Piriapolis, the Belle Epoque
Today a laid-back beachfront enclave, Piriapolis was founded in 1890 by Francisco Piria, an Argentine of Italian descent. He purchased land between the town of Pan de Azucar and the Rio de la Plata for his private residence and present, it is still there and known as the Catillo de Piria museum. Even at the turn of the 20th century, the visionary Piria saw the potential for tourism and began developing his city, Piriapolis, to resemble a French coastal town.
Piriápolis is 97 kilometers from Montevideo. The scenic tour from Solis at km 80 along the coast all the way through Piriapolis is a beautiful panoramic drive.
The city has all the necessary services to guarantee a comfortable stay and two tourist centers to get all the information needed.
Piriápolis is not only a vacation destination and is an attractive option to live all year round for those who are seeking a more simple lifestyle.
The large Argentino Hotel, in the “belle epoque” style, is now a national historic monument. Completed a decade after its 1920s groundbreaking, the hotel then was one of the grandest on the continent. Its elegantly furnished rooms and balustraded balconies overlook the ocean. Argentino Hotel’s famed Piriavital health spa and renowned casino made this a world-class destination at that time.
Beaches in Piriapolis
Piriapolis stretches some 15 miles from town east toward Punta del Este with seven beaches. Only Rambla and Hermosa, though, with food stands, parking and lifeguard stations, cater to the high-season visitors.
Playa de la Rambla, a calm, in-town beach, attracts middle-class Uruguayan families and young singles. Hermosa beach, a few kilometers east of Piriapolis, is known as the Beautiful Beach for its fine-grained golden sand.
Local fishermen bring their daily catch into Playa Punto Colorado, and surfers enjoy the challenge at Playa de San Francisco. Playa Verde is so named for a greenish swirl of fresh and saltwater mix but a bit rough for swimming. Playa Punta Negra, a dark sand beach, is more isolated and without amenities.
Points of Interest
Rambla y Puerto: The beautiful Rambla, a great postcard of Piriápolis, runs along the coast to Cerro San Antonio passing through the Port. There are always many different boats in size and style moored. Currently, there is a remodeling project approved and in progress.
Castillo de Piria: It was the original residence of Francisco Piria and located a bit outside of Piriapolis. Built in 1897, today the castle is a museum with free entrance where you can attend guided tours. It is furnished with well-preserved period objects.
Church of Piria: These are the ruins of what once tried to be a Church. Ordered to be built by Piria, the works began in 1917 and were abandoned after the founder died. It is located near the Castillo de Piria, but it only can be seen from the outside because it is in a collapsing state.
Argentino Hotel: It was built in 1930 and was the largest hotel in South America at that time. Today it continues to function as a hotel and casino and is a huge monument on the Rambla de Los Argentinos.
Where are we going to eat is a question with many possible answers in Piriápolis. Going for a walk on the Rambla, from the Hotel to the Port, there are lots of places to choose for having lunch or dinner. All offer good quality cuisine and nice places to sit and eat outside looking towards the waterfront. Also through the streets of the center, there are good restaurants for different profiles and pockets, from gourmet places to pizzerias and simple chiviterias and pubs. El Faro and Angelote ice cream parlors are the perfect places to get something sweet.
For those who want to experience the classic gastronomic experience of Piriápolis cannot leave without trying some “Paella,” the typical dish of the city. The fish and seafood of the day are also made to order in almost any restaurant, especially in the Port area.
In the nearby towns, there are also some recommended restaurants like the Club de Las Flores, the Spanish restaurant at the Solís Club of Solís or Aquel Abrazo in Punta Negra. These are also excellent options to go out to eat and at the same time to get to know the neighboring beaches.
The center of Piriápolis gets very busy after sunset. Many people stroll along the Rambla or on the streets within the town. There are many restaurants and bars to go out for dinner or drinks, and there is always the cinema and the casino for a complete outing. Young people enjoy the Costelo bowling facility in Punta Fría, which is always full in summer.
Paella Gigante: Every year the season opens with an outdoor giant Paella. This ritual has been repeated for 15 years and in its last edition had the participation of 12,000 people. The gastronomic event lasts three days and includes sports activities and musical events with free admission.
International Film Festival: Piriápolis Film Festival has been held for the last 11 years at the Argentino Hotel. This event brings together the most outstanding audiovisual productions of the year at the Ibero-American level. Several movies are premiered there for the first time and receive outstanding reviews from the cinematographic field.