Here's our gay travel guide to Montevideo with all the best bars, clubs, saunas and places to stay in Uruguay's capital city.
“Guys it's true, trust me: 98% of guys in Montevideo are either gay or bisexual!” …so claimed our Uruguayan friend, Rodrigo, when we were chatting with them in Chains Pub about what gay life is like in Montevideo. Whether or not our friend is right, one thing's for certain: the guys here are smoking hot!
Montevideo is often described as a “sleepy South America city“ – slow-paced, old fashioned, and nostalgia-tinged. Bu the despite the sleepy vibe, we had a ball exploring the gay scene of Montevideo, its cutesy old town and the impressive coastline avenue, the Malecon.
And the bit about 98% of men here allegedly being homosexually inclined in some way? Well whether it's true or not, this simply speaks volumes about how liberal, open-minded and chilled Montevideo is.
We've put together our experiences of Montevideo in this detailed gay travel guide to inspire your trip to include the best gay hotels, bars, clubs, events, things to do and more.
Heads up: We just wanted to let you know that this post contains affiliate links. That means if you book something through one of those links, we'll get a small commission, at no extra cost to you. It helps us keep our blog going – so thank you in advance for your support! ♥
Landing in Montevideo soon?
The last thing you want to do when getting off a long flight is try to figure out a new public transport system while juggling our luggage. With a pre-booked transfer from Montevideo airport, you know an English-speaking driver will be waiting at the airport ready to whisk you to your hotel with no hassle so you can arrive refreshed and ready to explore this beautiful city.
Is Montevideo safe for gay travellers?
Definitely! Montevideo is frequently rated as one of the most gay friendly cities in the world and based on our personal experience, we certainly rate Uruguay as one of the most gay friendly countries in the world too.
To start with, Uruguay has a history of being extremely progressive, lenient and open-minded. With regards to LGBTQ rights in Uruguay, they have long been secured and respected. For example, homosexuality was decriminalised as far back as 1934, anti-discrimination laws have been in place since 2003, adoption laws since 2009 and gay marriage implemented in 2013.
The country's very progressive outlook transcends across Uruguayan society, particularly in Montevideo. As a gay couple, we felt extremely comfortable here and welcome by everyone. Booking a double bed in any of the hotels we stayed at was never an issue. We never felt any judgement from anyone and even felt comfortable enough to walk the streets holding hands, which is very rare for us. There are not many places in the world we feel comfortable with PDAs – Amsterdam, Barcelona, Fort Lauderdale, Berlin and Taipei are good examples, we'd definitely add Montevideo to that list.
Put it this way, this is what we saw on the ferry ride to Montevideo from Buenos Aires…not a bad way to be welcomed into a new country eh?
Gay neighborhood of Montevideo
Montevideo is so gay friendly that it doesn't really need a gay neighborhood (or a gay scene for that matter)! It's also a small city of around 1 .5 million (Uruguay's overall population is around 3.5m). As such, Montevideo doesn't have an official gay area or neighborhood.
Montevideo does, however, have a handful of gay hangouts dotted around the city – Chains and Il Tempo are the main ones. There are also a handful of queer-friendly/mixed bars and clubs largely based in and around the main Centro downtown area of the city. We've set out some of our favorites further down in this guide.
Gay hotels in Montevideo
Montevideo is a very gay friendly city. You'd be hard-pressed to find a hotel that does not welcome LGBTQ travelers. None of the places we stayed at cared if we had a double bed or not, though they certainly cared about making us feel welcome! We've set out our favorite gay friendly hotels in Montevideo below which we tried out for ourselves and can definitely vouch for being gay friendly (most of which have LGBTQ staff working up at the front desk).
If you're exploring more of Uruguay beyond Montevideo, we recommend checking out our guide to the best gay friendly hotels in Uruguay.
Sofitel Casino Carrasco & Spa
Why we love it
- Stunning luxury hotel with beach views
- Indoor and outdoor swimming pools
- Sauna, spa and fitness facilities
- Divine French restaurant on-site
This former hotel-casino has been revamped into one of the most luxurious gay friendly hotels in the city. It's located in a European style building, mixing classic architecture with modern design. Check out the iconic Philip Stark designed horse lamps in the reception area, for example.
