Reading Time: 9 minutes
Are you thinking of taking the ferry from Buenos Aires to Uruguay? You’ve come to the right place!
Uruguay and Argentina stare each other down from across the Rio de Plata. Because of their close proximity, taking a short ferry from Buenos Aires to Uruguay is very common. If you’re nearing 90 days in Argentina, why not take a weekend trip across the river and see what Uruguay is all about? Click here to read my blog post about immigration and overstaying your 90-day allowance. If you don’t want to go for a whole weekend, you can also easily take a day trip to Uruguay from Buenos Aires. The ferry to Colonia from Buenos Aires only takes one hour.
What ferry companies go between Argentina and Uruguay?
Buquebus: Buenos Aires to Uruguay Ferry
Buquebus is the nicest company that travels across the water between the two countries. In Buenos Aires, their port is on the north end of Puerto Madero. They offer day tours between Colonia and Buenos Aires, as well as regular boat passage (pasajes). There are about 10 available cities to reach in Uruguay, with Colonia, Montevideo, and Punta del Este being the most popular.
Buenos Aires Puerto Madero terminal: (Av. Antártida Argentina 821, C1104 AAH, Buenos Aires)
Colonia Express: Buenos Aires to Colonia Ferry
The Colonia Express ferry company goes between Buenos Aires and Colonia, Montevideo, Carmelo, and Punta del Este, in Uruguay. It’s a more affordable option to Buquebus if you’re planning to go to Colonia, but no frills. It’s more of a strict transit option- get on, get off. Like Buquebus, however, the Colonia Express does offer day trips as well. The terminal is at the south end of Puerto Madero, southeast of San Telmo.
Buenos Aires terminal: Av. Don Pedro de Mendoza 20, C1156 CABA
How can I get tickets to ride the ferry from Buenos Aires to Uruguay?
Buquebus Ferry Tickets
You can get your tickets at the terminal, online, or from one of these points of sale in the city. Because of limited capacity, you should get your tickets in advance, especially in the high season. Generally, buying tickets online in Argentina is not as simple as you might hope since you would need to pay with your foreign credit card (possibly getting the official rate). However, Buquebus has a Rapipago payment option for online reservations. Instead of paying with a credit card, select the button that says “Rapi Payment/Market Payment/ Debit Card.”
Once you finalize your passage on the website, you’ll receive an email with a pdf. Take that to any Rapipago location in the city and pay with cash. You have 48 hours to make the payment after finalizing your order. If you do not receive another email with your finalized tickets after payment, send a whatsapp message to: +54 9 11 2493-5214.
Follow the prompts (which are in Spanish): Select #6 (Reenvío de Eticket/Voucher), and then send the 6-digit payment code from the email. It will say: Su compra ha sido identificada con el número xxxxxx (your purchase has been identified with the number xxxx).
From there, the operator will send you the official pdf with your tickets.
When taking the ferry to Colonia from Buenos Aires, the cost will vary depending on the time and day you plan to travel, as well as how far in advance you book the tickets, and the type of comfort you’re looking for (tourist or business class). Tickets can range from 8000 pesos to 35000 pesos.
There are usually 2-3 passages per day, depending on your desired destination. Put in your dates and destination into the website, and see what times are available.
Many people are interested in taking the ferry from Buenos Aires to Montevideo, only because that is the first Uruguayan city they think of. However, it is about a 3-5 hour journey. If you would like to see Uruguay but don’t feel like traveling so far, I suggest taking a shorter trip to Colonia del Sacramento. The ferry to Colonia from Buenos Aires only takes about an hour.
Colonia Express Ferry Tickets
You can purchase tickets online, by phone, or at several kiosks in shopping malls around Buenos Aires (and in Uruguay). Click here to see all the available options. If you want to pay in cash, I suggest visiting one of the counters in person.
This company offers 3 tiers of comfort: Economic, Express, and Clásico. The tier you choose will determine the price, as well as the day and time of your trip. This can range from 7000 pesos to 12000 pesos.
How early should I arrive at the boat terminal?
