Getting to Colonia from Montevideo by Bus


on: 2022-11-29

by: Joaquin Russo

Quick Facts

  • Duration

    03 hours 20 minutes

  • Rating

  • Experience

    historical museums, vintage antiques, beaches

  • Best Price

    USD $ 20

  • Maximum comfort or class


  • Departures

    6 departures daily

  • Recommended by

    448 travelers

Price may fluctuate due to seasonal demand and other market-driven and regulatory events.

Bus from Montevideo to Colonia

Outside Casa de Nacarello, Colonia, Uruguay.

If you’ve just arrived in Montevideo by plane or even more fun on a ferry from Buenos Aires, you may be wondering what next and in which direction.  There are lots of choices going north or east, but if the romance of cobblestone streets and lazy walks on the beach in a tranquil setting catches your imagination, then by all means head west to Colonia del Sacramento, or what everyone just calls Colonia for short. 

Colonia sits just across the broad river La Plata (so wide it seems like a sea) from Buenos Aires and carries within it all the oldest traditions of Uruguay.  It is so charming that UNESCO has awarded it the status of a world heritage site. In fact, there are two colonial footprints that each left their own architectural traditions, the Portuguese sector which is the oldest, and then the Spanish sector.

Getting to Colonia by bus from Montevideo is both fast and cheap, so we’ll start by filling you in on the details of the bus trip, and then give you a list of top attractions to make your visit full of good memories.

How are the buses on the trip from Montevideo to Colonia?

One thing you’ll notice unique about Uruguay is that they afford a good standard of living but do not like to show it off.  This can be easily observed in their buses, which are sturdy and sound, but modest compared to their lavish counterparts in Argentina and Brazil. It makes sense, actually, because Uruguay is a small country, which means there aren’t any long distances that require buses to be built like cruise ships.  So, expect good service but don’t expect royal coaches.

Aboard the bus, you will get clean cloth-covered, and amply padded seats that are semi-recline, large picture windows that are tinted, ample storage shelves above your seat as well as a cargo bin below deck for large suitcases. Air-conditioning and wi-fi are usually available, as well as an on-board toilet. Truthfully, the journey is short enough that you won’t have much time to notice the bus, but going back and forth you’ll appreciate the consistency, which is very important in travel.

How long is the bus ride from Montevideo to Colonia?

The no-nonsense ride from Montevideo to Colonia follows an entirely flat and paved highway through the plains and farmland in the rich Rio La Plata delta. Most bus trips, therefore, take 3 hours and 20 minutes and only may take longer if there’s some road construction or they have to tail a farm tractor using the highway to go from one field to the other.  In fact, if traffic is especially light, you could be in Colonia in less than 3 hours.

What are the bus schedules from Montevideo to Colonia?

There are a steady six departures daily from Montevideo to Colonia, at least those you can reserve in advance.  During some seasons there are even more, but never less than six. They range from early morning at 6:50 a.m. to 21:30 (9:30 p.m.), with departures evenly spaced throughout the day to give travelers coming and going at any time a convenient departure.  We do not recommend traveling past 18:30 as you will be arriving in Colonia when it has pretty much gone to sleep, and you might have a difficult time transferring to your lodging. To see what the current schedules are, simply click the Reserve Now button above and choose the departure that best fits your plans. 

Remember what we said about consistency? Returning to Montevideo from Colonia is just as easy and offers the same range of departure times for the same price. 

What is the cost of traveling by bus from Montevideo to Colonia?

The bus fare is $20 flat if you order online.  Since both Montevideo and Colonia are harbor cities, there is also a ferry that goes in between them along the river, but it is more expensive in the $80 range and we think the ferry is the better option to go to Buenos Aires.  The bus is not only cheaper but lets you relax for a few hours and appreciate the Uruguayan landscape and the rural traditions and customs.

What to see and do in Colonia de Sacramento

Outside Casa de Nacarello, Colonia, Uruguay.

Uruguay is mostly a rural economy, famous for its beef, and exporting a large amount of soybeans, leather, wool, and processed timber.  So its towns and cities have mostly served to blend in with their rural surroundings rather than stand apart from them. Colonia is no exception, and many visitors find it serene without being boring. It is a historically significant city not just to Uruguay, but to Argentina as well, and the centuries of settlers in the region that came through Colonia to find their homes up and along the river.

