Buenos Aires Travel Guide

Getting Around

The public transport in Buenos Aires is very good, although crowded during rush hour. The metro (or underground railway) here is called the "Subte", which is short for Subterraneo (underground). The network itself is not very large, but reaches most tourist attractions of the city, and there is a large range of bus routes and several suburban railways used by commuters.

There are electronic resources to find bus routes : ComoViajo (website), miTinerario (iPhone App).

Finding your way around is relatively easy. Most of the city grid is divided into equal squares with block numbers in the hundreds, using a grid system similar to Manhattan, New York. Most streets are one way with the adjacent parallels going the other way, so beware that the bus or taxi won't follow the same route back. If traveling by taxi, you simply need to tell the driver the street and block number, e.g. "Santa Fe 2100"; or two intersecting streets, e.g. "Corrientes y Callao".

City maps are issued by many different publishers (Guía T, LUMI) and the local tourist authority. They are indispensable for those wanting to use public transportation, since they include all bus routes. As always, check ton which direction the map is pointing, because some maps are bottom up (South on the top of the map). This is true for the maps at the official taxi booth at Ezeiza airport.

By foot

Walking is a great way to get around Buenos Aires during the day. With the grid system it is relatively easy to get around and because of the traffic it may even be quicker than a taxi or bus. The larger avenidas are lined with shops so there is plenty so see. In the Micro centro calle Florida is a pedestrian shopping street where you can walk from Plaza San Martin to Avenida de Mayo near the Plaza de Mayo. It crosses Lavalle (also pedestrian only) which takes you to the Plaza de la Republica and the Obelisk.

By taxi

Taxis are not the quickest way to move around the more congested parts of the city, especially during rush hour, as traffic jams are common. Still, you will find that taxis are usually rather inexpensive, convenient, and exciting (in a white-knuckled, classic-wooden-roller-coaster kind of way). Make sure to take the "radio taxi", as some taxis do no turn on the meter and will ask for a very expensive fare.

It's relatively quite safe to travel by taxis. For details refer to Stay safe. If you are uncomfortable hailing a taxi on the street you can have your hotel or restaurant call a taxi for you. You should always check the driver´s personal information is legible in the back part of the front seat, and make sure they turn on the meter after they set off, to avoid any disagreement over the fare later. It is suggested to use small bills and exact or almost exact changes with taxis, since as with many large cities around the world, it sometimes can be quite problematic of getting changes back from a taxi driver.

By bus

The principal means of public transportation within the city are the buses (colectivos). All rides inside the city border are fixed at a cheap maximum fixed price (1.70 pesos), as long as you are moving inside the city borders. Tickets must be bought on the bus through a machine that accepts coins only.

There is a prepaid RFID proximity card named SUBE, that works with every city bus or metro. It is similar to Suica, Octopus, Oyster, EZ-link, and so on in other countries.

There are more than one hundred lines covering the whole city. They work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, but run less frequently on holidays and late at night. For each route the bus is painted differently making them easy to distinguish. The best way to figure out the bus system is to buy a Guía "T". It's essentially a little book with a directory of streets, which corresponds to map pages, and has bus listings on the facing page for each map. Once you get your hands on one, it's very easy to figure out, but give yourself fifteen minutes the first few times you use it to plan a route. These can be bought at many kiosks around the city, or subway stations.

Otherwise, visitors who are comfortable with speaking a little Spanish can call 131, a toll-free free telephone number from any phone, to help you find which colectivo to take. You just have to tell the corner (or the street and the number) where you're at and the one you want to get to.

On most services, board the bus and tell the driver your destination (or do what Argentines do—just say "un Peso venticinco, por favor" that literally means "a Peso twenty five, please". Meaning you'll be traveling a normal distance and want to pay 1,25 Peso); he will press a button instructing the coin machine to take a certain amount of money for you, which will then appear on the machine as the amount to insert. Step a bit further back into the bus and insert coins into the machine which now knows your destination and has calculated your fare because the driver punched it in. You will receive change and your ticket automatically, collect it at the bottom of the machine.

