Separated by a mere sliver of Atlantic Ocean – the Rio de la Plata, or ‘river of money’ in local lingo – neighboring Uruguay makes a popular day trip from Buenos Aires. Daily ferries run from the Argentine side to the nearest port town of Colonia del Sacramento, but high speed ferries also run the jaunt to the capital, Montevideo, further along the coast.
Tranquil Montevideo with its wind-ravaged coast-line is the perfect antidote to Buenos Aires’ urban frenzy – here, the grimy skyscrapers and horn-blaring taxi cabs do nothing to detract from the old-age charm and laid back pace of life that Uruguayans are so proud of. Despite being the capital and commercial center of Uruguay, time seems to have stood still in Montevideo and the city’s quiet squares are a perfect spot to watch locals pottering the streets with thermos slung over their shoulders, sipping traditional yerba mate tea.
Check out landmark buildings like the Solis Theater and the Palacio Salvo (the tallest building in Uruguay), then pay a visit to the Gurvich museum, dedicated to famed local artist José Gurvich, before hitting the city’s markets. Saturday afternoon sees the Mercado del Puerto, a bustling farmer’s market, sprawl along the port – a good place to tuck into some freshly grilled steak and sip some local wine. Alternatively, Sunday mornings come alive with a vibrant street market, the Tristan Narvaja street fair, taking over the city center – here, anything goes, from books and clothing to fresh produce and an array of bizarre knick-knacks.
Before you head back to Buenos Aires, grab a chivito (an Uruguayan style steak sandwich with all the trimmings) then pop into one of the small tango bars along the seafront, where you’ll not only be treated to some traditional music, but locals will be happy to explain the never-ending feud of where the tango first originated from. Uruguayans strongly believe it to have started on their shores, but pose that question to an Argentine and you might get a different story!
Take a Day Trip to Montevideo from Buenos Aires tour