Punta del Este
Punta del Este is a beach resort town in Uruguay complete with casinos, beaches, yachts and lots of tourists from all over the world. Many of these tourists come from the other side of the Rio de la Plata from Argentina to get some nice fun in the sun on a beach away from the brown waters of the Rio de la Plata. Punta del Este is located in Maldonado Department, adjacent to the departmental capital of Maldonado, on the Atlantic Coast in the south of the country. The city has a population of 9,277 people.
Popular tourist spots include La Barra, Punta Ballena, Casa Pueblo, Pan de Azúcar or the island where you can swim with sea lions.
The unspoilt Uruguayan peninsula of Punta del Este is all heavenly beaches, exotic sophistication, beautiful people and an ardent night scene. Punta del Este is sometimes called the Monaco of South America. There are many travel sights, including the amazing restaurants. In the last year there has been the shoots of urbanization in the form of high rise building obscuring the sun, however. Tourist season varies wildly from totally deserted in the winter to very very crowded in the summer, unusual for a city this size.
Capitán de Corbeta Carlos A. Curbelo International AirportOut of season, there is one daily flight from Buenos Aires, and two weekly flights from Brazil mainly catering to casino visitors. In high season, however, there are several flights from Buenos Aires and also nonstop flights from other Argentinian cities (Rosario, Córdoba), Chile (Santiago), Paraguay (Asunción) and Brazil (Porto Alegre, São Paulo, Campinas and Rio de Janeiro). As of January 2018, the airlines operating in the airport are Aerolineas Argentinas and Latam Airlines (year round). The following airlines also have scheduled flights in summer: Amaszonas, Andes, Sky Airline and Azul Linhas Aereas.
Another option is flying to Montevideo airport (MVD) where the fares are usually lower and there are far more connections available. From MVD Airport, Punta del Este is only an hour and a half away by bus.
Regular buses come back and forth from Montevideo, making Punta del Este a convenient day trip (two hours by bus, see timetables). If you accidentally get off the bus at Maldonado Terminal which is a few kilometers north of Punta del Este you can easily catch a local bus (marked "Punta del Este" in top front) at the stop just behind the bus terminal for about U$30 (pesos) which you pay to the driver.
Maldonado and even San Carlos (further north near the highway) are frequented more often by buses from minor and close-by destinations. For instance, there are no direct buses from La Paloma, Punta del Diablo or such into Punta del Este. There is a direct bus going along the highway, via Rocha, etc.
International buses are also available from Porto Alegre and Florianópolis.
By cruise ship
Punta del Este is served by some cruise lines in the summer. Mostly on itineraries departing from Buenos Aires or Santos.
Punta del Este is a two-hour drive from Montevideo and a slightly longer drive from the Brazilian border. Coming from Argentina, if arriving by ferry in Colonia, it's a 4 hour drive; otherwise, if driving all the way from Buenos Aires, plan for at least an eight-hour drive plus some delays (huge in the summer) at the border because of customs controls.
To get to La Barra o José Ignacio you had better have a means of transport like a car (renting a car is always going to be the best way to visit all the places). Buses are not very frequent and public transport like taxis usually has to be called over the phone (very expensive compared to standards of the rest of Uruguay). Hitchhiking is common for young people since night clubs are far from each other and people may be staying in places far from the clubs. If you have a car, be kind; pick up someone (especially in the morning, after the clubs have closed). Remember that Punta del Este is very safe, but normal precautions should always be taken.
You can rent a moped (scooter) for US$10/hour or US$45/day at several places.
The endless beaches, beautiful seaside mansions, tree-lined streets, chic boutiques, stylish people.
Casa PuebloCasa-Pueblo is a beautiful resort-museum near Punta del Este. It was created by Uruguayan artist Paez-Vilaró in a kind of mediterranean surrealistic architecture, making the whole place to look like a giant sculpture. He was the father of one of the survivors of the infamous plane crash on the Andes. Some visitors complain about the steep entrance fees, even for just visiting the restaurant.
phone: +598 42771817Marine museum, Sea Museum : A collection of embalmed southern hemisphere seabirds, found dead on the shore after storms. Petrels, albatrosses, gulls, terns, cormorants, oystercatchers, shearwaters, black skimmers, snowy sheathbills, skuas, sandpipers.
Museo RalliA large collection of contemporary Latin American art
MaamA museum based on the private art and archaeology collection of the Uruguayan artist Vilaro (architect of Casapueblo).
- Port - with the fish market and a lighthouse. You can also see sea lions swimming around and begging for food.
Isla de LobosThe largest sea lion colony in the southern hemisphere. Tours can be booked and leave at the .
- Arboretum Lussich - a botanic garden displaying mainly exotic species. It is one of the most important botanic gardens worldwide.
Uriburu Museum of Contemporary ArtWith Argentine and Uruguayan artists on display.
- Museo del Indio y Megafauna
- Reserva de Fauna Autoctona - Pan de Azucar - a zoo of indigenous animals on Uruguay's highest hill.
- Castillo Pittamiglio
- Cuartel de Dragones - Historical site
Whale watchingaddress: Playa Brava
- Punta del Este is a very important tourist port. The upper crust has its yachts there and if you want to rent a boat, this is the place to ask.
- Tanning is a popular activity on Punta del Este's famous beaches. You can choose from beaches on the calm side of the peninsula where you can rent jet skis or banana boat trips, or on the other, windier side. Punta del Este has some good surfing spots, not as good as La Paloma (150km up to the north of Punta del Este), but it gets pretty decent in good days.
