Cheap City Getaway: Montevideo Uruguay
The current exchange rate in Uruguay is about 21.4 pesos to the dollar. That means that my one-bedroom apartment near the beach-- which usually rents at $438 US a month -- is currently costing me $398. It's also low season in South America. Translation: It's winter, but winter in Uruguay is different from winter in Chile or Ecuador. First off, there's no snow, and second, temperatures rarely drop below 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Of course, I would not suggest hanging out at the beach, but those interested in South American cities will find much to do in Montevideo Uruguay. Uruguay offers other important perks for the budget-conscious travelers. Unlike Chile, Argentina and Brazil, there is no visa fee for US citizens. That's a $140 savings right there. If you decide that you want to take a side trip to Buenos Aires, Buquebus offers boat service from Montevideo. Passengers arriving by boat do not pay the visa fee!
To sweeten the deal, as long as you don't over pack, you need not worry about taxi transportation from the airport. The local bus system, an experience in its own right, costs the equivalent of about $2 US. The bus is crowded, but not without its own forms of entertainment. Musicians occasionally come aboard and perform, and vendors selling items you might have forgotten, such as snacks, hats, toys and other types of clothing, enter the bus on certain stops.
Montevideo Vacation Rentals
Montevideo is a relatively inexpensive city, but hotels and restaurants tend to be pricey. All the more reason to consider a temporary vacation rental. Rentals give you full access to a kitchen. If you are traveling with a group of people, a weekly vacation rental is far less expensive than booking multiple hotel rooms. Most vacation rental companies require a one week minimum, but after traveling an endless number of hours to Uruguay, staying for a shorter period of time is not a good idea. Given that the bus system travels everywhere throughout the country, and considering that Uruguay is about the size of Washington State, it's easy to use Montevideo as as base for taking day trips to other cities. When you read the vacation rental sites, you'll notice that the prices are listed as "mes" for month, or "semana" for week. Some listings are in pesos, while others are in dollars. Peso listings appear as UY$, and US listings appear as US$.
Looking for cheap holidays for a city break?
Cheap Holiday (Cheapholiday.com) will help you find and book your next cheap holiday. Search and compare millions of holiday offers, from budget and last minute holidays to luxury holidays for everyone.
Cheap Getaway | The Feria Markets
A few meals at Montevideo restaurants, and a visit to the prepared food sections in the supermarkets will inspire your own culinary creativity. Most Uruguay apartment rentals have a parilla, a terrace or backyard grill that accounts for some of the country's tastiest cuisine. Most Uruguayans also know that the cheapest and freshest food is found at the ferias, or open air markets. This is where you find everything from fresh vegetables, eggs, straight from the farm, cheese and meats to clothing and household items. Even better, items purchased at the feria do not include the Uruguayan 22 percent sales tax. The ferias are held at different parts of the city on different days of the week.
Tuesday: Villa Biarritz: Location: Ellauri and Vazquez Ledesma Hours: 10-2
Wednesday: Carrasco: Location: Next to Avenida Arocena Hours: 10-2
Thursday: Prado: Location: Near the Hotel del Prado Hours: 10-2
Friday: Buceo: Location: Near Rivera Hours: 10-3
Saturday: Villa Biarritz: Location: Ellauri and Vazquez Ledesma Hours: 10-3
Sunday: Parque Rodo: Location: Artigas and 21 de Setiembre Hours: 10-3
Begin in Ciudad Vieja, or old town, whose architecture evokes images of the city's colonial past. Antique shops, art galleries and boutiques line the streets. You'll pass some well-preserved historical buildings, such as the Cabildo, the former government building, the Casa de Gobierno, where the government currently convenes, and the Teatro Solís, the oldest operating opera house in South America.
Eventually, you'll come to the Mercado del Puerta or "port market." Back in1885, a Spanish merchant purchased 3,500 feet of retail space on a tract of land in downtown Montevideo, and built an impressive Art Deco structure called "Mercado del Puerto." Its interior houses an indoor market space, where independent artisans sell their crafts, jewelry and artwork, and the famous parillas, where hungry meat lovers feast upon multi-course meat meals.
Uruguay Vacation | Pocitos
Pocitos offers a completely different view of Montevideo. It's hip, trendy and modern, but it occasionally offers some serendipitously quirky attractions. Take, for example, Castillo Pittamiglio. Snuggled between two high-rise buildings, the red-brick towers and the replica statue of the Victory of Samothrace mark its entrance.
The castle was the brainchild of Humberto Pittamiglio. It resulted from two of his passions; architecture and alchemy. Labyrinths and Alchemist, Templar, Masonic, and Rosicrucian symbols fill the rooms. Guided tours are offered on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
While some of the attractions in Montevideo charge admission, much of the city can be enjoyed by meandering through the streets and exploring the sights. This unique city is definitely worth a visit.