Jim’s Accessibility Comments:
Our Princess cruise ship docked at the pier, and after determining there are no wheelchair accessible tours in Montevideo, I arranged a day trip through Tours by Locals. Uruguay is the second smallest country in South America, but has a reasonably strong economy, and it’s nestled between the continent’s two giants, Brazil and Argentina. More than half of the nation’s population of three million resides in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay.
We met our tour guide Shalako on the pier. He’s a smart young man who was especially well educated in the history of Uruguay and Montevideo, and who spoke perfect English. Together with Robert (the driver) we had a wonderful tour of the city. The vehicle was a relatively new, air-conditioned 4-door Honda sedan. It was not wheelchair accessible but rather a comfortable sedan where I could transfer into the front seat. As I mentioned, accessible cars and vans were not available in Montevideo.
Although small in size, Uruguay is one of the most literate nations in the world, and Montevideo is one of South America’s most interesting and cosmopolitan capitals. It is absolutely charming, especially the Old City which is made up of beautiful colonial and 19th-century buildings of European architecture. There’s plenty of shopping, cafes and level sidewalks. Within the Old City you’ll find the Solís Theatre, the old Cathedral (a beautiful Basilica), its central Independence Plaza with many historical monuments, and my favorite, the Constitution Plaza, a local outdoor shopping market . Really I could have spent hours in the plaza and had a great day. It was all very level and wheelchair accessible.
There’s also the Old Wall that separates the Old City from the new city. From there you can walk or drive along July 18th Boulevard (Independence Boulevard), or visit the Legislative Palace or beautiful beaches. Although much of the city is very level and easy to get around (albeit there’s a reasonably steep hill between the cruise pier and the old city), it’s also far too large a city to see without a vehicle.
So we did both and then stopped in the popular but very local Montevideo Agricultural Market (MAM) and after shopping had a Uruguayan BBQ luncheon feast at Pellicer, which was fully wheelchair accessible including a large accessible restroom.
As a side note on Uruguay, we visited both Colonia del Sacramento and Montevideo. I highly recommend visits to both, although Colonia del Sacramento is most easily reached with a day trip on a ferry boat from Buenos Aires.
Overall we had a marvelous day in Montevideo, which is one of the most interesting and beautiful cities in South America, rich in history and culture. And a big thank you to to Tours by Locals, Shalako and Robert. They knew I was traveling in a wheelchair and planned a perfect wheelchair friendly day. And you will love Montevideo.