24 Best Sights in Montevideo, Uruguay

Bodega Bouza

Fodor's choice

Argentina and Chile grab all the attention in discussions of South American wines, but Uruguay has a number of impressive wineries of its own. It's worth stopping by the Bodega Bouza outside of Montevideo for a tour and sampling; it's one of the few wineries open for daily visits. For a real treat (4,500 pesos), reserve the works: a tour, tasting, and extravagant lunch with, of course, wines to accompany each course and that all-important transfer to and from Montevideo. It's worth visiting the winery for its standout restaurant alone.

Mercado del Puerto

Ciudad Vieja Fodor's choice

For Montevideo's quintessential lunch experience, head to the old port market, a restored 1868 building of vaulted iron beams and colored glass, and a terrific example of urban renewal at its best. The market shields 14 stalls and eateries where, over large fires, the best asado (barbecue) in the city is cooked. It's a mix of casual lunch-counter places and sit-down restaurants. The traditional drink here is medio y medio (champagne mixed with white wine). Other eateries congregate outside around the perimeter of the building and are open for dinner as well as lunch.

Playa de los Pocitos

Pocitos Fodor's choice

This stretch of sand is the city's most attractive beach, and surprisingly tranquil. Throughout the day you'll see locals running, biking, strolling, and rollerblading along the rambla (boardwalk) here. Snap a picture with the sculpture spelling out "Montevideo" for a classic tourist shot. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; showers; toilets. Best for: solitude; sunrise; sunset; swimming; walking.

Recommended Fodor's Video

Plaza Independencia

Fodor's choice

Connecting Cuidad Vieja and the Centro, Independence Square is the heart of Montevideo. All that remains of the original walls of the Spanish fort is the Puerta de la Ciudadela, the triumphal gate to the Old City. In the center stands a 30-ton statue of General José Gervasio Artigas, the father of Uruguay and founder of its 19th-century independence movement. At the base of the monument, polished granite stairs lead to an underground mausoleum that holds Artigas's remains, open Tuesday through Sunday, 10–6. The mausoleum is a moving memorial: bold graphics chiseled in the walls of this giant space detail the feats of Artigas's life. There's a changing of the guard every Friday at noon.

Teatro Solís

Ciudad Vieja Fodor's choice

Named in honor of the discoverer of the Río de la Plata, Juan Díaz de Solís, the 1856 Solís Theater is famed for its fine acoustics. Informative guided tours of the building are offered in Spanish Tuesday through Sunday at 4; call ahead to arrange one in English. (The afternoon tours are occasionally canceled if the theater is in use for rehearsals.) The theater maintains an active calendar of concerts, dance, and plays, all in Spanish, and all for prices much lower than you'd pay for a comparable evening back home.

Cabildo de Montevideo

Ciudad Vieja

The original City Hall is where the Uruguayan constitution was signed in 1830. This two-story colonial edifice houses an impressive collection of paintings, antiques, costumes, and rotating history exhibits. Fountains and statuary line the interior patios. English-speaking guides are available.

Casa de Fructuoso Rivera

Ciudad Vieja

Once the home of General Fructuso Rivera, Uruguay's first president, this neoclassical Rivera House from the early 1800s was acquired by the government in 1942 and opened as a national history museum. Exhibits inside this pale yellow colonial house with an octagonal cupola document the development of Uruguay and showcase daily life in Montevideo of the 1900s.

Casa de Lavalleja Museum

Ciudad Vieja

This Spanish neoclassical home was built in 1783 and later became the home of General Juan A. Lavalleja, who distinguished himself in Uruguay's war for independence. This pristine colonial home with lovely wrought-iron balconies displays manuscripts and historical memorabilia.

Calle Zabala 1469, Montevideo, 11000, Uruguay
2915–3316
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, Closed Mon.–Tues.

Club Uruguay

Ciudad Vieja

Uruguay's most prestigious private social club, founded in 1888, is headquartered in this eclectic, three-story neoclassical national monument on the south side of Plaza Matriz. Formed for high society of European descent, today it opens to the public. Friendly, English-speaking guides bring visitors up the marble staircases so they can marvel at the elegant salons. The club also hosts cultural events, including music performances and art shows, throughout the year. Nonmembers are welcome at the on-site bar and restaurant, but full access to the club's luxe facilities, including a library and billiards room, is reserved for its exclusive members.

Iglesia Matriz

Ciudad Vieja

It's officially the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and St. Phillip and St. James, but it is known to Montevideans as the Matriz ("head") Church, as well as the Catedral Metropolitana de Montevideo. The cathedral is the oldest public building in Montevideo, with a distinctive pair of dome-cap bell towers that stand guard over the plaza below. Besides its rich marble interior, colorful floor tiling, stained glass, and dome, the Matriz Church is notable as the final resting place of many of Uruguay's most important political and military figures.

