Punta del Este is the perfect South American beach resort town – it has beaches for every taste, good hotels and restaurants and it's peaceful in the off-season. It's just 1 hour and 45 minutes by car from Montevideo and it's known as the "Pearl of Uruguay" because of its beautiful promenades for strolling.
Be prepared to spend – it's a favorite destination for well-off South Americans. A stroll along Gorlero Avenue, where you'll find diners, restaurants and galleries, as well as a lively casino, is worth your time. From there you can go to the exclusive Rua 20, where you'll see stores selling world-famous brands.
The cultural attractions include the home of the artist Carlos Páez Vilaró – the famous Casapueblo – which has been transformed into a museum and hotel in the Punta Ballena neighborhood. It's become one of Punta del Este's architectural symbols.
This resort town is the ideal destination if you want to rent a car – there aren't many buses and the taxis are expensive. If you want to adventure out to the farther beaches and resorts, a car is your best bet. Visit the beaches that offer what you want – they range from calm ones that are good for children to party beaches full of young people and loud music. People frequently go along the coast until they reach La Barra and cross the famous stressed ribbon bridge. The old village of José Ignacio, which is 45 km (28 miles) from Punta del Este, is a good place to go if you want to get off the beaten track. It has peaceful beaches, a famous lighthouse and a variety of rustic food stands that serve food right on the beach.