The Best Markets to Visit in Punta del Este
Port in Punta del Este | © Laura Nicola/Flickr
Punta del Este is Uruguay’s biggest resort city and, as such, has several markets of different kinds to showcase their goods to locals and tourists alike. Take your time to wander around each one and you will find they are all unique. The food markets are ideal to find the freshest produce for cooking, and avoiding the high prices and long queues in supermarkets. The artisanal and flea markets are perfect to find one-of-a kind souvenirs.
The organic market is a recent project that now has expanded to cover a lot of areas in Maldonado, like the cities of Punta del Este and Piriápolis, every weekend. It’s a great place to buy organic products, straight from local orchards and free of chemicals. At the beginning, you would find seasonal fruits and vegetables, homemade wholemeal breads, oils, jams and preserves, and natural remedies. Nowadays the market is so popular it has expanded to offer free range farm eggs, artisanal goat, sheep and cow cheese, different kinds of pâtés and ham, coffee, pasta, and even cleaning products and makeup.
Feria Alternativa De Productos Orgánicos, Punta del Este, Maldonado, Uruguay
You will find the most exquisite fresh produce in Punta del Este’s fish market. The market is located right at the port, so you know you’re getting your fish straight from the fishing boats. Here you will find different kinds of fish, mussels, tasty octopus and calamari, shrimp of all sizes, and much more. Your purchases usually come with complimentary slices of lemon, lime, and cilantro. You can also book fishing trips, or boat trips to visit the Sea Lion Island and Gorriti Island.
You will most likely meet some wild sea lions that frequent the port looking for leftover fish treats from the people that clean the fish. Ask for leftovers (and tip well for them) to give your kids so they can feed the sea lions.
Sea lion at Punta del Este's port | © Isidro López-Arcos/Flickr
La Barra is a very trendy spot, located right after crossing a fun bridge that resembles waves. Even though the main shopping hub for luxurious brands is in Punta del Este’s city center, La Barra is also very popular to find unique pieces by regional designers. In the summer during high season, a design market is set up where you can find mainly bohemian-inspired clothing, with relaxed fits and neutral colors.
Manantiales is an area to the east of Punta del Este city center, crossing La Barra bridge. It’s way less populated and developed than Punta, which attracts people who enjoy a more low-key vibe. Every month, you can make an excuse to visit this lovely location by going to “La Vecinal,” a market held by neighbors in Manantiales. Since it’s held once a month, the market is full of variety and color. There are antiques, artisan products, designer brands, organic food, live music, and activities for kids. It also has a strong focus on ecology, offering lectures and educational activities towards environment and sea conservation, as well as eco-friendly products.
View of Punta del Este's skyscrapers from Manantiales | © Serge/Flickr
Walking along the famous Gorlero Avenue towards the peninsula, you will find a big artisanal market occupying most of a green square. The market’s schedule varies in different times of the year. Perfect for kids, you will find a rich variety of small trinkets, toys, henna tattoos, and small jewelry that can be engraved as you wait. In the “adult” section, you will find beautiful paintings and small sculptures made by local artisans, real jewelry, leather goods, wooden artifacts, and other quality items.
Feria Artesanal, Punta del Este, Maldonado, Uruguay
Watch out for the next edition of the gastronomic market in José Ignacio. It only occurs a few times a year, but it’s an event not to be missed if you happen to be around for it. A massive structure is set up on the main square of the town, and lights are held creating a magical scenery for one of the most delicious culinary experiences you can have in Punta del Este. Chefs from all over showcase varied tasty proposals, there are artisanal beers and cocktails, and a DJ to keep things lively.
Enjoy the sunset at José Ignacio | © Iliazd/Flickr
This artisanal market is also organized sporadically, and every edition is focused on different products. Past editions have focused on the design of clothes and accessories, organic food, and art such as paintings and sculptures. There are also workshops and shows; the yoga workshop, for example, is a big hit.