Treinta y Tres Train Station

Getting around Uruguay

After a break in operations, scheduled domestic air services in Uruguay have been resumed. The train network, meanwhile, only carries cargo, except for a limited number of services connecting Montevideo with some dormitory towns in the nearby department of Canelones – one of these is worthwhile and we list it below. Leaving aside walking and riding a bike, you have the following main options:

Air: BQB – part of the Buquebus transport group which operates ferries across the River Plate to and from Buenos Aires – currently serves Salto and Rivera three times a week from Montevideo's international airport. Book at One of the few low-cost carriers in South America (Webjet in Brazil is another), prices depend on how far in advance you purchase your ticket. Return fares to either Salto or Rivera currently cost from US$110 on the BQB website; buy closer to your departure date and you might pay US$96 for a single trip – or more. It's a short hop from Montevideo airport to both cities, but if you are in the centre or Pocitos, take into account that the city bus terminal is likely to be a cheap 10-minute taxi ride away, whereas reaching the airport takes about 30 minutes. Check-in times and the possibility of delays erode the advantage of air travel within Uruguay, particularly to Salto.

Buses: Long-distance bus (coach) services connect Montevideo with all of the departmental capitals. There are departures to the northern cities of Paysandú, Salto, Rivera and Tacuarembó at around midnight and also early in the morning. Expect to pay about 1 Uruguayan peso per kilometre travelled. There are departures for Punta del Este at about 15 minute intervals in season ($142, 2 hours). There are also regular connections to Colonia ($176, 2 ½ hours). All long distance buses depart from the huge Tres Cruces terminal at the edge of the Centre. From there, the CA1 bus takes you downtown for $9 or take a taxi from the rank at the terminal (count on US$4-5 to Pocitos or Punta Carretas). You can find out which bus company goes where, and more information on schedules at: Tickets are available at the terminal. Book a few days ahead if you are travelling out of Montevideo on a Friday, or back from the provinces on a Sunday.

Car hire: All the international brands are represented, both at the airport and at locations downtown. Expect to pay more than in the US or in many places in Europe at peak times (Christmas, New Year and Easter Week) when prices are hiked principally due to massive local demand. At such times you may have to pay US$750/week for an intermediate model (Fiat Siena or similar); the same car will cost US$450 outside peak times, including tax and unlimited mileage. You can find details of local car hire companies in the yellow pages. These usually rent larger vehicles; in provincial centres they are often the only option.

Train to Santa Lucía: You can reach the time-warp town of Santa Lucía in about 90 minutes from Montevideo's Central Station, located 8 blocks north of Plaza del Entrevero (next to the port). The line goes as far as the provincial town of Florida, with a branch line to San José. Note that, as this is essentially a commuter service, there is only one train to Santa Lucía in the morning, and one train returning to Montevideo the end of the afternoon (more services operate in the opposite direction). A separate, shorter line that terminates north-east of the capital in Sudriers is unlikely to be of any interest to visitors. Fare to Santa Lucía $30; to Florida and San José $40. For more details on Santa Lucía, click here. Timetables at

Driving in Uruguay

Speed limits: 110 km/hr on highways; 90 km/hr on other roads outside urban areas. Main roads are good and (inexpensive) toll roads are excellent. Local roads in rural areas are often dirt tracks, but may be reasonably well maintained nonetheless. Many streets in urban parts of Canelones (Solymar, Pinamar, etc.) are unpaved and deeply rutted. At unmarked crossings the priority to the right rule applies. You need to keep your lights on (dipped) at all times, day or night, and may be fined by the police if you forget. Avoid the Rambla in Montevideo on weekend nights; it is used by local youths as a race track. One curiosity: if not marked otherwise, the car approaching a narrow bridge that is driving away from Montevideo has priority. N.B. Make sure you use a credit or debit card to pay for your petrol/gasoline. If the card was issued outside Uruguay, you’ll be refunded the tax on your statement.