del Puerto
This was one of my very favorite places to visit and not to be missed if visiting Montevideo. Its an old colonial building housing mainly traditional restaurants and some souvenir shops. Its a little bit pricy but worth the visit as the food is fantastic. If you visit in the morning then you’ll see all the restaurants preparing their meat and fires for the lunchtime crowd. The restaurants open around twelve and stay open until approx 5.30pm. The market first came about in the 1860’s and served as the city’s first meat and produce market although today its just eateries. The steel structure of the market was constructed in England and shipped to Uruguay as well as the clock which dominates the centre of the market. We visited this market and chose a central restaurant that already had a fair amount of diners (always a good sign) and had one of the best meals of our trip so far, as well as some delicious local wine. Go try it yourselves, you won’t be disappointed.
Joined in with the locals for the World Cup
We were lucky enough to visit Montevideo in November 2022 when Uruguay were playing in the World Cup and one of their group games was being shown in the square in front of the city hall. There was a large TV that had been erected and all the locals gathered there to watch the game. We joined in and had a fantastic time as they sung their hearts out at the national anthem, cheered and booed every football descicion and clapped and cheered at each big moment. It was a hot day and there were people there handing out water, snacks and baseball caps advertising their company. It was a wonderful experience and we really enjoyed celebrating with the local fans who were made up of young and old, groups of teenagers, families and workmates. Everyone, just like at home, came out to support their team.
Catch a show at the famous Theatre Solis
The Teatro Solis is Uruguay’s most important and renowned theatre. It opened in 1856 and the building was designed by the Italian architect Carlo Zucchi. It is located in Montevideo’s Old Town, right next to the Plaza Independencia. An impressive building both by day and by night. Check out what’s on and catch a show. Sadly there wasn’t anything showing when we were there but we’d have loved to have seen something there. It does however have guided tours so you can see the impressive interior and remember the tours are free on Wednesdays so take advantage of that if you can.
Relax in one of the many city parks
Montevideo has a lot of green space and the parks are used by locals and visitors alike to relax, chill, work out and just enjoy any way that suits them. One of the most popular parks is Park Rodo. Park Rodo is divided into three spaces. It has a playground for children, an amusement park for adults and a traditional green space next to the coast. The latter has fountains, paths for walking around the lakes and a lighthouse, plus a library in a castle. In summer, in front of the castle, they put on classical and folk music shows, and even ballet. The main park and the children playground is free however the theme park has an entrance fee. On the lake you can hire pedalos which also have a charge.
We only spent a few days in Montevideo and would have loved to explore more. There is loads to do here and we didn’t even get to the museums of which there are many. Its an expensive city for food as I’ve mentioned before but if you’re clever and stay clear of the main tourist areas then you can find some little local restaurants which are delicious and cheap. Its a great city to spend a few days in and one that I’m sure you’ll enjoy as we did.
Booking resources for your stay in the city of Montevideo
Tours & Tickets
You can book your visits as you go at the entrance to your chosen attraction or site. Or you could use the following links to book in advance or just to find out what your choices are in the area. GetYourGuide and Tiqets are our go to choices you could try Viator to see how they compare.
For a full list check out our resources page. Don’t forget always shop around to find the best deal for you. What works for us should be good for you but it’s always reassuring to check.
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Colonia del Sacramento is generally the first town you’ll encounter if coming from Argentina into Uruguay and not flying direct into Montevideo.