The Best Time to Visit Montevideo

Aerial view, high angle view of Montevideo's coastline, Ciudad Vieja neighbourhood, Uruguay

Getty Images / ElOjoTorpe

The best time to visit Montevideo is from October to March. During this period, the city experiences the warmest weather of the year; you can find low hotel and flight rates before December; and Carnival celebrations fill the streets with candombe music, singing, and dancing beginning in January. Montevideo has generally good weather year-round, though, and lots of free cultural events each month. Truly, it's enjoyable to visit anytime. Whatever the season, if there's a public holiday, expect all businesses to close. Uruguayans take relaxing seriously, making Montevideo a prime place to rest and unwind.

Popular Events and Festivals

Uruguay has the longest Carnival in the world, with a full 50 days of candombe drumming, battling murgas, and elaborate costumes. Celebrations start in January and last until March, with the Desfile de Llamadas in Barrio Sur and Palermo being one of the most popular dancing and theatrical events of the whole celebration.

Many Uruguayans travel during Tourism Week. Ironically, most tourist services will be closed during this time as it coincides with Semana Santa (Holy Week), the week before Easter. (Uruguay’s strict separation of church and state contribute to this moniker.) This period is also known in Montevideo as Semana Criolla, a week-long gaucho (cowboy) party complete with impressive horse riding displays and asados (barbecues).

Weather

Montevideo has a humid subtropical climate with temperate weather and four distinct seasons. Spring has comfortably warm days but chilly nights. Summer sees lots of sun, though the warm air is tempered by sea breezes and the water temperature in April is actually better for swimming than in the summer. Fall has mild temps, while winter still has plenty of sunshine despite it being windy, chilly, and damp.

Montevideo has an average annual temperature of 61.4 degrees Fahrenheit (16.3 degrees Celsius). Rainfall occurs throughout the year, but the sun shines for six to 14 hours per day year-round. Take a raincoat and light jacket, as weather can easily flip flop between rain and sunshine, and the pamperos (strong winds caused by cold fronts) occasionally blow.

Peak Season

Peak season in Montevideo is December to March, encompassing the summer and Carnival celebrations. Masses of Argentine and Brazilian tourists arrive for their summer holiday, making beaches a little crowded. Hotel prices start rising in December and remain high until Carnival ends in March. Flights can be decently priced or three times their regular price, depending on the week. Book flights and accomodation early, especially if you plan on being in Montevideo from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day. Also, book excursions like wine tasting, horseback riding, and soccer games early.

Even though it’s high season, expect most businesses to be closed from Christmas Eve until New Year’s Day, including those which cater to tourists. Uruguayans value family time over tourists' money, and the city generally remains quiet from New Year's Day until mid-January when Carnival festivities begin.

January

The hottest month and the one with the most sunshine, January’s temps range from 64 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 28 degrees Celsius). Expect peak season prices.

Events to check out:

  • The Ramírez Prize (the Uruguayan equivalent of the Kentucky Derby) sees horses galloping around Maroñas Stadium on January 6.
  • Carnival kicks off with the Inaugural Parade on 18 de Julio Avenue.

February

February to March is one of the rainiest periods of the year. However, the sun shines eight hours per day on average, allowing for plenty of time to walk along the Rambla and sunbathe on the wide stretch of Playa Buceo. Soccer season begins.

Events to check out: 

  • Iemanjá Day celebrates the Umbanda religion’s goddess of the sea on February 2. Head to Playa Ramírez around sundown to see a night of trance-inducing dancing, floating offerings, and drumming, with all of the participants dressed in white.
  • The Desfile de las Llamadas, a two-night parade filled with traditional Afro-Uruguayan dancing and candombe drumming, continues the Carnival celebration; it takes place in early February along the Isla de Flores Street.

March

Expect warm weather, reaching into the 70s, both on land and in the water. It's a good time for kite surfing in Playa Malvin.

Events to check out:

  • At Semana Criolla, see feats of gaucho (cowboy) strength, eat lots of meat, and purchase handicrafts and horse riding duds during this week-long festival at Rural del Prado.
  • In La Vuelta Ciclista, cyclists ride along the oldest bike route in South America for 932.1 miles (1,500 kilometers) to a grand finish in Montevideo on Easter Sunday.

April

As autumn arrives, days shorten and the rain lets up. Temperatures cool slightly, ranging from 55 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit (13 to 22 degrees Celsius).

Event to check out:

  • The ocean is warmest in early April. Crowds are few and prices low, making it a good time for a trip to Punta del Este or one of Montevideo's 10 beaches.

May

The humidity increases to over 80 percent, and prices reflect the low season. Days can be warm or cool, but expect chilly nights, as temperatures sometimes dip down into the low 50s.

Event to check out:

  • The March of Silence memorializes those who died or disappeared during the 1973–1985 military dictatorship; on May 20, thousands walk 18 de Julio Avenue to Plaza Libertad in complete silence.

June

Expect cold, damp weather with temps ranging from the high 40s to the high 50s.

Event to check out:

  • On June 23, go to Montevideo’s bonfire-lit beaches to celebrate San Juan's Night. In this Winter Solstice celebration, Porteños (Montevideo residents) chuck whatever isn’t serving them into the bonfires, a symbolic act of forgiveness and new beginnings.

July

July is the coldest month of the year, with temps ranging from 45 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit (7 to 15 degrees Celsius). Cold winds occasionally blow, but look out for veranillo (little summer) days, when you can enjoy cycling or walking along the Rambla.

Event to check out:

  • Hosted by the Spanish Cultural Center and Zorrilla Museum. Semana Negra celebrates suspense writing, criminology, sleuthing, and everything noir in late July or early August.

August

The humidity eases and hotel prices drop. The pamperos blow, and days flip flop between rainy and sunny.

Events to check out:

  • One of the biggest parties of the year, Nostalgia Night takes over the entire country's radio waves, bars and clubs, restaurants, and vineyards. Everyone listens to music from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, dressing up in their blast-from-the-past best and dancing until dawn.
  • Montevideo celebrates Independence Day on August 25 with parades, a flag-raising ceremony in Plaza Independencia, and fireworks.

September

September weather mirrors August's, just slightly warmer. Expect low hotel prices, gorgeous spring days, and soccer games. The winds begin to pick up and last through January.

Events to check out:

  • Montevideo Pride holds its parade (Marcha por la Diversidad) on the last Friday of September; expect dancing, DJ floats, speeches, and rainbows everywhere.
  • During Días del Patrimonio, the city’s museums, churches, government buildings, and even private homes of historical and architectural value fling open their doors for visitors.

October

Though October is the rainiest month of the year, the sun still shines for eight hours a day. Temperatures rise, fluctuating between the mid-50s to low 70s, and days get longer.

Event to check out:

  • The Montevideo Tango Festival twirls through the city’s streets at the end of the month.

November

Temps begin to rise (57 to 75 degrees F; 14 to 24 degrees C), making for decent beach lounging on uncrowded sands.

Event to check out:

  • BIENALSUR brings contemporary art to three venues in Montevideo. Showcasing art of different mediums, the event displays pieces from throughout the world and explores themes like colonialism.

December

Hotel prices rise and dry heat arrives. Expect about nine hours of sun a day, great for working on your beach volleyball game at Playa Pocitos.

Event to checkout:

  • Centro and Ciudad Vieja have water fights on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Everyone sloshes buckets of water on each other during the day, while at night, fireworks burst along the Rambla.
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