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The Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo

For now, Montevideo remains a unique off-the-radar destination

Up until now it’s been virtually impossible to find a good Uruguay travel book. Why? Because they are written by people who fly in for a week and then leave. The Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo is the first insider’s travel guide to Montevideo, capital of Uruguay, written by Karen A Higgs, author of this site and resident in Uruguay since 2000.

It’s indispensable for anyone visiting Uruguay. As you’ll see from the five-star reviews on Amazon.

Where to buy The Guru’Guay Guide

Paperbacks from Amazon and CreateSpace. Or get the digital book right now on your tablet, phone or computer for just $14.99.

* Support independent publishing. Buy direct from the Guru’Guay store and CreateSpace (they pay more generous royalties than Amazon).

What’s in The Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo

140 pages on:

Logistics

  • flying into Uruguay, including a candid look at airlines that you should avoid
  • getting to (or from) Montevideo from Buenos Aires considering the fastest, cheapest and most leisurely routes
  • the best time to visit and how long to stay with insights that only a long-term resident can give you
  • public holidays, which are practically religiously observed (only they are not –religious that is–, in Uruguay, as there is strictly respected separation of church and state) so it’s essential to know when they are
  • holidays and festivals you must not miss, like the mysterious Sea Goddess celebrations
  • how to select the best neighbourhood to stay based on your personal preferences
  • architecturally-lovely accommodation options for all pockets
  • personal safety dispelling some of the myths that out there on the internet and practical tips including for specific neighbourhoods
  • getting around on public transport like a local
  • driving and car rental, including the logic behind seemingly erratic traffic patterns and driving habits
  • tipping demystified ie why you don’t tip taxi drivers but do tip street parking attendants
  • money exchange including troubleshooting ATM withdrawals

Things to Do

  • guided tours to wine, marijuana, soccer, carnival and more worth your while
  • great day trips, from UNESCO heritage site Colonia de Sacramento, to glitzy Punta del Este, to the Santa Lucia wetlands
  • architectural highlights in possibly the most Art-deco city after New York
  • art museums and underground art cooperatives
  • beaches including which of Montevideo’s ten is best for children, which has windsurf and boat rental, etc
  • shopping and buying original gifts Really. Ever heard of a guidebook that helps you with this thankless task?
  • shopping for wine-lovers Wow, right? Where to go to get expert advice and dah goods
  • why Carnival in Montevideo is so unique and where and when to track down the best (and worst) of carnival, even off-season
  • tango Here tango is something the locals do, it’s not “for export”. One milonga, or dance salon, even takes place in a living room
  • where Montevideans go to listen to live music and who the best live acts to check out are For a country of three million, Uruguay has a huge amount of highly talented musicians. You can easily pay less than 10 USD to see a world-class band in a tiny cafe
  • gay Montevideo has a small but charming scene

Food & Drink

  • what time to do the locals eat and how do what Uruguayans do to get through to a 10pm dinnertime
  • street food and other local specialities
  • wine and craft beer from Uruguay are winning prizes internationally. The guide points you to which to try and why
  • restaurants for people desperate for gourmet and veggie options
  • restaurants for wine-lovers
  • historic cafes, the most charming, and the grittiest
  • breakfast and brunch, not typically worth boasting about in Argentina and Uruguay, the author is on a personal quest to Make Breakfast Big in Montevideo and has tracked down some great spots to start your day

Society & Culture

  • history How did this tiny country get to be so progressive? Your burning questions answered.
  • the Uruguayan character, a chapter of entirely personal anecdotes that illustrate that Uruguayans (from presidents to petty thieves) are friendly and down-to-earth
  • expressions EVERYONE uses on the street and what they mean
  • films to watch
  • albums to listen to and
  • books to read before you come.

25 Comments

  1. Leif

    February 23, 2017

    This goes out to everyone who is considering to go on a visit to Montevideo:
    1. Stop thinking, go!
    2. Get a copy of Karen´s Guide!
    I have been staying in town for 3 1/2 weeks now and this book was -and still is at the time of typing these lines- an indispensable reference at all times, a truly useful companion. Whenever there was leisure time I simply dipped into it quickly and decided which one of the tips would suit me best at that moment.
    And before I got here, I had a closer look at the introduction and general info given, of course; also very helpful, and -as with the entire book- nicely condensed which I personally appreciate a lot.
    Thus, almost at the end of my time here, I ended up to following round about 20 hints, which were all amazing (saying the vast majority). Among them big events such as the “Llamadas” but also small hints such as the enchanted, wild botanical garden.
    Another great(!) advantage is that Karen is constantly updating information on her website and posts events worth visiting daily on her facebook page. So make sure to check out these sources of information as well, it´s really worth it!
    There is only one single thing which I could criticize in regards to the printed book: Despite of all of today´s availability of online-maps on cell phones and city charts in tourist offices etc, I was missing a supplementary map or at least a map-reference on some pages, even if only cutouts…
    Thanks for reading and all the best!
    Leif (and Björn, who was the one discovering and ordering the guide book)

    Reply
    • The Guru of Guru'Guay

      February 26, 2017

      Leif and Björn (the book buyer), thanks so much for taking time out to comment on the guide! Hugely appreciated! All the best – Karen

      Reply
  2. Lezlie A Green

    November 10, 2016

    Bought your book at the Pizzorono winery! Fabulous! Suggestions for visiting the “thermals” ?

