Something quite strange in South America is the fact that nobody really cares a lot about pot-holes in the centre of the city. In other parts of the world there would be a fence around such a place, where construction-works are going on, but here you have to be careful yourself at any place in the city and at all times of the day.
I felt completely safe, when walking from the port to the citycentre of Montevideo. Nobody begging in the streets, no gypsies with children and other scams.
Of course it is always best to be careful because unfortunately pickpockets could be found at any place of the world.
Montevideo is a quite safe city, especially if we compare it with another Southamerican cities; anyways, the economical crisis of these last years, brought a crime increase (particularly robberies), so be careful with your belongings (camera, purse) and avoid the surrounding areas and marginal districts.
Montevideo es una ciudad bastante segura, especialmente si la comparamos con otras ciudades sudamericanas; de todos modos, la crisis económica de estos últimos años trajo un incremento de la delincuencia (particularmente robos), por lo que tnegan cuidado con sus pertenencias (cámara, cartera) y eviten las zonas de los alrededores y los barrios marginales.
Montevidean Carnival is pretty famous in the whole country and abroad, and it is the longest carnival in the world, because it lasts all February; the opening parade usually takes place the first Friday of the month, and the llamadas parade, next Friday, and different shows take place every night. But during the "real" Carnival days, practically you will not find any activities in the city, because during those holidays, everybody goes out to the beaches or to camp... so if you want to enjoy the Montevidean Carnival, do not come during Carnival!
El Carnaval Montevideano es bastante famoso en todo el país y fuera de fronteras, y es el Carnaval más largo del mundo, dado que dura todo el mes de febrero; el desfile inaugural tiene lugar habitualmente el primer viernes del mes, y el desfile de llamadas, el viernes siguiente, y diferentes espectáculos tienen lugar todas las noches. Pero durante los "verdaderos" días de Carnaval, prácticamente no encontrarán actividades en la ciudad, porque durante este feriado todo el mundo se va a las playas o a acampar... así que si quieren disfrutar del Carnaval Montevideano, no vengan en Carnaval!
Montevideo is, if not the safest, one of the safest cities in South America. However you should avoid certain places specially at night. The neighbourhood known as "Cerro" shouldn't be visited during the night and when you visit it try to go with someone who is familiared with the place.
Also try not to carry big amounts of cash in the downtown and Ciudad Vieja area. If you rent a car park it on well lit areas. If you follow this easy tips you will be fine. In case you have any problem the police can be reached dialing 911.
You will also find the "Tourist Police" specially in the downtown area, if you have any doubt don't hesitate on asking them, they can be very helpfull and speak several languages.
Montevideo is not the safest place, nor is it the most dangerous place. In the main corridors of the historic center where most visitors walk when they come off of the cruise ships, the only real thing you have to worry about is maybe some beggars. Petty theft does happen, so you are safer to stay near other people and avoid big bags or cameras that advertise you are a tourist with something to take.
However if you go further into the back streets of Montevideo, the dangers will shift a little. The streets become a lot less traveled so there are less witnesses. Also, many of the other neighborhoods are impoverished areas and more desperate.
If you walk in these areas, by all means, do not do or carry anything that advertises that you are not from here. When kids are playing on the street in possibly nothing more than a diaper, it is obvious if you walk through with gold watches, big cameras and fancy clothes.
Most of the people are overly friendly and helpful, but it only takes one to sour the mood.
Please be very careful in the oldest part of Montevideo in Ciudad Vieja!!! Watch out for your belongings even if you feel save during daylight!!! I was robbed on an early Sunday afternoon by two teenagers. They grabbed the strap of my camera as they walked by at a street corner, pulled hard, the camera fell to the ground and one of them grabbed the camera and both ran off. I followed them, I ran as quick as possible. On the next street corner one of them stopped, he put his hand under bis sweater and indicated that he has got a weapon and in the meantime the other one was gone with the camera. On that day there were many local people, I guess about 20, nearby watching what happend, but non of them tried to help, they just watched what happend. Please be careful in this area!
This passes on a warning I received from fishermen out on the very long pier that extends out to the entrance to the Montevideo harbour. They warned that the kids hanging out at the end of the pier who seemed so friendly and innocent were glue sniffers and known to rob innocent travelers. This did not seem to be much of a danger during the day when the fishermen were present as there was little chance the kids could escape the pier and I got the definite impression that the fishermen would have intervened, but if you are tempted to visit for a sunrise or sunset picture, beware.
