Should you take the day trip? Buenos Aires to Montevideo

Jul 31, 2023 8:00:00 AM | Travel Should you take the day trip? Buenos Aires to Montevideo

Somehow I've spent 1% of my life in Uruguay. Specifically in Montevideo. It may not be to everyone's taste, but if you like relaxing beaches like I do, you'll like MVD.

Want to skip to the good stuff? Click the links below

👉 Getting to Montevideo from Buenos Aires

👉 Where I would stay

👉 Tips for first-timers

👉 My rec for an amazing Asado (barbecue) lunch

👉 My Google list of pins

First, is Montevideo worth visiting?

Montevideo rambla and beach.Is the picture of above appealing to you? If so, you might like Montevideo.

The capital and largest city of Uruguay, Montevideo is situated on the southern coast of South America.

I know the city for it's rich culture of developers. *Shoutout -> I first came to Montevideo when I was working with a group of developers called Lagarsoft.

However, if you are coming from North America, Montevideo can be difficult to get to.


There are only directly flights from Miami. Everyone else will connect at least once in Brazil, Panama, Colombia, or Argentina.

My suggestion: add a visit to Montevideo on to your trip to Argentina. Take the ferry directly from the center of Buenos Aires to Ciudad Vieja in Montevideo. 

Why you should take the ferry from Buenos Aires to Montevideo

The ferry from Montevideo to Buenos Aires is superior to flying.

*The image above is the first class cabin, it's not much more expensive (20-30%) than a regular ticket. In exchange you get larger chairs and a much better view.

The Buquebus (ferry) boards in Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires. You do have to go through customs and security, but it's nowhere near as invasive as an airport. You also pre-clear customs in Argentina. This means that the moment you walk off the boat, you can walk into town. Two and a half hours after you board, you'll be able to view Montevideo on the horizon.

Approaching MVD from B/A

You will disembark in the Port of Montevideo which is adjacent to Ciudad Vieja. If you checked a bag, you'll need to grab that first. If not, head right out the door as you already cleared customs in Argentina.  

Mercado del PuertoOnce you walk out of the terminal, you'll be across the street from Mercado del Puerto.

If you're only staying the day, you should have asado. 

The Mercado is a tourist trap, but it's a fun one. You can buy typical handicrafts and Uruguayan souvenirs. Alfajores are always a good present for colleagues, relatives, or neighbors. 

My suggestion: if you are hungry. Wander around the market as long as possible, then get a table at Don Garcia. 

Mercado del Puerto AsadoBe prepared to sit for at least 2 hours. Food is ordered ala carte, but portions are large enough to share and will come out as they are ready. 

Your asado lunch & subsequent walk around the old town & beach will take up the better part of a day. If you're a day tripper you will likely need to head back to the port at this point. 

If you're staying a bit longer

I usually head straight to my hotel and drop my stuff off from the ferry. You can find taxis directly outside the terminal. For the most part, they are honest, it will help if you know a few words of Spanish. 

While Uber is legal in Uruguay and works*, there is an asterisk. It is very difficult to get an Uber and most times you will wait at least 10 minutes for a pickup.

If you stopped for lunch, you can find taxis towards the port here. Uber does work in Montevideo, but there are not many drivers and you will need to wait. On average it takes 15-20 minutes to get a car. 

If you did not take the ferry, I'm truthfully very sorry. Here is what you will need to know:

You'll land at Carrasco International Airport (MVD) which is 40 minutes outside of the city.  I've only successfully ordered an Uber from the airport 1 time.

You can take one of the airport taxis into the city. They are clean, safe, and generally very nice (I often see MB E-Class wagons). You will however generally pay a pretty hefty price, approximately 50-60$ last time I took one.

Where you should stay

IMG_1557If you are a hotel traveler, you will not find many typical Western chains in Montevideo. IHG has a single Holiday Inn property. Hyatt has a Hyatt Centric just outside Pocitos that typically runs $120-150/night.

My suggestion for hotels is the Aloft in Punta Carretas. You'll be central to everything going on. Ask for a high room, the sunsets (see photo on the right) can be absolutely incredible from top floors.

If you stay in AirBnbs, I would look around this area. Make sure you check the option for Air Conditioning if that is a "must have." Many AirBnBs in Uruguay do not have AC. 

What to do in Montevideo

The capital of Uruguay is blessed with scenic coastline and pristine beaches along the Rìo de la Plata. The beaches in Montevideo are pretty easy to find. They run the length of the city with the exception of the port, marinas, etc.

Playa Pocitos is the most famous and typically most crowded. Playa Ramirez is just as nice, slightly less crowded, and more relaxed. 

Be aware, the river is often brown so don't expect a Carribean style white sand beach. Most of the city is residential right up to the coast. You also will not find tons of waterfront style restaurants or bars.

DSC_8573However if you explore long enough, you will find one of my favorite places to chill. One of El Parador, a surf shack on the Rambla on Playa de Pocitos, if you go there, tell Cristian (cool dude pictured above) that "Mike sent you". You can also just say: 

"Este gringo Mike me mandó a tu bar. Dijo que es el mejor lugar para pasar tiempo en Montevideo."

At that point, kiss goodbye to any other plans you had for the evening and enjoy your Cerveza Zillertal. Cheers 🍻!


Mike Lee

Written By: Mike Lee