I love this photo of my friend Halley at seven in the morning.
GLOBAL SHOPPING HAUNTS : MONTEVIDEO
The Uruguayan capital city is as fresh and calm as the Río Plata that snakes along its banks. Hop a three-hour ferry over the river from Buenos Aires and enjoy Montevideo’s sunny beaches, the traditional port preserved in the Ciudád Vieja (Old City) and, of course, a bustling shopping scene full of local and imported fashions as diverse as the city itself.
Across the street from the Koisuko boutique in Pocitos, this shoe boutique carries its own label, as well as a handful of UK and Brazilian labels such as Schutz, Bertie, and Dumond. In the summertime, you’ll find a dazzling collection of kitten heels and peep-toe flats, while the winter ushers in serious boots and everyday heels in classic shapes and a variety of accented colors. Expect impeccable texture combinations, as well as a selection of no-nonsense purses.
Wares Women’s shoes, bags, and belts.
Price Range Wedges from UR$2390 to studded thigh-high leather boots (UR$4900)
Go for The house-label cowboy boots (UR$4800)
Cavia 3087, Pocitos
If your trip to South America means putting off Spain for another year, stop by Frau for the best of both local and Spanish names. In this bright store, find eco-fabric knits and purses from Don Baez (from UR$1400), Cecilia Berthet’s unique paper-thin, batik-dyed leather necklaces (from UR$590), and lightweight wool pieces in vibrant prints by Lavand, a Spanish label.
Wares Casual and formal women’s wear and accessories
Price Range Jewelry from (UR$500), most separates around UR$2900.
Go for Intense—yet intensely wearable—futuristic dresses by Spanish label Ve Neno En La Piel (UR$3900).
Rincón 605, Ciudád Vieja
Monday-Friday, 10am – 7pm; Saturday, 10am-1pm
FERIA DE TRISTAN NARVAJA
Since all the stores are closed on Sundays, spend the morning at the city’s most famous outdoor market. Here, you can find puppies and peacocks, fireworks and fishing gear, and everything in-between. Locals do their grocery shopping among the produce vendors, and cheese and meat trucks hawk their wares from inside vehicles. The fair boasts a wide variety of antiques as well, from box cameras to furniture.
Wares Mostly anything you could imagine.
Price Range Varies.
Go for Antique jewelry, vintage photos for do-it-yourself postcards, old-school housewares from ashtrays to juice glasses.
18 de Julio and Tristan Narvaja
Sunday, 6am – 3pm
This year-old boutique is the flagship store for its young designer, who lovingly creates each piece, from the jackets to the hairpieces. Her exciting designs range from 80s glam to 40s-era tailoring, doused with shocking colors and unexpected fabrics, from sleeveless wool hoodies lined with neon pink sport jersey to a combination leather-and-lycra strapless dress.
Wares Women’s wear and accessories.
Price Range From scrunchies (UR$100) to dresses (UR$1990)
Go for Anything purple, as well as the dresses and skirts incorporating the designer’s hand-painted silk fabrics.
Solano Garcia 2587, Punta Carretas
Monday-Friday, 2-8pm; Saturday 12-8pm
If you love stores organized by color, stop by Gaby Weinn’s new store in Pocitos. This women’s line retails everything from an immaculate line of jeans to winter jackets and party dresses. The mainly cotton and knit collection uses prints and sequins sparingly for a dramatic effect that is sure to last.
Wares Contemporary women’s wear and accessories.
Price Range Light cotton hoodies (UR$390) to cropped leather motorcycle jackets (UR$3590)
Go for Strapless party dresses (UR$2490), hooded mohair cardigans (UR$2190), heavy cotton military coats in a variety of staple colors (UR$1890-$2890).
21 de Setiembre 2995, Pocitos
Monday-Friday, 10:30am-7pm; Saturday, 10am-6pm
Part bookstore, part boutique, part design store, part gallery, and part café, La Pasionaria occupies two floors of an old building in the Ciudád Vieja. The second-floor boutique showcases a handful of exciting local designers, as well as an all-plastic shoe line from Melissa, a Brazilian label featuring guest designers like Vivienne Westwood (UR$2350). The bookstore carries a selection of art and fashion photography volumes, while the design store stocks a variety of paper goods, serving utensils, and body products by Paréntesis.
