Everyone says that visiting Uruguay during summer it is so much better than in winter. And indeed, in the summer you can enjoy the beaches and the city streets without the icy wind freezing your bones. However, spending a weekend in Montevideo, near to the end of the year can be a surprising experience for those who are expecting a busy city. Most of people go to the beach, the city is emptied, and, in addition, the Uruguayan people really like to take the weekends off, so most of businesses close early on Saturdays.
I must admit that the first hours in Montevideo were different than expected, I arrived at 16h and it was a surprise to find the empty streets, and also, having trouble to find a restaurant where to eat. But even so, if you take a deeper look you will always find something to do or some place to hang out. I was lucky to find a bike rental service that saved my weekend. So here it is a small guide to discover Montevideo by bike.
There are several companies that provide the service. I hired the Orange Bike, found it very good because they deliver the bike wherever you are and take it back from the same place 24 hours later (450 Uruguayan pesos). As my hostel was in the old town (Ciudad Vieja), I began my tour from the rambla, the favorite place of local people to exercise, take a sun bath or go fishing. Also the best view of the Río de la Plata.
On Sunday there is the Tristan Narvaja fair, on the street with the same name, at downtown. I ride the boulevard until just before the Ramirez beach and went up to the center through the streets of the neighborhood. One thing I really liked about the streets in Montevideo is the great quantities of trees. They make a beautiful landscape.
Upon arriving at Av. 18 de Julio, the main avenue in the center, you will find the buildings of the National Library and the University of the Republic. There you will find a parking space for your bike.
The Tristan Narvaja fair spans for several blocks, always full of people and all kinds of trade, since pets – it seems that in Uruguay the commerce of animals on the street is legal – to antique stores. I took advantage of the stop to try the traditional Chivito in one of the traditional restaurants in the neighborhood.
Back to the rambla, the next stop is the Ramirez beach, where people bathe in the river. In the summer the water of the river is warm, something that had never experienced in my life, the sensations is not very nice, but at least try it, you can´t leave Uruguay without putting you foot into the Rio de la Plata.
Right there you will find the Rodó Park, where there is also a craft market during the afternoon on Sundays. Continuing along the rambla you will reach the Park Punta Carretas, you will recognize it by the old lighthouse. A little later you will arrive at Pocitos Beach, a much larger beach than Ramirez and lately more frequented by locals. The place is really beautiful. Incidentally, here you can see the contrast between the old and the new city.
At the end of Pocitos beach the lately famous icon of the city, the letters of one and a half meter tall, with the city name.
After this point you arrive at the East rambla. I decided not to continue the rambla to get to know another part of the city. I went back by Av. España and continued by Av. General Artigas, to the region of Tres Cruces, where you will find the bus station and the Battle Park.
I continued by Av. General Artigas northward to the monument to Luis Batlle Berres and started my journey back to the center by the Av. General Flores. On the way you will find the Legislative Palace and the Telecommunications Tower, which is a great viewpoint of the city. It is open to visitors during weekdays until 17h.
Continuing along Av. General Flores will bring you right into Av. 18 de Julio. Main avenue in the center that concentrates most of sights and squares. In addition, it is decorated in every corner with a historic building. It is impossible not to stop at every block to repair in their architecture. At the end of the avenue is the Independence Square, where stands the mausoleum of Gral. Artigas, the Salvo palace, the Solis Theatre and the door of the old city.
Finally, cycling the Ciudad Vieja you’ll find the square of the Constitution, the Zabala Square and nearby the Mercado Del Puerto, which unfortunately does not open on Sundays. Other great idea is to take the Av. 18 de Julio towards the Palermo neighborhood, where there are several groups of typical Candomblé drums, starting at 19h until 20h. (Corner of Av. Gonzalo Ramirez and Magallanes street)
Certainly biking Montevideo during the weekend is the best choice you can make. You can visit the touristic points at the moment and the order you prefer, take all the time you want in each, without worries. For sure you will have time to visit them all. Also, during the weekend traffic is minimal, so it is very easy and safe to ride through the streets.
I hope you enjoy the city by bike as much as I did. If you find a new route, don’t hesitate to share with us in the comments.