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In some ways, Uruguay is Argentina without the attitude, but the annual summer invasion from Buenos Aires infuses the beach resort of Punta del Este with the unmistakeable energy of its larger neighbor. Whether that energy will survive in the short run is open to question, what with currency controls making it more difficult for Argentines to leave their own country, but Punta's long sandy beaches, dense hotel infrastructure, and lively dining and nightlife scenes aren't going anywhere very soon. Still, this is the place where Argentine celebrities come to be seen, as Buenos Aires TV stations, newspapers and glossy magazines base ...

In some ways, Uruguay is Argentina without the attitude, but the annual summer invasion from Buenos Aires infuses the beach resort of Punta del Este with the unmistakeable energy of its larger neighbor. Whether that energy will survive in the short run is open to question, what with currency controls making it more difficult for Argentines to leave their own country, but Punta's long sandy beaches, dense hotel infrastructure, and lively dining and nightlife scenes aren't going anywhere very soon. Still, this is the place where Argentine celebrities come to be seen, as Buenos Aires TV stations, newspapers and glossy magazines base correspondents here to attend concerts, fashion shows and other events in January and February. The rest of the year, it's a more normal place, with significantly lower prices. Punta del Este proper is part of the larger municipality of Maldonado, whose center lies a short distance inland. Punta's most appealing neighborhood is El Faro, a traditional low-rise isthmus that's exceptionally pedestrian-friendly. On the east side of the peninsula, the Playa Brava (Wild Beach) is open to the South Atlantic, while the River Plate laps gently at the westerly Playa Mansa (Calm Beach); the Rambla is a paved coastal path that connects the two sides. The central Avenida Gorlero is the axis of the city's hyper-active shopping and nightlife district. On the Playa Brava side, Chilean sculptor Mario Irrarázaval's Monumento al Ahogado (popularly known as the "Hand on the Beach") is a large-scale human hand whose fingers reach out of the sand, symbolizing a drowning man in the rough seas.

Wayne Bernhardson
About the Expert

Wayne Bernhardson is the author of Moon Handbooks to Argentina, Buenos Aires (including coastal Uruguay), Chile (including Easter Island), and Patagonia (including the Falkland Islands).

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Wayne Bernhardson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Punta del Este is a city and resort on the Atlantic Coast in the Maldonado Department of southeastern Uruguay.
  • Language: Spanish
  • Currency: Uruguayan New Peso
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    March and April, when the weather is still fine but the summer throngs thin out.