Montevideo has only one form of public transportation: the bus. With about one million passengers riding Montevideo’s buses each day, this mode of transit is convenient for getting to the suburbs or far-flung beaches. However, certain parts of the city, like the narrow alleyways of Cuidad Vieja and the wide curving Rambla, are best seen by walking or biking. Still others opt to take taxis, remises, or Ubers. Cars and gas are expensive in Montevideo, and much of the population doesn’t own a car for these reasons. If you end up renting a car, you'll find traffic—particularly during the short rush hour—is manageable. Should you get lost and need help, most Uruguayans are happy to provide assistance when asked.
How to Ride the Bus
You must flag down a bus in Montevideo or it won't stop, even if you are at the bus stop. Timetables and route maps are not listed at stops, meaning you’ll need to plan your route before getting on the bus. Moovit is one of the best routing apps for this.
- Different types of fares: You can buy different kinds of boletos (passes) or get a STM card, the bus system’s stored value smartcard. Purchase it at any Abitab store and take your passport as proof of ID.
- Común: This will cover most anywhere in the city and costs 40 pesos ($0.94) or 33 pesos ($0.77) with the STM.
- Centrico: Covers locations in Centro and costs 29 pesos ($0.68) or 22 pesos ($0.52) with the STM.
- How to pay: You can purchase tickets in cash from the bus driver or their assistant. Though they provide change, passengers are encouraged to use small bills. Credit or debit cards are not accepted. You can top up your STM, or simply show it and pay in cash to receive the discounted fare.
- Ticket checks: After paying, you will receive a paper ticket on the bus. Keep it with you for the duration of the ride, as conductors sometimes hop on and check for proof of payment.
- Hours of operation: Buses run from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m.
- Rush hour: Morning rush hour is from 7 to 9 a.m., while evening rush hour is from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Buses get packed during these times.
- Useful routes: The 121 goes from Ciudad Vieja through Centro to Pocitos and Punta Carretas. The CA1 goes from downtown to La Cruces, whereas the D1 is the express bus to Carrasco.
- Accessibility: Montevideo has no wheelchair accessible buses or taxis (except for the Bus Turístico). Consider booking a tour with Tours by Locals as a wheelchair-friendly alternative.
You can use the trip planner on the government website Como Ir to plan your route and find out real-time departure/arrival information.
Taxis are plentiful, generally clean, and easy to catch. The only times it's difficult to hail one is during rush hour or at the port when ferries arrive.
- Fares: Monday to Saturday from morning to mid-evening have one fare system, while Sunday, late evening, and holidays have a slightly higher fare system. The Monday to Saturday base fare is 47.30 pesos ($1.11), with 27.40 pesos ($0.64) charged every kilometer driven. The Sunday base fare is 56.76 pesos ($1.33), with an additional 32.88 pesos ($0.77) charged per kilometer. At the end of the ride, the driver will show you a fare chart which will tell you the price you need to pay that corresponds to the fichas (units) on the meter.
- How to pay: If you flag a cab down on the street, be prepared to pay in cash. If you prefer to pay by card, use the Cabify app to order and pay.
- Tipping and luggage: You do not need to tip your driver, but you can round up to an even number if you want. Luggage is usually stored next to the driver. However, if you have a very big suitcase, then they will open the trunk for it. It is not customary for the driver to help with luggage.
- Routes: Taxis are required to take you the shortest distance route to your destination. However, they might ask if you want to take the Rambla instead. This is not to cheat you, as the Rambla can often times be the faster (though longer) route.
Book minibuses to and from the airport with Taxi Aeropuerto Carrasco. They take you to or from your desired location in Montevideo, and cost around 400 pesos ($9.46) each way. You can also buy a round-trip ticket at a discounted rate.
The flat terrain, plus ample and extensive bike lanes, make Montevideo an idea city for cycling. Many hotels have their own bike rental programs. If yours does not, Orange Bike is a popular bike rental option and can deliver a bike (with helmet and bike lock included) to your hotel. Bike rentals cost $10 a day for a regular bike and $15 for a mountain bike. You’ll see Movete bikes (the city's bike share system) around town, but these are difficult to rent for non-residents; Orange Bike will be a far easier and time-saving option.
Uber and Remises
A remis is a chartered car. Both Ubers and remises are about the same price as taxis but are generally more comfortable options. If you want a remis driver that speaks English, book with BYB Remis. If you want to use Uber, just install the app. You do not need to tip an Uber or remis driver.
Renting a car in Montevideo is easy, but unnecessary as most sights within the city can be easily reached by walking or taking a short bus or taxi ride. To rent a car, you’ll need to have your passport,
a credit card, a license with two years’ validity, and be at least 21 years old. Do not book at a rental agency at the airport or near the port—rental agencies in these locations can charge up to double what you would pay for in a less touristy place. Avis and Multicar are two of the many options available.
If you choose to drive, you'll notice that traffic is generally very light and people drive slowly, stopping frequently to give pedestrians right of way. While parking is easy to find, you will have to pay a general parking fee in Cuidad Vieja and Centro, Monday to Friday. To pay, look for the closest Abitab office.
Hop On-Hop Off Bus
Bus Turístico is Montevideo’s only hop on-hop off bus option, and the only bus that is wheelchair accessible. It comes with an audio guide in multiple languages that explains the significance of sights along its 11-stop route. There is a 24-hour ticket for 689 pesos ($16.17) and a 48-hour ticket for 1,060 pesos ($24.87). However, it tends to stop outside major shopping areas, more so than interesting historical sights. The public D1 bus has a similar route and is far cheaper.
Tips for Getting Around Montevideo
- There is no public transportation between 11 p.m and 5 a.m. Take a taxi, Uber, or remis instead.
- All buses have free WiFi making it easy to check transportation apps even if you don’t have phone data.
- You can order Uber at the airport using the free airport WIFI.
- You can call a taxi simply by dialing “141” on your phone, then pressing “1” once you’re connected. A taxi will generally arrive in about three minutes.
- Try to pay for short taxi trips with 200-peso bills or less. If you only have a 1,000 peso bill, ask the driver if they have change before the ride starts.
- Walking and taking Ubers or buses will be the easiest ways to get around the city.