The suites at the Sofitel offer incredible views over the Ramblas beachfront: we felt just like sassy Bond girls staying here!
The in-house 1921 Restaurant is set in a large grand room with a very dramatic glass chandelier. This is the place to come for a romantic and extravagant dinner of French-style cuisine. We also loved having breakfast here each morning, with deliciously light and fluffy made-to-order omelettes or pancakes. Afterwards, we made sure to get in a workout in the gym or do some leisurely laps in one of the two swimming pools. Of course, the beach is right across the road as well…
There are a variety of rooms and suites available. If you get one of the luxury rooms or a suite you'll even have a beautiful view of the ocean. The So Spa is perfect for a pampering experience, with a hammam, sauna and massage services available. The staff are lovely and very gay friendly too. Nobody batted an eye when we checked in to our double room.
STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL
Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, voiding any nasty surprises when you check-in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off our first booking.
Holiday Inn Montevideo
Why we love it
- Excellent mid-range hotel
- Very gay friendly
- Lovely indoor pool on the top floor
- On-site restaurant and bar
The Holiday Inn Montevideo is a convenient mid-range gay friendly option right in the heart of the Old Town. It is minutes walking distance to Plaza Independencia and the pedestrianized Sarandí Street.
This Holiday Inn is so gay friendly, that they are not only members of the Uruguay gay chamber of commerce, but they've also hosted a few of their conferences. We didn't encounter any issues staying here as a gay couple either.
We're not gonna lie, this isn't a luxury hotel but as a mid-range option, it's ideal: super gay friendly and centrally located right by Plaza Independencia and also within walking distance to Chains pub. The Holiday Inn strikes the perfect balance for travelers who don't want to spend a fortune but still want to stay somewhere nicer than a hostel.
The hotel has a basic gym for getting in a workout as well as a large indoor pool on the top floor. The rooms are very spacious and decorated in neutral tones for a soothing experience. If you book a junior suite you'll even have your own private Jacuzzi in the room – super romantic! A nice basic breakfast is served each morning in the El Quijote lobby lounge/bar/restaurant. This is also quite a quaint little spot for a cheeky evening drink before heading out to the bars.
Smart Hotel Montevideo
Why we love it
- Gay-friendly sophisticated hotel
- Excellent location near many attractions
- Beautiful airy rooms, some with private balcony
- On-site gym and gastropub
Smart Hotel Montevideo is a classy and super gay friendly boutique hotel, located just steps away from Independence Square and the riverside. Even though it's slap-bang in the middle of the city, there are some big leafy trees outside that make most rooms feel like you're actually sleeping in a treehouse in a forest somewhere!
The staff are very welcoming to gay travellers and just in general always happy to go above and beyond for anything you may need.
The rooms are very spacious with stylish, minimalistic decor, floor-to-ceiling windows and nice big bathrooms. Even the ‘standard' rooms are delightful although a corner loft will get you an additional kitchenette and the deluxe suites on the top floor have private balconies with stunning views over the city.
A breakfast buffet of pastries, yoghurt, bread, cakes, fruits, eggs and jam is served daily. The Bar Americano gastropub is also a fun spot for an evening drink or dinner, with a blend of Uruguayan and American dishes and craft beers. If you need to get any work done the Wi-Fi is excellent here, and there's a small but well-equipped gym if you like to keep up with your daily workouts like we do!
Gay bars in Montevideo
There are a handful of gay bars in Montevideo where you can head for drinks with friends. As with the gay scene in Buenos Aires, everything starts late here. As such, we've also included a few gay restaurants which are more like resto/bars, ie places you can come to earlier in the day if you don't want to wait until midnight to head out!
Chains is the main gay bar of Montevideo located right in the heart of Montevideo, a few blocks from Plaza Independencia. Chains pub was referred to as “an old man's pub” by our gay friends in Montevideo, which we thought was a bit harsh. Granted it has a slightly older crowd “bear” crowd coming here on weekdays (men in their 30s, 40s and older), but when we came on the weekend, we felt like the “old” men! The best nights to come are Fridays and Saturdays when it has drag shows and an overall buzzy party vibe. Chains is located at Soriano 827 and is only open Thursday to Sunday evenings.
