Category Archives: uruguay

“Boa Noite, Cinderela”

There is something darkly sinister about the Portuguese phrase “Boa Noite, Cinderela.” It sounds like something an evil witch in disguise would say to an innocent Disney princess before feeding her a poisonous treat.  In Brazil, it describes the phenomenon of drugging victims in bars to later assault or rob them.

Outside of Latin America, mostly women are targeted with this type of crime, and sexual assault is usually part of the equation.  South of the Equator, gay men are often the prey.  The predators may also be gay, or they may be heterosexual.  Assailants only need to act gay long enough to befriend and flirt with a single gay man before slipping a drug into his drink.

The substance itself could be an existing party drug which creates the desired effect (Special K, GHB, or Rohypnol.)  Or, it could be scopolomine, a particularly scary drug with the abilities to subdue victims, make them compliant in their own robbery, and leave them with memory loss.

The goal is almost always robbery, and the story almost always ends with the victim awakening hours, sometime even days, later with no memory of what happened after they met their attacker.

Recently, the crime has entered the digital age with an assailant using Grindr to pick up, drug, and rob gay men in Sao Paulo.

The tips to staying safe are obvious, but worth sharing:

  • don’t accept drinks from strangers
  • keep your eye on your drinks (bottles and cans with smaller openings are more difficult to slip a drug into)
  • take your drink with you (to the dance floor, or the men’s room)
  • if you do take your eye off your drink, just dispose of it and order a fresh one
  • use the buddy system (or, set up a check-in with someone if you go out alone)
  • don’t party too hard if you do go out alone; it’s hard to tell the sensation of a knockout drug kicking in if you’ve already had ten caipirinhas
  • take only what you need for that night in your wallet
  • if traveling, make sure your room key is unidentifiable (trash the little envelope labeled “Copacabana Palace, Room #318”)

One final tip is to share your story if you have been victimized.  When attacks have happened in the gay bars of Sao Paulo, victims and their friends have taken to Facebook to post warnings and even distribute surveillance camera images of their attackers.

Bars & Clubs of Gay Montevideo

One of the gay-friendliest cities in Latin America has a relatively small number of gay bars and clubs making it easy to navigate for first-time visitors.

Be aware that nightlife starts very late in Montevideo.  Doors may may not even be open at 11:30PM.   Start the night like a true Uruguayan with a late dinner at any of Montevideo’s gay-friendly restaurants; many of them stay open until midnight or 1AM. If you have time to kill between dinner and the club of your choice, you can try Small Club.  Known as a previa (pre-club before the main attraction) Small Club has drinks, various locations to mix and mingle, and live performances.

After midnight … all three gay club options are listed below.  Use our Google Map of gay Montevideo to navigate the city.

Cain Dance Club

Multiple levels of fun! Cain is the biggest gay nightclub in Montevideo.   Read the full review of Cain Dance Club »

Chains Club

This gay bar remains popular with both locals and tourists.  Visitors who find the crowds at clubs like Cain and Il Tempo to be too young, will have a great time at Chains with guys over 30. Read the full review of Chains Club »

Il Tempo

Down-to-earth good time with a gay and lesbian crowd.  There’s a small stage with a revolving line-up of music, drag, and comedy.  Read the full review of Il Tempo »

Ma.Cho

Not an actual club, but MaCho is a floating gay party organized by promoters from Buenos Aires.  Check our MaCho gay Buenos Aires party page to find out if they have any special events planned for Montevideo.
Read the full review of MaCho

Best Apps for Gay Travel in Latin America

Planning a trip to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, or Uruguay?  From our travels to all four countries we’ve  created the following list of must-have apps for gay men. (And don’t forget our guide to mobile data and SIM cards.)

Google Maps

Essential!  Google Maps over the years has evolved into one of the best ways to navigate unknown territory.  The latest update provides the best public transportation directions available.  And for walkers, try plugging one earbud in to listen to turn-by-turn audio directions to avoid walking to avoid exposing your mobile phone while barcrawling at night.  (Pre-load our Google Maps for Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, and Sao Paulo for offline browsing.)

One note for Buenos Aires, the Moovit app is a highly recommended supplement to Google Maps with some of the best tips for the city’s public transportation system.

We assume most visitors will be walking, taking the bus/metro, or being driven by taxi, but for visitors who will be driving, the Waze app is essential too.  And after you finish driving, Onde Parar is the best way to find a parking spot (only available in Brazil.)

