For many decades, the coastal town of Punta del Este has been an exclusive resort for rich South Americans. It is still expensive, though not as much as renowned US and European resort areas. A number of luxurious hotels and restaurants, a new casino, an extensive list of sport activities and outdoor pleasures, plenty of nightclubs, shops and natural attractions attract huge crowds of travelers from all over the world.
A great number of visitors come to explore more than twenty miles of pristine beaches offered by Punta del Este. Some of the most popular include Mansa located on the bay side, and Brava facing the Atlantic. Locals prefer other beaches, like La Barra del Maldonado flowing from the Maldonado's bay area to the Atlantic Ocean.
However, it is not only beautiful beaches that make Punta del Este a well-favored tourist destination. The city offers a wide variety of landmarks, appealing to vacationers of all ages and interests. Some of the most popular can be found in La Punta - downtown Punta del Este, and include Old Lighthouse, Casa del Pueblo, Feri Hippie and Dedos among others. Possibly the most renowned attraction in Punta del Este, Old Lighthouse was installed first in 1858 at the Isla de los Lobos, but was moved to the peninsula due to complaints from fisherman. The landmark is some 44 meters high and flashes every eight seconds.
In 1923, the Old Lighthouse was rebuilt using volcanic ash from Italy. This area is known as one of the most tranquil, offering spectacular view of Punta del Este.
In addition to the Old Lighthouse, this part of the city is home to Casa del Pueblo, a modern art museum housed in the Mediterranean style building with varied and interesting art. Another popular attraction, Feri Hippie is a street market featuring over 200 stalls with a wide selection of such articles as wool garments, jewelry, paintings and sculptures. The market has been operating for more than three decades and tends to get overcrowded during summer evenings.
The backbone of the downtown Punta del Este is Gorlero Street, lined by award-winning restaurants, ice cream stores, shops and video games arcades. It is also the center of attraction for local youth, providing it with a vibrant atmosphere. As you get deeper, the street turns quieter, with skyscrapers turning into beautiful and cozy homes. Located some 10 miles from Punta del Este, La Barra is a picturesque area offering sophisticated and charming atmosphere. With its beautiful beaches, restaurants and bars, it is a favorite place for younger people and visitors alike. One of the greatest attractions located here, La Mano is the most popular sculpture in Punta del Este and a great site for a photo shot.
To its visitors Punta del Este offers a relaxed lifestyle. Hotel services and dining rooms are generally available before noon, yet the rest of the city may not be. For fine dining choose from the following Punta del Este restaurants: L Auberge, La Pisiva, Las Brisas, Gauchos, Solanas and Las Desembocadura just to name a few. The city offers a variety of children's activities, including La Posta del Cangreja, popular with families; and Sea Museum housing the largest collection of snails with nearly 5,000 snails represented.