what things cost in uruguay

There is no way around it - Uruguay is not a cheap country for travellers. In fact, it's probably the most expensive place in South America, especially should you choose to take a trip here during the peaks months of January and February.

Travel through the rest of the continent, and you can't help but fall over European, Australian and North American backpackers, but here, in a tiny corner of the southern cone, it is Spanish that can be heard in hostels and not accented English. Undoubtedly, cost plays a huge factor in this trend.

However, this is not a reason to totally discount the home of mate, the world's coolest ex-president and awesome beaches - you might just have to plan and save a little more! Of course, not everyone is on such a tight budget as us, but for those without wads of cash in their backpacks, to enjoy more than a few days in the country you'll need to avoid eating out most days, pick a dorm bed, do your own laundry and cooking. 

The costs below are the average we encountered in our time in the country, and the individual items have been chosen for their ubiquity across the world and their popularity amongst backpackers. This will allow us, and you, to make a comparison of living and travel costs across Latin America.

Currencies are $UYU / £GBP / $USD. Conversion rate as at time of publication.

average daily cost for a couple on a strict budget

Normally, this would be OUR average daily spend, but as we worked with hostels almost exclusively across the Uruguayan coast, our personal  budget breakdown really isn't representative of what it truly costs to travel here.

Instead, we have taken our average daily spend and added in the cost of two dorm beds per night in backpacker hostels, during low season. 

Should you be travelling in high season, expect your costs to be around 30-50% higher.

$1611 UYU / £36 GBP / US$54.7

average cost of a dorm bed

Whilst in the low season the cost of accommodation in Uruguay is not that dissimilar to parts of Argentina and Brazil, in high season (end of December - mid-February) the prices are increased to almost ridiculous levels in a number of tourist hot spots (we're looking at you Cabo Polonio!).

For most, staying exclusively in dorms may be your only option.

In high season be prepared to spend at least UR$1000 per night for a dorm-bed (and we'd recommend you book ahead). There may be some cheaper options but, yeah, it's not terribly budget-backpacker friendly!

High season: $1000 | £22.4 | US$34

Low season: $500 | £11.2 | US$16.9

average cost of two hour bus ride

Buses here are pretty luxurious with air con and comfy seats but they aren't the cheapest.

Thankfully, the distances between towns on the gringo-trail are small so you're unlikely to have to pay a large amount for a long journey - as you really won't be taking any!

$200 | £4.5 | US$6.8

one breakfast out

This seems pretty cheap doesn't it? But just remember that breakfast in Uruguay is rarely more than a coffee and a few pastries. Tasty, but unlikely to hold your hunger at bay for very long.

$150 | £3.35 | US$5

one litre of water

Water isn't expensive here, but bear your budget (and the environment) in mind and just fill up your water bottle - it's safe to drink the tap water in most places in Uruguay.

$25 | £0.55 | US$0.85

one cheap cup of coffee

The cost of a simple coffee is hugely variable. We found a perfectly good cup in Rocha for UR$50 but milky awfulness in Cabo Polonio for UR$70.

One thing that surprised us however, was that pretty good coffee can be found almost anywhere in the country.

But, maybe during your time here, you should do as the locals do and switch to mate for your caffeine hit!

$70 | £1.55 | US$2.35

one set lunch in local comedor

Set lunches are always cheaper than eating out in the evening but this is still not a cheap country in which to do it.

Also, please bear in mind that this is the cheapest that you are likely to find - most places will charge more.


$200 | £4.5 | US$6.8

half a dozen eggs

Cheaper than we expected and more often than not, free-range. 

$30 | £0.65 | US$1

one litre of beer

As is usual in Latin America, there is a fee for the returnable bottle ($15).

For those that prefer wine over beer, you'll be pleased to know that wine is both cheap (around $80-100 per half-decent bottle) and fabulous in Uruguay!

$65 | £1.45 | US$2.2

400g pasta and 400g marinara sauce

Given that Uruguay has large numbers of people with Italian heritage, it is of no surprise that getting your hand on good pizza and pasta is pretty easy - this also extends to cheap fresh pasta and gnocchi.

So, give the dried stuff a miss for a few weeks and indulge in some good carbs! 

$75 | £1.7 | US$2.55 

one can of coke

Top tip: if you're in town for a couple of days buy a returnable glass bottle of soft drink and collect the envase fee at the end of your stay. It's SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper.

$25 | £0.55 | US$0.85

one loaf of bread

We've said it before, we'll say it again - buy single bread rolls by the kilo and it'll save you a fortune!

$60 | £1.35 | US$2

one small load of laundry

Laundry is unfortunately one of the many expensive things about this country. If it's a short trip, try and save it for another country or do it by hand in the sun.

$200 | £4.5 | US$6.8

one packet of local cigarrettes

Uruguay has some very strict rules about the selling of cigarettes, and some of the highest taxes this side of the world.

$100 | £2.25 | US$3.4


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