If you're using the SUBE proximity card, just show your card to the driver, and also say the ticket price or your destination. Just wait for the driver to selects your destination on his panel, you will notice the amount to be paid on the display of the yellow reader with the SUBE label next to him. You can then use the card against it and the payment will be processed, and the balance of the card will be shown. Please note that no actual ticket will given to you when paying by SUBE card. DO NOT use the card before the driver selects your destination, since he may still be in the processing of processing your order and say "NO, TODAVIA" ("No, I'm still selecting the destination", or "NOT YET!").

If you see a little metal knob on the coin machine, it's not for dispensing your ticket like the candy/toy machines in grocery stores. It's the service panel to the inside of the machine to change the paper and so on. Don't turn it! It's meant to be used for service only.

You can also use buses to move in and around the suburban area (Gran Buenos Aires), but the fares are higher (up to 2 Pesos, depending on the distance and service). The suburban-only lines (you can differentiate them because their line numbers are above 200) have less comfort, and many of them don't run after 11PM.

By commuter train

Commuter trains connect Buenos Aires’ center to its suburbs and nearby provinces. They are mostly catered for local commuters and not tourists. The terminal stations are the same from suburban transportation. From Retiro station you can take the train to the Tigre Delta. There you can do a boat cruise and see the wetland and recreational area of the porteños.

Subte (subterraneo)

The city has a subway network ("subte", short form of "tren subterráneo", which means "underground train"). It is very efficient and you can save a lot of time by using it. It is cheap (2.50 pesos for unlimited transfer as long as you keep underground travelling throughout the network). If you need to be somewhere by 9AM or 9:30AM on a weekday, however, the Subte will be incredibly crowded and depending on where you are catching it from, you may have to miss several trains in a row before there is space for you. Once on board, during peak hours it can get very crowded. Factor this into your timing arrangements to make sure that you make your meeting on time.

The subte runs approximately from 5AM-10PM, except on Sundays, when service starts at 8AM.

Many subte stations have interesting murals, tiles and artwork. The "Peru" station is the oldest subway station and still has the old trains that require passengers to open the doors manually. Transferring between lines is indicated by combinación signs.

You can buy reusable tickets and add credit on them which can be used for several trips saving you from having to always go to the cashier to purchase individual tickets. Tickets are not swiped or taken away upon exiting stations, therefore you may use one magnetic stripe ticket for more than one traveler, as long as it has the required number of fares.

The current network comprises six underground lines, labelled "A" to "E" and "H" which all converge to the downtown area and connect to the main bus and train terminals.

The A line used to be a destination on its own because of the old wooden carriages. It was built in 1913 making it the oldest metro system in Latin America, the Southern Hemisphere, and the entire Spanish-speaking world. The old wooden carriages have been replaced in 2013.

In the southeast branch (the E line), the service is extended by a trainway known as premetro, but beware, it goes to some of the least desirable places in the city. Premetro is 0.60 pesos, or 0.70 with a Subte Transfer.

The subte and premetro services are under Metrovias S.A. authority. You can reach their Customer Service personnel by calling -toll free (within Argentina)- on 0800-555-1616 or by sending a fax to +54 4553-9270. For more information you can visit this links, .

For specific lines:

Ferrovias (Belgrano line; 0800-777-3377; www.ferrovias.com.ar) To Villa Rosa and the northern suburbs.

Trenes de Buenos Aires (TBA, Mitre line; 0800-333-3822; www.tbanet.com.ar) To Belgrano, San Isidro, Tigre, Rosario.

Transportes Metropolitanos (San Martín line; 4011-5826) To Pilar and the northern suburbs.

Metropolitano (Roca line; 0800-1-2235-8736) To the southern suburbs and La Plata.

Ferrobaires (4306-7919; www.ferrobaires.gba.gov.ar) Bahía Blanca and Atlantic beach towns.

