Piriápolis, Uruguay Travel Guide
Piriápolis is an Atlantic coast beach resort that had its heyday years ago (1930’s), went into decline and now is staging a comeback.
Shopping is mostly souvenirs, with a few upscale fashion shops. Piriápolis is extremely crowded from December through February but it is relatively quiet from April through December.
Many shops and restaurants close during the winter yet there are full-time residents and more and more expats relocating to the area. Sometimes Hotel Argentino (see below in Where to Stay section) shows documentary or ‘artsy’ films if you need a dose of big city culture.
Things to do in Piriápolis
- Explore the Beach and La Rambla. Francisco Piria, a student of metaphysics and master mason, designed Piriápolis in accordance with the principles of Alchemy and Kabbalah. Stroll along the Rambla, or enjoy the beach activities, and you sense the vibe immediately. Once you feel the energy of Piriápolis, the mystical and historic sites make sense.
- Visit Piria Castle. Piria constructed his home on the top of a hill, and named it Piria’s Castle. Statues of the Greek gods – each representing a type of metal used for alchemy, and a planet in the universe – embellish the pathway to his home. During construction, the builders embodied esoteric symbols within the bricks, and hung Templar flags from the towers. The castle’s upper floors were supposedly used for meditation and astral projection. Piria Castle is now a museum, open to the general public.
- Climb Cerro Pan de Azucar. Uruguay is not a mountainous country but Cerro Pan de Azucar (Sugarloaf Mountain in English) is one of its few exceptions. The mountain is home to Reserva de Flora y Fauna del Pan de Azúcar, a nature reserve for the local fauna and flora. Sugarloaf is also a popular mountain climbing and biking destination. Adventure activities such as ziplining are available.
- Cerro San Antonio. No, Piriápolis does not have a ski resort (there is no snow in Uruguay!) but there is a chairlift that takes you to the top of Cerro San Antonio (San Antonio Hill in English). At the top you will enjoy panoramic views of Piriápolis and can climb to the top of Templo San Antonio for an even better view.
- Hang-out at the Fountain of Venus. The Fountain of Venus in Piriápolis replicates a Greek temple that occupies the Villa Paravicini in Milan Italy. Eucalyptus surround the fountain, and a playground sits nearby.
If you need more glitz and glamour, affluent beach resort Punta del Este is about 20 minutes away. There is a movie theater in Punta del Este, as well as more upscale shopping and many restaurants.
Name: Hotel Argentino Casino & Resort Book Now
Address: Rambla de los Argentinos 2342
Website: www.argentinohotel.com.uy/ Even if you can’t afford the rates, at least visit the stained glass windows in the lobby of the Hotel Argentino. Built in 1930, this was one of Piria’s first developments in Piriápolis. The hotel has a spa, a casino and an all-inclusive system that includes three gourmet meals in their onsite restaurant.
Name: Hotel Ricadi Book Now
Address: Pasaje Superior Piria enter on corner of Suipacha & Junin
Website: www.hotelricadi.com Hotel Colon is another one of Francisco Piria’s early masterpieces. This Tudor-style mansion occupies a prime spot along the Rambla. Stunning art nouveau decor and an old-fashioned sitting room with fireplace embellish its interior.
Note: The below listing - Hotel Rex - is really midrange as the Piriapolis Hostal closes from May to August.
Name: Hotel Rex Book Now
Address: Manuel Freire 968
Website: http://www.hotelrex.com.uy/ Colorful décor and a location one half block from the beach combined with indoor pool, gym and additional pampering such as massages.
Name: Salon Magdalena
Address: Inside Hotel Argentino (Rambla de los Argentinos 2342)
Website: www.argentinohotel.com.uy/hPagina.aspx?6 Stay at a cheap or midrange hotel, but splurge on dinner at Salon Magdalena! Located in the Hotel Argentino, award-winning chefs prepare an intriguing selection of international entrees.
Name: Barlovento Taverna
Address: Promenade des Anglais esq. Vilardebó
Website: None. Barlovento Taverna, whose name means “windward tavern,” sits near the beach in Punta Fria. Known for its seafood dishes such as squid rings, shrimp croquettes and mussels Provencal, this lively venue features music and dancing in the evening.
Name: Sal y Pimienta
Address:Tucumán y A. Sierra, Piriápolis
Website: None. Many Uruguayans claim Italian descent. The vast number of pizza and pasta restaurants verify this claim. The staff at Sal y Pimienta treat their guests to a diversity pastas, sauces, pizzas and fresh fish entrees.
Photographs by Lisa Marie Mercer, all rights reserved.