In Europe we have Monaco and the French Riviera. In the United States, Miami and California. And in South America, the exclusive location where celebrities spend their vacations is Punta del Este, in Uruguay.
Located in the south of Uruguay, Punta del Este is a peninsular city in the department of Maldonado.
This peninsula is washed by two different sources of water. On the one side, the calm waters of the famous and historic Río de la Plata, and on the other, the wild and powerful Atlantic Ocean.
Argentinians, Brazilians and Uruguayans are the main visitors to Punta del Este during the summer time in the Southern Hemisphere. During those months, their hotels and apartment skyscrapers are completely full, the beaches are packed with sculpted bodies , you can hardly get a table at the most popular fish and seafood restaurants and the nightclubs become party temples that are open until the sun is well up in the sky.
But get your wallet ready, because the prices in Punta del Este are approximately a 50% higher than those of the rest of Uruguay.
How to get to Punta del Este?
The best option to reach Punta del Este from Spain is to fly to capital of Uruguay, Montevideo. There are two main airlines that cover the distance directly from Madrid: Iberia and Air Europa.
Once you are in Montevideo, you can take a bus to Punta del Este at their central bus station, called Tres Cruces. There are a couple of companies (Copsa and Cot) that make this journey in 2 hours or 2 hours and 20 minutes (depending on the stops) for a price of around 280 UYU (Uruguayan Pesos), this is, about 8.10€.
Another option is travelling from Buenos Aires. There are many flights that connect the capital of Argentina and Spain. From there you can buy a package which includes the ferry to the Uruguayan city of Colonia del Sacramento and then take a bus from there to Punta del Este. The total duration of the trip is around 7 or 8 hours, but you will have navigated the waters of the legendary Río de la Plata.
What to do in Punta del Este
People go to Punta del Este to have fun, basically. While people in the Northern Hemisphere are well wrapped up in coats (even if in Spain winter is starting to look more and more like spring), in this part of the world beaches are full of people enjoying the summer.
Here I leave you some ideas to make the most of your stay in Punta del Este:
Surf in Playa Brava… Or enjoy a relaxing swim in Playa Mansa
Being a peninsula, the urban beaches of Punta del Este are washed by two different waters.
Playa Mansa is on the side washed by Río de la Plata. This beach is perfect for families or people who don’t like swell.
It has fine sand, football and volleyball tournaments are organised in it and it’s the best beach for practising aquatic sports that don’t require swell. Don’t miss the fantastic sunset in Playa Mansa, spectacular when the sun sets behind Gorriti Island.
However, if you are looking for stronger emotions, take a surf board and go to Playa Brava.
It’s so long that it has several names. In Olla and Papa Charlie you will find a nice surf vibe, while La Plague is a favourite among fashionistas.
Moreover, in Playa Brava you can see the most iconic sculpture of Punta del Este: the fingers of a big hand emerging from the sand. An international sculpture festival is held here.
Go out to dinner and party
You have spent your day on the beach, enjoying the sun, the water and the pretty people. Around 8 p.m., after sunset, it’s the time to go back to your hotel or apartment, have a shower and relax for a bit.
After having dinner, you will have the first drinks at some bar and then end the night at some trendy nightclub (or boliches, as locals call them). Ocean Club, Mambo Club and Hay Agite are some of the best ones. Don’t go to the boliches before 4 a.m. unless you want to open them yourself. People start to go there after that time and the party will continue well into the following morning. As you can imagine, this is only suitable for nocturnal animals.
Rub elbows with celebrities
The beaches, casinos, boliches, restaurants and strets of Punta del Este have seen many celebrities pass by, not only South American celebrities (such as Giselle Bundchen, Maradona, Romario…) but from all over the world.
Robert de Niro, Antonio Banderas, Naomi Campbell or Leo di Caprio are some of them. Playa del Bikini is a favourite among celebrities. But, apart from the cell phone to take pictures, take a nice towel and a beautiful swimsuit. Everybody goes all dolled up to this beach.
Other plans in Punta del Este
If you are tired of so much beach and party and you need a detox, a good plan is going to the Forest Park Arboretum Lussich, located just 15 km away from Punta del Este (direction Punta Ballenas), where you can walk in the woods of native and imported trees that cover the 192 hectares of the park. Rent a bike or take a walk.
Other place of interest is the Sculpture Park Pablo Atchugarry. As for the events, you can’t miss the José Ignacio Film Festival, held every year in February.
Remember that your expenses you will have to pay your expenses in Uruguayan Pesos. Keep reading if you want to know how to get them!
Where to exchange your money in Uruguay
As we have already said, the official currency in Uruguay is the Uruguayan Peso, although the US dollar is broadly accepted. If you don’t have dollars or pesos, you can exchange your money at the Global Exchange branches. You can find them easily whether you arrive by boat to Colonia del Sacramento or to the port of Montevideo, by plane to the international airport of Carrasco or if you stop in Maldonado.
Global Exchange has foreign exchange branches at the main airports of more than 20 countries. Check the branches open in your country and travel without any worries, always with money ready to pay anything you need.