Published January 2020
The most popular resort in Uruguay, Punta del Este has been dubbed the “Monaco of the Americas,” in a reference to the European principality where luxury and celebrities, just like casinos, are part of the everyday life. The Uruguayan destination is deserving of this nickname, especially in the summer, when it welcomes visitors looking for sun, beaches, and sophistication. Here we’ll tell you what to do in the city.
Tourists can’t wait to put their feet in the sand. It’s pure luck that one of the main tourist attractions is right there, at the beach. The work Monumento Al Ahogado, also known as La Mano, is comprised of five huge fingers that emerge from Playa Brava. In addition to a classic photo spot for visitors, it’s also a combination of art and sea breeze.
Monumento al Ahogado: Rambla General Artigas
Located in the port zone, the restaurant Lo de Tere serves dishes with a close connection to the region of Rocha, in eastern Uruguay. Ingredients from the earth and sea, from rack of lamb to grilled fish – and a great wine cellar to accompany them. However, since you’re in Punta del Este, it’s a great opportunity to order some crab ravioli and enjoy the taste of the ocean.
Lo de Tere: Rambla Portuaria corner Calle 21, lodetere.com
Leaving from the port, walk a few blocks down to the Punta Lighthouse for a panoramic view of the peninsula. From the top of the structure built in 1860, you can see the next stop: Plaza de los Ingleses, which is in the far south of the city (and the country!), marking the division between the Rio de la Plata and the Atlantic Ocean.
Punta Lighthouse: Calle 2 de Febrero
There’s no rush to walk, bike, or take a bus to Plaza General Artigas. Since the 1960s, the place has been the spot for a traditional handicrafts market with around 200 exhibitors who are there every day in the late afternoon to sell jewelry, leather items, paintings, and souvenirs from Uruguay.
Punta del Este is popular in the summer not just for its beaches, but also for its nightlife, which starts at sunset. Back at the port, Moby Dick Pub is a restaurant with a pirate tavern atmosphere. However, it gets nightclub airs as the night goes on.
Moby Dick Pub: Rambla General Artigas, 650, mobydick.com.uy
An 8-mile [13 km] trip to the west leads to the neighboring Punta Ballena. There you’ll find Casapueblo, a huge white structure with irregular shapes on a hill by the banks of the Rio de la Plata. The old summer house of artist and architect Carlos Páez Vilaró, it’s currently home to a museum that exhibits his work, as well as a hotel and restaurant.
Casapueblo: Calle Mar de Liguria, casapueblo.com.uy
It’s time to really enjoy the beach. When the sun is not so strong, look for a spot at Playa Mansa to lay your beach towel (some restaurants serve drinks and snacks on decks close to the sand). After a dip in the ocean, there are also 6 miles [10 km] of beach to explore – it’s worth visiting the pier if you feel like it.
Playa Mansa is also home to Enjoy Punta del Este, formerly called Hotel Conrad, famous for its casino with 76 table games and 559 gaming machines. But you don’t need to be a guest there to enjoy the place’s other options: a spa, a nightclub, and seven bars and restaurants are also open to the public.
Enjoy Punta del Este: Rambla Claudio Williman, enjoy.cl/puntadeleste
With white sands, Playa Montoya is another great spot for swimming. There, make sure to stop by Heladería Arlecchino. If you can’t decide what ice cream flavor to order, remember Uruguayans’ passion for dulce de leche.
Heladería Arlecchino: Juan Gorlero, 612
Playa Montoya is on the way to Narbona, a restaurant owned by the winery founded in 1909. It’s a short 10-minute drive that leads to a bucolic scenery: a legitimate farmhouse with an ample kitchen, exposed-brick hall, and shop with tile flooring selling cheese and sweets made at the locale. To enjoy the dishes, make reservations ahead of time.
Narbona: Ruta 104, Camino del Golf, Manantiales, narbona.com.uy
In the city, it’s time to say goodbye. But not before enjoying the sun a little more, which sets among the boats viewed from the deck at Virazón. The night falls accompanied by a jar of clericot, one of the favorite drinks of beachgoers, who get back from the beach looking for the next party to liven up the night.
Virazón: Rambla Portuaria corner Calle 18, virazon.com.uy