A day by the sea? Piriápolis and Punta Colorada

Piriápolis, an hour from Montevideo, is a charming Uruguay beach town, ideal for families, has an art-deco promenade and you don't need a car to get around.
By Karen A Higgs
Last updated on May 27, 2013

Piriápolis 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.

Hotel Argentino in Piriápolis
Hotel Argentino © Olga Rivero

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 Piriápolis.

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.

Hotel Colón in Piriápolis
Hotel Colón © Olga Rivero
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.

Punta Colorada

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 Piriápolis). 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 Piriápolis – or you can enjoy walking back into the sunset.

Why choose Piriápolis?

Besides being a seaside resort, Piriápolis 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.
View of Piriápolis
View of Piriápolis © Olga Rivero

So who would I recommend Piriápolis to?

1. Piriápolis 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. Piriápolis is charming, accessibly sized to walk all over and the bus station is just a few blocks from the beach.

Buses leave Montevideo for Piriápolis every 30-60 minutes and take 1.5 hours. You can check the bus timetable online.

Photos: Many thanks to the generosity of resident Piriápolis 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 Piriápolis en Fotos




9 Responses

  1. Hi ! I am a Uruguayan who lives in New York City. When I saw your story on Facebook, I shared it because I loved it. My country is small but people with a big heart live !! I would love to contact you, I wish you the best! Hugs

  2. Hello!! I’m a Piriapolense by choice (I’ve lived here for more than 20 years) and I loved your article on our city. Just so you know, we have a very large community of foreigners here in Piriápolis, especially Canadian, English and German. I guess they love our quiet and peace.

    You have a really wonderful site, and your love for my country shows in every article. Thank you for portraying it so well!!

  3. Hola! De camino a PIRIAPOLIS pasas por balneario solís. Te recomiendo visitarlo e incluirlo en tu página web ya que fue elegido desde el año 1930 por la colectividad inglesa como destino de vacaciones. Algunas familias aún viven permanente también. Es residencial y tranquilo, con jardines amplios y un creciente circuito gastronómico de fin de semana (tres restaurantes). Te adjunto nuestro website x más info. : solisgrande.com

  4. Hi Welshwitch!
    I´am uruguayan living in Sweden. I also lived in Great Britain like you. I just found your site through a facebook friend.
    I just wanted to pass by and say that you´ve done a great job. I will recomend the site to friends that wish to know about Uruguay but can not speak spanish..
    Have a great week-end.


  5. My wife & I are arriving in Montevideo on Jan 21,2016. We have an apartment across the street from the market.
    We are spending 5 weeks in Uruguay, we want to get a full Carnival Experiance. We are both veterans of Toronto’s Caribana Festival.
    Is there a site that has all the venues, streets, and different groups on it.
    We will be in town on the afternoon of the 21, how do we get to see the first parade that night?
    I would also like to go to Playa Chihauhau for that all over tan.
    I can’t figure out what bus would take us there, could you help.
    Your site is very helpful and I would like to drop by some day when we are there and meet you and say thank you. Counting down the days till we are there.

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