Situated on the Río de la Plata’s northern bank, South America’s southernmost capital is perhaps the most laid back capital city you will find on the continent. Stretching some 12 miles from east to west, Montevideo is a vibrant place with a rich cultural scene and an even livelier city life, despite its slow pace. Consistently voted as the city with the highest quality of living in Latin America and home to nearly half the country’s population, Montevideo reveals a wealth of varying scenes.
A massive city comprising 62 different neighborhoods spanning its 200 miles, Montevideo’s two oldest neighborhoods are Ciudad Vieja (Old City), a formerly walled colonial grid and Montevideo’s original city; and the Centro (downtown), the Old City’s first addition, which is centered at Plaza Independencia with republican-era architecture. The main business and cultural centers of Montevideo, it is here where you will find the city’s original plazas, public monuments, and historic architecture reflecting a unique collection of styles ranging from Colonial—remnants of Montevideo’s days as a major port city during the 16th century Spanish Empire—to Art Deco, making Uruguay’s capital unrivaled in terms of architectural beauty and diversity. The two cities also boast the most hotels, bars and restaurants, theaters (e.g. Solis Theater) and art galleries as well as museums in the city.
La Rambla, an attractive 14-mile waterfront avenue, connects the Old City to the eastern residential beach suburbs such as Punta Carretas and Carraso, popular weekend and summer destinations with upscale shopping malls and modern high-rises. This coastal promenade unfurls though sandy beaches, glitzy shopping avenues, restaurants and numerous parks and plazas.
For the cultural Montevideo experience, visit the city’s historic sights, antique shops or many lively markets; experience Candombe, a popular style of music and dance derived from African slaves; taste the national dish “chivito” (a steak sandwich) or enjoy an evening out amongst the many nightclubs, tango bars and casinos. Montevideo also hosts one of the world’s longest carnivals.