Montevideo, Uruguay, is an attractive blend of spicy urban culture and sunny beach leisure. As the capital and largest city of Uruguay, Montevideo offers everything from industrial skyscrapers and beach-lined high-rises, to cozy tango clubs and brightly painted sidewalk cafés. The pedestrian-friendly streets of downtown are lined with colonial and Art Deco-inspired buildings, museums and churches, with room spared for the numerous shops, art galleries and Spanish plazas that add to its unmistakable South American charm.

Ciudad Vieja, the Old City section of Montevideo, is a popular district for both locals and tourists to stroll through carved stone city squares like Plaza de Independencia and the popular Mercado del Puerto, where crowds flock to shop and eat.  This indoor market maze has a wafting aroma of carne asada (a Montevideo specialty) as soon as you enter and small shops that sell everything from books and crafts to clothing and souvenirs. From the Old City, walk the Rambla to hit some of the city’s best beaches, like Ramirez and Pocitos. Traditional restaurants like parrillas (also the name for a grill) are renowned in Uruguay for having some of the best grilled meats in South America. Not only are the many restaurants, shops and museums a huge draw for people, but Ciudad Vieja has also recently turned into the nightlife hotspot of the city, hosting several jaunty nightclubs and bars.

With a national diet full of meats, pastas and desserts, there’s nothing not to love about the cuisine in Montevideo. Uruguayan cuisine is a mixture of Mediterranean, Western European, Afro-centric and indigenous influences, all coming together to make some of the country’s most-loved staples. Considered one of the best restaurants in the city for Uruguayan food, check out Cru Cocina and their many specialties, such as solomillo (pork wrapped in cured ham), shellfish risotto and squid pasta. For a selection of Italian and Spanish cuisine, El Fogon is one of the best in Montevideo for grilled premium meats. For classic and delectable regional desserts like dulce de leche, flan and churros, head over to El Beso.

Located just nine miles from the city center, Montevideo Carrasco International Airport (MVD) is the region’s largest airport and serves both domestic and international flights. For getting around the city, there are buses and taxis running at all hours. It helps to know a little Spanish, so there is no confusion on price and direction. Car rental is also an option, though many parts of downtown Montevideo, such as Ciudad Vieja, are best navigated on foot.

Montevideohas a humid subtropical climate, with mild, dry winters, warm summers and wet, stormy springs. The typical winter months are reversed from other parts of the world, as June through August tends to be the coldest time of year. July’s average high temperature is just 57° F (14° C), while the hottest month of the year, January, has an average high of around 82° F (28° C). The best time to visit Montevideo is between December and February, and in the autumn months, when weather is warm enough to head to the beach, as well as see the city sights.