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A major port with a friendly, small-town feel, Montevideo is one of South America's hidden gems. The historic heart of Uruguay's capital is an unspoiled tableau of 18th- and 19th-century colonial architecture; indeed, its most prominent skyscraper, the sail-like Torre de las Telecomunicaciones, lies round the coast overlooking Montevideo Bay. Walk Ciudad Vieja and Centro and count the statues dedicated to national hero José Gervasio Artigas, liberator of Montevideo. Say hello to the bronze replica of Michelangelo's David at the Palacio Municipal and the Gaucho monument's tribute to Uruguayan cowboys.
Things to Do
Montevideo is easy to navigate: All roads lead from Plaza Independencia. Stand under the only bit of the original battlements and plan your walk into Ciudad Vieja, past Peatonal Sarandí's street stalls on to Plaza Constitción and the city's original public building, the Catedral. Bustling dockside Mercado del Puerto oozes both arts and crafts boutiques and excellent food. In handsome 19th-century Centro, you can burrow into the arcade shops in such ornate structures as Montevideo's once-tallest building, circa-1928 Palacio Salvo.
Nightlife and Entertainment
Joining opera in the handsomely refurbished 19th-century Teatro Solis is ultramodern Auditorio Nacional del Sodre (down from the opposite side of Plaza Independencia), with ballet, symphony and chamber concerts. Lay your cards on the table at the Plaza Victoria Casino, or do the tango or the lively local dance candombe at La Casa de Becho, where Garardo Mattos Rodríquez wrote his famous La Cumparsita.
Restaurants and Dining
Justifiably proud of their fine cuts of beef and fresh seafood, Montevideans eat very well. You can't go far without coming across a wood-fired parrillada, a grill restaurant serving every cut of meat imaginable and such tasty add-ons as Roquefort potatoes. The beef goes well with the distinctively fruity local wine Tannat. Outdoors, take up the locals' habit of carrying a flask of hot water to replenish your mate, a tea-like infusion drunk through a silver straw.
With miles of beaches facing River Plate, Montevideo's strands rival those of more famous South American seaside destinations. When not bathing, locals still hug the coast, flasks in hand, with their fishing rods. Those with a more active sporting bent can take advantage of the city golf course only minutes from Montevideo's center -- the 18-hole Punte Carretas -- or watch a rugby match at the oddly named Carrasco Polo Club.
With American Airlines flights to Montevideo, it's easy to fully discover this intriguing capital of Uruguay. Colonial architecture, multiple parks, local crafts, vivacious beaches -- there are so many things to do in Montevideo, it's hard to know where to start. Here are a few of our favorites to get you going.
The city itself dates back to 1726 and it's full of history. One of the most interesting ways to explore is through its architecture. One of our top activities in Montevideo involves discovering its eclectic blend; here you can see examples of neoclassical, post-modern and colonial, to name a few styles. Start in Cuidad Vieja (or Old Town), which was the first section of Montevideo to be settled in the 18th century. Here you'll find a cornucopia of colonial buildings and plazas. You'll want to see the Cabildo, which was originally a government building in the colonial era and today houses a museum as well as being the city's historical archive. The Metropolitan Cathedral, the city's main Roman Catholic church, is located directly across Constitution Square from the Cabildo, making it a natural next stop. Its history traces back to 1740 and you'll see touches of neoclassical architecture in its soaring ceilings. Before you leave Ciudad Vieja, be sure to visit Museo Torres Garcia, where the works of Uruguayan artist Joaquin Torres Garcia (revered as the founder of Constructive Universalism) are on display.
Add visiting a few of the city's parks to your list of things to do in Montevideo. In Parque Battle, for example, you can see the Obelisk of Montevideo. Parque Prado, the largest park in Montevideo, is where you can relax along a creek or wander through a beautiful public rose garden. Parque Rodo is home to an amusement park in addition to natural features, and it is near the National Museum of Visual Arts.
And you can't leave without visiting a few of the city's many forts. As far as activities in Montevideo go, this is one of the more interesting. Two of our favorites are Fortaleza del Cerro, which has played a significant role in the city's history, and Punta Brava Lighthouse, which is, as its name implies, an actual lighthouse.
Once you've covered the city's historical aspects, it's time for a little fun in the sun. With its location along the Rio de la Plata (the portion of the Atlantic Ocean separating Uruguay from Argentina), you've plenty of beachside spots from which to choose. Pick your favorite during a stroll along the Rambia, another of our favorite things to do in Montevideo. You can jog, shop or dine here, and most importantly you can access the city's beaches. We tend to favor Pocita beach and Buceo beach, which also is home to a marina.
With so much to discover in Uruguay's capital, it's an exciting destination. Let American Airlines help you fly to Montevideo for a getaway full of exploration and relaxation. Browse our flights and start planning your trip today!
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