Montevideo Guide: a comprehensive neighborhood guide - PART 2
On the first chapter of our Montevideo Guide, we described the best attractions and places to visit in the Old City, Aguada and Parque Batlle and Parque Rodó. Follow this insider recommendations to find out more about Pocitos, Carrasco and other trending neighborhoods to arrange your travel itinerary with unique and interesting sightseeing journeys in Montevideo.
4 - Pocitos / Punta Carretas
This zone has the highest concentration of inhabitants and therefore each square meter is more expensive, especially within the blocks near the beach. On the weekends the social life of the neighborhood seems to be concentrated along its main boulevard, from young people who get together to drink mate - an infusion similar to the tea very typical of the region- to families who walk their babies in strollers, and the active individuals who use this space to run or ride bicycles. For being the safest and most active places at night -Ciudad Vieja and Centro are hectic during the day but empty at dusk- it's the area most recommended to stay, and also contains interesting restaurants and bars to wrap up the day.
Read here Where to eat in Montevideo
While walking on the coast it’s worth it to stop at la Plaza Gomensoro, a picturesque space with a gazebo alongside the beach, and a few blocks notice the Pittamiglio Palace “Pittamiglio Palace” (Rambla Gandhi 633), a building that almost goes unnoticed among the others, despite having the bow of ship with the Victory of Samothrace at the front. It was home of the wealthy architect Humberto Pittamiglio (1887-1966), who is said to have been an alchemist. It is worth taking a guided tour to surprise yourself with rooms full of nooks, doors, and stairs that lead nowhere, and alchemical symbols everywhere; another way to experience it is to attend a play inside.
In these neighborhoods, there are also the two biggest shopping centers in the city: Montevideo Shopping and Punta Carretas Shopping. The second, located on Ellauri 350 and inaugurated in 1994, was previously a prison, famous for some of its prison breaks- which gave rise to films - and for having housed several political prisoners before and during the last Uruguayan dictatorship (1973-1985).
Montevideo Shopping has the title of being the first mall of the city (it was inaugurated in 1985) and it is located on the Avenue Luis Alberto de Herrera, also home to the complex offices World Trade Center, restaurants, bars and Lotus, the most VIP nightclub of Montevideo. In addition, walking a few blocks from Montevideo Shopping towards the coast you will arrive at the MONTEVIDEO sign, a place popular among tourists to take pictures, as it offers a unique view of Pocitos beach.
5 - Malvín / Punta Gorda / Carrasco
The biggest residential area of the city apart from La Rambla de Malvin which today has acquired a profile similar to that of Pocitos for its buildings - is not a place commonly recommended to travelers but has its attractions: for something a large part of the country's wealthiest people chooses to live here. How about renting a bike to check it out?
On the Rambla of Malvin at Rimac Street, you will find Villa Yerua, former property of the Argentinean Francisco Maschio, a horse trainer, who received Carlos Gardel as a guest on several occasions. This year (2017) it reopened as a Turf and Tango Museum, held by the Uruguayan Association of Racehorse Owners (see schedules below), and there is a statue of Carlos Gardel by the door where visitors can take pictures.
Continuing east along the Rambla you will find the beautiful Plaza De La Armada “Navy Square”, baptized by the locals as Plaza Virgilio, the meeting point of local neighbors and an ideal place to get a panoramic view of the coast of Montevideo.
Continuing further down the Rambla towards the east you will find the Casino Carrasco Hotel, a giant building of French style inaugurated in 1921, which since 2013 is now owned by French chain Sofitel. Staying here is not suitable for all budgets, but anyone can enter to admire the architecture and decoration, view some of the art exhibits that are usually on display, and perhaps then try their luck (in moderation) in the casino.
On the way out you will see the main commercial zone of the neighborhood, Arocena avenue, and parallel to it a picturesque street of old houses now transformed into stores: Rostand Avenue. You might have the luck that your visit happens to coincide with "Paseo Rostand", an event that is held several times a year by placing Food trucks and musical shows along the sidewalks.
MONTEVIDEO USEFUL INFO
When to go. The middle season (March and April - September to December) are the best times of the year to visit. In summer the city is a bit too hot, but also a good option if you want to combine the visit with a couple of days at the beach towards the east. During January you will find the city rather empty, therefore many shops and restaurants are closed, as it is the favorite month of the locals for their holidays. February is the perfect month to enjoy multiple carnival shows.
Transportation. Of the public transport buses, you can use 121 to move from Ciudad Vieja / Centro to Pocitos and Punta Carretas, and 104 covers this route but also serves to reach Malvin, Punta Gorda, and Carrasco. It can be purchased in cash at the time of the trip, but for long stays, the magnetic transport card is advisable because it offers discounts. If this is going to be your main means of transport, the "Comor Ir" app will help you to know what collective to take according to its origin and destination. Other apps related to transport available in the city are Easy, Uber and CabyFy.
