Perhaps you’re planning a weekend getaway from Buenos Aires.
You might be doing an Argentinian visa run. Or maybe you’re moving on to your next South American backpacking destination. Regardless of your reasons, here’s everything you need to know about getting a ferry from Buenos Aires to Uruguay.
You can of course go by air or road. But getting a ferry to Uruguay from Buenos Aires is what we would recommend because it’s quicker and cheaper.
How to Get A Ferry From Buenos Aires to Uruguay
The first thing you need to decide when taking a boat from Buenos aires to Uruguay is whether you want to head to the smaller, picturesque, historical port town of Colonia del Sacramento, or the larger, bustling, trendy port city of Montevideo.
There are options to get a direct ferry to ports at both. However, because Colonia is closer, it is usually the cheaper route. If you are wanting to head straight to Montevideo, you can can also take a ferry to Colonia and then a connecting bus direct to Montevideo.
There isn’t a direct ferry to Punta del Este. To get there you need to take a ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia and then a 4 hour bus from there. Or alternatively opt for a direct Buenos Aires to Montevideo ferry and then a 2 hour bus from there.
Which Ferry Company To Choose
There are three companies that you can use to take a ferry from Buenos Aires to Uruguay: Buquebus, Colonia Express and SeaCat. We found Buquebus and Colonia Express to be the cheapest and have used them both.
The Buenos Aires to Colonia ferry takes either one hour or three hours depending on whether you opt for a catamaran or the larger ferryboat option. Thankfully there’s usually little to no difference in price so you should always check the journey time and choose the fast ferry.
The ferries from Buenos Aires to Montevideo take between 2 and 3 hours depending on which ferry company you are going with. Buquebus runs 13 times per week with a journey time of 2 hours 15 mins. And Colonia Express 3 times per week with a journey time of 3 hours 30 mins.
We paid around £45 GBP / $58 USD each for the ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia. This was for a one way foot passenger ticket. If you have a car or have hired a car in Argentina, there are ferry crossings that you can also book cars onto.
It generally isn’t any cheaper to book return tickets. But it is cheaper to book online in advance.
Ferry tickets direct to Montevideo are more expensive at around £220 GBP / $281 USD. So if you are going from Buenos Aires to Montevideo it will be cheaper to take a ferry to Colonia and then a connecting bus direct to Montevideo.
Seats aren’t assigned but there are plenty and they are comfortable. If you need to charge anything there are a few plug sockets to be found but not many. So it’s best charge your gadgets before you leave to get the ferry from Buenos Aires to Uruguay.
Buenos Aires to Uruguay Day Trip
Up until only a few years ago, the cost of a ferry to Uruguay from Buenos Aires was much cheaper, making a Buenos Aires to Uruguay day trip way more affordable. Of course it is still doable, but we just wanted to mention this as many outdated guides provide old prices.
If you still want to do it, the best option is a day trip to Colonia from Buenos Aires. This will cut down on both travel time and expense. The Portuguese founded, colonial town of Colonia is a lovely chilled out place. And there’s plenty to do for a weekend if you do decide to stay overnight.
If you have a few more days to play with or are leaving Argentina to travel in Uruguay, our advice would be stop off in Colonia del Sacramento before heading to Montevideo. Even if just for the day. The walled town is a UNESCO world heritage site after all.
Buenos Aires to Montevideo via Colonia
If you choose not to get the direct ferry from Buenos Aires to Montevideo, you’ll need to catch a connecting bus from Colonia. Buses run from Colonia to Montevideo every hour and it’s around a 2 hour journey.
If you get an early boat from Buenos Aires to Uruguay you will have time to explore Colonia. A great option is to take a look around and have lunch before getting an evening bus to Montevideo.
If you choose to do this, don’t book a boat-bus combo ticket for your ferry from Buenos Aires to Uruguay. Your bus will leave too soon after you dock into the port for you to do anything in Colonia. Instead, book your bus ticket to Montevideo separately when you get to Colonia.