Wares Art objects, books, women’s wear, lingerie, and accessories.
Price Range Fabric pins (UR$155) to Ana Livini felted “slow fashion” coats (UR$7900).
Go for Carolina de Cunto painted wallets, Paulina Gross wrap-cardigans and lightweight cowl-neck dresses (UR$1300).
Reconquista 587, Ciudád Vieja
Monday-Friday, 10am-7pm; Saturday 12-6pm
Off a quiet side street in Barrio Sur, this two-year-old boutique carries the handmade Mutate label for men, as well as a handful of favorite Uruguayan women’s designers. The men’s line draws inspiration from the comic hero Tintin, Hergé’s globe-trotting journalist, and includes everything for a young adventurer, from soft leather satchels to tapered wool pants. Ladies can choose from a selection of both vintage and new purses and accessories, from Paula Mattini wool chokers to Laurel printed berets.
Wares Men and women’s clothes, shoes, accessories, and furniture.
Price Range Long-sleeve tees (UR$900) to coats (UR$4300)
Go for Pedro Castillo shoes for both men and women (UR$2500), Penny Lane purses (from UR$1200)
Cebollatí 1326, Barrio Sur
If you want to bury yourself in the lingua franca, stop by Oriente Occidente, an appropriately musty bookstore in Ciudád Vieja. The venerable proprietor, Julio Moses, has been in the book business for almost 40 years, and he stocks everything from dusty copies of Galeano and Cortazár to pulp novels in English for your long flight home.
Wares Books, used and new.
Price Range Poetry paperbacks from UR$15 to antique history books (US$50).
Go for Anything leather-bound—or ask Julio for a recommendation!
Rincón 609, Ciudád Vieja
This funky shop is stocked with one-of-a-kind street fashions from a pair of young, local designers. The Ropa Verde line focuses on natural fabrics, stamped with sweet prints, while the Niña Bien line incorporates more denim and nylons. The handmade pieces showcase an appreciation for vibrant craftsmanship using an array of techniques. Go bold or get out.
Wares Urban women’s wear and accessories
Price Range Accessories from UR$180 to reconstructed jackets (UR$3400)
Go for The painted nylon miniskirts (UR$980) and printed coats (from UR$1590)
Pedro Berro 1245, Pocitos
Mondays, 2-8pm; Tuesday-Friday, 12-8pm; Saturday, 12-7pm
When you’ve had enough of the Punta Carretas Shopping across the way, relax at this airy boutique just down the street. Here, you’ll find an exciting mix of international designs as well as unique pieces from the store’s own line, designed by Veronica Maisonnave. If you can’t find that dreamy silk dress or flirty date blouse you’ve been looking for…then you’re not looking hard enough.
Wares Designer women’s clothing, jewelry, and shoes
Price Range Leather ankle boots (UR$2690) to velvet-hanger dresses by Maria Cruz (UR$4680)
Go for The designer’s printed jackets and dresses, provocative enough to be conversation pieces but classic enough to be worn for decades.
Solano Garcia 2547
Monday-Friday, 11am-8pm; Saturday, 11am-6pm
Although located just across the street from Teatro Solís, the fifteen-year-old Café Bacacay has retained a distinctly neighborhood vibe, thanks largely in part to the amiable staff. The kitchen is almost always open, serving up everything from delicious salads, hot sandwiches, ginger beef, and a selection of cakes for your afternoon coffee.
Try The majority of the loyal lunch crowd puts their trust in the daily special, displayed prominently on the chalkboard above the kitchen. If you’re having a pre-theater snack, go for the two-person picada (UR$210) and a mojito con albahaca (basil).
Bacacay 1306, Ciudád Vieja
Mon-Friday, 9am – close (usually around 2 am); Saturday, 10 am – close
In a preserved colonial home, this café in Pocitos serves up sweets, perfect for any time of day. If you haven’t yet tried the ubiquitous alfajores, try the housemade cookies with maicena (corn flour) or chocolate. Otherwise, go for the cakes! At UR$115 a slice, you and a friend can get two and share.