Rodo is a gay friendly bar where the Il Tempo (see Gay Clubs section below) party crowd head to first. It's a very mixed crowd here, gay and straight, people of all ages. We liked it because it's a place you don't need to wait until midnight to go to as it opens from 6pm. We recommend coming here on weekends before heading to Il Tempo, which is round the corner, or on Wednesday evenings when they have their 2 for 1 Happy Hour on “Fernet with cola” from 6-9pm. Bar Rodo is located at Boulevard España 2246 (Juan Paullier) and is open daily until around 2am (4am on weekends).
Gay clubs of Montevideo
Montevideo is bursting with beautiful Uruguayan guys! Just remember, don't bother turning up to a club in Montevideo until after 1 am or you'll be dancing alone. We recommend getting a few hours of sleep before coming as these guys party well into the early hours of the following day. Since Cain gay club closed its doors, there is just one remaining gay club in Montevideo:
‘Il Tempo is the most popular gay club in Montevideo' – according to our gay friends in Montevideo. It's renowned for being the best gay place to come on weekends to hang out, have a boogie and watch the funniest drag shows. If you're coming to dance, then we recommend coming here after 1am when they clear the room and have Kylie and Britney blasting from the speakers. We came here before 1am when it was set in a more sit-down bar-like atmosphere with some hilarious drag shows. The drag queens perform in Spanish, but you'll still piss your pants laughing. Just take care – they love picking on new foreign faces as we found out! Il Tempo is open Thursday to Sunday evenings from midnight until around 8am. It is located at Gonzalo Ramirez Salterain 2121 near Parque Rodo.
Gay events in Montevideo
When it comes to gay events in Montevideo, Pride in September is the main one. We've also included Punta Pride in February and the LGBT Chamber of Commerce's Conference in September.
Montevideo Pride – September
Montevideo Pride is Uruguay's largest LGBTQ event attracting around 30,000 people each year, not bad for an event that began with just 300 people attending the first one in the 1990s. It is celebrated on the last Friday of September and includes a whole bunch of colourful events, parties and a large Parade on the final day called the “Marcha por la Diversidad”. Find out more on the Instagram of Montevideo Pride.
Punta Pride – February
Punta Pride is a more recent gay event in Uruguay compared to Montevideo Pride. It's smaller, but more party-focused. It takes place every February, which is the peak summer period for Uruguay: remember their seasons are opposite to ours! We include Punta Pride in this section because although it's located around 2 hours drive from Montevideo, it's where all the gay locals of the city head to in February. Being a beach destination, Punta Pride is where you're going to see more Speedo-clad Uruguayan guys – justsayin'!
LGBT Chamber of Commerce National Conference – September
The LGBT Chamber of Commerce is a very active group in Uruguay promoting and supporting gay businesses, and we LOVE them for this! They have their big National Conference every September usually in Montevideo, but sometimes in another big city across the country like Punta del Este. We highly recommend attending if you have an LBGTQ business. Even if you don't, you should check it out because they have some terrific events and parties taking place during the week long-conference. When we attended they had a gay meet-up party at Il Tempo and gay tango classes at Teatro Solis:
Gay saunas in Montevideo
There are two gay saunas in Montevideo that have stood the test of time and still very much alive and well today! They get particularly busy on weekends, especially Sauna Horus, which is open late enough to capture the late-night after-party crowd.
- Toronto Sauna: the largest and most popular gay sauna in Montevideo. It is located at Calle Tacuarembó 1531 in the Cordón neighbourhood. It opens all week from 3pm to 11pm and till 1am on Fridays/Saturdays. The best time to come is Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
- Sauna Horus: Horus is not as big as Toronto, but it's generally more popular because it's centrally located at Julio Herrera y Obes 1240 corner, just a few blocks away from Plaza Independencia. It is open daily from 3pm to midnight, but on weekends it is open until 8am the following morning, thereby attracting a younger late-night clubbing crowd.
