Uruguay's capital, Montevideo, is one of South America's more attractive capitals, even if its once-grand colonial architecture could use a little sprucing up. Home to nearly half the country's 3.3 million people, it's a city of beaches, plazas, restaurants, cafes, nightclubs and casinos. The Ciudad Vieja (Old Town) and the newer downtown area hold the most interest for visitors.

Improved security has made the Ciudad Vieja the heart of the city's nightlife, though its accommodations are only so-so. Two nights is suggested to visit both the old and new parts of town.

If time is available, drive around the suburbs and the harbor to see ships coming in (sunset from the pier is beautiful).

Festivals include South America's longest celebration, the 45-day-long Carnival de Montevideo, and a rodeo during Easter.

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