by Daniel McFaul
(Punta Del Este, Uruguay)
We are in Punta Del Este right now, Jan 2014, having travelled down from Salto and Montevideo through Piriápolis. Anyone reading this thinking you can live like a king for a pittance is going to be in for a horrid shock.
A litre of beer in a supermercado is around $60 (Uruguayan pesos), in a restaurant will cost more like $110 - $150. A reasonable sized pizza in a reasonable restaurant that would feed two for lunch is $450. Don't forget your 10% tip (often compulsory in restaurants).
BK and McDonalds in PDE - a meal will cost around $180 for something basic.
A regular supermercado will charge about $40 for a baguette, $40 for a sixth of a watermelon, I got 2 peaches today for $25 but that was quite cheap, all things considered. Meat, even though Uruguay has an abundance of it, is also expensive. So far we have priced restaurants at exactly 100% more expensive than the ingredients in a supermercado. Today we saw packs of sandwiches retailing about $30 for a single sandwich (not very exciting either) whilst little pre-packed pasta meal things could be had for $140. I paid $75 for a small tin of sardine fillets.
The Punta Del Este area is incredibly expensive due to the summer season, it feels like every rich family from Argentina is here right now, but don't be fooled into thinking that the rest of the country is cheap.
The only vague bargain we have found is Uruguayan wine, which can retail in a litre box for $60 - $80 but in bottles goes up to $400 or so. The quality, however, is pretty good at the price, given the cost of beer.
Like your Tabasco sauce? Expect to pay $150 for a bottle.
Soft drinks are priced similarly to beer.
There are only two things priced well in Uruguay - hostels and buses. We have stayed in hostels between $240 and $500, no complaints, whilst the buses around the towns are approx $30 and buses between towns are also cheap compared to neighbouring countries.
Uruguay gets a bad rap for being boring and expensive. We have found it a country that alternates between North American and European, and never South American. It is picturesque, the people are genuine, the architecture is gorgeous and the barbecue meat is delicious. But it will cost you an arm and a leg.
January 2014 daily costs (food, accommodation, bus etc) : $1200 (including one very cheap meal in a restaurant a day like a milanese sandwich).