Museo de Bellas Artes Juan Manuel Blanes

Prado

Known locally as the Blanes Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts is housed in an elegant colonial mansion that once belonged to Uruguay's foremost 19th-century painter, Juan Manuel Blanes. He was entirely self-taught, and did not begin painting until he was in his fifties. His realistic portrayals of gauchos and the Uruguayan countryside compose the core of the museum's collection.

Museo de Historia del Arte (MuHAr)

Centro

In the Palacio Municipal (an ambitious name for this unremarkable brick city hall) you'll find the Museum of Art History, which has the country's best collection of pre-Columbian and colonial artifacts. You'll also find Greek, Roman, and Middle Eastern art, including ceramics and other antiquities. On the street level is the Biblioteca de Historia del Arte (Art History Library), worth a stop if you're a student of the subject matter.

Museo de la Memoria

Prado

The question still pains Uruguayans who remember the era: How did South America's strongest democracy dissolve into 12 years of brutal military dictatorship? This museum documents the history of the 1973–85 period that people here call simply the dictadura, during which an astounding 2% of the population experienced arrest for "political crimes" at some time or other. (The government did not begin investigating abuses by the military government until 2011.) The museum won't be a stop on most visitors' Montevideo itineraries, but if you're a student of Latin American history and politics, it's worth a look.

Museo del Carnaval

Ciudad Vieja

Move over, Rio. Montevideo's annual Carnaval celebration may be more low-key than that of its northern neighbor, but it lasts for a full 40 days. This museum next to the Mercado del Puerto celebrates and honors the pre-Lenten festivities year-round with displays featuring the elaborate costumes and photos of processions. Guided tours are available.

Museo del Fútbol

Prado

"Other countries have their history," Helenio Herrera, Uruguay's most famous soccer coach once said. "We have our fútbol." Indeed, fútbol—that's "soccer" to U.S. readers—is played anywhere there's space, by kids of all ages. Uruguay both hosted and won the first World Cup competition in 1930 here at the Estadio Centenario. In the pits of the stadium is this museum (the AUF) dedicated to the country's soccer heritage. It's worth a detour if you're a big fan of the sport.

Av. Dr. Americo Ricaldoni, Montevideo, 11700, Uruguay
2480–1259
Sights Details
Rate Includes: 150 pesos, Closed weekends

Palacio Estévez

Ciudad Vieja

On the south side of Plaza Independencia, Estévez Palace, one of the most beautiful old buildings in the city, was the seat of government until 1985, when the president's offices were moved to a more modern building. This building, unfortunately closed to the public, is used on occasion for ceremonial purposes.

Palacio Legislativo

Prado

Almost 50 different types of native marble were used in the construction of the Legislative Palace, the seat of Uruguay's bicameral legislature. Free Spanish- and English-language tours are available when the congress is in session; passes are available inside at the information desk.

Palacio Taranco/Museo de Artes Decorativas

Ciudad Vieja

Built in 1907, the ornate Taranco Palace in the Ciudad Vieja is representative of the French-inspired architecture favored in fin-de-siècle Montevideo. Even the marble for the floors was imported from France. Today you can survey that bygone glory in the palace's new incarnation as the Museo de Artes Decorativas (Museum of Decorative Arts). Its rooms are filled with period furniture, statuary, draperies, clocks, and portrait paintings. A cultural center within has a calendar of performances and live music.

Parque del Prado

Prado

The oldest of the city's parks is also one of the most popular. Locals come to see El Rosedal, the rose garden with more than 800 different varieties, and the fine botanical garden. Also in the 262-acre park, you'll find the statue called La Diligencia, by sculptor José Belloni.

Av. Delmira Agustini, Montevideo, 11700, Uruguay
1950–3660

Parque Rodó

This park has a little something for everyone, with two amusement parks, a number of decent eateries, and the National Museum of Visual Arts. The park also has an outdoor theater and hosts an open-air feria (fair) on Sunday.

Plaza Constitución

Ciudad Vieja

This plaza, also known as Plaza Matriz, is the heart of Montevideo's Ciudad Vieja. An ornate cantilever fountain in the center of this tree-filled square was installed in 1871 to commemorate the construction of the city's first water system.

Plaza Fabini

Centro

In the center of this lovely, manicured square is the Monumento del Entrevero, a large sculpture depicting a whirlwind of gauchos, criollos (mixed-blood settlers who are half native, half European), and native Uruguayans in battle. It's one of the last works by sculptor José Belloni (1882–1965). An open-air market takes place here every morning.

Plaza Zabala

At this charmed spot in the heart of the Ciudad Vieja, it's easy to image the splendor of the old Montevideo. Around the fountain and flowers of the park are the turn-of-the-century Palacio Taranco and a bank headquarters in a renovated older building—a refreshing sight in the Old City.

Circunvalacion Durango, Montevideo, 11000, Uruguay

Sagrada Familia

Prado

Too tiny to require flying buttresses, the ornately Gothic Holy Family Church, also known as Capilla Jackson, is complete in all other respects. A troop of gargoyles peers down at you from this Jesuit house of worship, and the finely wrought stained-glass windows become radiant when backlit by the sun.