99Taxis

More popular, and more available, than Uber in Latin America, the 99Taxi app uses both contracted drivers, and the existing pool of yellow and white taxis.  Options like the ability to pay via PayPal are great.  One downside is drivers who accept your request and then cancel if a better option appears.  99Taxis was recently in the news after one of their homophobic drivers expelled a gay couple in Rio during Carnival.  The company quickly terminated the driver from their service.

WhatsApp

This recommendation is mostly for Americans, since the extremely popular WhatsApp is one of the most downloaded mobile apps in the world.  In Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America, everyone already knows the app allows free messaging, photo/video sharing, phone calls over wi-fi, and location sharing.

Grindr

“But, I’m not one of the those types of guys who uses Grindr.” Yes, the world’s most popular mobile app for gay men does have a slutty reputation, but Grindr is what you make it.  You can create a G-rated profile stating that you are only looking to meet new people … Or, create and X-rated profile looking for sex.  Enjoy Grindr and be safe!

Other hook-up apps with sizeable populations in Latin America are Hornet, Scruff, Adam4Adam, and Disponivel (more about that one below.)

Disponivel

What began as a hook-up website whose biggest competitor was ManHunt (remember them?) has since made the leap into the age of mobile apps to be one of the most popular ways to find men in Brazil. The Disponivel app’s interface now has an English option, but often reverts, or has untranslated Portuguese elements.

TripAdvisor

Still on top after all these year!  If you must have one app for general city info and tourism recommendations (in English), TripAdvisor is the way to go.  If your phone has enough storage space, try Foursquare, Yelp, and Vespa.

VamosGay

No, we don’t have a mobile app, but we do have a mobile website! Choose the “Add to Home Screen” option and you’ll see a shiny new icon on your phone which will take you to our listings for restaurants and nightlife whenever you need them.

Gay Guide to Montevideo

Looking for an accurate and insightful gay guide to Montevideo in English?  Bookmark this! The VamosGay 2016 Guide to Montevideo presents the most up-to-date resources for one of Latin America’s gay-friendliest destinations.

Click below for a directory of Montevideo’s bars and clubsgay-friendly restaurantsplaces to stay, and places to hook up!

Gay Bars & Clubs

A to Z listing of every bar, lounge, and club in the city.

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Hotels

Location, amenities, price, and gay-friendly!

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Restaurants & Cafes

Meals to remember, or just late-night snacks.

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Sex & Saunas

Up-to-date list of Montevideo’s hottest spots.

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VamosGay on Facebook

The latest gay travel news for Latin America’s biggest cities.

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Punta del Este

Visiting Uruguay?  Take a short trip to Punta!

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Hotels of Gay-Friendly Montevideo

Uruguay’s capital city, Montevideo, is surprisingly easy to navigate.  The city shoulders the coastline of the Rio de la Plata, and a 14 mile long stretch of waterfront (known as La Rambla) connects six neighborhoods of interest to gay travelers: Ciudad Vieja, Centro, Palermo, Punta Carretas, Parque Rodo, and Playa Pocitos.

The following is a short list of gay-friendly places to stay with easy access to museums, restaurants, and nightlife.  Contrary to the stereotype of homophobic machismo, Uruguay is famous for its live-and-let-live attitudes.  Expect a warm welcome at the front desk of any of the places listed below.

Casa Di Volpe Boutique Hotel

Waterfront hotel with lovely views located in the Punta Carretas section (located between gay-friendly beach Playa Pocitos and Parque Rodo.)

View hotel details/lowest rate

Casa Sarandi Guesthouse

Intimate guesthouse situated in a 1930s Art-deco building offers modern rooms and individual kitchens.

View hotel details/lowest rate

Esplendor Hotel Montevideo

Editor’s Choice 2016
Stylish and spacious, The Esplendor is well designed with luxury amenities.  (The Esplendor’s gorgeous rooftop view is shown at the photo above.)  Using our Google Map of gay Montevideo, you will see the hotel is within walking distance of many nightspots and tourist attractions. Surprisingly, the rates are consistently low.  Click below to view photos and get more info on the Esplendor.

View hotel details/lowest rate

Hotel Urban Express

Great inexpensive option near many of the city’s museums that you could use as your base of operations as you explore Montevideo’s rich history.  Try to snag one of the rooms with a view of Rio de la Plata for an extra-special stay!

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La Puerta Negra Gay Guest House

Simple gay owned-and-operated guest house.  Staying at La Puerta is great for those on a budget who would like to stay with friendly helpful guests who are full of insider tips.