Gay cruising in Montevideo
We found that in most places we've visited in the world, the gay dating apps have replaced the outdoor gay cruising scene. Our local friends in Montevideo told us there are still a handful of gay cruising areas to check out:
- Cine Private: this “cinema” is actually for both straight and gay. It has 2 screening rooms – one for straight people, the other for those who want to make out with men! It also has a large dark room area downstairs. Cine Private is located at Convencion 1294 just around the corner from Chains. It opens every day except Sundays, from 11am to 3am the next day. On weekends, it is open until 5am thereby attracting the late-night after-party boys from Chains.
- Parque de los Aliados: located over in the Eastern side of the city in the Parque Batlle neighbourhood. It is considered the “lungs” of Montevideo city, due to the large number of trees planted here, which also provide convenient cover! Cruising happens in the bushes in the evening when dark – the park is open 24 hours a day.
- Terminal Tres Cruces: this is the main bus terminal of Montevideo located at Bulevar General Artigas near 18 de Julio Av, in the Tres Cruces neighbourhood. The toilets are a popular gay cruising ground because the doors go all the way down to the floor, allowing more privacy.
We cannot stress the importance of safety and common sense if going cruising, especially at night. There are always pickpockets looking for easy targets, so best leave all valuables behind if possible and have your wits about you!
Gay restaurants in Montevideo
Uruguay has its own unique culinary prizes to try out, from the chivito (steak egg sandwich) to the opulent chaja sponge cake. We found a lot of similarity with Argentinian food, particularly with steaks and barbecued meats. Meat lovers will definitely be in paradise in Montevideo…(apologies to our vegan/veggie readers!)
With the rainbow flag proudly flying outside, La Fonda is not only very gay friendly, but is also regarded as one of the top 10 restaurants in Montevideo by Tripadvisor. Serving up delicious homemade pasta and other Italian dishes as well as South American specialities, we never left feeling hungry! They also offer both vegetarian and vegan cuisine, so everyone is catered for. We had some amazing fresh fish here, as well as a seafood soup called Chupa. La Fonda is located at Peatonal Pérez Castellano 1422 at the corner of 25 de Mayo street. It's open Tuesdays to Sundays from 12-4pm then reopens in the evening from 8-11pm.
La Pasiva is a popular restaurant chain for pizza and beer which you'll see all throughout Uruguay. They've made a name for themselves in the LGBTQ community for their subtle (not!) branding: pasiva is Spanish gay slang for bottom with a logo that speaks for itself! They serve yummy Latin diner-style food, like Chivito Canadiense (sort of like a hamburger) as well as pizza, pasta and, of course, delectable hot dogs. Located at 1014-1050 Avenida 18 de Julio, La Pasiva is open daily from 9am to midnight.
If you want some excellent South American steak in Montevideo, then you can't go wrong with La Cocina de Pedro. They serve lots of mouthwatering barbecue dishes, as well as seafood, pasta, tortillas, risotto and more. The restaurant is very elegant too, with dark wood decor and beautiful artwork on the walls. It's so classy that you'll even find complimentary toothpicks and mouthwash in the bathroom – perfect when you've got meat stuck in your teeth! Located at Avenue Gonzalo Ramírez 1483, La Cocina de Pedro is open daily for lunch (apart from Sunday) from midday til 3.30pm and for dinner from 7.30pm until 1am.
For something a little bit different we loved dining at Francis Restaurant. They serve everything from steak to sushi, lamb to pasta and some lush desserts! We had an amazing degustación de carnes with lots of different meats followed by the ‘sweet milk volcano' for dessert. Served with coconut ice cream and caramelized banana with rum it definitely gives you an eruption of delicious flavour in your mouth – get it?! The staff here are super friendly and professional as well. Located at Luis de la Torre 502, Francis Restaurant is open daily from midday – 3.30pm and then from 8pm – midnight.
Top things to do in Montevideo
The highlight of Montevideo for us was the beachfront avenue called the “Rambla de Montevideo”, especially in the mornings when there are fewer crowds. Look out for the large “MONTEVIDEO” sign along here, which is where we took the cover photo for this article.
