Guidebooks often refer to Punta del Este as the San Tropez or Miami of Latin America. Set on a narrow peninsula between the Atlantic Ocean and the Rio de La Plata, this sleepy coastal town transforms into a crowded party haven in the summer.
Well-heeled Uruguayan, Argentinean and Brazilian vacationers flood into the area to lounge at the beaches, shop at the posh boutiques on Gorlero Street and try their luck at the casinos.
In the evening, the clubs in Punta del Este and La Barra come alive with local bands, international DJs and wild parties that could make Ibiza jealous.
Although Punta del Este has garnered fame as a luxury destination, backpackers will still find plenty of activities that fall within their budgets. Visitors can walk the length of the entire city in about two hours. It’s even faster on a bicycle.
Sights like Los Dedos, the lighthouse, and the sea lions at the port provide ideal locales for selfies. Opportunities for kayaking, paddle boarding and surfing abound for able backpackers.
Glitzy Punta del Este manages to maintain a laid-back beach vibe, especially at some of its most creatively-run hostels. Take a look at some of our picks.
Old world charm meets bohemian splendor at The Trip Hostel. Decorated with vintage artifacts, the 4.20 Bar feels like a hippy version of an English pub and stocks a delicious selection of craft beers. Guests can prepare meals in the fully-equipped kitchen or use the BBQ grill on the rooftop.
Visitors can choose from several air-conditioned dorms. Beds in the Boat-Cabin dorm include privacy curtains. Guests who book two-night stays in the private suites get free bike rentals.
The Trip hosts a variety of live music during the high season. During the day, worn-out party animals gather around the big-screen in the livingroom while nursing well-earned hangovers.
On chilly evenings, guests can relax with a glass of Tannat around the outdoor fireplace and plan the next day’s activities.
Located just a few meters from El Emir Beach, Tas D Viaje is a popular hangout spot for local artists and musicians. The fully-stocked bar hosts daily Happy Hours, and the onsite pizzeria offers handmade bread and pizza by the slice. Hostel guests receive a 10% discount at the restaurant.
The hostel offers spacious modern suites that guests can share with up to eight people. Lounging spaces include hammocks, making the hostel a perfect relaxation spot after an active day at the beach.
Tas D Viaje includes an ample breakfast buffet in the price of your room. Conveniently located by the bus station and Gorlero Street, this hostel makes a fantastic hub for exploring Punta del Este.
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F and F Hostel, which lies just five blocks from Playa Mansa and Brava Beach, offers travelers a truly unique lodging experience. The Drink Machine Bar serves beer and cocktails out of a colorful, converted Volkswagen bus parked right on the beach.
The Treehouse Experience brings nature inside for the lucky guests who can book it first. The fun-loving staff at F and F Hostel host lively theme parties either around the pool or on a private yacht en route to the surrounding islands.
F and F’s onsite restaurant offers pizza and local specialties, or you can prepare your own dishes in the guest kitchen or the grill on the patio.
Travelers who want to get away from the chaos of downtown Punta del Este will love Negrita Hostel. This family-run hostel lies across the roller-coaster bridge in La Barra, just 11 kilometers from the city center.
Negrita Hostel provides a laid-back social atmosphere with free breakfast and optional family-style meals. Considering the excellent service and surprisingly affordable beer, you may never want to leave.
Negrita Hostel offers a variety of sleeping options, from rustic dorm rooms overlooking the garden to six-person group accommodations and artfully-decorated private suites.
The tree-lined outdoor lounging space includes a swimming pool, a ping-pong table and plenty of hammocks. Negrita Hostel welcomes guests with dogs so feel free to bring along your furry companions.
A few meters away from Los Dedos on Brava Beach, Hostel 32 provides travelers with the perfect central location to visit Punta del Este’s main beaches, shopping areas and tourist attractions. Practical backpackers will love Hostel 32’s affordably-priced accommodations which lie within walking distance of the bus station.
Hostel 32 offers several separate lounging areas so that everybody can find a cozy corner to relax. Guests can socialize around the pool on the lounging deck or take in the view from a private balcony overlooking the ocean.
The game room includes comfy sofas and a pool table. Hostel guests are welcome to prepare homecooked meals in the spacious kitchen.
The hostels in the Viajero chain consistently get top-notch reviews among backpackers. The Punta del Este branch of the Viajero hostel sits just walking distance from Los Dedos and the bus station.
Although especially popular with couples, the hostel provides plenty of activities for singles to socialize and is renowned for epic parties. El Viajero hosts regular gigs with live musicians and nightly zen meditation classes. Spanish and tango lessons are available upon request, and the game room includes a regulation pool table.
Both private and shared dorms come with en-suite bathrooms. The price of your room includes a homemade breakfast, but you can pick up supplies at the supermarket next door to cook a meal in the guest kitchen.
After several booze-soaked all-night ragers, you may be tempted to spend your remaining time in the comfort of your hostel. However, motivated travelers will find plenty more to see and do in Punta del Este after hitting the top attractions and clubs.
Art aficionados should check out the Ralli Museum or the Guerra Art Gallery or shop for handcrafted souvenirs at the Feria Artesanias. Day trips to Isla Gorriti and the Isla de Los Lobos provide perfect activities for overcast days. Most hostels will gladly arrange whale-watching tours, wine-tasting trips or visits to nearby attractions like the famous Casapueblo in Punta Ballena.
The beaches and clubs may lure backpackers to Punta del Este, but these amazing hostels keep everybody coming back.