Cabo Polonio is, like that Arcade Fire song, a place where 'no cars go'. Down south, in the south of South America, in one of the most underrated regions of Uruguay: ROCHA. Locals have known the place for so long, but somehow, just a few non locals still adventure themselves further east than Punta del Este. Cabo Polonio is a fisherman's town, with just a lighthouse and a few hundred huts. No electricity or running water. just you, the sand dunes, the waves, the sea lions, the beach, the stars and the stories. A true magical place like no other. There are no roads to the town, so you have to travel on 4x4s that take you three or four times a day from route 10 trough the sand dunes.
Cabo Polonio sits in the eastern shore of Uruguay, right in front of the atlantic ocean.
Google map: bit.ly/Uxf9nO
Punta del Diablo has become on of the most popular beach towns in Uruguay.
A lot of people around the world come to Punta del Diablo each summer to spend holidays near the ocean and the enjoy the unique ambiance of this fisherman's place.
Beautiful white sandy beaches alongside the perfectly clean, clear and warm waters of the River Plate estuary between Argentina and Uruguay makes you feel like you’re on a tropical island, not an hour northeast of Montevideo. Piriápolis with its elegant old hotel and beach front promenade surrounded by small mountains is reminiscent of a Mediterranean beach town. Fantastic seafood to be devoured alongside the beach offers a perfect spot to watch the sun go down. We feasted on gigantic cones and perfectly sculptured ladles of the creamiest ice-cream you can imagine (Heladeria El Faro just across the road from the beach a firm favourite!). Family friendly too with warm shallow waters lapping onto beautiful sandy beaches creating lagoons to play in it has something for everyone.
Great transport links including the ferry/bus service from Buenos Aires will take you door to door in a few hours.
La Pedrera is one of Uruguay's most fun and friendly beach towns, and just fifteen minutes walk west along the beach is Pueblo Barrancas, a fantastically relaxed beach camp with its own stretch of wild and golden shore. We only meant to stop for a drink at the beach bar but couldn't resist the private yurts hidden in the woods behind the dunes and ended up staying for three days of swimming, snoozing, walking, book-reading and camping (in style and comfort).
Ruta 10 - Km 227,5 San Sebastián de la Pedrera, Uruguay
+598 447 9223
Buses stop at La Pedrera and you can walk down the beach from there, or if you're driving or in a taxi Pueblo Barrancas is signposted off the coast road (Route 10) a couple of miles west of La Pedrera.
The longest and best carnival in the world. Why? The longest because it lasts more than 40 days. The best because of the passion, the colours, the music and the traditions (Africa-Americas-Europe). Although it is hosted in Montevideo, the capital of the country, it involves the whole nation. From January to March everybody breaths, eats and dreams of carnival ... and the rest of the year they are preparing for it. It starts with several parades in the main avenue and traditional neighborhoods at the drum's rhythm of the candombe. The election of the queens, the competitions, the public itself is a show. After the parades it celebrates a contest with several categories of a kind of theatrical opera performed by the murgas in the tablados (stages) including several categories full of music and very sarcastic comedy. And the best of all is that you see people from 0 to 100+ years old enjoying in the same way.
If the carnival is not enough, you still have the museums, the football, friendly people, the food (steaks!), the beaches and the beautiful women to really enjoy Uruguay.
The truth is that only by being in Montevideo during January-March you learn the real meaning of the word carnival.
One of the most chilled out and relaxing places we stayed in South America. From the cabana with an amazing ocean view for $10 a night we chilled out on our deck watching Atlantic breakers and sipping our local wine bought from the only shop in the village - cask for $2 a bottle. We helped the local fisherman pull his boat onto the beach and got the freshest fish as a thank you. Punta Diablo was the perfect antedote to the long days on the road.
I don't know what I would have done the last few days in Montevideo without the UruguayNow internet travel guide. It's helped me discover a load of cool restaurants and bars and is full of insider tips. I had previously had trouble finding info about Uruguay in English, but it's all here and it's brilliantly written too.
The only fully sustainable hostel/hotel in Uruguay in the centre of the old city.
Wonderful service and great contacts for the surrounding areas around the city. Great location and a lovely breakfast. US$20 a night. Very recommendable.
A laid back, funky hostel in the seaside village of Punta del Este.
Mixed or female dorms, private singles, doubles or four person share rooms and lovely lounge area surrounded by 16 foot high windows, with a massive hearth and fireplace.
The owners also run a bar, located on the beach just one block from the hostel.
A great place to stopover for a few days en route to Brazil and recharge those backpacker batteries, come rain or shine.
Owner & Operator
Tel / Phone
Uruguay: 0477 2647
Azul Marino is like staying at someone's home but with the privacy of a small hotel. Typical of the area, it is understated but very clean and with everything you need for a beach place. The view of the peninsula and lighthouse is amazing. It is run by the owners, which I prefer, and it is easy! Breakfast is served when you are ready, not with some annoying schedule. Just like the rest of Jose Ignacio, it is unpretentious, but a great place in a beautiful setting. Not to mention that is between Marismo and Namm, two of the best restaurants in the whole Punta area, not just Jose Ignacio.
2 km from Jose Ignacio, route 10, km 185
If you're planning to spend a night in Colonia you could do a lot worse than stay in the Radisson Hotel. We booked a double room for €55 through www.asiarooms.com
It has a pool and casino and has recently been redecorated.
We found this Parilla restaurant around the corner from the 4 Points by Sheraton hotel in the city centre. The service was excellent - the manager/owner speaks good English and the food was superb.
Complimentary shots at the end just added to the experience!
San Jose 1065
Tel: 903 2120
I found myself with two days in Montevideo with not much in the way of expectations but was really pleasantly surprised by the relaxed attitude of the people.
The city is surrounded by the sea, so it feels like a fresh place to be. There are plenty of things to buy at the Tristan Narvaja flea market on a Sunday and my husband and I also took a days tour of the wineries in the surrounding countryside. The tour was expensive but well worth the money and we had a terrific selection of wines and lunch at a winery called Bouza.
If you have time to wander around the old city its really quite splendid.
Don't expect 5-star service for 3-star prices ($108 a night). The service here is mediocre, but who cares? The architecture is one-of-a-kind (envision lots of dark, twisting tunnels) and the view from your balcony is stunning at any time of day. I highly recommend HC if you're staying in Punta del Este: it's charming and full of character. Rent a car. Full report, with pictures, at www.travelmusings.net
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