Have you traveled to large cities before? I’ve been to New York and Chicago, London and Barcelona and Moscow. I’ve never felt in any danger there, but I’m a careful traveler. Smart at home, too, whatever city that might be.
Before my first trip to Uruguay, I read dozens of articles. A lot of blog posts. Many of them talked about safety, the crime rate in Montevideo, escalation of same, how awful it was. I didn’t ignore the stories, but everything in life, and especially on the internet, is presented through a filter.
If someone is used to living in a small town where no one ever locks their doors, the big city can seem like a scary place. If you’re reading reports from five years ago, the situation has likely changed. So you need to balance the available information with your own experience and comfort level.
The common-sense guidelines for staying safe set out on the Guru’guay website (very recently) are the same just about everywhere: don’t make yourself look like a target for crimes of opportunity.
Robbery is the most common in Uruguay. If you’re taking pictures, you’ll be presumed to have money because you look like a tourist – that may be okay in a tourist destination, but hang on to your bag. Camera or not, if you carry a large bag, make sure it’s held close to your body rather than swinging around. Split up valuables (cash, credit cards, phone) between a bag and pockets or only carry what you need for the day. If you’ve parked your car in the city, don’t leave anything visible on the seats.
Ciudad Vieja – historically the most dicey section of Montevideo after dark, near the port – installed CCTV cameras throughout the neighborhood in 2013 and crime rates have dropped dramatically since then.
It’s just possible that one of the biggest problems you’ll encounter is the condition of the sidewalks. Get distracted for a moment, and you could easily turn an ankle or twist a knee!