Lose Yourself in Uruguay's Beach Towns

The country's gorgeous Atlantic coast remains eccentric and mostly under the radar. Skip over Punta del Este and follow us to rugged Cabo Polonio (population 79), freewheeling Punta del Diablo, and mystical Piriápolis.

Tour goers are scribbling down notes, nodding enthusiastically. Rodriguez pans the crowd, his face grimly serious with the weight of this revelation. He fixes his gaze on me. What can I do? I exchange a solemn nod. After all, this is Uruguay's Atlantic coast, where penguins barhop, insurgents unwind, and—just maybe—a kooky alchemist once stashed the Holy Grail.

Terrazas del Puerto, Avenida Francisco Piria (upper level), 011-598/43-21-432,, rooms from $40

Barlovento, Rambla de los Ingleses, 011-598/43-26-895, linguine tutto mare (pasta with fresh seafood) $11

Mystical Tour, contact mystical guide Carlos Rodriguez, 011-598/43-22-544,, three-hour tour to Piria's castle and cathedral $12 (transportation included)

Castillo de Piria, Ruta 37 (2.5 miles outside of town), no phone, free

Cathedral, Ruta 37 (1.5 miles outside of town), no phone, free

Finding Your Way
Piriápolis is 125 miles west of Punta del Diablo (about 2.5 hours by car) and makes a convenient stop on the way back to the international airport in nearby Montevideo. From Punta del Diablo, take Ruta 9 west. Turn left on Ruta 37 (toward the end of the trip), the access road to Piriápolis.


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