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Montevideo to Buenos Aires: Ferries, Flights & Beyond

When traveling through South America, you may find yourself wanting to travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina from Montevideo, Uruguay. These next-door capital cities are separated by the wide Rio de la Plata River and offer two totally different vibes. Montevideo’s got a laid-back beach feel, while Buenos Aires is all about tango and city energy. But how do you cross the river and get to your next adventure? This guide will break down all the ways to get from Montevideo to Buenos Aires, whether you want a relaxing ferry ride, a quick flight, a long but cheap bus ride, or a mix of bus and ferry with a cool little side trip to break it up!

Though there are multiple ways to make this trip, we feel that the bus and ferry combo is the best way to get from Montevideo to Buenos Aires. One this journey, you’ll bus from Montevideo to Colonia del Sacramento (Colonia for short) and spend a few hours exploring this beautiful town before ferrying onward to Buenos Aires. However, we certainly understand that time can be of the essence, in which this method may not be best for you. Read on to learn about how to book your trip and how to figure out which method is best for you!

While you’re here, check out the best things to do in Montevideo and Buenos Aires!

Colonia del Sacramento to Buenos Aires


At a Glance

Total TimeTotal Cost
Bus & Ferry3.75 Hours58-73 USD
Ferry Only2.5 Hours97-105 USD
Flight1 Hour55-75 USD if bought in advance. 120 USD+ otherwise.
Bus Only8-9 Hours55-75 USD

Traveling from Montevideo to Buenos Aires by Bus & Ferry

As mentioned above, we believe this is the best way to get from Montevideo to Buenos Aires. It’s the perfect way to break up the journey and add another cool destination to your South American adventure. Colonia is a beautiful, colorful, and cobblestoned town where you can wander around, grab some yummy seafood, and soak up the river views before taking the ferry to Buenos Aires! With this route you can choose to spend a few hours in Colonia or stay overnight! For transportation costs, expect to pay around 496 pesos (about 13 USD) for the bus from Montevideo to Colonia and 45-60 USD for the ferry from Colonia to Buenos Aires. The bus tickets don’t change prices, but booking the ferry a week or two in advance can certainly save you some money.

Montevideo to Colonia

The journey from Montevideo to Colonia is super easy – buses run super often and are very comfortable. The ride takes about 2.5 hours and is very budget friendly. To catch the bus to Colonia, you’ll need to head to Terminal Tres Cruces. This terminal is huge and located on the bottom floor of a mall, so if you need some food or to take out money at an ATM before your trip, you can do it here!

We highly recommend buying your bus ticket online because buying at the bus station can be a bit of a hassle. To do this, search for your bus route at the website linked below to find the time you want, and then head to that company’s website to purchase the ticket. When searching on the site below for a trip to Colonia del Sacramento, the destination will just be “Colonia.” If you translate the website into English, this may show up as “Cologne.” Once you buy your ticket, the only information you likely won’t have is the gate number, which you can find on the large screen in the center of the terminal when you arrive.

If you buy in person, you should know which ticket you’ll want in advance – you can find all bus times and what company is running it at the website linked below – and you’ll head to that company’s stall when you arrive. If you click on the company name on the schedule, you’ll be sent to a link with a map of the terminal that points to where that company’s stall is located. We found Terminal Tres Cruces to be super busy and there were lines for pretty much every company, so it’ll definitely save you time if you buy online ahead of time.

Check bus times on the Terminal Tres Cruces website

Tres Cruces Terminal Montevideo

Colonia to Buenos Aires

The ferry from Colonia to Buenos Aires is super quick – it takes just over an hour. There are two companies that offer this service: Buquebus and Colonia Express. Be sure to buy your tickets in advance because it will sell out! You can expect to pay between 45 and 60 USD.

Whether you’re exploring Colonia for a bit or heading straight to the ferry terminal from the bus station, you should plan to arrive at the terminal at least one hour before departure. This is because you’ll have to go through security and immigration before boarding the ferry. When we did this, it was all super quick and took about 15 minutes to get through the checkpoints.