From the port, turn left and it’s a 10 minute walk into the town, or turn right and it’s a few minutes walk to the bus station. You can also leave your luggage in lockers at the bus station so you’re not carting them round all day.
There are loads of different bus companies running the route between Colonia and Montevideo. We used the company COT, the buses were really comfortable and had decent wifi onboard. We paid $383 UYU (£9 GBP / £12 USD) each.
You can also check and book buses around Uruguay here, if you’d prefer to do it in advance of getting to Colonia del Sacramento.
How To Get To Buenos Aires Ferry Port
All ferries from Buenos Aires to Uruguay go from the same port, Puerto Madero. The easiest way to get there is to take an Uber, especially if you have a backpack or suitcase. From where were staying in the neighbourhood of Palermo it cost us just £3.30 GBP / $4.20 USD.
It takes around 20-25 minutes from most central neighbourhoods. Be sure you go to the right termianal of Buenos Aires Ferry Port. Because the Buquebus and Seacat terminals are at the top of Puerto Madero and the Colonia Express terminal is at the bottom, a 45 minute walk away.
You will need to get there 1 hour and 30 minutes before the departure time for your ferry from buenos aires to uruguay. Please note that you will also likely need to have your ticket reservations printed. It will say on the information when you book it.
Checking in For Your Trip to Uruguay
The buquebus terminal can be a little overwhelming upon first arrival, mainly because it’s so busy and it’s difficult to see where you need to go. There are different desks for collecting tickets, checking in and purchasing tickets – which is another option.
Although in summer, taking a trip from Buenos Aires to Uruguay is a very popular thing to do amongst Porteños. So we’d always recommend booking your ferry tickets from Buenos Aires to Uruguay in advance.
Also, because Buquebus and SeaCat run from exactly the same port, they frequently interchange their services. So even if you have a ticket booked with one company you could be put on the other company’s boat. If you are in any doubt, ask.
The Colonia Express ferry terminal is newly built so is way more organised and efficient, it was relocated from La Boca to Puerto Madero.
Check in is pretty easy. You just present your printed reservation and ID, collect your tickets then go through the bag scanner. Next up is immigration.
Just be aware that they do both your Argentina visa exit stamp and Uruguay visa entry stamp here. Once you’ve been seen by the Argentinian side you’ll be directed to a Uruguayan booth. So make sure you don’t miss getting your entry stamp to Uruguay.
Ferry to Uruguay From Buenos Aires
Once you go through passport control at the ferry port, there isn’t anywhere to get a coffee other than a crappy drinks machine. So make you sure you get something at the cafe before you go through if you haven’t had breakfast.
And you can take drinks i.e. liquids through check in. It’s a boat, not a plane. There are small shops on the ferries too but they are super expensive. Like $2.50 USD for a small pack of Oreos expensive.
The aircon was blasting on the last ferry we went on, so be sure to have a sweater handy. Even if it’s hot outside.
Ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia Info
Announcements happen in both English and Spanish. So don’t worry if your Spanish isn’t great. If you are going straight onto Montevideo or Punta del Este, when you get off the ferry from Buenos to Uruguay the buses will be waiting for you.
There’s a cashpoint in Colonia ferry port if you need to take out cash, but don’t dawdle if you’re travelling in a pair and want to sit together. Depending on the time of year, there may be an hours time difference from Buenos Aires to Uruguay.
If you are just taking a short trip from Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento, you don’t have to worry about getting money changed. Argentinian pesos are widely accepted by shops and restaurants in Colonia. And there’s no need to take a cab or bus, it’s just a 10 minute walk.
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:
You may also find our guide to planning a perfect trip to Uruguay helpful. And if you have any other questions about how to get a ferry from Buenos Aires to Uruguay, drop us a comment below and we’ll do our best to help.
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**This post was originally published in October 2016 but has been completely revamped to provide you with the most up to date and accurate information**