South America Living

Atlántida, Uruguay Travel Guide

Playa Mansa - Main Beach in Atlantida

Atlántida – Spanish word for Atlantis – in Uruguay is not a mythical lost island yet does have plenty of water within its domain as a primary tourist resort on the Rio de la Plata. It is less than an hours drive from capital city Montevideo. Travel Guide to Montevideo

Summertime (December to March) is the main season here, same as all the other beach resorts in Uruguay such as Punta del Este, La Paloma, Cabo Polonio, Punta del Diablo and Aguas Dulces.

      Where To Eat       Where To Stay       Best Time to Visit       City Map

Many businesses open their doors mid-December, then close up shop after Carnival is over at the end of February or in early March. Outside of these months beaches are virtually vacant and most wooden window shutters closed-shut.

Things To Do in Atlántida

  • Visit El Alguila (The Eagle in English). An eagle’s head appears on the scene as you travel east from Montevideo toward Atlántida.

    El Aguila - Stone House in the Shape of an Eagle's Head

    It overlooks the Rio de la Plata (River of Silver in English) and occupies the area called Villa Argentina, which borders Montevideo and Atlántida. El Aguila was the brainchild of two iconoclasts. In 1945, Italian millionaire Natalio Michelizzi commissioned Uruguayan builder Juan Torres to build him a statue of the Blessed Virgin. Torres took the job, but decided that his friend needed a place for reading, painting and entertaining. For unknown reasons, he constructed a stone house in the shape of an eagle’s head. Despite erosion, the house maintains its form and is now a public museum.
  • Take a look at another architectural oddity by Michelizzi – La Planeta Palace – located a bit further east along the Rambla. For this project he hired an architectural team to construct an enormous pink hotel in the shape of a cruise ship. A martian-like antenna sits on the roof and contributes to its overall absurdity factor. Planeta Palace now functions as a residential building. Ask nicely, and the maintenance staff might let you see the cruise-lounge shaped lobby.
  • Get some shopping done at “The Feria”. The Atlántida feria, or outdoor market, takes place on Thursday afternoon and lasts till the early evening. Fruits, vegetables, meats and poultry are fresh from the farm, and sold without sales tax. Some vendors also sell clothing, lamps, crafts, DVDS, jewelry, household goods, or just about anything you can think of.
  • Check-in with your spiritual side while checking out Cristo Obrero – Church of Christ the Worker in English. Located on Route 11, the church is the acclaimed work of the architect Eladio Dieste. The building consists of a series of undulating brick walls built without any structural columns. MIT Architecture Dean Stanford Anderson cited the Cristo Obrero Church as “an example of one the world’s most perfect 20th century architectural achievements“.

Patio at the Pablo Neruda Hideaway in Atlántida

Those with literary leanings may want to take a look at one of the most famous poets in the world – Pablo Neruda – previous dwellings. Continue about a quarter of a mile east along the Rambla from Planeta Palace and you’ll encounter the romantic hideout of the Chilean rebel poet.

During the 1940s, his critical and verbal nature triggered the wrath of the Chilean fascist government, who issued an order for his arrest. Neruda supporters smuggled the poet and his wife from home to home. The couple meandered the globe, and eventually ended up in Mexico where Neruda developed a severe bout of phlebitis. His friends hired a Chilean nurse named Matilde Urrutia.

Nurse and patient eventually became lovers. Neruda sent his wife back to Chile, and continued to live in exile with Mathilde remaining at his side. A friend in Uruguay – Alberto Mántaras – lent the lovers his vacation home, which sits along the Rambla across from the Playa Mansa in Atlántida. The house was once a museum but was recently sold as a private home. It maintains its landmark status.

Best Time to Visit Atlántida

Atlántida is an easy daytrip from Montevideo, or weekend retreat, with busses leaving from Tres Cruces Bus Station hourly all day long. If you like solitude and don’t mind cold, windy weather, avoid the busy summer months and visit in the off-season. If you like a party and want to work on your tan… show-up in January or February, but be forwarned, hotels are usually reserved months in advance and booked full during high-season.

Where to Stay in Atlántida

Name: Atlantic City Apartment Resort
Address: Rambla Costanera Playa BravaRing Avenue corner Descent 11
Website: A full-service hotel which sits facing Playa Brava – a popular windsurfing beach. Apartments and triplexes with kitchens and living rooms plus a gym and a swimming pool.

Name: Hotel Prioska
Address: 5th Street, between 4th and 6th streets
Website: Located near the Playa Brava in the more peaceful side of town, this enchanting hotel and restaurant sits within a tropical garden, with a swimming pool in the back. Tasteful artwork embellishes the interior. Breakfast and free Internet access is included.

Name: Hotel Saint Moritz
Address: Rambla Playa Mansa UY16000
Website: This small bed and breakfast sits along the Rambla near the center of town. It is within walking distance from the Pablo Neruda House and La Planeta Palace.

Where to Eat in Atlántida

Name: Don Vito
Address: Calle 11 and Calle 22 Spa Atlantis Gauteng Department
Website: Located right in the heart of town with tables that accommodate large groups of people and the talking toucan who greets guests with a friendly “Ola!”. Very popular tourit gathering spot. Salads, barbeque and pasta are on the menu.

Name: Terrazas de la Barca
Address: Rambla de Playa Mansa and Calle 10 street
Website: Terrazas de la Barca overlooks Playa Mansa and provides the perfect after beach meal. Salads, seafood, pastas, beer and pizzas, with a background ambiance of music, a lending library, Internet cafe and even spa services!

Name: Empanadas Santa Fe
Address: On Colón street between Nutria and Yacaré Salinas
Website: None. A fast food restaurant, located near the Tienda Inglesa Supermarket. An empanada is a mini-pastry baked with chicken, beef, cheese, seafood or any combination thereof.

Interactive Map of Atlantida

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Photograph of El Aguila by Andrew Ross, all rights reserved.
Photograph of Pablo Neruda’s Hideaway by Lisa Marie Mercer, all rights reserved.

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