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- 30 Jul 2021, 3 nights
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The attraction of Punta del Este in Uruguay lies in its glitzy reputation, long sandy beaches and a lively party scene that keeps visitors on the dance floor till dawn. In this popular coastal resort, shiny yachts and soaring skyscrapers mix with beach bars and laid-back restaurants. Discover the easy-going enclave of La Barra or take a boat trip out to Isla de Lobos, where you can spot sea lions basking in the sun.
The hostels in Punta del Este range from colourful guesthouses in upscale residential neighbourhoods to spacious dorms in wood-clad buildings. Most hostels are just a short walk from the beach. Many of them have terraces where you can gather with other guests for a traditional asado (barbecue). Wi-Fi is often free in Punta del Este hostels; some even have extras like swimming pools with day beds, as well as bike rentals for exploring the city.
The beach of Playa Mansa has gentle waters ideal for swimming, while Playa Brava on the opposite side of the peninsula is a popular surf spot. On the main street of Juan Gorlero, you'll find various shops and restaurants. Across the bridge from the eastern end of Punta del Este lies the chic fishing village of La Barra. Locals flock to its Bikini Beach in the daytime, and its many bars and clubs fill up when the sun goes down.
Punta del Este is a playground for water sports such as surfing, snorkelling and windsurfing. A quick 15-minute boat ride will take you to Gorriti Island, which has two pristine beaches. Back in the city, popular attractions include the Faro de Punta del Este lighthouse, which was built in 1860. Then there's La Mano, a sculpture of a hand partially emerging from the sands of Playa Brava. This monument is the work of renowned Chilean artist Mario Irarrázabal, and is a famous symbol of Uruguay.
Punta del Este International Airport is around 20km from the centre and connects to the city by bus. The main bus station has services to other destinations in Uruguay including the capital, Montevideo, two hours away. Within Punta del Este, you can easily walk the edge of the peninsula, stopping for shade under the palm trees lining the boardwalk. Taxis are in high demand during the high season (December to January), so many visitors rent a motorcycle or a bicycle to get around instead.