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MisterB&B

The gay alternative to AirBnB is now available in Latin America!  Click below to browse gay-hosted apartments across Montevideo.

Search for apartments

My Suites Boutique Hotel

Ranked as one of the top five hotels in Montevideo, My Suites is a jewel of a hotel located on gay-friendly Pocitos beach.  The hotel’s bar is a destination for wine aficionados and is one of the main attractions of the hotel.  Click below to view photos and learn more about My Suites.

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Radisson Montevideo

Five-star luxury in the heart of Montevideo.  This is the place for wealthy visitors looking for a flawless stay within walking distance of many of Montevideo’s gay and cultural attractions.

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Sheraton Montevideo

Over in the Punta Carretas section, the other five-star option is the Sheraton Montevideo.  Some travelers’ have reported that the neighboring Dazzler Montevideo is a close 2nd choice for a luxury stay in Punta Carretas.

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Splendido Hotel

Not to be confused with the stylishly modern Esplendor, the Splendido is a low-cost option in the old city center directly across the street.  The Splendido is a cheap hotel, but its reviews are very good.

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Una Noche Más

Reviews are excellent for this bed-and-breakfast where guests really would like to spend “one more night.”  They have a fireplace, a terrace, and many other charming amenities.

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Montevideo Guide to Gay Saunas, Cinemas, and Sex Shops

As early as 1934, same-sex activity was decriminalized in Uruguay, and the country has maintained its liberal stance towards sexuality ever since. The nation’s largest city, Montevideo, offers many safe venues for sex (although, common sense rules still apply.) Here’s a list of what a gay traveler can find in 2016.

Toronto Sauna

Tacurembo 1531
Montevideo, Uruguay    Google Map »

Spacious, clean, and rarely empty. Toronto Sauna is the biggest and best option in Montevideo. There are group spaces and private rooms. The cover fee is 300 Uruguayan Pesos (roughly 11 USD.)
For more, on Facebook Facebook. Nothing new on the Toronto Sauna website or Twitter account.

Sauna Horus

Julio Herrera y Obes 1240
Montevideo, Uruguay    Google Map »

Sun – Thur 3pm – 12am
Fri and Sat 3pm – 8am
Housed in a multi-story building that looks, feels, and smells old. A hot time can be had at Horus depending on who shows up when. A masseur is also available, but be aware, like the customers he may be gone long before the midnight closing time.
More info on the Sauna Horus website.

Cine Private

Convencion 1290
Montevideo, Uruguay    Google Map »

Mon – Thur 11AM – 3AM
Fri and Sat 11AM – 5AM
Closed Sundays
New, and well located two blocks away from Chains Pub. This cinema has two screening rooms, one gay and one straight (where you may see an actual hetero couple.) In addition, there’s a bar and two dark areas. Downstairs are cabins and gloryholes. But, why explain, when there’s a video tour with the owner of Cine Private on YouTube!

Punta del Este

The guide book Lonely Planet: Argentina summarizes Punta del Este, Uruguay (a popular side trip for those visiting Buenos Aires) as follows …

With its many beaches, elegant seaside homes, yacht harbor, high-rise apartment buildings, pricey hotels and glitzy restaurants – Punta del Este is one of South America’s most glamorous resorts and easily the most expensive place in Uruguay. Extremely popular with Argentines and Brazilians, Punta suffered a period of decline during the Uruguayan and Argentine recessions, but has come back with a vengeance.

Punta del Este’s scenic coastline is divided into two regions: Brava (Spanish for “fierce”) and Mansa (Spanish for “tame”). The limit between the two marks the end of the Río de la Plata and the beginning of the Atlantic Ocean, and split is signaled by the Mano de Punta del Este, which the sculptor designed to warn swimmers about the danger of rough waves. Beaches on the Mansa side feature thick and golden sand, while on the Brava side the sand is white and fine. Every beach of the peninsula has public access.

For Gay Travelers

Playa Chihuahua is where the boys are … and a large section of it is “clothing optional.”  Chihuahua is about 20 minutes away by car from Playas Brava and Mansa and offers a great escape from the frenetic shopping and tourist activity of Punta.   A short walk from Playa Chihuahau, you will find Undarius Hotel (formerly named Casa Mario, but under the same friendly gay ownership.) Undarius is a B&B for gay men with a laid back vibe.

Looking for a gay bar or nightclub?  You won’t find one. (Many out-dated gay guides to Punta del Este mention Kronos and Mercury, but both are now long gone.)  Instead, you will find a few great mostly straight, but gay-friendly places.  (Click here for our Google Map to Gay Punta del Este.)

