How to Take the Ferry from Buenos Aires to Uruguay

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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.

What ferry companies go between Argentina and Uruguay?


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

This 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?


You can get your tickets at the terminal, online, or from one of these points of sale. Because of limited capacity, you should get your tickets in advance, especially in the high season. Generally buying tickets online in Argentina is not that simple as you would need to pay with your foreign credit card (thus getting the red rate). However, Buquebus has a Rapipago payment option. So 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

From there, the operator will send you the official pdf with your tickets.

The cost varies 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.

Colonia Express

You can purchase tickets online, by phone, or 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, Clasico. 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.

The lobby on the Buquebus

How early should I arrive to 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?

Time 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 boat ride like?


This boat is much more luxurious. You can find a business section upstairs, and a duty free on the main floor. The main seating is in two large sections on both sides of the boat 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 comfortable, and placed in groups of 4 with a table in the center. There are outlets if you need to get some work done. 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 BA to Colonia and the ride passed super quickly.

Colonia Express

The boat is very simple. Don’t expect anything fancy. No frills.

Business Class on the Buquebus

Where is the boat port in Colonia?

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 wharfs stick out to the south. It takes about 10 minutes walking from the port to the heart of the historical center.

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 cart 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.

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 getting to know more about Colonia del Sacramento? Read my blog post here about spending 40 hours in this cute little town on Uruguay’s southern coast.