Try the luscious but light Diciembre 83, a chocolate creation with walnuts and mousse, or the Gateau de Frutillas, with chantilly cream and berries.
Ellauri 1067, Pocitos
Daily, 10:30am – midnight
You’ll find the national dish of Uruguay—chivitos—everywhere, but the two best places to get them are the no-frills joints Chiviteria Marcos and Chivitos Lo de Pepe. Served al pan (on bread) or al plato (plated, usually on a bed of fries), chivitos combine everything you could want any time of day: a flank steak, at least one kind of ham, cheese, and egg. If that’s not enough meat for you, get a pollitos sauce, a mayonnaise-based topping with chunks of chicken.
Chivitos Lo De Pepe
885A Roque Graseras, Pocitos
Daily except holidays, 11-1am
Juan Alberta de Herrera and 26 de Marzo, Buceo
Sunday-Thursday, 12pm-1am; Friday-Saturday, 12pm-2am
Put yourself into a carnivorous coma with the locals at this popular Pocitos parilla. Watch the spectacle of the giant grill from a seat at the counter, or go with friends to sample all the different cuts of meat served by a casually attractive waitstaff.
Try Although you’ll be tempted to gorge yourself on the garlic- and onion-saturated spreads served with the bread, go for a chorizo starter (UR$60), and then continue to gorge on picanha (UR$300), and grilled vegetable brochettes (UR$160).
Tomás Diago 758, Pocitos
Daily, 12-3:30 pm, 8pm-close
One of Montevideo’s most lauded—and priciest—restaurants, Montecristo serves contemporary dinners in the dramatic setting of a century-old castle—the Castillo Pittamiglio just off the Rambla. The menu favors seafood and traditional dishes, artfully presented, with a smattering of exotic spices. Try to get a table inside from the main courtyard, where lushly decorated spaces add to the romance.
Try The brótola con manteca negra, a type of fish cooked in black butter, or the traditional espinazo, a simmering stew of pork spine finished with mushrooms and tomatoes.
Francisco Vidal 638
Cala di Volpe
All 72 rooms in this boutique hotel take advantage of its beachfront location, offering vistas of the river. Its lobby dining area wraps around the corner, providing a perfect place to enjoy a meal or a few cocktails after a day of exploring (the hotel arranges tours of the city as well as excursions to nearby beaches) or sweating it out in the sauna.
Rambla Mahatma Gandhi y Parva Domus
A throwback to a 1950’s seaside retreat, the Ermitage Hotel has retained its old-school charm, with pleasant rooms and a friendly staff to match. Just a block away from the beach, half of its 90 rooms have views of the Río Plata. Enjoy breakfast in the sweeping dining room before heading out for the day, and take in a soccer match in the updated lobby while looking out into the quiet street.
Juan Benito Blanco 783, Pocitos
NH Hotel Columbia
This NH Hotel hugs the Río Plata in the Ciudád Vieja part of the city. If you opt for one of the 136 rooms without a river view, you can still enjoy the view from the sunny terrace, where a small pool and workout facilities are available. The sleek second-floor restaurant and bar serves contemporary cuisine with sweeping coastal views, also a great spot for pre- or post-theater cocktails.
Rambla Gran Bretaña 473
Rates From US$132
This charming century-old hotel is located on a busy pedestrian thoroughfare in the Ciudád Vieja. The Plaza Fuerte has been carefully restored to preserve its original features—like its brass-and-iron elevator, floor tiles, and stained-glass skylights. The hotel’s 20 rooms range from standard first-floor rooms to the executive suites on the fourth. The roof deck bar is open to the public most evenings, but hotel guests can take enjoy their breakfast there as well.
Bartolomé Mitre 1361, Ciudád Vieja
Rates From US$56 (Standard) to US$150 (Capital Suite)
The cozy Plaza Pocitos is set to celebrate its tenth year catering mainly to business travelers. The hotel is equipped with a fitness center, sauna, and solarium for those who aren’t getting enough exercise and sun, as well as parking, should you want to rent a car and drive up the coast to Punta del Este.
