Punta del Este – Uruguay’s hot beach town – is somewhat of a paradise for shabby-chic customers, fashionistas and artisanal-craft seekers. For locals and visitors alike, a daily routine is often paired up with a visit to the shops – ensuring everyone is constantly well dressed for the sunset parties going on all over the coast a soon as the clock hits 20:00.
Velas de la Ballena Uruguay
Artesanal Candles| La Barra, Maldonado | $$$$ | Instagram: @velasdelaballenauruguay
| Best for the hand-made and candle fanatics
You wouldn’t be in Uruguay if you didn’t come across some form of artisanal craft – and quite frankly, what craft is better than hand-made candles? With ceiling-to-floor height displays of varying colours and smells, Velas de la Ballena is ideally located in La Barra’s main street and a stone’s throw away from the beach.
Interior Design Shop| La Barra, Maldonado | $$$$ | Paul French Gallery
| Best for those looking to decorate their beach home
Is it possible to fall in love with an interior-design shop? If so, I think I’m head over heels for Paul’s Beach House.Exhibiting and selling beach-house furniture and accessories designed by the acclaimed Argentinian interior designer Pablo Chiappori, the Beach House is a combination of art and design that fit ever so perfectly into the Punta del Este high-end market.
Manos del Uruguay
Wool and Clothing Shops | La Barra, Maldonado | $$$$ | Instagram: @manosdeluruguay
| Best for the knitting enthusiast
Uruguayan wools are famous world-wide for their quality – ask any knitter out there. Selling both yarn and hand-made vêtements, Manos del Uruguay convinces anyone to take on the hobby and begin knitting themselves.
Manos del Uruguay is sustainable, ethical and artisanal in every way. Their yarn is hand-dyed, and the business’ aim is to provide jobs to the rural women of Uruguay and helping them support their families. This initiative has not gone unnoticed, and they have collaborated with world-renowned brands such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs or Stella McCartney.
Café and Clothing Store | | $$$$ | Instagram: @surfinuruguay
| Best for the thirsty shopper
Part clothing store, part surfer’s paradise, part coffee shop – Surfin’ Uruguay is the new cool kid on the block. Made for and by the modern day surfer, this place fills the coffee-shop void in the José Ignacio neighbourhood, and boy do they do it well.
Clothing Store | José Ignacio | $$$ | Instagram: @elcanutotienda
| Best for the colourful bohemian
Sick and tired of browns, beige and blacks? Let shops like El Canuto spice up your wardrobe with noble garments and high-quality jewellery you’re bound to fall head-over-heels for.
Colourful and beachy, El Canuto sells all the goodies you’ll want to be parading around Punta del Este and will surely inspire your year-round wardrobe.
Clothing and Decoration Store | José Ignacio | $$$$ | Instagram: @laestenajoseignacio
| Best for the pinterest-mamas
Nothing screams fun quite like La Esteña’s colourful and playful interior design. They like to describe themselves as “un rincón en el mundo con cosas del mundo” meaning “a nook in the world with things from the world” – which I find to be a very fitting description.
Swerve away from the predominantly minimalistic trends taking over right now, and delve deep into the beauty of colour and chaos in La Esteña.
Clothing and Decoration Store | Maldonado | $$$ | Instagram: @mutate_m
| Best for the shoppers who like COS
Minimalistic, elegant, modern… Mutate is South America’s version of COS. Think well-crafted, practically timeless pieces with a twist that brings Uruguayan staples to the forefront of the brand’s identity.
This treasure-shop doesn’t only sell clothes either, head on over to discover vintage finds, furniture and decorations to spice up your home in true Uruguayan fashion.
Clothing Store | José Ignacio | $$$$ | Instagram: @panoramastore
| Best for the high-fashion seekers
Even if you can’t afford it, Panorama is worth a visit if you have any interest in fashion whatsoever. The store is set up to imitate the sun and the sea, with quality garments arranged by colour dotted around the space. Panorama is truly South American, which makes us love it all the more. Not afraid of colour, this brand is nothing short of high-fashion runaways, and its store could very well be featured in an architecture magazine.
Parador La Choza de Mar
Beach Club | José Ignacio | $$$ | Instagram: @lachozadelmar
| Best for the younger-hip crowd
In all honesty, I had never seen so many beautiful people congregated together until I visited Choza del Mar. This is not your average beach club – make sure you pack some trendy summer dresses and wicker hats to attend San Ignacio’s hottest sunset gathering.
Order a “Clericó” – Uruguay’s white wine version of a sangria – and stay behind until the sun has well and truly set. DJ decks will take over the stage whilst influencers and semi-famous celebrities bring their A-game to this very photogenic boho-chic gathering.
Yoga and Boutique | José Ignacio | $$ | Instagram: @theshackyoga
| Best for the english-speaking spiritual souls
You don’t get boho without a little yoga.
The shack is a wellness centre made up of an extraordinary team of world-wide yogis. Retreats, therapy, movement… you name it and The Shack will have it. The best bit? Most of the staff is english speaking and are bound to make you feel right at home!
Art Gallery | Maldonado | FREE | Instagram: @black.gallery
| Best for contemporary art lovers
Punta del este doesn’t lack galleries. In fact, there’s plenty dotted around its vicinities, but hardly any beat Black Gallery in terms of collections, artists and ambiance. Small and intimate – traits which define Uruguayan culture – Black Gallery promotes young and local talent, exhibiting works of contemporary artists in a beautiful space you will never want to leave.
I think it’s probably fair to say you understand now why Punta del Este is a force to reckon with. Different, fresh and laid-back, the beach town and it’s surrounding villages cater to the bohemian art lover like nowhere else. Although small, the area is populated with an ever-growing market of places you’d expect in a large urban metropolis; art galleries, independent coffee shops, beach clubs, resorts… Pack your bags and head on over before this best-kept secret becomes public knowledge!