Other gems in Montevideo are mainly focused in and around the Old Town (Ciudad Vieja) and Plaza Independencia. There are of course many things you could do in and around Montevideo depending on what you like and how much time you have. To inspire you, we've simply listed what we think are the top things to do in Montevideo based on our personal experience:
Ramblas Beach Promenade
The Rambla of Montevideo is a 27km (17 mile) long promenade avenue along the coast and one of the longest esplanades in the world. It's perfect for people watching or for a romantic sunset walk with your lover. The famous “Montevideo” sign is also located here but it does get crowded! We recommend going early in the morning to get your winning pic without people in it. Otherwise, the Rambla of Montevideo is a lovely area to visit at any time of day to jog, bicycle, roller skate, fly kites or even go fishing in the Rio de la Plata. Of course, the beach area is also wonderful for swimming or just working on that tan.
Old Town (Ciudad Vieja)
Montevideo's Old Town is based around the Plaza Independencia, which features a famous statue of General Artigas, the national hero. The old town is also filled with beautiful Instagrammable colonial buildings dating back to the 1800s, including the Solís Theatre, Metropolitan Cathedral and the iconic Puerta de la Ciudadela, which was the entrance to the former fortress surrounding the city. If you want to get some really amazing photos for your IG feed, you can join a walking tour of the Old Town with a professional photographer to capture your best side!
Queer Tango Lessons
You might not have known but Uruguay is just as responsible for the birth of tango as Argentina. What better place to take tango classes than here in Montevideo? Our extremely handsome tango teacher Rodrigo showed us how to dance up a storm, then told us more about queer tango in Montevideo and gay life in Uruguay. If you'd like the chance to learn how to dance the tango yourself then have a look at the Tango Queer Uruguay Facebook page to see if they have lessons coming up. At the very least you should be able to see a queer tango performance while you're in the city!
We found that one of the best ways to discover the city of Montevideo is by bike. By joining a cycling tour of the city you get to see a lot more in a short time as it's a fast, but still leisurely, way to explore the pretty streets and main attractions. Your local guide can tell you all about the city's fascinating past while taking you through the urban centre of Montevideo as well as taking you out to the Punta Carretas Lighthouse for stunning views of the sea. We particularly loved riding through the beautiful Rodo Park in the sun and learning about the Uruguayan writer José Enrique Rodó for which it is named.
There's a massive wine industry in the country of Uruguay, with over 20,000 acres devoted to it. Uruguay is one of the top 5 wine producers in South America (along with Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Peru). The Canelones region around Montevideo has the most concentrated wine production so it's perfect for any wine connoisseurs looking to sample some local varieties. We might not call ourselves connoisseurs but we do certainly enjoy a tipple! We joined a fabulous wine tasting and lunch experience in the countryside where we got to enjoy many lovely glasses of wine, as well as some delicious local food.
Calle Sarandií (also know as Sarandí Promenade) is the main pedestrian street in the city, starting from the Puerta de la Ciudadela (Gateway of the Citadel) and ending at the Rambla promenade on the coast. The Sarandí is lined with cool art galleries, buskers, shops selling handicraft souvenirs and a flea market with all manner of objects on offer. If you cross the Rambla promenade you can also walk along the Escollera Serandí. This sea wall that connects to the pedestrian street is a fantastic spot to catch the sunset.
Mercado Agrícola de Montevideo
The Mercado Agrícola de Montevideo (often just called MAM) is a famous market in the northern side of the city. With lots of food shops, souvenirs, crafts and the occasional street show artist or musician, it's a fascinating insight into local life. The market mostly sells fresh produce, but you can also sample plenty of yummy local treats like sauces, jam and sweets. They also have some public art on display, usually with a few inspiring queer images like the one in the picture which we saw when visiting. The Mercado building itself is also very majestic, a huge cast-iron structure that looks almost too elegant for a market!
Colonia del Sacramento day tour
Colonia del Sacramento is a city just up the coast from Montevideo that's the perfect choice for a relaxing day trip. The city was first founded by the Portuguese in the 1600s but passed from Spanish, Portuguese, British and even Brazilian control multiple times over the years. The Barrio Histórico (historic quarter) of the city is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's a very pretty area filled with picturesque buildings reflecting the many different cultures that have contributed to the city. You can join a day tour to Colonia del Sacramento from Montevideo to visit this pretty city.
Plan your trip
We've put together some handy hints and tips to help you plan your own trip to Montevideo. Read on to find out everything the gay traveller should know before they go.
