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 2 hours 45 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 two ferry companies, Buquebus and Colonia Express. They take you by ferry to Colonia del Sacramento (this takes an hour) and then onto Montevideo by bus. The trip takes between 4.5 and five hours. Buquebus owns the port and so gets preferential treatment. So Colonia Express, the competition, takes slightly longer.
Colonia Express has a new ferry (2023) which allows you to sit outside. A nice way to travel. Either way, the trip between Colonia del Sacramento and Buenos Aires is very fast—just an hour.
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 del Sacramento on your way to or from Montevideo. Both companies sell tickets to Colonia del Sacramento.
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. If you want to stop off in Colonia del Sacramento your ticket must be to 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.
Book your ferry stress-free
Direct Ferries, a UK based ferry travel aggregator, allows you to book ferry crossings across the globe—including Argentina-Uruguay ferries.
It’s super easy to use and will save you the hassle of using the local sites.
This page includes affiliate links. When you book using Direct Ferries, we earn a small fee. Thank you for supporting Guru’Guay 🇺🇾
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?
● To save time, take the direct ferry to Montevideo.
● To sight-see, travel to Colonia and get a separate ticket on to Buenos Aires/Montevideo.
● To save money, the ferry-bus combo is usually cheapest.
● Check out our review of Buenos Aires-Montevideo ferry prices
● Flying to South America Readers have told us they saved over 500 USD after reading this article
● Our guidebooks The Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo (paperback), The Guru’Guide to Montevideo (audiobook) and The Guru’Guay Guide to Uruguay: Beaches, Ranches & Wine Country have all the info you need to make planning your trip to Uruguay a breeze. They are the only English-language Uruguay guidebooks written by an author actually based in Uruguay, and it shows. Don’t believe us, check out their great Amazon reviews. Guru’Guay is proud to be part of Uruguay’s national country brand