Juan Benito Blanco 640, Pocitos
Global Shopping Haunts: San Sebastián
Although officially a part of Spain, San Sebastián is the heart of Spanish Basque Country. Locals call their hometown by its Basque name, Donostia, and many don’t care to stray too far from its culture of surfers, casually well-heeled crowds, the rambling coast along the Bay of Biscay, pintxos (Basque tapas) at all hours of the day, set against the murmur of the local language, Euskara.
Haute couture reigns at Auzmendi, a multi-designer boutique in downtown San Sebastián. In this sunken showroom, you’ll find sweet Chloé tops and sweaters (from 655€), MiuMiu footwear and basics, staples like black Givenchy cardigans, and an extensive display of Lanvin costume jewelry. The store has fantastic summer sales, where you can score a lot of things for up to 50 percent off.
Wares: High-end designer women’s clothing, jewelry, and shoes.
Price Range: Prada sunglasses (172€) to Lanvin evening dresses (2,275€).
Don’t Miss: Balenciaga and Alaïa leather handbags (from 1250€) to carry all of your Basque country purchases.
Avenida de la Libertad 30
Wednesday-Friday, 10am-1pm and 4-8pm; Saturday, 10:30am-1:30pm and 4-8pm
943 44 10 06
Find the best of southern coastal wear at this two-year-old boutique in Gros, which carries many labels from Barcelona. The owner of this two-year-old boutique has an eye for perfect whites, and the requisite nautical stripes or dashes of floral to dress them up. Pick up breezy tunics and collared dresses for your seaside vacation.
Wares: Contemporary casual women’s wear and accessories.
Price Range: David Garcia tops from 65€.
Don’t Miss: Casual printed dresses from Aqui Estoy Yo (70€), Mi Rou embroidered, oversized shirts from 70€.
Usandizaga 7, Gros
Tuesday-Friday, 11am-2pm and 4:30-8:30pm; Saturday, 10:30am-2:30pm and 5-7:30pm
943 27 14 08
Kaos, like its name implies, is a little Willy Wonka, a little Tim Burton, and altogether celebratory and dramatic. Designers from both Madrid and San Sebastián make their marks here with bright reds, bold patterns, and fun embellishments. Here, you’ll find a glittery rabbit adorning an otherwise demure plaid jacket, asymmetric zips on Swiss collared summer dresses, and a surprising collection of little black dresses to balance out the color explosion.
Wares: Women’s clothing and accessories.
Price Range: Accessories from 20€ to jackets 236€.
Don’t Miss: Patterned shirts from Madrid-based Divina Providencia (from 51€), lightweight cotton tops from Titis.
Zabaleta 12, Gros
Monday-Friday, 10am-2pm and 4:30-8pm; Saturday, 10:30am-2pm and 5-8pm
943 281 892
Stop in at J18’s two branches in San Sebastián and get ready for a rollicking romp through Basque Country in 50s motorcycle chic. Find tough and classy pants from 167€, Belle Rose casual collared shirts in tough yet fun patterns and slim fits, outfitted with the perfect cuffs to roll up and show off your newly acquired tan.
Wares: Classic and contemporary men’s clothing, footwear, and accessories
Price Range: Dashing floral scarves from 17€ to Blauer nylon jackets (380€)
Don’t Miss: Paul Smith canvas and leather shoes, detailed with colored grommets (from 138€).
Hernani 21 and Arrasate 18
Monday-Saturday, 10am-2pm and 4-8:30pm
943 4310 35
For inexpensive separates and accessories to indulge in careless picnicking and beach-going, hit Konpota in Parte Vieja. This surprisingly well-stocked store carries fun designers like Smash and Pepa Loves, in a flirty assortment of patterns and colors.
Wares: Casual women’s clothing and accessories.
Price Range: Jewelry from 15€, most dresses around 25€.
Don’t Miss: La Bellau purses (just 20€), Kuch geometric-print dresses and tunics (from 28€), and sweet fabric/metal hairpins from Barcelona (8.40€) to dress up any outfit.