Although for a city Montevideo is probably safer than most, I did see a scene where a backpack traveler was robbed only three blocks off 18 de Julio. A local shop keeper did grab, knock down, and hold one of the men responsible. As we watched the arrest from across the street, one of the observers of the scene said that it was not the first at this spot. The area, a block away from the bus stop pictured here, looked clean and safe enough, and the criminal caught looked like an average middle class older high school student.
I walked pretty much everywhere in Montevideo and I will admit that there were times when I was a little bit scared. As I was walking from Pocitos to downtown I noticed that sketchy looking areas have a way of just kind of popping up from nowhere. Still nothing bad happened to me. On my way down Constituyente I passed by a man and a women (they must have been lovers) arguing and it turned into a full fledged brawl (with fists) smack in the middle of the sidewalk. I also remember walking under a bridge somewhere and all of the sudden I was in the middle of the homeless shantytown. My advice would be to dress down, keep quiet, and definately leave your valuables and your wallet at home if you want to be adventurous. On the otherhand I felt pretty safe and comfortable walking around Pocitos even at night and well-dressed. Also when you are walking through La Ciudad Vieja be careful and alert if walking South towards the water front around Rambla Francia and Rambla Gran Bretana. I got adventurous and found myself surrounded by housing projects right out of the South Side of Chicago. The one interesting aspect of this little side trip was that I saw this lonely little cannon turret facing the ocean that was still surviving from Colonial times. I'm sure it wasn't on the tourist trail as it was riddled with graffiti but I stopped there a minute and allowed myself to imagine a large group of warships looming on the horizon and the colonial Uruguayans bunkering down for a battle. It was really a special moment.
For the most part, violent crime is not prevalent. However, I had my back pack stolen right out from the back of my car with lots of cash, my passport and an i pad. Street crime/theft is RAMPANT!!! The police will do NOTHING to help you here - at all, they are totally corrupt. The people in Montevideo are extremely callous and make NYers seem warm and fuzzy - they all just stood and watched as I called for help and would not even phone the police. You need to be on your guard here at all times and do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Also look out for cars! They drive aggressively, rudely and constantly beep at one another (again they make NYC taxis seem meek and friendly) Good luck. Colonia however is beautiful, low key and a different world (friendly people).
I was attacked by 8 young men, in broad daylight, on the western part of Sarandi St. in the Ciudad Vieja. I was knocked to the ground and had a bag stolen, but in the course of the fight, I was able to keep my wallet and documents. Shouting neighbors and locals eventually ran them off.
Months later, near the Plaza de Independencia, I was pickpocketed by a young man. When I gave chase, he tossed my wallet.
Montevideo is probably safer than many American cities, but the security situation has deteriorated in recent years. Be aware of your neighborhood, even during the day, and be very careful at night.
Well I will start by saying that I am from Uruguay but have lived the majority of my life in the United States. Therefore some may take my review as biased but it's definitely not and I will explain. While to most here in the states the way we speak spanish, rioplatense, is unique, when I go over to Uruguay they can tell I am an outsider. I have personally, on a weekday, walked in Montevideo through Ciudad Vieja at night, and havent encountered a single problem. No beggars, homeless people, or muggers. When walking through any city you have to use common sense. Would you walk through the darkest alley imaginable, with a wad of cash and a camera? Probably not. So it's not any different here. But I can almost guarantee you that you are probably many times safer here than any other city you've walked through. The statistics speak for themselves. Just use common sense, take the proper precautions and have fun. And yes Uruguay has some tough ghetto neighborhoods, like anywhere else in the world, but once again use the same common sense you would use anywhere else out there. Enjoy Uruguay, and stay safe. You wont regret the visit.
Be very careful on the beach walk along Barrio Sur. Our group of four (two men, two women) were attacked by a group of four guys (three tall, one short, all late teens or early 20's) on Saturday, September 10. They came across the street near the gray, long low building surrounded by red brick high rises across the avenue from the beach and were going for the girls purses. They got one of them. One of our girls was knocked down and we all ended up a little scraped up, as we fought back. This all happened in late afternoon and with people around. People in the area did help and the purse (minus cash/camera/and SS card) was recovered by an off duty cop who was on the beach with his girlfriend and a friend. Local people that we asked apologized profusely and said that these types of occurrences were on the rise in the area
You'll find people, in general kids, asking for coins and some money (pesos or your currency money) and they are really insistent. A small kid (about 8 years) insisted asking me money until I gave the coin, I know it's not the best action to do, but they don't give up until you give a small coin.
In general they are on the Ciudad Vieja (Old City), a tourist place and where most of visitors must have to go.
Watch out your wallet and your belongs, I don't know if they steal you, but it's always good take care yourself.