Buy your Ferry Tickets on Bookaway

A Note about the Bus & Ferry Trip

When searching for tickets online, you may come across tickets offered by Colonia Express that include the bus and ferry. This is a good option if you don’t have any interest in spending time in Colonia. However, if you do, these tickets won’t give you much time in Colonia at all, so we recommend booking the tickets separately and giving yourself a few hours in Colonia.

How much Time to Spend in Colonia

We recommend giving yourself at least 4-5 hours of time between bus arrival and ferry departure to explore Colonia. Any less than that and you may find yourself pressed for time as you should plan to arrive at the ferry terminal at least one hour before the departure time. We loved Colonia and wish we had spent just one night there to enjoy the town and relax, but more than that may be too much time since there really isn’t that much to do. While you explore the town, you can store your bags at Viaggio, which is right across the street from the port. We paid 2.5 USD per bag for 6 hours of storage.

Read about the best things to do in Colonia!

Colonia-del-Sacramento-Ferry-to-Buenos-Aires


Traveling from Montevideo to Buenos Aires by Direct Ferry

If you’re not interested in adding Colonia del Sacramento to your itinerary but you still want a scenic travel day, you can ferry straight from Montevideo to Buenos Aires! There is only one company that offers this service, which is Buquebus. Be sure to buy your tickets in advance because it will sell out! You can expect to pay between 97 and 105 USD for this trip, and the journey will take around 2.5 hours. If you see options for this route run by Colonia Express, be aware that those are bus+ferry trips.

Buy your Ferry Tickets on Bookaway

Photo Credit

Traveling from Montevideo to Buenos Aires by Flight

If convenience and time are your main priorities and you don’t mind missing out on Colonia del Sacramento, flying may be the best option for you! The flight from Montevideo is quick – total flight time is about an hour – which will save you tons of time. Numerous airlines offer frequent flights throughout the day, making it easy to find a schedule that fits your itinerary. While flights tend to be pricier than ferries, they aren’t always! If you buy at least two months in advance, prices are typically between 55 and 75 USD. However, if you tend to buy your flights only a couple days in advance, expect to spend at least over 120 USD.

Book your Cheap Flights Here

How to Get from Montevideo to Buenos Aires


Traveling from Montevideo to Buenos Aires by Bus

If your main concern is saving money, the bus from Montevideo to Buenos Aires may be the option for you! There are a number of departures per day, and the trip takes about 8-9 hours. Most are overnight buses, and many companies offer seats that recline into beds. You can expect to spend between 55 and 75 USD for the trip.

In our opinion, this is probably the worst method to get from Montevideo to Buenos Aires. The journey is much longer than the other methods, you’ll miss out on exploring Colonia, and it likely won’t even be that much cheaper (though you won’t have to pay for accommodations for the night, which is a plus!). However, if you decide to go this route, follow the steps in the “Montevideo to Colonia” section above to figure out how to get your tickets for this trip!

How to get from Montevideo to Buenos Aires


Keep Exploring Uruguay…


Keep Exploring Argentina…


Our Favorite Travel Resources

Accommodations: We use Booking.com for hotels and HostelWorld for hostels. We also use VRBO or TrustedHousesitters for longer stays.

Flights: We recommend using Skyscanner to find the cheapest and best flights.

Ground Transport: We use 12Go and Omio for buses and private transfers, and rentalcars.com and Discover Cars for rental cars.

Activities: GetYourGuide and Viator are the best websites for booking organized tours.

International Medical Insurance: We highly recommend SafetyWing for Digital Nomads and HeyMondo for those not traveling full-time, or who frequently engage in higher-risk adventure activities.

eSIM: We recommend Airalo or Holafly for getting data internationally.

Check out our Travel Resources Page for more of our favorite travel-related products and services!

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