Buying ferry tickets Buenos Aires to Colonia

Cobbled streets of Colonia By Josiah Mackenzie
The cobbled streets of Colonia Photo: Josiah Mackenzie

Colonia is a great entry point into Uruguay. It is just a one-hour boat ride across the River Plate from Buenos Aires and is small enough that you explore, have lunch and explore some more before catching a bus on to Montevideo. Or plan to stay a few days in this stunning little UNESCO heritage town.

Lighthouse in Colonia by María Cecilia Castaño Rodríguez
Lighthouse and colonial era walls in Colonia. Photo: María Cecilia Castaño Rodríguez

Alternatively Colonia is a great exit point if you have been exploring Montevideo and your next destination is Buenos Aires. You can catch a bus from Montevideo and be in Colonia in just two hours. The buses are comfortable and have free wifi.

Leave your luggage in the bus station, buy your ferry tickets to Buenos Aires (or bus tickets to Montevideo) for the end of the day and head off into soak up the colonial atmosphere of Colonia’s Old Town.

The big three

Getting from Buenos Aires to Colonia, there are three ferry companies to choose from: Buquebus, Seacat and Colonia Express.

The table provides the basic differences between each of the service. Basically my conclusion is that the best company is Seacat but you need to buy tickets from an office, unless your Spanish is good enough to handle the website.

Colonia Ferries Information

Ferry times

All three companies run three fast ferry trips per day. They take one hour. You should check the company websites but to give you a ballpark idea, boat times are:

  • Leaving for Colonia at: 8am, noon and 6pm
  • Returning to Buenos Aires at: 10am, 4pm and 9pm

Keep a cool head when trying to book online – it’s NOT YOU

Trying to book a ferry ticket online with any of these three companies would try a zen master.

All of the websites are awful – none of them are in English and they are very poorly designed. If you can’t buy your ticket online it is NOT YOUR FAULT!

Ferry ticket prices

Company

Cost of cheapest one-way ticket*

Most expensive standard one-way ticket*

Buquebus

42

55

Seacat

24

41

Colonia Express

14

21

Note: I used a one-way rate because buying a return (two-way) ticket does not give you a discount. You will simply pay the equivalent of two one-ways.* The prices were in Uruguayan pesos on August 8 2015. I converted them into US dollars and rounded them up using an exchange rate of 28 pesos to the dollar.

[UPDATE: This information is currently out of date. For instance it is now cheaper to buy a day trip ticket than two one ways. This page will be updated very soon.  — August 9 2016. ]

 Do not panic. It is not essential to buy your ferry tickets in advance

  • You will not need to buy a ticket in advance* unless you are travelling on over a holiday weekend or between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day.
  • There is virtually no price difference between buying a ticket one week advance versus four months in advance. There may be a 3-4 USD difference, that is all. Indeed the biggest company Buquebus is not even selling tickets six months in advance. As I write you cannot buy tickets for 2016. Ahhhhh… South America… gotta love it, gotta remain laid back.
  • Buy your ticket to Uruguay once you are in Buenos Aires and can go into an office and buy it in person.

* And by “in advance”, in this part of the world I mean just 24-72 hours ahead.

MORE READING

Ferry ticket prices Montevideo-Buenos Aires Updated August 9 2016

Where to buy ferry tickets to Colonia in Buenos Aires The Parrilla Tours website has a great little break-down including where to buy tickets once you are in Buenos Aires

An epic day trip from Buenos Aires to Colonia Del Sacramento in Uruguay Lovely, lovely pictures and some interesting advice regarding ferry ticket purchases and replenishing your dollar supplies in Uruguay. Whereas exchanging money is a real complication in Argentina, in Uruguay you can withdraw dollars from ATMs (really!) and exchange money without even showing ID. I always say that this is just one very practical illustration of what very different societies Argentina and Uruguay are

Hey! I want to find out more about those differences! Find out more about Uruguay

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please visit the travel company websites for the exact prices of tickets. Guru’guay offers this information as a guide and accepts no responsibility for prices or changes.

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