Top 10 Things to See and Do in Punta del Este
Punta del Este is the most famous coastal resort in Uruguay, welcoming tourists from all over the world every summer. It’s a big, luxurious city, spanning the Atlantic coast. Punta del Este attracts visitors of all ages; families, solo backpackers, couples on honeymoon, groups of friends. As long as you want to relax and have a good time, there’s always something to do in Punta. These are the best attractions so you know what to expect.
Casapueblo is a museum and hotel, perched on a cliff on the top of a stunning viewpoint in Punta Ballena. From the terraces of Casapueblo, you will catch the most beautiful sunsets, and spot sea animals swimming in the Atlantic right below. It was originally designed by Uruguayan artist and architect Carlos Páez Vilaró to be his art studio, resulting in a unique architecture inspired by the nests of the rufous hornero bird. You can have lunch at the hotel’s excellent restaurant, with an outdoor terrace leading right to the Atlantic, and take the opportunity to explore the structure from the inside, as well as the exquisite museum.
Conrad Resort & Casino
Conrad is an icon to Punta del Este. This hotel is an architectural landmark, a trendy beach hub for people to meet, a source of culture, shows and performances, home to one of the most popular nightclubs in the city, and also the most famous casino. In the daytime, you can visit Conrad’s beach bar called OVO (the same as its nightclub) that has people drinking and dancing all day long. At night, take your chances at the casino, or book tickets to see one of the music, stand-up comedy, or theater shows. OVO nightclub also brings in famous national and international DJs, so you are guaranteed to have a good time.
This museum has an incredible collection of modern and contemporary Latin American art, along with other European Modernist and Post-Modernist pieces. It is located in the neighborhood of Beverly Hills, one of the prettiest in Punta del Este for its huge houses with enormous gardens, parks, and lots of greenery. This museum is no exception, and includes a lovely sculpture garden. This is the perfect place to satiate your curiosity on the different art movements in Latin America. Watch out for moving exhibitions, special events, and symposiums.
Punta del Este’s Port
You can’t go to Punta del Este without paying a visit to its port. Walking along the wooden promenade towards the peninsula, you will start catching glimpses of the docks and boats. Right before reaching the port, there is a cluster of fancy restaurants making the most out of the stunning views. At night, some of these turn into bars and nightclubs, and the whole port area turns into one big party.
The port itself is lovely to walk around, either in the morning when you can choose the freshest fish and seafood to cook for lunch, or in the afternoon to watch the sunset while admiring the extravagant sailboats and catamarans. You can book a boat trip from the port, either to go fishing, to visit the famous sea lion island, or to visit Gorriti Island, perfect for exploring and sunbathing. You will most likely see some of the resident sea lions, who are wild but hang around the port to snack on leftover fish treats by the people cleaning the fish.
The Hand Sculpture & Brava Beach
Another landmark characteristic to Punta del Este is “The Hand,” an ominous sculpture depicting five gigantic fingers coming out of the sand. Designed by Chilean artist Mario Irrazábal, right at the beginning of Brava Beach, “the fingers” (as locals call it) has become a popular photography destination. This even led to a small market to be set up next to the fingers, where tourists can buy souvenirs as they wait to take the classic picture on top of the thumb.
Accessibility & Audience:Family Friendly
Atmosphere:White Sand, Outdoors, Photo Opportunity, Architectural Landmark
This interesting museum is ideal for all members of the family. Here you can see old bones belonging to different sea animals and birds, and learn all about the biology and geography of these Atlantic shores. They also have a great collection of antique objects related to seafaring and sailing, and it teaches some of the history of Uruguay and Punta del Este. It’s perfect to add some education to your holiday, a fun and informative alternative for a cloudy or rainy day.
La Barra & Montoya Beach
La Barra is found right after crossing the famously fun La Barra bridge, built to resemble waves. The undulating structure causes you to experience a roller coaster feeling if you cross it by vehicle. You will sometimes see locals jumping from it into the water, although this is very dangerous since some spots are too shallow. The two most popular beaches here are La Posta del Cangrejo and Montoya, both good surfing spots although they can get very crowded. There are a great number of shops, bars and restaurants on La Barra’s main street so it’s worth walking along it to experience the festive atmosphere.
Manantiales & Bikini Beach
La Barra and Manantiales are very similar; they both have a main street parallel to the shore, covered in beautiful shops, amazing restaurants, and lively bars. Manantiales is smaller than La Barra, but makes up for it by having some of the best restaurants in the whole of Punta del Este. A few recommendations are Cactus y Pescados where you will eat amazing seafood, No Me Olvides, regarded by many as the best pizzeria in the world, and Sipan, home to incredible Peruvian cuisine. Bikini Beach is a classic of Manantiales, and very popular during high season. Here you can spot surfers, dance at the beach bar, and watch the sunset against the backdrop of the Punta del Este skyscrapers.
Pablo Atchugarry Foundation
Pablo Atchugarry is a famous Uruguayan contemporary artist, who in recent years founded an indoor and outdoor art space. The foundation features several gallery spaces, with moving exhibitions and a permanent collection of small sculptures by the artist. However, the highlight of the foundation is its stunning outdoor sculpture park. The park is open to the public, and features sculptures of different styles by artists from all over the world. Atchugarry himself curates most of the park, striking a perfect balance between the natural landscape and the pieces, so as to give every sculpture the spotlight it deserves. You might even have the chance of talking to the artist himself, as you can often see him working on a new piece right outside the sculpture park.
Fundación Pablo Atchugarry, El Chorro, Maldonado, Uruguay, +598 4277 5563
Driving to José Ignacio, a town on the outskirts of Punta del Este, would definitely be a highlight of your trip. It is a unique resort that has expanded and developed to fit the needs of the high-end travelers that each year grew exponentially, while maintaining its original relaxed, peaceful atmosphere. José Ignacio is a bit of an escape from the glamorous Punta del Este, while still having access to the best quality restaurants, stores, and art galleries. Going up the lighthouse to gaze at the scenic landscapes all around is an unforgettable experience to finish your trip.