How to Spend a Perfect Week in Uruguay’s Golden Riviera
Few Americans travel to Uruguay’s Golden Riviera, a glamorous stretch of unspoiled coastline that attracts South America's well-heeled crowd (along with Europe's in-the-know beautiful people). Barefoot luxury, a burgeoning wine region, and an unmatched art scene make this region the perfect escape for those looking to get (slightly) off-the-beaten track.
Cycle Mansa Beach to Punta del Este
The best way to see Uruguay’s coast is by bike, and the experts at DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co have the best coastal routes mapped out. With a local cycling guide leading the way, you’ll breeze through serene Mansa Beach, passing lush Gorriti Island along the way. Learn all about the pirates who landed on Las Delicias Beach before arriving you arrive at buzzy Punta del Este, where surfers wait in earnest for the swells, sea lions sunbathe in droves, and charming antique shops and craft stores line the narrow streets.
Picnic in Pablo Atchugarry’s Sculpture Park
After a stay at luxe Fasano Las Piedras in Punta del Este, venture to the nearby Atchugarry Foundation, the museum and outdoor studio of famed Uruguayan sculptor Pablo Atchugarry. This 74-acre sculpture park nurtures the local art scene (it’s a gathering spot for artists of all disciplines) and is the perfect place to delve deeper into the country’s contemporary art scene. Wander the grounds to glimpse larger-than-life marble works before plopping down by the park’s lake for an afternoon picnic.
Find Serenity at Uruguay’s Castle by the Sea
Less than two hours from Montevideo is Casapueblo, a stark white, thirteen-floor compound designed and built by Uruguayan artist Carlos Paez Vilaró. One of the country’s most prolific artists, Vilaró built his abode in shapes reminiscent of seashells along the beach. The building slopes peacefully into the tides of the Atlantic Ocean, and its halls are filled with the late artist’s works.
Chill Out in Bohemian-chic José Ignacio
José Ignacio is no secret. It’s like the Uruguayan version of the Hamptons, a bohemian-chic beach town whose glorious shoreline, stylish hotels and see-and-be-seen bars attract the jet-set crowd. Check into one of Bahia Vik’s luxe waterfront bungalows, where you’ll be just steps from the powder-white sand. At the property’s main building, browse works by local Uruguayan artists or take a dip in the infinity pool, then grab lunch at Bahia Vik’s restaurant-meets-beach-club La Susana. At night, hop a bike to downtown José Ignacio, where we recommend dinner at beach shack La Huella.
Go on a Wine Tasting of Uruguay’s Little Tuscany
Depart José Ignacio for Garzón, a tiny town 30 minutes north that’s home to the winery Bodega Garzón. Try the winery’s iconic Balasto, which features Uruguay’s signature grape, tannat, blended with cabernet franc, petit verdot, and marselan. Tannat is so rich in healthy tannins, it’s considered to be the closest wine to a superfood. Don’t miss a meal at the winery’s 12-seat The Restaurant at Bodega Garzón run by Argentine celeb chef Francis Mallmann.
Explore the sleepy village of Garzón
Nearby Bodega Garzón is Pueblo Garzón, a sleepy village in Maldonado worth visiting for its artsy vibe and standout restaurants. Browse trendy art galleries, which showcase works by leading Latin American artists; stop by artisanal ateliers with their colorful textiles on display; and stroll the sleepy plazas. For dinner, you can’t go wrong at Restaurante Garzón, run by chef Francis Mallmann. Expect platters of buttery lemon gnocchi, juicy asado-style meats, and rounds of decadent inky wine.
Check into Estancia Vik
After taking in Pueblo Garzón, head to Estancia Vik, a Spanish colonial hotel and sister property to Bahia Vik. The 12-suite property is decked out in works by Latin American artists, and rooms have sunken tubs and plush down duvets with Frette linens on four-poster beds. Arrange a sunset horseback ride through Uruguayan farmlands with the hotel, then enjoy a final asado beneath the stars at the Estancia’s own restaurant.
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