Travel insurance: We definitely recommend organising travel insurance before heading to Montevideo so that you will be protected in the case of injury, illness, theft or cancellations beyond your control. We always use Heymondo Travel Insurance and can't recommend them highly enough. Their coverage is very comprehensive and it's easy to make a claim online.
How to get there: You can get to Montevideo from Buenos Aires via ferry, which is very fun and takes about two hours! Alternatively, you can reach Montevideo by bus or flying from Buenos Aires and other cities in the region. The Montevideo international airport is at least a 40-minute journey from the city centre though, so we recommend pre-booking a private airport transfer to your accommodation. That way you won't need to worry about figuring out public transport while juggling your luggage or dealing with long taxi queues.
Visa requirements: Citizens of many countries (including all EU countries, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Australia) can visit Uruguay for up to 90 days without needing a passport. It's always best to check your personal visa requirements before making any arrangements to travel to Montevideo though.
Getting around: You can mostly get around in Montevideo via walking, bus, taxi or hiring a bike. You'll find it easier to figure out the bus system if you understand some Spanish. This guide explains in a little more detail on how you can go about using taxis and buses in Montevideo.
Vaccinations: All travellers to Uruguay should ensure they are up to date with routine vaccinations such as measles, mumps, rubella etc. Most travellers should also be vaccinated against typhoid and hepatitis A. Depending on where else in the country you will be visiting and what you might be doing you may need also need vaccinations for hepatitis B and rabies. Make sure you check the CDC website and speak with your doctor before making your arrangements to visit Montevideo.
Currency: The currency used in Uruguay, and therefore Montevideo, is the Uruguayan peso which is called peso Uruguayo in Spanish. The code for it is UYU and the symbol is written as $ or U$. You may see/hear things being priced as pesos while you're in the country, as $ or $U. Currently, US$1 converts to about $U44.65, £1 is worth about $U55.13 and €1 will give you around $U48.57.
Tipping culture: Tipping is pretty common in Uruguay, so in the capital of Montevideo you should be prepared to tip for good service at hotels, restaurants and the like. Unless a service charge has been included on the bill then around 10% of the total is acceptable or rounding up for taxi drivers. In a hotel, you can tip the bellboy or maid around 20 pesos per night or per bag.
Internet access: Uruguay has a pretty amazing system in place where you can access free WiFi throughout the country at hotels, restaurants, the airport, cafes and even on buses. If you know you will be needing a lot of bandwidth, or don't want to have to rely on finding the free WiFi hotspots then you may prefer to bring a portable WiFi device with you to Montevideo.
Online privacy: Since Uruguay is such a liberal and tolerant country, you won't need to worry about accessing gay dating apps like Grindr or Scruff during your time in Montevideo. If you prefer to keep your online activities private while travelling then we recommend using a VPN provided by Express VPN. They offer an affordable and reliable way to browse the internet with complete anonymity.
Accommodation: For more accommodation options in Montevideo make sure you check out Booking.com! We love using them as they have all the best listings at the most competitive prices, often with free cancellation included. The online booking system is easy to use and they have 24/7 online customer support if needed.
Sightseeing and adventure: If you want to find more fun things to see and do in Montevideo we recommend GetYourGuide. They offer countless activities with an easy to use online booking system and online customer support that's available 24/7.
When to visit: If you're heading to Montevideo to enjoy the beaches then the best time is during summer which falls between December – February. The shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are also quite lovely, still warm enough for exploring without being too hot.
Gay map of Montevideo
We found Montevideo to be a chilled and relaxed city. The population is only around 1.3 million, but there's nonetheless a vibrant gay scene. Here's our gay map of Montevideo showing the best gay bars, hotels and hangouts we discovered during our stay.
For more inspiration:
- Check out our detailed itinerary for exploring Uruguay
- As well as these unusual and interesting facts about the country of Uruguay
- Read about our experience visiting the biggest gay club in Latin America
- And our favourite experiences from travelling through South America
- These are the most gay friendly cities in Latin America
- Don't miss out on these fabulous gay Pride events in Latin America
- Or maybe you'd rather know which are the biggest gay Pride events in the world!
- Here's some outfit inspiration for attending Pride
- And don't forget to pack these must-have gay Pride accessories to ensure you have an amazing time