Bus Turístico / Tourist Bus “Descubri Montevideo”. This bus stops at most of the main points of interest in the city - except for Malvín, Punta Gorda and Carrasco - and the user must acquire a valid pass allowing them to get on and off as many times as they want, for one day (637 pesos, just over 20 dollars ) or two days (980 pesos, a little more than 30 dollars). It runs between 9.30 and 18.30 on weekends, and from 10 to 17.45 during the week. Book here Montevideo hop on hop off bus
Walking tour. To walk around la Ciudad Vieja this guided tour is a good option because it does not require a prior reservation or fixed rate - the traveler leaves a tip at the end of the tour. There are guides available in Spanish, Portuguese and English. Some free walking tours leave Plaza Independencia, from Monday to Friday in the mornings, but you can also book here a city tour in Montevideo here.
Mercado Del Puerto / Port Market. Located at the corner of Piedras 237 and Pérez Castellano has 14 restaurants and also includes various craft stalls. Inside the building, only lunch is available (the most recommended option) but the barbecues on the outside are also open at night.
Teatro Solis / Solis Theater. Located on Buenos Aires Street, it offers guided tours Tuesday and Thursday at 4:00 p.m.; Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays at 11, 12 and 16 hours, and Saturdays at 11, 12, 13 and 16 hours. The cost is 90 pesos (except on Wednesdays tours are free), and there are guides available in English, Portuguese and French. Our recommendation is to know the interior of the theater by attending a work: see the billboard at www.teatrosolis.org.uy
Mirador Panorámico / Panoramic View. Located at the corner of 18 de Julio and Ejido, the viewpoint the of the Intendencia of Montevideo is open to the public the seven days of the week, from 10 to 16 hours. It is free and utilizes a glass elevator offering a view of the exterior.
Palacio Legislativo / Legislative Palace. Entering through the door at Av. General Flores guided tours are available, from Monday to Friday, from 10.30 to 15 hours, in Spanish, English, and Portuguese, with a cost for foreign tourists of $ 3.
Complejo Torre de las Comunicaciones / Complex Communications Tower. Located at the corner of Paraguay 2097 and Guatemala, free guided tours are available with access to the viewpoint on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, at 15.30, 16, 16.30, and 17 hours, and Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10.30, 11, 11.30, and 12 hours. It is not necessary to sign up beforehand; it’s sufficient to arrive a few minutes early at the reception in the Joaquin Torres Garcia building.
Museo de Bellas Artes Juan Manuel Blanes / Museum of Fine Arts Juan Manuel Blanes. Located at Millán 1415 and the corner of Pierre Fossey, open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 12 to 17.45 hours. Free entry.
Jardín Botánico / Botanical Garden. Botanical Garden / Botanical Garden. Main entrance located at Avenida 19 De Abril 1181 and the corner of Valdense, open seven days a week from 7.30 am to 5.30 pm. Free entry.
Estadio Centenario y Museo del Fútbol /Centenario Stadium and Football Museum. Located on the premises of Parque Batlle/Park Batlle (Av. Ricaldoni s/n), entry is only permitted during sporting events or concerts. Check to see if your visit coincides with one! The Museo Del Futbol/ Football Museum (open from Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., entrance fee) is available at the stadium, but in addition, more football fans can purchase a tour that will take them to the stadium with entries and transportation included. Book here a football experience in Montevideo.
Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales / National Museum of Visual Arts. Located in Parque Rodó (at the corner of Julio Herrera y Reissig and Tomás Garibaldi) is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 14 to 19. Free admission.
Centro Cultural y Museo Castillo Pittamiglio / Cultural Center and Castle Pittamiglio Museum. Along Punta Carretas, almost arriving at the corner of 21 de Septiembre, this oddly shaped house (has the prow of a ship with the Victory of Samothrace on the outside) is open to the public with guided tours at 5 pm, Tuesday through Sundays. There are also plays for children and adults, most created for the visitor to walk through the installations as they change the scenes. Check which shows are currently on display at their website www.castillopittamiglio.org
Villa Yeruá. Located in Rambla de Malvín at the corner of Rimac, EL Museo Del Tango y Turf “The Tango and the Turf Museum’ open to the public from Tuesday to Saturdays, from 12 to 17 hours.
*Read the first chapter of our Montevideo Guide
By Carina Fossati, Journalist specialised in travelling and author of the blog Hills to Hells
Translated to English by Anna Englund