Montevideo is located near the place where the La Plata River flows into the ocean. A beach line of over 20 km stretches along the estuary. The nearest beach was just a five-minute walk from our house, so we often spent time there.
By the way, the river waters were not suitable for swimming. The water was murky, thick, and full of seaweed and sand lifted from the bed by river currents. However, the beaches themselves were clean and had soft, yellow sand that the boys adored so much. Equipped with sticks, spades, and toys, Michael Jr and Robert could play at the beach for hours.
There were always lots of people at the shore. Locals like coming here to sunbathe, do sports, or just relax and chat.
We often saw Argentinian tourists there. As for other foreigners, there are only a few of them in the city.
The Rambla waterfront, a huge road connecting the city centre with distant districts, stretches along the river. There’s a vast pedestrian zone near the roadway, and we could walk along it for hours. Locals like jogging and doing sports here, while youth has fun roller-skating and skateboarding.
There are one-day tours from the Montevideo port to the Isla de Lobos that managed to get the status of a national nature reserve. The shore of the small, rocky piece of ground—the island is 1.2 km long and less than 800 m wide—is crowned with a 59-metre lighthouse built by the Spanish in the 19th century. It is the tallest lighthouse in Uruguay.
The name of the place is translated as ‘the island of wolves’, although these predators don’t live in the nature park. But the ones that do live here are the world’s largest colony of South American sea lions and fur seals. These charming sea animals attract many tourists here, who go on a tour around Lobos to see them.
Centre of Montevideo
While Buenos Aires has entire districts made up of old European-style buildings, it seemed to us that in Montevideo, no one cared about preserving the historical heritage or trying to make the city more attractive to tourists. The capital certainly has beautiful buildings, but they are mainly a few dwelling houses. As for colonial constructions, they are concentrated in the central part of Montevideo.
The capital’s oldest square is La Plaza de la Constitución (Constitution Square), where the Montevideo fortress was built in the 18th century.
Nowadays, the square is a cosy place planted with trees, resembling a small park. The walkways crossing the square lead to an elegant fountain, decorated with sculptures of angels, and the Metropolitan Cathedral, a huge neoclassic construction built in the early 19th century.
Walking further along the Sarandí pedestrian street, you can go through the gate of the old fortress and get to Independence Square, the main tourist attraction. Plaza Independencia is surrounded by interesting buildings, including the Executive Tower, the residence of the President of Uruguay.
There’s also Palacio Salva in the art deco style built in 1927. The skyscraper resembles the Palacio Barolo that we saw in Buenos Aires, which is no wonder as both buildings were designed by the same architect, Mario Palanti.
The elegant neoclassical Solís Theatre, the oldest theatre in Uruguay, is located near the square.
We found it odd that there were almost no people on the streets. While the city centre in European cities is always crowded with tourists, Montevideo’s Old Town was almost empty, although it was Sunday.
The Fountain of Lovers – one of the most romantic places in Montevideo. It is believed that lovers who hang here a lock with their initials will remain together forever. The fencing around the fountain is already completely covered with these symbols of love.
However, that let us walk along the streets unhurriedly, have a good view of all the landmarks we wanted to see, and take great photos.
Montevideo offers quite a limited choice of cultural entertainments. There are certainly interesting museums in the city, but both their size and the number of exhibits are very modest.
For instance, one day we visited the Naval Museum located near the Rambla waterfront. The local collection includes maps, photos, plans, and old documents showing the history of the Uruguayan Navy. The exhibits were interesting, but we expected more from the capital museum.