10 of the Best Spots in Punta del Este

Our mini-guide to the South American beach town.

By Nell McShane Wulfhart

On Uruguay’s southeastern coast, the beach town of Punta del Este has long attracted celebrities, travelers and, more recently, a growing population of artists. Here’s where to go and what to do.

The local breakfast:
Piping hot mini-croissants, called medialunas, at Medialunas Calentitas (Complejo Palmas de la Barra, Ruta 10, La Barra; 011-598-4277-2347; medialunascalentitas.com, site in Spanish; breakfast for two, $10*), a beloved Uruguayan chain.

The surf beach:
Playa Montoya—its mega-waves draw surfers from around the world.

The architectural wonder:
Designed by architect Rafael Viñoly in the shape of a perfect circle, the remarkable Laguna Garzón Bridge is well worth driving across.

The celebrity hangout:
Bikini Beach, where Argentine soap stars and Brazilian models sun themselves.

The midday treat:
Il Porto (1191 El Trinquete; 011-598-4244-5405; ice cream for two, $5) scoops dulce de leche ice cream for beachgoers.

The mandatory Instagram pic:
La Mano (translation: the hand), an enormous sculpture by Mario Irrazábal of five giant fingers emerging from the sand. (Tap here for tips on how to make your post stand out.)

The art gallery:
Xippas Gallery 
(Ruta 10 km 164, Manantiales; 011-59-82-915-5013), housed in a seaside villa, shows dynamic pieces by local and international artists.

The seafood joint:
La Huella (Playa Brava José Ignacio; 011-598-4486-2279; dinner for two, $60), a rustic-chic beachside restaurant turning out grilled shrimp, wood-fired steaks and summery cocktails.

The dance spot:
The jet set shimmies past sunrise at Tequila (11 Calle, La Barra), a perennial favorite that doesn’t get really kicking until 3 a.m.

The day trip:
The high-tech winery Bodega Garzón (Ruta 9, Garzón; 011-598-4224-4040; tours, from $78 a person). Here you can sample some of the country’s varietals, such as albariño (a light white vintage) and tannat (a spicy red wine), while gazing out at peaceful fields and lakes.

  • *Prices have been converted to U.S. dollars. Estimated meal prices do not include drinks, tax, or tip.
  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: September 2017