We arrived in Buenos Aires a week ago from New Zealand. Guys, I’m still struggling with jetlag. We traveled back sixteen hours in time and I’m battling a cold. I feel like a zombie, but I also feel energized from all the empanadas and steak I’m eating. Despite feeling terrible, we decided to explore the nearby country of Uruguay. I realized that Uruguay is often overlooked by tourists visiting South America because it’s pretty pricey to fly in and out of.
Want to know something exciting? You can go to Uruguay by ferry from Buenos Aires and that’s a much cheaper and quicker alternative. Add it to your list right now because it’s a beautiful country that’s worth exploring. Plus, it’s so close to Buenos Aires. Why wouldn’t you go?
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Where Will You Go in Uruguay from Buenos Aires?
Before you book your ferry tickets, you need to decide if you want to go to Colonia del Sacramento or Montevideo. Colonia del Sacramento is a historic port town that is small and cute, whereas Montevideo is the busy capital city. We took the ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento because we wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of a big city for a little while.
What Are Your Options for Ferry Companies?
There are three ferry companies that you can use: SeaCat, Buquebus and Colonia Express. We used Buquebus on our way to Colonia del Sacramento and on our way back from Montevideo to Buenos Aires. We found that Buquebus was the cheapest option.
The ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento took us an hour and a half. The ferry from Montevideo to Buenos Aires took us a little under two and a half hours.
I 100% recommend Buquebus. We had a no-frills kind of experience with them. We left on time and arrived on time. The ferry was exceptionally clean and the staff was beyond kind and helpful. The seats are also very comfortable.
In some of the countries we’ve previously visited, we’ve had to buy our ferry tickets at their office. However, you can buy your tickets online with Buquebus.
How Much Does the Ferry Cost?
We paid $44 USD per person for our tickets to Colonia del Sacramento. We somehow had the option to upgrade to business class for an additional $12 USD per person. When you check out, you might see an option to upgrade your seats for a reasonable price. Sometimes we like to pretend we’re on a champagne budget instead of a backpacking budget so we went for it. We got a free glass of champagne upon boarding, expedited boarding and disembarkation and access to the business lounge at the port. Was it worth the additional $12 USD per person? No. But you do you.
If you want to skip Colonia del Sacramento and head straight to Montevideo, there’s a direct ferry available from Buenos Aires as well.
We took a ferry back to Buenos Aires from Montevideo and that cost us $63.50 USD per person. The option to upgrade to business class on this ferry was $5 USD per person even though the ferry ride was twice as long.
For pricing. check out the websites below:
What If I Want to Go to Colonia del Sacramento AND Montevideo?
Like I said before, we took the ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia Del Sacramento. We stayed there one night and went to Montevideo the next day. From Colonia del Sacramento, we took a bus to Montevideo as there are no ferries between the two cities.
There’s a bus terminal in Colonia del Sacramento where you can purchase your tickets. We were told by a local that Turil is the best company. When you get to the bus terminal, you’ll notice that there are several counters with the names of various companies. Find the one that says “Turil.” The buses for Turil run frequently throughout the day. We paid $12 USD per person for the bus tickets. You can also purchase your tickets online here. Don’t forget to get a direct bus.
It will take a little under two and a half hours to get to Montevideo from Colonia del Sacramento if you choose the direct bus option. Overall, we had a great experience with Turil. The bus was clean, the A/C worked very well and the bus left and arrived on time. You have to store your luggage in the special compartment in the bus. I’m pretty paranoid about putting my backpack in that compartment, but I felt very comfortable doing so with Turil. They place a sticker on your luggage and you have to provide a copy of the sticker. The driver thoroughly examines the stickers before handing you your luggage.
If you’re not interested in spending the night in Colonia del Sacramento, no dramas. You can take an early ferry to Colonia del Sacramento from Buenos Aires. Spend the afternoon there and then take an evening bus to Montevideo. In all honesty, you don’t need to spend the night in Colonia del Sacramento. You can explore the whole town in an afternoon. If you choose to do this, don’t purchase a ferry and bus combo ticket. If you do this, the bus will leave shortly after you dock and you won’t have much time to explore Colonia del Sacramento.
What If I Want to Visit Punta Del Este as Well?
Punta Del Este is another popular destination in Uruguay. It’s regarded as the “Hamptons of South America.” Apparently, that’s where the wealthy vacation on this continent. We decided to check it out and were utterly disappointed. It had more of a Jersey Shore vibe than The Hamptons. The sand at the beaches was pristine. However, the water was brown and mucky. Additionally, the prices in Punta del Este are outrageous. Food was very pricey even compared to the States. I don’t recommend it at all.
