Top Five Things to do in Montevideo, Uruguay
(by Vincent)

The smallest Spanish-speaking country in the entire continent, Uruguay typically isn't at the forefront of destinations when you are considering South American vacations.  But though it might be small this country is anything but boring.  It's jam-packed with fascinating things to see and do. 

Montevideo is Uruguay's capitol and cosmopolitan center.  Home to roughly half of the country's population, this city is culturally diverse, enjoying numerous social and economic connections to Europe.  It is also stunningly beautiful, home to an eclectic mix of beautiful colonial architecture and modern skyscrapers.

  • Eat a meal at La Silenciosa.  Believe it or not, this marvelous eatery was once an 18th century Jesuit seminary.  With impressive stone and brick walls, spectacular high ceilings, and smooth, checker board marble floors the architecture is without a doubt as impressive as the food. 
  • Meander through the Mercado del Puerto.  Situated in the old city on the Montevideo wharf, the Mercado del Puerto is most definitely not to be missed.  This heterogeneous market is a diverse mix of smells, colors, and flavors.  If you can find it in Uruguay it will most likely be here; there are numerous stalls serving up staples from Uruguayan cuisine.  Saturdays are the best day to visit the market as musicians and artists also make appearances between the numerous food stalls.
  • Wander around the Ciudad Vieja.  Ciudad Vieja is the oldest part of Montevideo.  This colonial part of the city was originally walled and while the walls were torn down in 1829 the original gateway to the city remains, serving as the Ciudad Vieja icon.  The area is filled with beautiful colonial and early Republican architecture, such as The Cabildo, the Solis Theatre (photo below), and the Museo Torres Garcia (photo above), as well as many important churches and cathedrals.  It is also worth pointing out that in the last several years this zone has been totally revitalized.  Today it is an important center of city nightlife, home to many trendy nightclubs and bars.
  • Shop at the Feria de Tristan Narvaja.  This traditional street market is an age-old Montevideo tradition, originally started by Italian immigrants.  Situated in the center of the Cordon neighborhood, the Feria de Tristan Narvaja stretches from 18 de Julio Avenue through La Paz Street and contains many bookstores and antique stores.  The place has a bohemian, flea-market kind of vibe and it's a great way to kill a free afternoon.
  • Catch a play at Teatro Solis.  Constructed in 1856, the ornate Teatro Solis is the city's first premier performance space.  The entire theatre has actually been entirely renovated in the last ten years, a project that began in 1998 and ended in 2004, ant the acoustics are truly astounding.  If you're not in the mood to see a play you can always just take a guided tour of the theater, available Tuesday through Sunday.

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