I suggest treating your international boat crossing almost the same way you would at an airport. There will be lines of people needing to check both immigration documents, and scanning luggage. Arrive at least 1 hour early to reduce stress and allow for any surprises.
How long is the boat ride?
Ferry duration between cities:
- Buenos Aires – Colonia: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Buenos Aires – Montevideo (direct): 2 hours 45 minutes
- Buenos Aires – Montevideo (with stop in Colonia): 4 hours 31 minutes
- Buenos Aires – Punta del Esta: 7 hours 46 minutes
To check times for ALL the cities, click here to see all the available schedules.
What is the ferry like from Buenos Aires to Uruguay?
The Buquebus Ferry is much more luxurious. You can find a business section upstairs and a duty-free shop on the main floor. The main seating is in two large sections on both sides of the ferry on the main floor. There are small snack refrigerators downstairs if you need to eat during your ride. The business section is upstairs and you’ll be handed a glass of champagne upon arrival. The chairs are much larger and more comfortable and placed in groups of 4 with a table in the center. There are electric outlets if you need to get some work done or charge your phone. The waiters will also come around to take your cafeteria order if you’re interested. There is a snack bar in the business section as well.
The boat ride was somewhat choppy, and I got just slightly nauseous but mostly fine. I went from Buenos Aires to Colonia and the ride passed super quickly.
The boat is very simple. Don’t expect anything fancy. No frills.
Where is the ferry port in Colonia del Sacramento?
The port, for both Buquebus and Colonia Express, is to the southeast of the historical center of Colonia del Sacramento. If you look at the map, you can see it is where the two wharves stick out to the south. It takes about 10 minutes to walk from the port to the heart of the historical center in Colonia del Sacramento.
The Colonia port has free wifi (no password required), as well as a cafe and car rental kiosks. There is also a tourist information booth in the center if needed.
Just outside of the port building and across the street, you can find several more car rental companies, as well as golf carts and bicycle rentals. Click here to rent a car in Colonia. If you rent anything, make sure you bring a physical credit card and a physical driver’s license with you. They will not accept photos on your phone.
Where to stay in Colonia del Sacramento
The Charco Hotel has a great view of the water and is right in the center of old town.
This Mini Casa en Barrio Historico is a great opportunity to stay in one of the old homes right in the center.
Hotel La Mision is a cute hotel in a historic building, and includes breakfast.
Don’t forget travel insurance
I use SafetyWing. This is great travel medical insurance created by nomads for nomads. You can sign up for as many days as you need, and cancel whenever you want. They have particularly good prices for those under 40 years old. Check them out here.
Is it worth it to take the ferry to Colonia from Buenos Aires?
Going to Colonia del Sacramento was a last-minute choice for me, but one that was absolutely worth it. I loved walking around these cute streets, wandering into shops, and having lunch in the fresh air. If you decide to head over to Colonia for the weekend, or just a day, you will not be disappointed.
Are you interested in taking a day trip to Uruguay from Buenos Aires? Read my blog post here about spending 40 hours in this cute little town on Uruguay’s southern coast (Colonia del Sacramento).
INSURANCE: Make sure you cover yourself with travel medical insurance by SafetyWing.
FLIGHTS: Get the best flight deals with Skyscanner and set flight alerts with Hopper (use code nicholep4jh to get $20 in hotel vouchers).
TRAVEL: Get cash back on flights, hotels, and more with WayAway Plus.
STAYS: Check out hotels and apartments with Booking.com and Vrbo.
RENTAL CARS: Get the best deal on rental cars with Discover Cars.
eSIM: Get an international eSim with Airalo.
CITY GUIDES: Save time and purchase pre-made city guides with Thatch.
CITY TOURS: Book your tour with GetYourGuide and Viator
LUGGAGE: Get the best carry-on suitcase here.
CREDIT CARD: Start earning travel points with the best travel credit card.
BUENOS AIRES GUIDE: Purchase my Buenos Aires travel companion here.
CONSULTATION: Book a 1:1 travel consultation with Nicki here.