    Reply
    • The Guru of Guru'Guay

      November 10, 2016

      Hi Lezlie, wow, I did not know it was being sold there! So glad you like it. I regret to say that I don’t have a hot spring destination to recommend. Uruguay hot spring hotels are generally reminiscent of 1960s holiday camps in the UK – anonymous boxy hotels with loud music at the pool side. I’m still looking for one with charming surroundings and a quiet spa-like ambience. All the best – Karen

      Reply
    • Wayne Bernhardson

      November 11, 2016

      The Pizzornos are delightful people, too.

      Reply
  3. Norma

    October 18, 2016

    I am going next week to Montevideo from Monday to Thursday (leaving) . Would you pls, suggest some place to dance tango? (milonga) Peferably Tuesday o Wednesday. Can be also tango lessons.
    Thank you,Norma

    Reply
    • The Guru of Guru'Guay

      October 18, 2016

      Hi Norma, Uruguay is a GREAT place to take tango lessons, especially for beginners and intermediate dancers, because the scene is small and friendly. You can take classes any day of the week. Check out my article on tango milongas and where to go dancing. The Guru’Guay Guide has even more information including names of recommended teachers. You can buy it for your tablet for just 10 bucks (and support this site at the same time!).

      Reply
  4. Stella Zamora

    September 15, 2016

    Hola, I’ve just received my copy of The Guru’guay guide to Montevideo. Words cannot express how homesick I am. As a child I immigrated to Australia in the 70’s Now it’s time for one of my children to visit Uruguay for the first time & your guide to Montevideo is wonderful! So many customs so many memories that I’ve tried to pass on to them. Your guide is also proof to my kids that their mum is still very much “Uruguaya” Gracias!

    Reply
    • Welshwitch in Uruguay

      September 15, 2016

      Dear Stella, I am so MOVED to read your comment. And delighted that you find the book so true to the Uruguay you have loved for so long, despite not being here. I guess that after so many years I am just a bit “uruguaya” myself. You have to come visit again! — Abrazo grande, Karen

      Reply
  5. Alice Fishman

    September 14, 2016

    This is the best guidebook and provides so much more useful information than others. I threw the other one I had brought with me away!

    Reply
  6. […] The Guru’Guay Guide recommends ten Uruguayan films you must watch before you come to Uruguay. Buy it in paperback or download it now. […]

    Reply
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  8. Carter

    July 17, 2016

    Unlike most travel guides, which are written by travelers, this one was created by somebody who has actually lived and worked in Uruguay for years. So she has the type of inside information and understanding that only comes with long experience. But she also has advantage of being a non-native, so has the perspective of somebody from outside the culture. She knows what will be surprising, and what might seem odd or confusing.

    Buy it and read it before you go. Along with the expected tips on attractions and events, the guide points out logistical issues that can catch a first-time visitor and addresses them with precise guidance so you’ll be prepared. Which airline to pick, how to set up your cell phone, how to change currency – it’s all here.

    Reply
    • Welshwitch in Uruguay

      July 17, 2016

      Wow, Carter, that’s a great review! you really got why I decided to write the book. Thanks so much for taking the time to share why the Guide was useful for you. All the best, Karen

      Reply
  9. Lucie Jencek

    July 13, 2016

    This is one of the best guides I have ever read!

    I am a single female living and learning cultures in different countries of Latin America. I bought it before coming to Montevideo few months ago. I have been living in Montevideo for one month now and followed many of the recommendations and have been very pleased with all of them.

    It is true that you have to allow al least 1-2 weeks to truly appreciate Montevideo. As Karen said in the guide, the sites are not apparent you have to wonder the streets, different neighborhoods, bars, music venues watch people to really get the feel for this wonderful city. enJoy!

    Reply
  10. […] The Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo is the first insider’s travel guide to Montevideo. As Montevideo is a city about which there’s very little written, especially in English and that’s current, you’ll be devouring its 140 pages. […]

    Reply
  11. Pooja K. Agarwal

    March 23, 2016

    WONDERFUL! This is SUCH a great guide – only I wish it was available before my trip to Uruguay in August 2015. Guru’Guay’s guide not only makes me nostalgic, it makes me want to visit again ASAP and see all the things I missed!

    Reply
  12. Carter & Gabrielle

    February 15, 2016

    We found the Guru’guay guide to be indispensable on our recent first trip to Uruguay. From the moment we arrived, we had help at our fingertips to set up our cell phone, exchange currency, understand traffic patterns and driving habits, know when and how much to tip – and so much more. Who are those people in orange vests helping drivers park their cars? How can we take a bus across town? What the heck is a chivito? How come the shops are all closed in the early afternoon? At $10 the guide is a bargain – just buy it!

    Reply
    • Welshwitch in Uruguay

      February 16, 2016

      Carter and Gabrielle, thanks for the great comments. From the title people may not realise that it’s a guidebook that is good for all Uruguay – not just Montevideo. Did you find that the case?

      Reply
      • Gabrielle

        February 16, 2016

        Yes we did find it helpful everywhere. In fact Carter remarked to me last night how often during the course of our trip we found ourselves remarking: “Karen says…”

        Reply

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