Punta Pride

In 2015 year, Punta Pride marked Punta del Este’s first LGBT pride celebration.  The event has been held in mid February ever since, so gay travelers can expect more great times in 2018!

 

Getting There

Punta del Este’s international airport (PDP) may be small, but it is serviced by a large number of regional and international carriers. Check the following websites for cheap deals.

Hotels & Places to Stay

2122 Hotel Art Design

Full of indoor amenities, the 2122 is set further back from both coast –  a location that removes it from the touristy annoyances while remaining within walking, or a short cab ride, of most of Punta’s nightlife and shopping.

View hotel details/lowest rate

Conrad Punta del Este Resort & Casino

Featuring a casino, spa facilities, 2 swimming pools, 2 tennis courts and 4 restaurants, the Conrad Punta Del Este Resort & Casino features plush accommodations in front of La Mansa Beach.

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Serena Hotel

Luxury on the beach!  The Serena is popular with gays and straights.  Click below for photos and reviews.

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Undarius Hotel (formerly Casa Mario)

Gay owned and operated!  Undaris is gay-only and clothing optional.  But, don’t let the nudity scare you off.  You can wear your trunks and lounge with a drink, or go for a nude swim in the pool.  There is a range of rooms from private suites, to dormitory-style lodging.

View hotel details/lowest rate

Where to Play – Bars & Beaches

OVO Nightclub & Dayclub

Over the top (and overpriced) this is where the beautiful people converge at night to party to the beats of international DJs.  By day, OVO is more laid back, catering to tourists.

Moby Dick

A classic pub which, over the years, has become a meeting spot for gays and lesbians.  Grab a beer and then head out to one of the many restaurants nearby where you can continue the night.

Soho

Mostly straight club where gays are welcomed.  Soho also hosted a huge party for the first annual Punta Pride festival.

Looking for ways to connect in Punta?  Grindr remains one of the best ways for meetup with locals and your fellow gay travelers.  Also, the front desks of any of the gay-friendly hotels listed below give excellent recommendations!

Restaurants & Cafes of Gay-Friendly Montevideo

Travelers visiting Montevideo as a side trip from Buenos Aires will find Uruguay’s food scene similar to Argentina’s.  There is a huge Italian influence.  Beef is plentiful.  And the dinner hour starts at 8PM and extends well into the night.

This list of gay-friendly food destinations in Montevideo includes some of the city’s best fine dining establishments and simple places to grab a chivito, the big-and-tasty national sandwich of Uruguay.  Check out the VamosGay Google Map of Montevideo to navigate one of the most gay-friendly cities in Latin America!

Cafe Baracay

Bacacay 1306
Montevideo, Uruguay      Google Map »
Mon – Sat 10AM – 1AM
Views of the majestic Teatro Solis make Cafe Bacacay a popular destination.  They have a full restaurant menu and their steak & fries are as popular as the coffee & pastries.  Simple decor. Friendly service.

Candy Bar Palermo

Durazno 1402
Montevideo, Uruguay      Google Map »
Sun 12PM – 8PM
Tue – Fri 11AM – 1AM
Sat 12PM – 3AM
Ranked as the #1 destination for desserts in Montevideo, Candy Bar Palermo has much more than sweets.  It is also one of the city’s best restopubs with great food and well-crafted cocktails.  Sunday brunch from 12 to 4 is highly recommended, but beware the space is small and may be crowded.

El Tinkal

Luis de la Torre 502
Montevideo, Uruguay      Google Map »
Mon – Sat 9AM – 12AM
Not really gay or straight … just a great restaurant at the top of the list of the places to try a chivito, the national sandwich of Uruguay, which consists primarily of a thin slice of filet mignon, with mozzarella, tomatoes, mayonnaise, black or green olives, and may often include bacon, fried or hard-boiled eggs and ham.”  El Tinkal is located near the Rambla (Montevideo’s waterfront) and is a good place to fuel up for a long walk.

Francis

Luis de la Torre 502
Montevideo, Uruguay      Google Map »
Sun – Sat 8PM – 12AM
Fine dining at one of the best restaurants in Montevideo!  Browse the Francis website and work up an appetite for seafood, salads, and their parrilla menu of grilled steaks, ribs, barbecued chicken and lamb.

