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Getting There

By Plane -- A private, unmetered taxi or remise (radio taxi) from the airport to downtown costs about U$500 and takes 30 minutes.

By Boat or Hydrofoil -- Buquebús, Terminal Fluvio-Maritima de Montivideo (tel. 02/916-8801 or 130; www.buquebus.com), operates three to four hydrofoils per day between Montevideo and Buenos Aires; the trip takes about 3 hours and costs about $120 round-trip. Montevideo's port is just over 1.5km (1 mile) from downtown. Taxis from here to downtown cost about U$200 and take 7 minutes. If you have taken a ferry to Colonia, you can get connecting bus service to Montevideo; the bus terminal is near the port on Manuel de Lobos and Avenida Roosevelt. The trip takes 3 hours and costs U$176. Try COT (tel. 02/409-4949; www.cot.com.uy).

By Bus -- Terminal Omnibus Tres Cruces, General Artigas 1825 (tel. 02/409-7399 or 02/401-8998), is Montevideo's long-distance bus terminal, connecting the capital with cities in Uruguay and throughout South America. Buses to Buenos Aires take about 8 hours. COT (tel. 02/409-4949) offers the best service to Punta del Este (U$142), Maldonado (U$137), and Colonia (U$176).

Getting Around

It's easy to navigate around the center of Montevideo on foot or by bus. Safe, convenient buses crisscross Montevideo, making it easy to venture outside the city center, for U$15. Taxis are safe and relatively inexpensive, but it can be difficult to hail one during rush hour. I recommend calling Remises Carrasco (tel. 09/440-5473). To rent a car, try Thrifty (tel. 02/481-8170; www.thrifty.com.uy). Another reputable company based at the airport is Europcar (tel. 02/4010575; www.europcar.com.uy). Cars start at $50. For roadside emergencies or general information on driving in Uruguay, contact the Automóvil Club de Uruguay, Av. Libertador 1532 (tel. 02/902-4792), or the Centro Automovilista del Uruguay, E. V. Haedo 2378 (tel. 02/408-2091).

Orientation -- The Old City begins near the western edge of Montevideo, found on the skinny portion of a peninsula between the Rambla Gran Bretaña and the city's main artery, Avenida 18 de Julio. Look for the Plaza Independencia and the Plaza Constitución to find the center of the district. Many of the city's museums, theaters, and hotels reside in this historic area, although a trip east on Avenida 18 de Julio reveals the more modern Montevideo, with its own share of hotels, markets, and monuments. Along the city's long southern coastline runs the Rambla Gran Bretaña, traveling 21km (13 miles) from the piers of the Old City past Parque Rodó and on to points south and east, passing fish stalls and street performers along the way.

Visitor Information

Uruguay's Ministerio de Turismo is at Av. Libertador 1409 and Colonia (tel. 02/908-9105). It assists travelers with countrywide information and is open daily from 8am to 8pm in winter, and from 8am to 2pm in summer. There's also a branch at Carrasco International Airport (tel. 02/604-0386); Tres Cruces bus station (tel. 02/409-7399) and at the port where Buquebus docks, Rambla 25 de Agosto de 1825 and Yacaré (tel. 02/188-5100). The municipal tourist office, Explanada Municipal (tel. 02/916-8434), offers city maps and brochures of tourist activities and is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 6pm. It also organizes cultural city tours on weekends. In the event of an emergency, the Tourist Police can be reached at (tel. 0800-8226), and their office is at Colonia 1021.

Safety Note -- Although Montevideo remains very safe by big-city standards, street crime has risen in recent years. Travelers should avoid walking alone, particularly at night, in Ciudad Vieja, Avenida 18 de Julio, Plaza Independencia, and the vicinity around the port. Take a taxi instead.

Tour Companies

Buemes Travel Services, Colonia 979, Montevideo (tel. 02/902-1050; www.buemes.com.uy), is a large conventional agency which will help with everything from city tours to estancia stays. Another reputable company is Cecilia Regules Viajes, Bacacay 1334, Local C, Montevideo (tel. 02/916-3011; www.ceciliaregulesviajes.com).

Fast Facts

To exchange money, try Turisport Limitada (the local Amex representative), San José 930 (tel. 02/902-0829; www.turisport.com.uy); Gales Casa Cambiaria, Av. 18 de Julio 1046 (tel. 02/902-0229); or one of the airport exchanges.

For medical attention, go to the British Hospital, at Av. Italia 2420 (tel. 02/487-1020). Internet cafes appear and disappear faster than dance clubs, but you won't walk long before coming across one in the city center. Reliable cybercafes include El Cybercafé, Calle 25 de Mayo 568; Arroba del Sur, Guayabo 1858; and El Cybercafé Softec, Santiago de Chile 1286. The average cost is U$40 per hour of usage. The main post office is at Calle Buenos Aires 451 (tel. 0810/444-267736), open weekdays from 9am to 6pm.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.