crossing borders: uruguay to brazil

This post outlines the transport, route and costs to cross the border between Uruguay and Brazil at Chuy. If you're done travelling the coast of Uruguay and want to reach Porto Alegre or Florianópolis in Brazil, then this is for you. If you're reading this in Montevideo, with no plans to travel further along the cost of Uruguay, then we'd advise you to look up the direct buses from there to Brazil.

#1 bus from punta del diablo to chuy

Our last stop in Uruguay was the beach town of Punta del Diablo. It's far less developed than Punta del Este but still a popular choice amongst travellers. If you're starting the border run from here, then simply make your way to the little wooden shack in the centre of the town (it's near the two supermarkets) and wait. We asked a few locals about bus times but received a different answer from each, so decided to simply wait there from 09:00; the general consensus appeared to be that a bus would turn up between then and 10:00. There is a bus terminal in Punta del Diablo but it's a little out of town and the bus stops at the wooden shack first anyway, so there's little point going to it.

The bus to Chuy eventually arrived at 09:45; in order to catch the onward connection to Porto Alegre, you don't want to leave Punta del Diablo any later than this.

As Uruguayan border control is located five minutes before the town of Chuy, you are reliant on the bus conductor stopping next to it so, when you pay on board, make sure to ask for 'immigracion' to remind him. We were the only foreigners on the bus, so he told us when to get off, escorted us to the little office where we got our exit stamps and then took us back to the bus. No exit fee should be charged.

travel time: 1 hour    |    total cost: $88 UYU per person

#2 walk to the brazilian side of town

The bus terminates in a little plaza in Chuy. From here, you need to walk three blocks straight (ask the driver in which direction) and then three blocks right to the Chui bus station. Chuy/Chui are the Spanish and Portugese names for this town, which is effectively split in two between Brazil and Uruguay. 

You'll notice you're in the right part when all the signs are in Portugese. Technically you're already in Brazil once you've crossed over Avenida Brazil which is the actual border between the two countries.

travel time: 15 minutes   |   cost: 0

#3 bus from chui to porto alegre

Onward connections are few and far between, which is why it's essential you arrive in Chui before 12:00. Brazilian time. We completely forgot to check for any time difference between the two countries so, after a casual walk towards the bus station, started to panic when we realised that Brazil was an hour ahead and we only had 10 minutes before the bus left!

Your best, and possibly only option, is the 12.15 departure to Porto Alegre . At the ticket booth, you can pay in either Uruguyan pesos ($821 pp) or Brazilian reais (104R pp). Unfortunately, you can't pay by card so, if you're lacking either currency, your best option is to go to the bank which is one block away (turn left out of the entrance and the bank in on the right hand side corner). If something goes terribly wrong, then the next bus to Porto Alegre leaves at 23.00.

On Sundays, the only bus  is one which goes straight to Florianópolis from Chui at 13.30. We assume that this would stop off at Porto Alegre on the way, but we don't know for certain (if you take this option, it would be great if you could let us know the price and confirm the route so we can update the post for future travellers).

Brazilian immigration is around a five minute journey from the bus station so, again, remind your driver that you need to visit immigration as you're boarding. He will give you a small form to fill in and collect your passports.

At immigration, none of us got off the bus and a border agent simply came on to have a look, before the driver handed us back our stamped passports. However, on our crossing, we were the only travellers on the bus and our British passports mean we aren't charged any entry fees and don't require visas or other documentation for Brazil.

Therefore, this part of the crossing is likely to be different depending on the nationality of passengers and their respective visa requirements. As ever, confirm your own requirements in good time before trying to enter Brazil and ensure all your paperwork is in order (for example, Americans have to pay a significant fee to enter). 

The bus itself was very modern and made for a comfortable journey.

travel time: 7-8 hours   |   total cost: $821 UR / 104 R

#4 making a decision

If you're following our footsteps by taking the 12.15 bus, then you have two options upon arrival in Porto Alegre:

A) Spend the night, or even a few days, there.

B) Decide to bite the bullet and continue travelling across to Florianópolis. 

If you choose A, then you'll find lots of official taxis just outside the bus terminal to bring you to your hostel. If you choose B, then keep on reading.

#5 bus from porto alegre to florianópolis

You are likely to arrive in Porto Alegre after 19:00.  The first thing you should do is buy your ticket for the night bus to Florianópolis. 

Several companies run the route, with most leaving after midnight and charging from 90-100 R per person. We opted to go with Brazil Sul for 90 R each, departing at 00.30 a.m.

However, that means you've got about four hours to kill in the bus station. Thankfully, there are no shortage of affordable little shops and restaurants where you can have some dinner, with the cheapest meals costing 9-15 R.

Our bus with Brazil Sul was modern, spacious and comfortable, so they're a decent option to go with and you'll definitely manage to get a few hours sleep along the way.

travel time: 6 hours   |   total cost: 90 R

#6 onward travel in Florianópolis

We got off the bus at around 06:30. and woke ourselves up with a ridiculously sweet 2R coffee in the bus station, before working out where we would sleep that night.

We would strongly recommend that you don't, no matter how exhausted you are, choose to spend a night in the city itself - the main hostel here is a 10R taxi ride from the station but there's little point staying there with better and cheaper options less than an hour away.  

Your best bet (we know, we were shattered by this point too) is to exit the bus terminal, turn right and walk for a couple of minutes. You'll find the intra-city bus terminal (TICEN) which can take you to anywhere on the island which is home to 42 beaches: 

- Eastern beaches are via the 330 bus to Lagoa da Conceição TILAG terminal

- Northern beaches are via the 210 bus to the TICAN terminal

- Southern beaches are via the 410 bus to Rio Tavares TIRIO terminal.

All buses cost 3.1 R per person. From the above terminals, you can walk or take another bus to your final destination. 

We chose to take the 330 bus to Lagoa da Conceição (30 minutes journey). At the final stop in the TILAG terminal, we asked around were advised to take the 360 Barra de Lagoa bus (a free transfer) which dropped us off in town three to five minutes later. To avoid confusion and to make sure you're dropped off next to a few hostels in twon, jot down this street name 'R. Henrique Veras do Nascimento' and ask the ticket man to tell you when to get off.

travel time: 45 minutes   |   total cost: 3.1 R

route overview

1 - Morning bus from Punta del Diablo to Chuy |  1 hour  |  $88 UYU

2 - Walk to the bus station on the Brazilian side of town |  15 minutes  |  Free

3 - Take the 12.15 bus to Porto Alegre (unless it's Sunday, when there is a 13.30 bus to Florianópolis) |  7 hours  | 104 R

4 - Take the night bus to Florianópolis|  6 hours  |  90 R

5 - Take the 330 bus to Lagoa da Conceição or any alternative | 30-45 minutes  | 3.1 R


total travel time:  15 hours* 

total cost:  $88 UYU (£4 GBP/$6 USD) + 197.1 BRL (£35/$52)


*note that this does not include a wait of around four hours in Porto Alegre for your next bus. Door-to-door from Punta del Diablo, the journey will take around 20 hours.