Uruguay might be South America's best kept secret. To Americans, that is!
Uruguay, a small country neighbored by Brazil and Argentina, is South America’s best-kept secret. A handful of Argentines, Brazilians, Chileans and non–South Americans in the know popping in to enjoy the pristine beaches, the atmospheric cities, the huge steaks and the happening nightlife.
When the Uruguayan peso crashed, this place has become a whole lot more affordable and Americans got curious. They came, loved it and went back home to tell their friends. Who came, loved it and went back home to tell their friends.
For us, Uruguay was an escape from manic Buenos Aires. An escape from the hustle and bustle, a beach holiday. Not knowing much about Uruguay...not even knowing exactly how to get there. Do you take a bus? A boat? Where do you go? Montevideo or Punta del Este?
We opted to visit Punta del Este, a beach resort town with a beautiful, sophisticated majestic sight. Many call it the Monaco of South America.
The best way to get to Punta del Este from Buenos Aires is via boat-to-bus. Like many visitors, you can take a boat from Buenos Aires to Montevideo and a bus Montevideo to Punta del Este. In total, it is about a 3-3.5 hour trip.
Since we visited towards the end of their summer season (mid-April), finding a hotel was very simple. We stayed at Golden Beach Resort & Spa, which is considered a "splurge" at $120.00 USD a night. Nice hotel, directly across from the beach on the costa brava side of the peninsula.
It is good to know that Punta del Este is a very small town that sits on the very tip of the most eastern point of Uruguay on a peninsula. It is easy to get around by foot, so no cars are really necessary. You may opt for a bicycle, but everything is walkable. Being a peninsula you have two coastlines, one of them is pretty quiet and calm (called "mansa"), and the other one is windy, with some surf spots (called "brava").
Famous beaches include La playa de los Dedos (The finger beach), which is near the main street in Punta del Este, close to a surf spot, and it has a giant hand emerging from the sand. In La Barra the Bikini Beach is famous because of the models and famous people that go there. The endless beaches, beautiful seaside mansions, tree-lined streets, chic boutiques, stylish people.
Casapueblo is a beautiful resort-museum near Punta del Este in the small town of Punta Ballena, Uruguay. From Punta del Este bus terminal, ask for a bus to Punta Ballena. Tell the driver that you are getting out at this destination.
This Gaudi-esque beautiful masterpiece was created by Uruguayan artist Carlos Paez-Vilaró in a kind of mediterranean surrealistic architecture, making the whole place to look like a giant sculpture. He is the father of one of the survivors of the infamous plane crash on the Andes.
Visitors can stay here in one of the 12 rooms and 56 apartments with a terrace where you can enjoy a view of the blue sea and magnificent sunset. Rooms start at $150.00 USD--but do reserve ahead of time since they tend to book fast.
If you aren't staying here, you can still access the hotel and art gallery. Admission is $5.00 USD and it is open from 9:00am till sunset.