So you’ve been soaking up the bright lights of the capital of Argentina and you’re ready to head off to explore somewhere new? Well if you haven’t quite had your fill of asados or Tango, going from Buenos Aires to Montevideo is an excellent choice.
Because Uruguay is so close to Argentina, it’s super easy to get to. But depending on your budget and your time scale there are a few different ways to travel between these two fascinating South American cities.
How To Get From Buenos Aires to Montevideo
So to help you plan the best way to get to Montevideo from Buenos Aires, we’re going to cover off the quickest, the cheapest and the easiest options.
Let’s do this.
Quickest Way: Fly From Buenos Aires To Montevideo
When it comes to the quickest way to get from Buenos Aires to Montevideo, flying just about tips it. But only if everything is bang on schedule.
If your flight’s delayed by even 20 minutes it will have been quicker to take a ferry from Buenos Aires to Montevideo.
Depending on exactly where you are staying in Buenos Aires, it will likely take you roughly the same time to get to the airport as the ferry port.
Both are around a 20 minute taxi ride from downtown. Which will work out roughly £3 GBP / $4 USD in an Uber.
The flight time from Buenos Aires to Montevideo is 50 minutes. Just bear in mind that you should be a the airport 2 hours before your departure time.
Although if you’re getting a boat from Buenos Aires to Montevideo you’re also advised to arrive at the port 1.5 hours prior to departure time.
The cheapest flights we have seen from Buenos Aires to Montevideo is with Amaszonas at £94 GBP / $121 USD.
But in order to get these prices in summer you will need to book well in advance and be flexible over the date and time you travel.
If you are not booking a flight from Buenos Aires to Montevideo in advance prices will be closer to £120 GBP $155 USD for weekdays and can go up as high as £270 GBP / $350 USD for weekend travel. That’s without adding any luggage allowance on.
When you arrive in Uruguay from Buenos Aires, just bear in mind that the airport is a 40 minute drive from downtown Montevideo.
So for a flight to be the quickest route from Buenos Aires to Montevideo, you also would also need to get through immigration and into a cab pretty sharpish.
Cheapest Way: Bus From Buenos Aires to Montevideo
Unsurprisingly, the cheapest way to get to Montevideo from Buenos Aires is also the longest.
The bus needs to travel up and over the Rio de la Plata, then back down into Montevideo. So it is far from a direct route. And it also takes around 8 hours.
However, if you’re travelling on a limited budget and not pushed for time, travelling overland on bus from Buenos Aires to Montevideo will be the best option for you.
You can also make it cheaper by opting for an overnight bus to save on a night’s accommodation costs.
On the whole, Argentinian buses are pretty comfortable, so you shouldn’t find it too difficult to get some rest. However, remember you will need to be awake midway through the journey to go through immigration.
If you are planning on visiting one of the Argentina’s cities north of Buenos Aires, such as Rosario, taking a bus from Buenos Aires to Montevideo is a good shout because you can do that en route.
Easiest Way: Ferry From Buenos Aires to Montevideo
The easiest way, and the one that we would recommend, is to book a Buenos Aires to Montevideo ferry. You have two different options.
The first one is a direct ferry from Buenos Aires to Montevideo. The other goes via Colonia with a bus service onwards to Montevideo.
The direct ferry journey takes the least amount of time at 2 hours 15 minutes on the fast service.
This is the option that rivals a flight for being the quickest route because the ferry port is right in the heart of Montevideo. If you need to take a cab it will likely only be a 5 minute journey.
The convenience of a direct route does, however, not come cheap.
For a direct boat from Buenos Aires to Montevideo you are looking at a minimum of around £112 GBP / $144 USD. And that’s if you can book it in advance.
The cheaper option which costs around £40 GBP / $52 USD is to buy a ferry-bus combo.
With this you will cross the Rio de la Plata from Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento. Then you will take an onward bus to Montevideo.
The ferry crossing takes 1 hour 15 minutes and the bus journey around 2 hours 15 minutes.
The Terminal Tres Cruces bus station in Montevideo is very central. So again, if you do need to take a cab to where you are staying it will be a short ride.
More Buenos Aires to Montevideo Ferry Info
The other benefit of travelling by ferry from Buenos Aires to Montevideo is that you complete both your exit immigration checks for Argentina and your entry immigration checks for Uruguay at the same time.
This occurs during your check in at the ferry port in Buenos Aires. It saves time when you get to Uruguay because you can simply just walk straight off the boat.