La Fonda

Perez Castellano 1442
Montevideo, Uruguay      Google Map »
Tue – Sun 12PM – 4PM
Thu – Sat 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
One of the top 10 places to eat in Montevideo is also gay-friendly … and an excellent option for vegetarians and vegans in a city full of carnivores. (But, don’t worry, La Fonda’s menu includes a few options of chicken, fish, and red meat to keep everyone happy.)  Make a note of the restaurant’s hours for lunch and dinner above.  La Fonda has a tendency to open a bit later and close a bit earlier than advertised.

La Pasionaria

Reconquista 587
Montevideo, Uruguay      Google Map »
With a small menu of salads, sandwiches, and sweet treats similar to what one might find at the cafe of a museum, La Pasionaria is a charming place to have a snack and browse its boutique of items from Uruguayan artists.

La Pasiva

Avenida 18 de Julio 1350
Montevideo, Uruguay      Google Map »
This traditional diner with a full menu is famous for its hot dogs.  Gay travelers can’t resist taking selfies in front of the restaurant’s logo La Pasiva  (Spanish slang for “the bottom role in gay sex.”) The restaurant’s logo also includes a cartoonish boy ready to swallow a gigantic sausage! The restaurant chain has several locations.  La Pasiva on Avenida 18 de Julio is the most iconic and sits at the center of gay Montevideo.

La Cocina de Pedro

Av. Gonzalo Ramírez 1483
Montevideo, Uruguay      Google Map »
Mon – Fri 12PM – 3:30PM  &  8PM – 12AM
Sat 12PM – 4PM & 8PM – 1AM
Sun 12PM – 4PM
One of Montevideo’s best parrilla restaurants with great grilled meats and Italian dishes is also one of the city’s longtime gay-friendly dining destinations.  La Cocina de Pedro stellar menu is matched with exceptional service.

Philomene Cafe

Solano Garcia 2455
Montevideo, Uruguay      Google Map »
Mon – Sat 12PM – 4PM
Lunchtime delicacies and pastries. Philomene Cafe is the place to enjoy tea-for-two with your pinky finger extended.

Theo

Canelones 1985
Montevideo, Uruguay      Google Map »
⛔ Update 3/3/2016  Currently closed with no status on when it will re-open.  We will update this listing if more info becomes available.

Theo is a gastropub with solid menu featuring creative daily specials.  Aside from the food, Theo has cultivated a crowd of attractive young gay guys.  (Is the masculine bearded logo of Theo trying to tell us something?)  Check the Theo Facebook page for events like live music on Thursdays.

Travel Deals to Latin America

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a “bucket list” is defined as … a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying.

Why until you are on death’s doorstep to visit a dream destination like Brazil?  Thanks to favorable currency exchange rates, it is possible to enjoy a holiday in Rio de Janeiro (or other gay-friendly destination like Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, and Santiago) without breaking the bank.

Here’s the VamosGay shortlist of websites with the best travel deals for Brazil!

Flight Deals & Vacation Packages

Decolar.com / Despegar.com – Extremely popular website for flights to (and within) Latin America that most travelers outside of Latin America have never heard of.   We continue to find the lowest rates.

Expedia.com – Pretty good for flights, but highly recommended for packages deals.  You may find lower rates if you search hard enough on other sites, but when buying an entire package, Expedia customer support is the strong arm you may need to change or cancel an expensive flight and hotel combo.

Iberia Airlines – European carrier with many cheap flights to South America.  Add them to your list of sites to search and you’ll be surprised.

TAM / LAN Airlines – The merged juggernaut of South American carriers (now known as LATAM) offers many direct deals.

Skyscanner – This site can be simple if you are just looking for the lowest price, but also lets users dig in and compare prices across airline companies and departure dates.  A great place to squeeze out the lowest price not just for Latin America, but across the globe.

Cheapflights.com – The name says it all.  If it doesn’t have the lowest price for an international flight, it will definitely link to it.

Where to Stay

Booking.com – Highly-recommended one-stop shopping for hotels.  Consistently low-prices and the option to book without pre-paying makes this a favorite.

MisterB&B – The gay alternative to AirBnB the world has been waiting for.  A big part of the experience is having a gay local as your host.

Getting Around with Uber

Taxis in Latin America don’t have the best reputation.  Uber provides a safe and easy option for club hopping or just getting to the airport.  Click any of these links for Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Montevideo, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, and Sao Paulo.  (Use the discount code ubervamosgay for a lower rate.)

Tour Guides

Viator Rio de Janeiro – Need a personal tour guide you can trust to show you the best of gay Rio de Janeiro? We recommend Viator’s Guided Tour of Rio de Janeiro’s gay nightlife.