If you want to live like a local, buses (colectivos) are the main form of transport around Argentina’s cities, as long as you don’t mind the traffic. Buses run all day at intervals of around 10 to 15 minutes and most run all night too but with slightly less frequency.
Tickets are purchased on the bus and are less than US$1, depending on the distance. The ticket machines only accept monedas (coins) so save up your small change. In Buenos Aires, “monedero” card systems have also recently been introduced on some of the buses (see Subway section below).
Make sure you know where you’re getting off as stops aren’t announced. The bus drivers are generally quite friendly and helpful (unless they’re having a bad day) so if in doubt, ask them to let you know.
Buenos Aires has an extremely complex and intimidating network of buses but help is at hand with the Guia T (available to buy in most kioscos) in which you can map out your route and work out which bus numbers will take you from A to B. You can also consult www.comoviajo.com, which helps you work out the best route and form of transport according to where you want to go. Or even easier than that is the online Google Maps routing service provided by OmniLineas. Seriously, check out how easy it is to work out which bus you need to catch!
Online guides to using the Guia T:
Online route planning services:
Buenos Aires’ subway or “subte” was founded in 1913 and is the oldest in Latin America. Given the traffic, it is one of the fastest ways to get across the city, particularly during rush hour. However, it gets very hot, dirty and crowded and is a prime spot for pickpocketers so keep a close eye on your valuables. They often push through crowds getting on or off to divert attention from them reaching into pockets and bags.
There are six main lines running through the city. If you’re changing lines, you may have to backtrack as the lines only connect in the city center. Trains run at intervals of 3 to 10 minutes. The first trains are at 5am and the last ones between 1030pm and 11pm Monday to Saturday and 8am to 10pm / 1030pm on Sundays.
You can buy single ride tickets at each subte station, or you can purchase a card that can be topped up and simply swiped each time you enter a station.
Buenos Aires has an extremely complex and intimidating network of buses but help is at hand with the easy to use site www.mapa.buenosaires.gob.ar. You just need to plug in your starting address and your destination address and the site maps out your route, giving you many options. Follow these easy steps to use the site:
- To start click on the tab that says “Cómo Llegar” (How to get there).
- Next, enter your starting address in the box that says “Desde” (from). As you type an autofill will match the address below so spelling isn’t that important. When the correct address appears below the box, click on it to enter your starting point.
- Enter your destination address in the box that says “hasta” (to). When the correct address appears below the box, click on it to enter the destination.
- Now just click the magnifying glass to the right and the system will generate several possible routes with written instruction, a mapped route and an estimated time. Just select the one you want to take from the left and it is plotted for you.
- Have a good look at the streets around your stop so you can familiarize yourself with the area before you go.
There are a number of different train lines that run north and south of the main city (Capital Federal) and out to Greater Buenos Aires. The tickets start at around ARS$0.80. It’s a popular form of transport with the locals but perhaps not the safest option as a foreigner, particularly at night, though a day trip along the river coast to Tigre is a common weekend getaway for both locals and tourists alike.
Taxis are relatively cheap in Argentina. There are two main types of taxi, regular city taxis that you can flag down in the street and “remises”, minicab radio taxis that you can book by phone or from their office.
The regular taxis have meters and rates vary from city to city. Remises have fixed rates according to the distance and can be less expensive than taxis for out-of-town excursions.
Taxi drivers are usually quite friendly and chatty but some drive like maniacs. If you feel uncomfortable, ask them to slow down.
Bicycles are one of the cheapest and fastest ways to get around if you ride safely and sensibly and familiarize yourself with the one-way street systems of your city.
You will find numerous bike shops where you can buy a new bike. For used bikes, check out Craigslist (buenosaires.en.craigslist.org) if you’re in Buenos Aires. There are also places to rent bicycles for half or full day excursions. And don’t forget to ask on the forums for some valuable opinions and insight!