Where should I stay in Montevideo? I am often asked where is the best place to stay in Montevideo. Of course this depends on the type of person you are, the type of holiday you like and the type of experience you are looking to have.
Montevideo is a small city of 1.5 million people and easy to get around. So really you could stay wherever you want, distance-wise.
However Montevideo’s neighbourhoods –or barrios— are all really different one from the other, and where you choose to stay can make a real difference to your time in Montevideo.
Here I cover the principal ones where most hotels are located and where as a visitor you are likely to want to stay. You’ll notice that they are all strung along the 25 kilometre rambla (promenade) except for Centro. Also check out my article about safety in Montevideo.
Ciudad Vieja (the Old Town)
The Ciudad Vieja is Montevideo’s historic centre and was once ALL of Montevideo. It is the heart of government, finance, import-export so is bustling during the week and quieter on weekends. It is in a process of renovation and there are grandiose mansions next to pockets of poverty. This is no shiny for-export historic reconstruction – it is for real.
Exploring further inland old Pocitos has some charming labyrinth-like streets
15-20 minute walk to two malls
You will need to take transportation to sight-see
The high-rises have removed a lot of the character
The ritzy area of Montevideo which is primarily residential with low-level buildings and lots of greenery. It is closest to the airport on the rambla, which is dominated by the historic hotel pictured above. I’ve heard it joked that the children who grow up there are more familiar with Miami than they are with the centre of Montevideo.
Has its own little microcosm with a main street, shops and restaurants
Has an extensive beach
On the rambla
All low-rise buildings with lots of green leafy streets
Just 5-10 minutes drive from the airport
Far from “real Montevideo” and any of the sights
Long cab ride to the city centre (we’re talking apx 30 USD one-way)
The beach is not cleaned off-season and typically covered with washed-up debris between May and November
You can take a bus into the city centre, but it’s not easy to see the point of staying in Carrasco if you are on a budget
This is the downtown area dominated by the main avenue, 18 de julio, which bustles day and night. On either side of the avenue there are lots of two and three star hotels.
Bustling mid-week and on Saturday mornings
Close to the Ciudad Vieja where many of the sights are
Standard hotel accommodation tends to be cheapest here
The most urban part of Montevideo though still tree-lined with some trash issues
18 de julio is not an attractive street until you look UP – and then there is the most amazing arquitecture
Can be a little sketchy on side streets at night. Walk 18 de julio to avoid problems or take the cheap cabs.
Parque Rodo, Palermo and Barrio Sur
There are not as many accommodation options in Parque Rodó, Barrio Sur or Palermo, the three areas located next to each other between Ciudad Vieja and Pocitos, so I’ll group them together.
Charming neighbourhoods filled with character and characters
Mainly low-rise buildings on leafy tree-lined streets though Palermo has seen a recent boom in high-rises
Parque Rodó has the Playa Ramirez (Ramirez beach) – very shallow it is ideal for small children
Parque Rodó has two nostalgia-inspiring parks with fairgrounds for small children and overgrown!
There’s a booming pub and bar scene in Parque Rodó and several popular spots emerging at different points on Maldonado and Canelones streets.
Barrio Sur is the heart of Afro-Uruguayan culture
Drumming comparsas are out and about any night around 8pm in all three neighbourhoods throughout the year in preparation for carnaval
Pubs and bars tend to be spread-out and difficult to find. Make sure you have done your research and know where you are going to avoid disappointment.
The Guru’s final analysis of the best places to stay in Montevideo
I want …
Ciudad Vieja, Barrio Sur, Palermo
To be able to walk everywhere
Pocitos, Parque Rodo and Carrasco*
Ciudad Vieja, Punta Carretas, Carrasco
Minimal cultural differences**
Punta Carretas, Carrasco
Closest to the airport
* Beaches are accessible anywhere in Montevideo – Punta Carretas and Palermo (10-15 mins walk), Ciudad Vieja, Barrio Sur and Centro (30-45 minutes walk along the rambla to Ramirez Beach in Parque Rodo or 5 mins by taxi)