Because it’s technically international travel you will need to arrive 2 hours before your ferry departure time. And you will need to print your ticket reservations.
You have the choice of three ferry companies – Colonia Express, Buquebus and Seacat. Seacat is owned by Buquebus, however, and both ferries run from the same area towards the north of Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires.
Colonia Express ferries run from Puerto Madero too. However these go from the south of the port. Make sure you head to the correct one because it’s a 45 minute walk between the two. Not ideal if you are carrying backpacks or suitcases.
Buenos Aires to Montevideo Day Trip
It is physically possible to take a Buenos Aires to Montevideo day trip. However, even if you go via the quickest routes, you will spend upwards of 4 hours of your day travelling.
For a Buenos Aires to Uruguay day trip, your best option is to head to Colonia del Sacramento.
Here’s our guide on how to get from Buenos Aires to Colonia by ferry.
Actually a Portuguese colonial town, Colonia is a really pretty place for a day out.
Cobbled streets meander through the walled city and there lots of beautiful squares dotted with restaurants and bars.
Head up the lighthouse for epic views or hire some bikes if you fancy exploring a little further afield. The town is just a 10 minute walk from the ferry port in Colonia del Sacramento so you really won’t need to take a cab here.
Travel Tips for Uruguay
If you opt for the boat from Buenos Aires to Montevideo via Colonia but want spend some time exploring Colonia del Sacramento before heading out, that’s a good shout. But just be aware not to book a ferry-bus combo ticket.
You will need to book them separately. Otherwise you will have to get straight onto your bus after you get off the ferry.
You can book a bus between Colonia and Montevideo in advance through the Tres Cruces website if you prefer. But it’s not necessary really.
There are plenty of buses run by multiple companies, one every hour and the bus station is just a 10 minute walk from the ferry port in Colonia. So you can easily do it on the day. We went with a company called COT.
The journey was comfortable and the bus had wifi. The cost for on the day booking was $383 UYU (£9 GBP / £12 USD) each.
As a tourist in Uruguay you should pay on card where you can. That’s because in cafes, restaurants and bars you will be given back 18% tax. You will be charged the full price, then automatically refunded the difference back into your bank account a few days later.
Where to Stay in Montevideo
Choosing where to stay in Montevideo can feel unnecessarily complicated – there are 62 districts.
However, we’ll make your decision far easier as there are only a few we’d recommend you stay in as a visitor.
We’ve done a full breakdown of the areas here and their pros and cons if you’d like to read in more detail.
But to make it even simpler, here are our top three choices of where to stay in Montevideo to suit all budgets:
Affordable Luxury: Alma Histórica Boutique Hotel – housed in a beautifully elegant building, rooms in this sophisticated hotel expertly combine modern and traditional decor to stunning effect and boast gorgeous views.
They come with all the mod cons you’d expect of a luxury boutique including air-con, a mini bar, toiletries and flat-screen TV with cable.
The hotel is less than 500 metres from the waterfront and right in the heart of the historic district of Montevideo meaning you’ll be close to all of the top sights.
Midrange: Vivaldi Hotel Loft Punta Carretas – one of Montevideo’s top picks, this hotel features modern, bright, sunny rooms with all modern amenities. Even better, there’s an outdoor rooftop swimming pool, perfect for chilling out in the evening after a day of sightseeing.
The hotel is in one of the most tranquil spots in the city, right on a stunning part of coast. It’s close to lots of green spaces and the best beaches and ideal if you’re a sunset lover as this is where you’ll find the best ones.
Cheap & Cheerful: Habemus Hostel – this funky, colorful and friendly hostel comes with a terrace, a garden, a shared lounge, wifi access and seriously great backpacker reviews.
It is centrally located with air conditioned rooms and a continental breakfast included. There’s quite simply no better place to stay in the city if you’re on budget.
Great Reads To Take To Uruguay:
Uruguay Travel Insurance
If you haven’t left on your travels yet, or even if you have, don’t forget your travel insurance. Uruguay is a very safe country. But accidents happen all the time and the last thing you want is to be stuck abroad without good insurance.
Our go to travel insurance provider is World Nomads. They have a no bullshit approach to policy & are perfect for adventurous travellers like us. Get a no obligation quote here:
Hit us up in the comments if you have any questions.
If you’re looking at other trips to do from Buenos Aires you may find these posts helpful:
- How to Get to Iguazu Falls from Buenos Aires
- Complete Guide to Tigre Buenos Aires
- The Best Places to visit in Uruguay