#1 - Colonial History Museums

Colonia has done better than most other cities of its size to create a system of museums in their original 18th-century buildings that together weave a story of the different settlers and what they added to Colonia’s legacy.  There is also a museum dedicated to indigenous history and a museum that archives the venture to gain recognition as a UNESCO world heritage site. You can get a multi-museum pass to visit all the museums in the network, and fortunately, they are all within a few blocks from each other so you can easily walk between them.  If you don’t have time to visit all of them, we suggest you prioritize the Espacio Portugués and Vivienda Portuguesa to get a feeling for the earliest immigrants of the first half of the eighteenth century, then go to the Espacio Español to see the very different structural approach the Spaniards brought to developing the city in the late eighteenth century.  There are a number of landmarks and ruins outside the museums that you can wander through and that add depth and value to what you see inside the museums.

#2 - Origami museum

Another delightful museum you probably won’t see anywhere else is Colonia’s museum dedicated to the art and evolution of origami.  The museum is on Ituzaingo street, just one block west of the wooden bridge entrance to the historic district. Inside, you’ll discover both historical and modern works of origami and educational exhibitions on how the art form has developed over time. 

#3 - Beach hopping

Put on your sandals and some sunscreen, because Colonia boasts nine beaches just within the city, with some specialized for certain activities like rowing or walking pets, and the rest just for resting, swimming, and viewing the horizon.  The Rio de la Plata that surrounds Colonia on two sides is at that point still a mix of the Atlantic ocean’s saltwater and the freshwater confluence of the Uruguay and Parana rivers.  Going from southeast to northwest, you can start out at Playa Ferrando, which is most like an ocean beach, then hop your way over to the neighboring Playa del Medio and Playa del Honda which is closer to the harbor ships that come from Buenos Aires.  Moving to the west side of the old town, go to Playa Urbana to see rowing practices, and then follow the walking trail north to the gorgeous Playa Las Delicias.  There are amazing beaches as you keep walking on like El Alamo, Oreja de Negro, and Del Real, the latter of which runs right up against the side of the Sheraton resort.

#4 - Vintage car museums

It’s no surprise that Colonia has a penchant for antiques, but you might not figure that includes a penchant for old vehicles and other automotive antiquities.  There are two great vintage car museums on the outskirts of town, so take an afternoon to visit both.  The first is north of town and is simply the Museo Cars, which hosts an impressively large collection of antique automobiles from every era, as well as a large collection of bicycles!  The second museum is the magnificent Museo Tourn, which is basically like walking into a garage and mechanic’s shop that hasn’t opened its doors in at least fifty years. You can rummage through old road signs, auto parts, tools lost to time, and yes, a few old cars that never made it out of the shop. The museum is actually not limited to cars, and also includes antique tools used in the house, farms, and factories. 

#5 - Munay Pampa

Before you leave Colonia, or maybe on your way back to Montevideo, luxuriate yourself in Munay Pampa, a special rural environment dedicated to tantalizing all your senses.  The entire landscape has been planted with ornamentals and trees that are aromatic, medicinal, and edible.  There’s also a small store that allows you to take home products made of something you smelled as you walked the magical trails.  



Colonia is one of the most perfect towns in South America.  It’s accessible, walkable, and equally abundant with history and recreation.  Plus, it allows you to escape the big cities of Montevideo and Buenos Aires without sacrificing a big chunk of time from your travel plan.  Reserve your bus ticket today!

Route Map

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can you get to Colonia from Punta del Este?
Yes, but not directly. Buses from Punta del Este will all go to Montevideo, and then you just transfer there onto buses that go the remaining distance to Colonia.
If I am in Colonia, do I have to go back to Montevideo if I want to go to Buenos Aires?
Absolutely not. Ferries leave directly from Colonia to Buenos Aires, or you can take buses to Argentina that go west through Fray Bentos.
Is Colonia de Sacramento expensive to visit?
Colonia is geared around tourism and has a lot of fragile infrastructure to preserve, so while it is going to be more expensive to lodge than other rural towns, you will save money by taking the bus there.
What are the ticket policies?
It depends on the carrier you choose, but their specific policies can be previewed during checkout or in the summaries printed on your ticket email. For a general overview, see the Ticket Policy page.

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