Where to Eat
El Palenque: With locations in Montevideo’s Mercado del Puerto and Punta del Este, this popular parrilla (grill) specializes in grass-fed Uruguayan beef.
El Viejo y Querido Café Almacén: It’s all about authenticity and quality at this homey Montevideo (Punta Carretas) lunch and dinner hangout.
La Huella (pictured): Located on the beach in José Ignacio, this is the Punta del Este area’s must-try restaurant. Go for seafood dishes like grilled sea bass and steamed clams.
Sí Querida: Offering down-home dining in an old garage, this kitschy Maldonado spot is known for wood-oven pizza and roast wild boar.
Restaurante Garzón: The outpost of famed Argentine chef Francis Mallmann employs a cooking method known as infiernillo, where meats and vegetables are placed between two live fires.
—Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen
Where to Stay
Sofitel Montevideo Casino Carrasco & Spa: Occupying a landmark waterfront building in the city’s Carrasco section, this recently renovated property dates back to 1921.
My Suites: Billed as a boutique “wine” hotel, this modern traveler’s lodge in Montevideo’s Pocitos neighborhood offers wine tastings five nights a week.
Fasano Las Piedras (pictured): Set inland from the water amid rocky outcrops, this is Punta del Este’s top resort. Play golf, shuttle to a private beach or relax in your Isay Weinfeld-designed casita.
Playa Vik: Merging modern design, top-level service and an unrivaled oceanfront location in José Ignacio, Playa Vik appeals to well-heeled beach lovers.
Narbona Wine Lodge: Located at Narbona winery in Carmelo, about 150 miles west of Montevideo, this Relais & Chateaux property offers five luxurious suites with winery or vineyard views.
Where to Explore
Montevideo’s Ciudad Vieja: Walk the oldest parts of the nation’s capital, including Plaza Independencia and Calle Sarandí. Don’t miss the painted houses in Barrio Reus, the historic Jewish quarter.
Teatro Solís: See a show at Montevideo’s oldest theater, built in 1856 and renovated a decade ago.
Bodega Bouza (pictured): This boutique winery 15 minutes from Montevideo is owned by a family with Galician roots. Take a tour and focus on the Albariño.
Casapueblo: Designed by the late artist Carlos Páez Vilaró, this whitewashed cliffside hotel and museum in Punta Ballena looks like Santorini by way of Gaudí, with great sunset views.
La Barra/José Ignacio: Hit world-class beaches—Montoya, Bikini and Manantiales—then gallery-hop through these once-sleepy, now red-hot towns to the east of Punta del Este.