Squeezed between Argentina and Brazil and shaped a bit like a football, Uruguay doesn’t feature on your average South American checklist. But with its progressive politics, sizzling asado culture and some of the best beaches on the continent, we think it should. Keep that in mind as you check out our list of the best beaches in Uruguay.
From off-grid hippie enclaves (note: cannabis was legalised here in 2014) to chic celebrity hangouts to riotous party towns, there’s a beach here for everyone. It would take a while to cover every stretch of sand along Uruguay’s largely unspoilt 660km coastline, so we’ve selected some beaches in Urugway that we think make this country a strong contender for best beach destination in South America.
If you prefer backpacking and are considering a trip to South America, read our list of tips for backpacking South America.
There are only a few rustic places to stay here and some tin-roofed restaurants fire up the asado during the summer. Don’t expect anything to “do” in Cabo Polonio, other than lie in a hammock, drink beer, and pay a visit to the talkative sea lions who hang out near the 120-year-old lighthouse. The hardest decision you’ll make is whether you should ever leave.
Expect a gorgeous, wave-lapped beach (with a black, rusted shipwreck – Cathay VIII – on the western side), dusty lanes criss-crossing the town and a few ramshackled bars and restaurants serving fresh grilled seafood.
A trip filled with history, culture and nature spread out over three beautiful and unique countries. Visit some of the most stunning sites, like the Sugar Loaf Mountain, Iguazu Falls and UNESCO World Heritage site Colonia del Sacramento, during this tailor-made 14-day trip across three countries: Brazil, Argentina & Uruguay.
Playa Brava considered one of the most popular and busiest among beaches in Uruguay, and is known for its lively atmosphere and wide range of activities and amenities. The beach is located on the peninsula of Punta del Este, and is adjacent to the beach of Playa Mansa.
It's famous for being a place where a lot of celebrities go to, specially during the summer and specially on New Year's Eve. On the beach you can find sunbeds, umbrellas, a playground area, restrooms, lockers and showers. it is also a place where you can find many food trucks, bars and night clubs.
Playa Mansa also has a variety of restaurants and cafes, perfect for having a bite to eat while enjoying the view of the sea. It is a popular spot especially during the summer months. The two beaches together form one of the most famous places for tourism in the country, and visiting both is a must during your trip to Punta del Este.
If you're in search of a culinary experience in Uruguay, explore our list of the best restaurants in Punta del Este.
One of the most popular beaches in Manantiales is Playa Bikini, a VIP beach which was born as a surfing spot. It soon became one of the top spots in La Barra, where every afternoon young people with high purchasing power, models and celebrities flock.
In the summer months you’ll be sunbathing on the sandy beach alongside bronzed millionaires, supermodels and celebrities – and you’ll pay for the privilege to stay in one of the elegant guesthouses or the futuristic, waterfront Vik Hotel.
Still, the village retains hints of its old charm and is a good option for a day trip, if you can find a parking spot alongside the sports cars.
During the summer months the 1500-strong population bulges to 20,000 as backpackers and a hedonistic student party crowd descends – mostly from Brazil and Argentina – onto the wide, sun-drenched beaches.
Find more beach South American destination with our guide to the best beaches in Argentina.
Just like on Punta del Diablo, the waves on the south side of the beach are ideal for surfing all year round. It's also a family-friendly beach that's perfect for families. Its dry and wet sand makes it possible to play sports such as football or beach tennis, as well as games such as shuffleboard, in designated areas.
On the weekends and during holidays, the beach gets quite crowded with locals, tourists and many families. It also have a bike lane and skatepark in the area. During the summer months, it's usually packed with people, and you can find a variety of activities and events happening on the beach.
Playa del Carrasco is also a good spot for sailing, windsurfing and kite-surfing, and has a clubhouse for the practice. On the beach, you will find showers and restrooms, as well as a playground and a skatepark nearby. The beach is located in a residential area, which is known for its upscale and affluent neighborhood, therefore the beach tends to be a bit quieter than some other beaches in Uruguay.
Uruguay is undoubtedly a rather exotic destination. If that's what you're after, also check out our guide to the most exotic places to travel in the world.
If you prefer to plan and book your trip to the Uruguay without any effort and hassle, use the expertise of our local travel experts to make sure your trip will be just like you dream it to be.
Visiting Uruguay is a trully unforgetable expirience. For more inspirational travel tips check our Rough Guide books.
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Top image: Oceania de Polonio beach © abriendomundo/Shutterstock