I had heard both good and bad reviews about visiting Uruguay, but always like to approach my travel with an open mind. It's important to experience places for yourself, as fellow travellers have different interests and look for different things. My own opinion is that Uruguay is great and should definitely be on your travel list!
1. Plaza Independencia
The capitals largest downtown plaza which commemorates the countries independence. Most notably the independence hero José Artigas. There's a statue of him on a horse in the centre of the plaza, as well as a mausoleum where him remains lay to rest.
This is the most central point of the city, with an abundance of architecture on display, including Teatro Solis. Worth noting that this is the start point for the free walking tours. Click here
2. Day Trip - Punta Del Este
Located a 2 hour drive east along the coast from Montevideo is Punta Del Este. This is a beautiful place and definitely deserves a day trip.
You can reach via public transport, but I'd recommend an organised day trip for this one. I used Viator (click here).
The drive itself is beautiful along the coast and will also include a stop off at Casapueblo, which is a Mediterranean style art gallery villa. The journey will take you through some very lucrative neighbourhoods around the Punta Del Este area, as well as crossing the architectural wonder 'wave bridge'. There's plenty of shops and cafes to explore, as well as a harbour area, and the most iconic attraction of them all, which is the hand sculpture on the beach titled 'La Mano'.
3. Mercado Agricola
Perhaps the biggest tourist trap across the entire city, but it's one of those places that you have to check out anyway. There's an abundance of souvenir and craft stores, as well as over priced steak restaurants. If you are in the area over a weekend, this is where you'll see street performers display their talents.
4. Estadio Centenario
The National Stadium was built in 1929 to host the first ever Football World Cup. The hosts Uruguay were victorious and beat rivals Argentina 4-2 in the final. The stadium has a monster 76,000 capacity and is still used as the National Stadium, as well as hosting various music concerts. Organised tours as possible, but to be honest, this will likely only be of interest to football fans.
5. Day Trip - Colonia
Located 180km west of Montevideo is Colonia del Sacramento, which is another popular day trip. This is a former Portuguese settlement of cobbled streets and Portuguese colonial architecture in abundance. There are some stunning buildings, which includes the 1850's lighthouse that's surrounded by historical artefacts. En route to Colonia you will see Plaza Del Toro, which is a former bull fighting arena from the early 1900's.
Overall, Colonia was a little disappointing. This was the place where many fellow travellers said to me "you must visit Colonia", so perhaps deep down I had much higher expectations.
Note - If you only have sufficient time for one day trip, then I would choose Punta Del Este. You can also catch a ferry Colonia-Buenos Aires in 1 hour 10 mins.
6. Montevideo Sign & Greetingman Statue
The inconic Montevideo Sign is located along Rambla De Montevideo (Rambla is huge). Nothing more than a photo stop, but it's a cool sign regardless. Difficult to time right, as sometimes there's no tourists, whereas other times there will be tourist buses pull up right by the sign.
Within close proximity is the Greetingman Statue, which is a 6 metre high man bowing in a typical Asian greeting. This statue was a gift from South Korea. Again, a short photo stop but definitely worth combining the two together.
7. Rambla of Montevideo
This is an avenue that spans uninterrupted for 22km along the Montevideo coastline. It's popular with both locals and tourists. You'll see many activities happening, but at the same time not much development as the entire Rambla is a government protected area.
Worth a walk on a sunny day, but perhaps not the entire Rambla. Bicycles are also available to rent.
Axsur Design Hotel is a small boutique style hotel and one that I would recommend. While researching, I struggled to find a competitively priced hotel in a central location, but then stumbled across this place. Ask for a room on the top floor, as you'll then have a balcony overlooking the Rambla. Around a 5 minute walk from Plaza Independencia.
La Pulperia is rated as the number one Steak House in the whole of Montevideo and this place definitely won my vote. Located in Punta Carretas, so around a 10 minute taxi ride from Plaza Independencia, but so worth it! Amazing steak!