You can travel from Argentina to Uruguay (Buenos Aires to Montevideo) and vice versa by plane, ferry, bus and road. Here we help you decide the best way for you to get between the two South American capitals.

Montevideo direct by ferry – just two hours from Buenos Aires

If you want to get straight to Montevideo in as short a time and with as little hassle as possible, we recommend coming by ferry.  Buquebus (which has a monopoly) runs two direct voyages to Montevideo per day which take 2hrs 12 minutes.  The boat is called Francisco after the Pope and can transport 1,000 passengers and 200 vehicles at speeds of 100 km per hour (over 60 mph).

A cheaper alternative – the cheaper ferry/bus combo

If you want to save money, your alternative is a ferry-bus combination from Buenos Aires to Montevideo run by three ferry companies, Buquebus, Colonia Express and Seacat. They take you by ferry to Colonia (this takes an hour) and then onto Montevideo by bus.  The trip takes between four and five hours. Buquebus and Seacat are both owned by Buquebus and get preferential treatment at the port. So Colonia Express, the competition, takes slightly longer.

Stopping off in Colonia del Sacramento

If you want to sight-see, we recommend stopping off for the afternoon or longer in the UNESCO Heritage city of Colonia on your way to or from Montevideo. All three companies sell tickets to Colonia.

WARNING You cannot stop off when you buy a Buenos Aires-Montevideo ticket Yes, we know, the ticket says “via Colonia”. But they won’t let you make a stop-off. Here’s what you do if you want to stop off for the afternoon in Colonia.

Why take the ferry when you can fly?

Environmental reasons aside, there are several reasons to take the boat to Montevideo rather than fly:

  • Plane tickets are usually more expensive (but not always).
  • The airport is 30-40 minutes from the centre of Montevideo. The port is right in the city centre.
  • Transfers from the airport to the city centre cost around 40 USD, adding to your costs significantly.
  • There is an airport tax, whereas there is no port tax (or if there is it is a couple of USD).
  • In the Southern winter time, the airport in Montevideo is frequently fog-bound in the mornings, leading to delayed or cancelled flights.
  • Coming into Montevideo by boat, and leaving Buenos Aires by boat, gives you unique views of each city.

If you do decide to fly, make sure you check out which airlines flying to Montevideo that you should avoid.

Travelling by bus from Buenos Aires to Montevideo

You can also travel by bus from Buenos Aires to Montevideo however we do not recommend it. The bus needs to go several hours north along the River Uruguay before it can finally head east into Uruguay. We do however recommend coming by bus if you are coming from more cities to the north of Buenos Aires such as Cordoba or Rosario. It will save you money and time, as you travel overnight in comfortable coche-cama (international long distance buses have reclining seats similar to those in first-class of airlines).

So… what’s the best way to travel from Buenos Aires to Montevideo?

  • If you want to save time, come by direct ferry to Montevideo.
  • If you have time and want to sight-see, break your journey in Colonia.
  • Or if you need to save money, the ferry-bus combo is usually cheapest.

More reading

[Article first published: Jun 29, 2014. Lots of people read it, so we keep it as up to date  as possible]

Photos: Guru’Guay and Matias Contreras on Unsplash

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