Photograph by Cathrine Stukhard, laif/Redux
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Montevideo sits on the northeastern bank of the Río de la Plata.

Photograph by Cathrine Stukhard, laif/Redux

A Local's Guide to Montevideo, Uruguay

Tango, soccer, and mate fuel the vibrant coastal capital of Uruguay. Follow these insider tips for an authentic experience in Montevideo.

So passionate about sharing her hometown of Montevideo with others, Dr. Daniela Ottati Reperger wrote her master's thesis on tourism in Uruguay then completed her Ph.D. dissertation on geography education. Now this professor teaches at Florida International University and Broward College, but travels home as frequently as possible. 

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is the Rambla, our extensive promenade by the Río de la Plata, where people walk, run, exercise, and gather.

Summer, autumn, and spring are the best times to visit my city because people can enjoy the outdoors in the city’s many public spaces and parks.

You can see my city best from the free observation deck on the 25th floor of Montevideo’s municipal building, Intendencia Municipal de Montevideo.

Locals know to skip using cars and check out public transportation instead.

Mercado de los Artesanos in downtown Montevideo and Sarandí Street is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs.

In the past, notable people like writer Mario Benedetti, painter Joaquín Torres García, and singer Alfredo Zitarrosa have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is the soccer museum, Museo del Fútbol, housed in the Estadio Centenario, historical monument of world football that hosted the very first World Cup back in 1930.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that, as opposed to other places, taxis are very economical and convenient.

The best places to spend time outdoors in my city are the numerous parks and the beach, bordered by the Rambla.

My city really knows how to celebrate Carnival because it is the longest in the world, lasting 40 days.

You can tell if someone is from my city if he or she likes soccer, drinks the tealike infusion mate, and enjoys eating parrillada, grilled meats and vegetables.

For a fancy night out, I go to the majestic Solís Theater for a performance.

Just outside my city, you can visit Colonia del Sacramento (its historic quarter is a UNESCO World Heritage site) and chic resort city Punta del Este, which are each two hours away from Montevideo.

My city is known for being small, but it’s really quite grandiose, with a big personality.

The best outdoor market in my city is Tristán Narvaja on Sundays, where you can find anything you can imagine.

Sofitel Montevideo Casino Carrasco and Spa is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and Rara Avis is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Sábado Show, which comes with the El País newspaper.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I buy delicious dulce de leche ice cream, traditional confection alfajores, and empanadas.

To escape the crowds, I visit the Costa de Oro (Golden Coast) beaches such as El Pinar, which lives up to its name with extensive white sand.

The dish that represents my city best is steak sandwich chivito, and tannat wine, mate, and medio y medio are my city’s signature drinks. Sample them everywhere!

Sala Zitarrosa is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Lotus.

The parading dance troupes and Uruguayan music during Desfile de las Llamadas (the Calls Parade) could only happen in my city.

In the spring you should visit the city’s botanical garden.

In the summer you should take a postcard-perfect picture with the Montevideo sign and beachgoers in the background.

In the fall you should attend tango shows, or try it yourself by taking a tango lesson.

In the winter you should stay inside at the Punta Carretas shopping center.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the Parque Rodó with amusement rides, a children’s library, and open-air photography exhibition space.

The best book about my city is Montevideanos by Mario Benedetti, because he wrote about the city’s everyday life and people.