Getting around: buses, taxis and walking

Getting around like a local. Flag down the bus—or it won't stop. Don't tip your taxi driver—but don't expect him to load your luggage! Essential maps.
By Karen A Higgs
Carrasco From The Air by GuruGuay
Last updated on January 26, 2023
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Everyone uses buses in Uruguay. A ticket costs little more than a dollar and services are frequent. Taxis are also reasonably priced and safe to flag down in the street.

Buses

In the capital, buses cost apx 52 pesos per ride, that’s about 1,3 US dollars You pay cash to the driver or bus conductor. Ask for a común” – the standard ticket. Coins and smaller notes are accepted. You must flag down the bus or it won’t stop. There is a bus “céntrico” which constantly goes up and down the principal downtown avenue 18 de Julio from the main bus station (Tres Cruces) to the Plaza de Independencia. This bus is a little cheaper.

Taxis

Feel comfortable flagging a taxi in the street or calling by phone. They are reasonably cheap and safe. A 10-15 minute trip will cost you about 6 USD. Read my post about how to call a taxi without having to speak Spanish. You’ll know if a taxi is free because it has a red light in the front windscreen. 

Montevideo Taxi
This taxi is free. How can you tell? Because of the red light in the front window.

If you are going a short distance, avoid paying with bills over 200 pesos. If you only have a 1000 peso bill, ask the driver if s/he has change BEFORE you get into the cab (“Solo tengo mil pesos. ¿Tenés cambio?”).

Usually taxi drivers are very civilised. The worst a driver could do, noticing you are from out of town, is “pasear” ie take the long way round. If you want to avoid this, BEFORE you get in the cab hand over the address you are going to on paper and asking how much it will cost (“¿Cuánto puede salir?”). Drivers can contact their HQ to check the price. If the driver is not prepared to do this, just say “Muchas gracias” and walk away.

Note: Any luggage is usually stored on the front seat next to the driver. Only if the luggage is really bulky will the driver descend and open the trunk for you. Don’t expect him to load the luggage for you either!

Tipping – Uruguayans do not tip taxi drivers. Even for longer drives, eg to the airport, a tip is optional. So if you do tip you will be greatly appreciated! Perhaps the tipping situation explains the note above, right?

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8 Responses

  1. Wir fahren bald vom Betrieb aus nach Uruguay für ein Projekt. Wir wollen vor Ort ein Shuttle-Dienst für Unternehmen buchen. Ich weiß nur nicht, ob so etwas dort oft vertreten ist.

  2. Es ist immer wieder interessant zu erfahren, wie Taxi fahren im Ausland funktioniert. Mir war beispielsweise nicht bewusst, dass man zum Teil dort kein Trinkgeld gibt. Ich werde auf meiner nächsten Reise aber auch schauen, dass ich öfters einmal den Bus nehmen werde.

    1. It is always interesting to learn how taxi driving works abroad. I wasn’t aware, for example, that some people don’t give tips there. On my next trip, however, I will make sure to take the bus more often. — Thanks for sharing, Marie! The bus is great here.

  3. Ich fahre bald nach Uruguay in den Urlaub. Gut zu wissen, dass Taxis sind ziemlich billig und sicher sind. Ich wollte nämlich einen Taxiservice für den Transport von und zum Flughafen nutzen.

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