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6 min.

I know; it sounds like a peculiar mental association. Still, Punta del Este is where I spent most of my Christmas holidays until the beginning of my university exam session in January became a priority.
In Punta del Este, there is my grandmother’s beach house, and in winter, I used to fly there with my mother to visit her and my aunt. A Christmas without decorations but with lots of cakes and laughter.

The name Punta del Este describes its geographical location: a peninsula that points towards the east on the coast of Uruguay. On one side, you dive into the icy Atlantic Ocean and, on the other, into the quieter and warmer Rio de la Plata estuary.

Punta del Este’s popularity among tourists has also made it an attractive destination for those seeking Uruguay residency, drawn by its beautiful surroundings and high quality of life.

Punta del Este

Punta del Este was a military avant-ranking during the war with Brazil, but already in the late nineteenth century, with the construction of the first hotel, it became a place of rest and marine treatments.
In the early twentieth century, the city did not have five hundred inhabitants, but many dreamed of making it a resort like Biarritz or Brighton. In 1907, the company Balneario Punta del Este invited the first Argentines and Uruguayans vacationers, who arrived onboard the legendary boat Golondrina. The city’s rise was swift, and 1924 the Yacht Club was founded.

Punta del Este

Today, Punta del Este is one of South America’s most important and exclusive seaside resorts. To give you an idea: it has about one thousand hotels, five casinos, thousands of villas and estate agents … and it’s quite a small town.
Tourists come mainly from neighbouring Argentina, and my family is no exception. Still, there are also many Brazilians and distinguished Europeans. Even with the Argentine crisis of 2002, flows have decreased a bit.

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What to do in Punta del Este

In Punta del Este, you go for the sea, for its beautiful beaches with a bid of almost unlimited activities, and its nightlife. Many people pick it for its casinos, but I never entered one.

Punta del Este

My days there are almost all the same … as an older woman, I established my routine, and even when I am tempted to change it, I end up not changing a single detail …

The day begins at the end of the morning, but not just for me! The van that carries milk, juice, bread, and sweets for breakfast passes in all districts, not before 10:30, so it would be pointless to take action earlier than that … right before it stops by my place, I usually plan to take only juice and a baguette, but then there are all those cakes and bread stuffed with dulce de leche … things that I can’t find once back home…

After devouring my very light breakfast, I take the pink bicycle I got in third grade, and I challenge the wind riding up to “my” beach, where I usually do nothing but read a book or look around. My beach is the Playa Mansa (calm beach), a bit because I wouldn’t say I like cool water and a bit because I’m lazy and swimming in the stream is not for me 😛 From Mansa, you will see the beautiful Isla Gorriti.

For athletic people, I recommend the Playa Brava (wild beach), offering perfect waves for surfing and kites, beautiful boys and girls attracted by surfers, beautiful views of the Isla de Lobos, and “the hand” … the famous sculpture coming out of the sand.

Punta del Este Punta del Este

Spent two or three hours of leisure (I recommend in the shade !!!), I ride my bike for a tour of Punta del Este, and I usually extend it well into the night, between shopping, dinner, friends, pub …

My favourite little corners or sights

  • strolling around between the spectacular city villas … all different (there are no architectural constraints here), all lit up and with windows wide open and with beautiful gardens and swimming pools … in short, I like to fantasize
  • Avenida Gorlero, to be walked all along, admiring windows, bars and restaurants and those walking all along like I do 😉
  • the evening market in Plaza Artigas, where you can find all kinds of craft items
  • the “Casa Pueblo” at Punta Ballena, a mega building, designed by Uruguayan artist Carlos Páez Vilaró, is a symbol of Punta del Este
 Punta del Este
  • Gorriti, an island accessible by ferry, formerly Isle of Palms and then Maldonado. The current name comes from Captain Francisco Gorriti, who was imprisoned on the island … Its coast offers beautiful beaches: Puerto Jardín and Playa Honda.
  • Isla de Lobos, the mythical island home of sea lions, is the undisputed star for passing tourists (I warn you that this island does not exactly smell like a flower bouquet…)
  • The Barra de Maldonado, a beautiful fishermen’s village, now became a chic suburb built by the inhabitants of San Carlos, who chose it as an ideal summer residence. The barra is also famous for the wavy bridge linking the two extremes of the creek Maldonado.
 Punta del Este

Tips to enjoy Punta del Este

I eat here (as well as at home, of course):

  • El Almacen is a mini restaurant where you feel at home with friends or family. The menu is limited but changes daily, and on Thursday, it is fixed. Cecilia is a fantastic owner
  • Lo de Charlie has excellent and plentiful meat and seafood dishes. A delight for the palate
  • Incanto is the only Italian restaurant I’ve ever set foot in abroad, but it deserves it for both the food and the place. In my opinion, it is beautiful
  • . *A note not to be underestimated. As you may have guessed reading about the time of breakfast, everything in Punta is late … no venue opens the kitchen before 9:30 pm (except tourist traps with a 24h open kitchen), and no one goes there before 10:30 pm. Very often, you have people standing in line outside restaurants even after midnight!

I get there as follows: 

  • Usually, I land in Buenos Aires because I can not live without seeing it as often as possible, but that’s another story … From Buenos Aires, I like to take the hydrofoil of Buquebus, which takes about one hour to get to Colonia, and from there, I continue with the bus that takes about five hours to the destination. All this for more or less $ 80
  • the cheapest option (30$) from Buenos Aires t is the lance from Tigre to Carmelo, and then a bus to Punta
  • wanting to avoid boats, a bus from Buenos Aires to Punta via Montevideo takes about ten hours, with very changing rates … (it leaves at 11.00 pm)
  • For those wishing to land in Montevideo to visit it, there are buses approximately every half hour from the airport and the Tres Cruces bus station. It takes two hours, and until last year, the ticket cost $ 7
  • another option is to fly directly to Punta del Este, but from Europe, you have to make a stopover in a South American capital, according to the chosen company
I love Punta del Este for emotional issues and because I feel free and safe here.
People of all ages are strolling around at any time (except in the morning!), and there are no crimes.
It does not have the reputation of certain Brazilian beaches, but here, you do not feel threatened at every step, and prostitution does not have the same style …
If you arrange a trip to South America, think of Punta for a relaxing week.
You won’t regret it!
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Silvia's Trips

Hi there! My name is Silvia and after 15 years between the Paris Opera and the Palau de les Arts in Valencia I now run a boutique hotel in Cinque Terre, deal with tourism management and blogging, sail, horse-ride, play guitar and write about my solo trips around the world. For more info about me and my travel blog check my full bio.