Uruguay is often neglected in favour of its neighbours to the north and south. But don’t underestimate this little country – for its small size, it packs a punch with plenty of things to do and see. If you’re going to be in Argentina, you should definitely add Uruguay to your itinerary. To help you plan your trip, here’s our guide on how to get from Buenos Aires to Montevideo.
The Ferry From Buenos Aires
The most popular way to travel from Buenos Aires to Uruguay is by ferry. The two capital cities of Buenos Aires and Montevideo are perched on opposite banks of the Rio de la Plata, so the river is a convenient way to travel. There are three companies that run daily ferry services from Buenos Aires:
All three companies service the route between Buenos Aires and Colonia del Sacramento directly by ferry. Buquebus is the only service which has a ferry connection to Montevideo.
Buquebus is the biggest company with the most vessels, and generally the most expensive. It operates out of the North Dock in Puerto Madero. The terminal has a large Buquebus sign on it. Pay careful attention to the length of the journey when booking your ferry with Buquebus as there is a quick ferry that takes just over an hour, and there is a slow ferry which takes three hours and is cheaper.
Seacat Colonia is operated by the same company and out of the same dock as Buquebus, but the fares are often cheaper. Colonia Express operates out of the South Dock of Puerto Madero, which is less convenient to get to, but is usually the cheapest option.
Be aware that because of government regulations in Argentina, if you are not Argentine you will have to pay for the ferry with a foreign credit card or in dollars. At this moment, it is not possible to pay with Argentine pesos as a foreigner.
Choose Your Ferry Route
There are three ways to get to Montevideo from Buenos Aires by ferry:
1. The direct ferry: Buquebus has a direct route from Buenos Aires to Montevideo. This journey takes 3 hours.
2. Ferry + bus: Buquebus, Seacat and Colonia Express all have the option to book a ferry to Colonia with a bus transfer to Montevideo included. The trip takes an average of 4.5 hours on the quicker ferry. The bus journey from Colonia to Montevideo is around 2.5 – 3.5 hours). This is cheaper than the direct ferry.
3. Ferry + stop in Colonia + bus: If you want to stop in Colonia to see the town, we recommend booking the ferry to Colonia and then buying your bus ticket independently (not through the ferry companies). You can get your tickets at Colonia’s bus terminal, a short walk from the port. There is a bus leaving approximately once an hour. To see a timetable of the buses that run from Colonia to Montevideo, take a look at Terminal Colonia’s website.
The route between Buenos Aires and Colonia is very popular, as many people take day trips or weekend trips. Buying tickets for a weekday is easier, and you can buy them last minute at the terminal. However, if you want to travel over the weekend, especially a long weekend, you should try and book your tickets in advance.
Overland by bus
You can also take a bus from Buenos Aires to Montevideo. These buses travels overnight and take around 8 hours. El Condor, Pullman, Cauvi and B. Carrera are the companies that service this route. This is not the most appealing option to get to Uruguay, as the bus has to travel inland for a distance first and it takes much longer than the ferry. However, if you wish to visit a city like Rosario in Argentina first, and then continue on to Uruguay, the bus is your best option.
The main bus station in Montevideo is Terminal Tres Cruces. From here you can travel anywhere else in Uruguay and beyond.
The third option is to fly from Buenos Aires to Montevideo. Aerolineas Argentinas has a number of daily flights servicing this route. Flights depart from the domestic airport in Buenos Aires, Aeroparque Jorge Newberry (AEP). Air France also flies this route. The flight takes around 50 minutes.
Combine a visit to Uruguay and Argentina by taking an easy trip from Buenos Aires to Montevideo. There’s no excuse not to add Uruguay to your South American travel itinerary!
By Nicole Eberhard