If you have FOMO about everything like me and still want to go, there are no direct ferries from Buenos Aires to Punta del Este. You’ll have to take a four-hour bus ride from Colonia del Sacramento or a two-hour bus ride from Montevideo. We didn’t use the bus to get to Punta del Este so, unfortunately, I don’t have any bus recommendations. I do know that Buquebus runs from Colonia to Punta del Este and from Montevideo to Punta del Estes and vice versa.
What If I Want to Go to Uruguay but Don’t Want to Spend the Night?
This is totally doable! As I mentioned above, the ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento is around two and a half hours and the return is the same. It’s the perfect day trip. Fun fact about Colonia del Sacramento: it’s a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s a chill and gorgeous place that’s totally worth going to.
Helpful Tips You Should Keep in Mind Before Your Trip from Buenos Aires to Uruguay
- The ferry terminals can be a little intimidating at first because they’re really busy with what seems to be a million different queues. Feel free to ask the employees if you need help. They’re friendly and speak some English in both Buenos Aires and Uruguay.
- I recommend being there an hour before the ferry leaves. That will leave you plenty of time to clear immigration and find where your ferry leaves from.
- Check in is pretty easy. Present your confirmation for your tickets and the employee will give a printed copy of your tickets. You don’t need to have your ferry tickets printed out beforehand. After you receive your tickets, you’ll go through the luggage scanning area. Then, you’ll head to immigration. Immigration is painless. It’s super important that you keep in mind that they give you an exit stamp for Argentina and an entrance stamp for Uruguay on your way out of Buenos Aires. Don’t forget the Uruguayan side! The booths are right next to each other so you can’t miss it. It’s the same on the way back to Buenos Aires from Uruguay.
- If you have a car and you need to bring it with you, you totally can. I’m not sure about the pricing, but Buquebus offers that option.
- You can check your luggage in or carry it on the ferry. There’s plenty of room around your seat to carry it on though. If you choose to check it in, they immediately start unloading the luggage once you reach the port so you’ll get it pretty fast.
- Seats aren’t assigned on the ferry, but there are plenty of nice seats to pick from. They’re really comfy and spacious.
- Charge your devices before you leave Buenos Aires or Uruguay. I couldn’t find any outlets on the ferries.
- If you’re bouncing around from Buenos Aires to Uruguay in the summer, make sure you purchase your tickets in advance online. Don’t wait to purchase them at the port. Summer is incredibly busy and there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to purchase a ticket at the port. Almost every seat was occupied on both ferries we were on.
- Bring snacks and water on the ferry. The little snack shops on board are pricey.
- Announcements are done in English and Spanish so no dramas if your Spanish isn’t good.
- Uber is available in Buenos Aires and Montevideo. It’s not available in Colonia del Sacramento.
- Argentinian Pesos are accepted pretty much everywhere in Colonia del Sacramento. If you’re going for a day trip, don’t worry about getting money changed over to Uruguayan Pesos or pulling out Uruguayan Pesos from the ATM.
- If you plan on being in Uruguay for a while and will be using an ATM to withdraw their currency, the ATM withdrawal fee is steep! We paid $10 USD in Colonia del Sacramento to withdraw our money. Thank the Lawd that we have an awesome bank who takes care of that for us.
- Make sure you pay with your credit card in Uruguay. You’ll receive a 22% off discount since they don’t charge taxes to tourists.
Resources for Your Trip to Uruguay from Buenos Aires:
Accommodation: If you’re traveling solo or wanting to make friends, I recommend Couchsurfing. You’ll save money and you’ll be staying with a local who can provide you with excellent tips and suggestions for your trip. If you want to stay at a hotel, use Hotels.com. I use it all the time because it provides the cheapest rates for hotels. Don’t forget to join their rewards program. Every tenth night is free!
Travel Insurance: Both Argentina and Uruguay are safe. But, you never know when accidents can happen. Don’t forget to protect yourself against flight cancellations, unexpected illnesses, theft and more. RoamRight has great customer service and benefits.
Tours: I’m mostly a DIY (do it yourself) traveler, but I don’t hate on people who do tours. Unfortunately, Buenos Aires and Uruguay don’t have The Big Bus Company hop on and hop off tours. They have their own rendition of it. However, they have Viator and there are tons of fun day trips you can take from Buenos Aires and Uruguay.
Have you taken the ferry from Buenos Aires to Uruguay? If so, what was your experience like? Let me know in the comments below.
I hope you found this post about how to get from Buenos Aires to Uruguay helpful. Don’t forget to pin it for later!
Disha is a travel and lifestyle blogger who has visited 85+ countries with South Africa and the Maldives being her favorites. She gets butterflies sharing her travel and life experiences through words. She loves freedom, sunflowers, and long walks on the beach with her husband. She’s obsessed with helping others live a life they don’t have to escape from. Lastly, she makes travel more accessible, inclusive and attainable one trip at a time.