Piriapolis is a small beach resort mainly frequented by Uruguayans, just over an hour’s drive from Montevideo.
It has a long promenade and a slightly faded 1950s air – its charm in my view.
The beach is wide and flat and as the water is extremely calm and shallow it’s an ideal spot to take small children.
The Hotel Argentino, the art-deco gem, was South America’s largest –and most glamorous– resort in the 1920s and is an iconic part of Piriapolis.
There is a chairlift up the San Antonio Hill which can be fun if hair-raising – it looks rather precarious – let me just say I’ve braved it myself and never actually heard of an accident ;). The view from above of the bay is stunning.
Even in the rain, Piriapolis is charming.
During the summertime and on public holidays, for lunch take a long walk out of town east (that’s left as you face the water) towards the village of San Francisco along the coast. About 20-30 minutes out, down some steps, lies Don Anselmo a picturesque seafood restaurant set over the water. Their sign is unmissable from the road.
After lunch carry on walking east past the gentle waters of San Francisco beach to get to a fantastic beach – Punta Colorada – the first truly Atlantic waters (apx 5 km out of Piriapolis). Beware, the waves can be rough.
Those skyscrapers you can see to the east are in Punta del Este. There are very occasional buses back to Piriapolis – or you can enjoy walking back into the sunset.
Why choose Piriapolis?
Besides being a seaside resort, Piriapolis is also a thriving little town of 8,000 people. This means that it has a large supermarket, lots of smaller ones, restaurants that open all year round. It’s also just 20-30 minutes drive from the mega-resort of Punta del Este.
This means that as a town there are amenities available off-season which is not the case in the majority of Uruguayan coastal towns. So you really don’t need to hire a car to get around unless you plan to explore elsewhere.
So who would I recommend Piriapolis to?
1. Piriapolis is a good destination for people looking for a no frills, relaxing, maybe even nostaglia-filled, holiday. If you are like me you will feel like you’ve stepped back into one of the seaside resorts of your childhood.
It’s an excellent option for families with young children (teenagers will find it boring unless they are with friends of their own age – and can roam free – then they will LOVE it) and adults looking for simple pleasures. Plan to hire a house rather than stay at a hotel.
2. It is a great day trip/beach destination from Montevideo.
If you’d like to see some of the Uruguayan coast and don’t have much time, this is probably your best option. Piriapolis is charming, accessibly sized to walk all over and the bus station is just a few blocks from the beach.
Buses leave Montevideo for Piriapolis every 30-60 minutes and take 1.5 hours. You can check the bus timetable online.
Photos: Many thanks to the generosity of resident Pirapolis photographer Olga Rivero Hernández who takes splendid shots with the aim of getting her town known – more power to her. See more of her work online at Piriapolis en Fotos
Olga’s shot of Piriapolis at night .