Punta del Este is the place in Uruguay for the rich and famous. Of course, you don't need to be part of the elite to enjoy a summer vacation in Punta del Este. The place offers beautiful beaches, and excellent restaurants, bars, and nightclubs draw Argentinian and Brazilian holidaymakers and other foreign tourists alike, who arrive each year to this glamorous city. But, what to see? Which are the highlights and must-see? Take a look to the following information. It´s a list of the main visits and activities to do during your trip to Punta del Este
Visit The Hand (La Mano)
One of the most iconic images of Punta del Este is the famous hand sculpture, with fingers rising out of the sand. Known as La Mano, this sculpture made by the Chilean artist Mario Irarrázabal emerges from the beach in Playa Brava. Don't leave Punta without getting a picture of the famous fingers, it´s an icon of "Punta"
Enjoy the beach: Playa Brava & Playa Mansa
The number one reason to visit Punta is to enjoy the beaches during summer season. Punta del Este's location on the point of the peninsula means you can choose between two coasts: Playa Mansa, or the side at Playa Brava with more wind, and perfect for sea sports like surf or windsurf for example. If you want to follow the model crowd, head to Bikini Beach in La Barra.
Enjoy the beach II: La Barra, Montoya Beach, Manantiales & Bikini 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.
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.
Visit the unique "house-village" designed by the uruguayan artist and worldwide vamous Carlos Páez Vilaró. This sprawling white compound has a unique design meant to resemble the mud nests of the local Hornero birds. Today, Casapueblo is a hotel, but also has a museum, art gallery and café. And a must-see when you visit Punta del Este. From the terraces of Casapueblo, you will catch the most beautiful sunsets, and spot sea animals swimming in the Atlantic right below. Don't miss to watch the sunset at this spectacular spot during a city tour. It´s an amazing and unique show of nature!
Conrad Resort & Casino
Conrad Resort and Casino, is an icon of 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 if you´re a music lover.
The harbour area
You can’t go to Punta del Este without paying a visit to the local harbour. 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.
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.
Enjoy the nightlife
Punta del Este offers an incredible diversity of activity for the nightlife: Casinos, bars, nightclubs, discos start late and continue through the night. The Conrad Resort and Casino holds Las Vegas-style reviews and other music, dance, and magic shows. The enormous 24-hour casino has 450 slots and 63 tables for baccarat, roulette, blackjack, poker, dice, and fortune wheel.
Punta has world-class shopping, with Uruguayan shops and European boutiques lining Calle Gorlero, the principal street bisecting this resort town. A weekend crafts market takes place from 5 PM to midnight at Plaza Artigas."