Calle San Jeronimo 6
Monday-Saturday, 11am-2pm and 4-8pm; Sunday, 12-8pm
943 42 62 39
Walking into Maile Irigaray’s store is like wandering into the closet of your most fashionable eldest aunt–in downtown San Sebastián. The proprietor of this vintage and consignment boutique stocks an eclectic assortment of mainly Italian fashions from the 30s through 50s. Score breezy, white summer dresses, delicate sweaters, and darling headbands and vintage art deco silk scarves.
Wares: Women’s vintage and consignment clothing and accessories
Price Range: Tanks from 30€ to silk summer dresses 450€.
Don’t Miss: Painted silk scarves from local designers in classic colors.
943 425 781
Monday-Saturday, 11am-1:15pm and 6-8pm
Pili & Mili
Step into your French mod fantasies at this boardwalk storefront and walk away with colors you never thought you could wear. At this irresistible boutique, you’re just as likely to find an updated trench coat from On Parle de Vous to throw over a glittery chartreuse knit sweater or flirty, polka-dotted pantsuit.
Wares: Women’s wear and accessories
Price Range: Silk scarves from 25€
Don’t Miss: Jeff Galliano knits and dresses from 119€, long-cut summer wear from Brazilian label Ianire Soraluz.
Avenida Zurriola No 1, Local 8
Summer Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10:30am-8:30pm; Sunday, 4:30-8:30pm
Winter Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10:30am-2pm and 4:30-8:30pm
943 00 50 73
Just steps off the main entrance to the Playa de Zurriola, La Playa outfits San Sebastian’s surfers and skaters, from essential footwear (flip-flops and skate shoes) to Wesc headphones. Even if you’re not planning to cruise the streets on your longboard, the large selection of skate shoes look just as great treading the streets in search of pintxos. For those looking to get into some gear, this deceptively large store stocks skateboards from Baker, Enjoi, Consolidated and others from 50€, Puka surfboards from 450€.
Wares: Surf and skate gear, clothing and accessories for men.
Don’t Miss: Nixon watches from 89€, Matix straw hats from 29€, Supra high-tops from 109€.
Ramon y Cajal 1, Gros
Monday, 4-8pm; Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-2pm and 4-8pm
943 32 65 68
This modern space in the old city is part beauty salon and part clothing gallery. Upstairs, you can get a cut and dry from 69.50€, and downstairs peruse a carefully appointed selection of global designers, from Marc Jacobs to Ann Demenlemeester. The store carries a wide selection of Brazilian label Melissa’s plastic shoes, featuring guest designer and starchitect Zaha Hadid (200€), and Cutler + Gross glasses.
Wares: Contemporary men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, accessories, and personal care.
Price Range: Women’s jewelry from 35€ to leather sack bags 822€.
Don’t Miss: Photo-printed cotton throws from Lost & Found (240€), jewelry from around the world, Hache wool-silk dresses from 270€.
Calle Mayor 3, Parte Vieja
943 42 07 60
You might notice that everyone in San Sebastián–from the naked youngsters on the beach to the gathering elderly women on the boardwalk–seems to be sporting exceptional eyewear. Get in on the scene at Ricardo Óptico, where you can pick up a new pair of prescription glasses in just 1-2 days. Aside from the requisite array of Ray Bans, you’ll find quirky reversible-stems from Danish line inface, to the latest Versace, Dior, and Prada collections.
Price Range: Roxy and Quiksilver from 45€ to Chanel Titanium frames 321€. From 60€ for most general prescriptions to 600€ for progressive lenses.
Don’t Miss: Seriously cool and classy tortoiseshell frames from Austrian designer Andy Wolf (179€)
Loyola 9, Centro
Monday-Friday, 9:30am-1pm and 4-8pm; Saturday, 10am-1:30pm
943 42 28 56
Family- owned and operated for three generations, Casa Tiburcio serves up excellent seafood and pintxos in both the standard bar and sit-down restaurant setting. While all the standard fare is available, some of the more inventive pintxos are labeled for convenience.