- You can also rent sea bikes, windsurf and kite-surfing equipment, and surf boards.
- Punta del Este has an island nearby called Isla Gorriti. It is protected because of its nature so there are no great buildings or anything like that. You can take a 20-minute ferry at the port that will drop you off at the island where you can enjoy the fun atmosphere, beach, and good food at the restaurant. It is also possible to take private yachts, speedboats, or sailboats to the island and anchor by the shore. Renting a boat is nice in good weather.
- Come to the port in the morning (9-10AM) when the fishermen prepare their caught fish and throw the leftovers into the water for the waiting sea lions and seals.
phone: +598 9542 5461A fun and educational summer camp for children staying in Punta del Este. Kids have the option of horseback riding, organized sports, educational classes, kayaking, arts and crafts, or several other options. Instruction in English and Spanish.
Candelaria ChurchCandelaria Church, or Saint Mary of Candelaria Parish Church, is the most important catholic temple in Punta del Este. The building is located in the Lighthouse square, in which facade impacts the sky blue color and in its interior it is an image of Candelaria Virgin who was brought from Spain.
Punta del Este has a seafood-based cuisine. It has a huge variety of food with dishes like tortugón, paella, chivito, hot dog, sushi, and fish among others.
Seafood is delicious. Chivitos (steak sandwiches) and asado (steak) are the locals' favourite dishes. Aside from that, pretty much any type of food can be found: sushi, Indian, Italian, French cuisine, etc.
phone: +598 42 48-8888address: Pda. 19 Brava, Carnoustie y Av. del AguaL'Auberge Hotel & Te House: charming luxury hotel and tea house. Famous for its water tower and its Belgian waffles, served with different sauces. Also, excellent restaurant for lunch or dinner. Only by reservation.
PINK Restaurant YOOphone: +598 42497650address: Av Roosevelt y Parada 8Normal prices. Unforgettable dinner. Awesome.
Local and imported wines (especially Argentinian and European vineyards).
There's a famous drink in all Uruguay called "medio y medio" (half and half) which is a mix of sweet sparkling wine, and dry white wine.
Punta del Este is famous for its clubbing scene. Most parties start very late, between midnight and 3AM and end around dawn. You cannot name a specific club because it's probably going to change its name or its location the next year. Don't worry, they do good marketing, so you will find out very easily.
Every year the night life changes, so you never know which is going to be place that will hit the summer in Punta del Este. Most of the clubs are away from the peninsula of Punta del Este, mainly in La Barra. But the fashion places changes, it depends on the year.
You can expect high prices for club entries in late December and early January, and specially in the weekends. After 15 January the prices go down (this includes most of the things), and although there may be still a lot of people in Punta del Este, it is not going to be as crowded.
Anyway, expect a lot of movement in the clubs at weekends.
Book ahead between Christmas and carnival, when most every bed is taken. Staying in the peninsula of Punta del Este is probably the best option if you don't have a car, as buses are few, and cabs are expensive. Keep in mind that beds here are among the most costly on the continent.
phone: +598 42440719address: Corner of 18th and 30th streetExpensive (but well it is Punta del Este) hostel. Has internet facilities and a basic breakfast. The price is US$15 (US$22 during high season) a night or around the equivalent of US$25 when paying in Uruguayan pesos. Has tiny, cramped rooms but an amazing dining room, with big windows directly to the pavement.
phone: +598 42-482543address: Calle 31 y Av GorleroRooms come with private bath, fan, A/C, cable TV, and wifi. Two blocks from the Brava beach with the giant hand.
Baie des Anges Apart Hotel & SpaSituated in the "Parada 27" on Mansa beach, this elegant boutique hotel is minutes away from Punta del Este's Downtown, where all the most important restaurants and clubs of the city are located. Sea view, awesome sunsets and friendly people.
phone: +598 42 578 044address: Ruta Interbalnearia Km 118, Punta BallenaSurrounded by thriving gardens, historical museums, and art galleries, it's also a few minutes from the famous Punta del Este and these attractions: Arboretum Lussich, Casapueblo, and Lake Club. It offers rooms with breathtaking scenes, all equipped with 26/29-inch LCD television, Wi-Fi Internet access, and an air-conditioner.
- The Chic Collection Hoteles & Resorts. The most exclusive 4 and 5 stars hotel collection at Punta del Este. Each hotel maintains its own and strong personality, providing a wide variety of possibilities to tourists. The Chic Collection consists of Barradas Parque Hotel, Hotel del Lago Golf & Art Resorts and Golden Beach Resort & Spa.
Hotel L'AubergeMore than six decades old, the famous water tower of L'Auberge rises, majestic, amidst the tall pines, and is a silent witness of the evolution of the hotel, the tea room and all the Parque del Golf neighborhood. The Most Excellent Hotel for South America 2010, according to Condé Nast Johansens.
phone: +598 42 491111address: Rambla C. Williman Parada 4 Playa MansaA five-star luxury hotel and a famous casino in Punta del Este
- Nearby beach towns make for convenient day trips or nice overnight escapes from the crowds of Punta del Este.
- Piriapolis – Another beach resort that is more laid-back and less fancy.
- Maldonado – The department capital, is adjacent to Punta del Este.
- La Paloma, Cabo Polonio, Punta del Diablo, etc. – These destinations are more laid-back and with their own tranquil atmosphere. They are the places you want to head for if you do not get what all the fuss is about Punta del Este. There are no regular buses from Punta del Este, so either hitch-hike (if you get out of the city) or transfer via the Maldonado terminal or San Carlos which has regular and frequent buses to those destinations.