Try: Percebes (14€/100g), simply “the best thing ever.” A shellfish grown in few parts of the world, this delicacy is boiled-to-order in only the seasonings of the sea.
Fermin Calbeton 40, Parte Vieja
Friday-Tuesday, 11am-4pm and 6:30-11pm; Wednesday, 6:30-11pm
943 420 680
This four-year-old Gros eatery offers one of the best set menus in a city teeming with great options. The subterranean restaurant provides a quiet atmosphere to enjoy the chef’s creative meats and starters, like foie gras with apple purée and orange peel, and turkey brochettes.
Try: The set menu, (26€ for dinner, 16€ weekday lunch), including wine and dessert.
Paseo Colón 21, Gros
Wednesday-Monday, 12pm-4pm and 8-close; Tuesdays, dinner only
943 29 01 24
You can’t walk 50 meters without running into one of the city’s heladerías (ice cream parlors). Stop in for some of San Sebastián’s finest at Oiartzun, on the corner of the Parque de Alderdi-Eder. If that doesn’t sate your sugar lust, drop in at the neighboring confitería to sample local confections and pastries.
Try: Oiartzun’s pear and coconut flavors (2€ for a small cone).
Every day, 12pm-midnight (at least!)
943 42 62 09
If you want to pack a picnic and hit the hills or the beaches of the Basque country, make Solbes your first stop. This market is a summer feast’s dream, carrying everything from wine and fresh produce to tinned anchovies and Vasco pâtés. Get a taste of the region’s finest delicacies, from the seafood spreads to pickled asparagus.
Try: Candied Navarra almonds (6.90€ for 100g), jamón Ibérico (59.95€/kilo), Bonito del Norte (17.95€/240g)
Monday-Saturday, 9am-9pm; Sunday 9am-2:30pm
943 42 78 18
If you find yourself a little pintxo-ed out, visit Tedone, a bio-organic diner specializing in vegetarian pastas and grains (though carnivorous options are available). The menu includes a popular salad with edible flowers,
Calle Corta 10
Tuesday-Saturday, 1-3:30pm and 8-11pm; Sunday, 1-3:30pm
943 27 35 61
Hotel Arrizul’s two locations in Gros offer centrality away from the crowds in Parte Vieja and close to the city’s other beach, the Playa de la Zurriola. The rooms are modern, spare, and tranquil. For longer stays (3 nights minimum), you can also rent one of six apartments from the hotel with a living area and kitchen, that sleeps from 2-6 people. If you plan to explore more of the Basque Country, parking is available for your car from 15€ a day.
Rates: From 75€/double winter, 129€/double high season. Apartments, 125€/double winter, 159€/double high season.
Peña y Goñi 1, Iparraguire 3
943 32 28 04, 043 32 70 26
This bright hostal is located just one block away from the Playa de la Concha. Its 22 rooms, split among two floors, offer tranquil street views from the softly lit, modern interiors. A sunny dining room provides a fresh start to plan your day, either over your guide book or the WiFi.
Rates: From 72€/double low season to 105€/double high season.
San Martín 53
943 46 25 44
The Hotel Londres is one of the city’s best-known hotels, due to its highly-visible location embracing the shores of the Playa de la Concha and its building heritage, dating back to 1865. The hotel oozes old-school British charm from its turreted corner roof down to its lounge overlooking the spectacular boardwalk.
Rates: From 120€/double low season to 225€/double high season.
943 44 07 70
Chiming distance from the historic Catedral del Buen Pastor, La Perla offers its guests a no-frills central location. Although classified as a two-star pensión, each of La Perla’s ten rooms have private bathrooms, and nine have balconies that open to the bustling streets from its second-story vistas.
Rates: 50€/double/winter, 38€weekdays. 60€/double/summer
943 42 81 23
Get cozy in one of the six rooms at Hostal Urumea, a quaint lodging in the downtown shopping district. From the pair of sisters who run the place to the floral curtains, you’ll feel like you’re on a weekend retreat with distant family friends. All of the rooms have small balconies overlooking the pedestrian zone, though you’re still just a five-minute walk from the beach.
Rates: from 70€/double
Guetaria 14, Primero
943 42 46 05