Trenes de Buenos Aires (Sarmiento line; 0800-333-3822; www.tbanet.com.ar) To the southwestern suburbs and Luján.

By train

There's a good deal of railway connections to the suburban area laid out in such a way that it resembles a shape of a star. The quality of the service ranges from excellent to not quite so desirable, depending of the line; ask before using them at night time.

The main railway terminals are Retiro, Constitución, Once and Federico Lacroze. From all of these you can then use the metro and bus network to get right into the center. The suburban fares are very cheap.

More information:

Metrovias : Urquiza trainway and metro - Good service, safe for traveling at any hour.
Metropolitano : San Martín, Roca, Belgrano Sur and other trainways - Currently not at its peak condition.
TBA : Sarmiento and Mitre trainways - Good service and mostly good trains. The Sarmiento line is the most used one. It is however overcrowded and can be very difficult to use in rush hours; also covers less desirable places. Don't be surprised in summer to see people standing holding the sliding doors open to try to keep the train cooler in the rush hours. The Mitre line, in one of its branches (which covers the richest zones) and has the best trains seen in Latin America, featuring air conditioning, internal heating and fairly comfortable seats. Note that the air conditioning is often inadequate in summer, especially when the train is full. This branch takes you to some really beautiful places like "Tigre", a very picturesque small town with old French-style little houses and a beautiful walkside by the river near a theme park, Parque de la Costa in the north of the suburban area. Be careful as every line has its own branches, so be sure you are boarding the correct train (there are displays on each platform, and a huge display oncentral hall).
Trenes del Litoral : From Posadas (neighboring Paraguay) to Estacion Frederico Lacroze through Paso de los Libres (neighboring Brazil) and Concordia (neighboring Uruguay) - Fair service, depending on the price. All cars are a little bit dirty and the train is very slow (20 hours). The tourist class has a bad service, but first class or the dormitory class are fairly comfortable. It is better to go by bus, using the "coche cama" service which takes about 11 hours from Posadas to Buenos Aires.
Tren de la costa (site available in English): It's a small touristic cosy train which runs from Maipu st (change from TBA's Mitre Line, Mitre Branch, Mitre station) to Parque de la costa in Tigre, with stops in very exclusive zones such as San Isidro which is worth a couple of hours walk. As a tourist attraction, tickets are far more expensive than regular trains: one way daily ticket costs 16 pesos for non-residents and allows you to hop on hop off as many times as you want. Be sure to check their website as it offers a brief description of each station and its attractions.

If departing from Retiro station, it's a good idea for a whole day journey (specially in summer where daylight lasts much more) to buy a one way ticket at Mitre station, stop for a small walk at some of the stations and arrive to Tigre where you can find lots of attractions, and in then go back to Retiro using the Tigre branch of the Mitre line.

By car

If you are truly adventurous (and a bit of a risk-taker), cars are available to rent in Buenos Aires. There are several things to keep in mind before renting a car in Buenos Aires. First, Buenos Aires is such an excellent city for walking that if something is within 20 or 30 blocks, it is often worth the extra effort to go on foot and get to know the city on a more intimate level. The terrain is flat, so it's can be easily walked on. Second, if you aren't much of a walker, the public transportation system in Buenos Aires is cheap and efficient. It can get you anywhere fast! Third, and perhaps most important, the traffic in Buenos Aires is extremely unpredictable. Stoplights, signs, traffic laws—for many porteño drivers, are mere references. Picture yourself trying to get several thousand heads of cattle to move down the street and stay inside the lanes, and you have a decent idea of driving in Buenos Aires. It's also very difficult to find where to park your car in many neighborhoods, and close to impossible in downtown. Do NOT leave your car parked where you're not supposed to because it will be towed away, and the recovery fee is VERY EXPENSIVE. Many hidden speed control cameras have been installed lately (specially in avenues), so be sure to stick to the speed limit, even in routes outside the city. DO fasten your seat belt and have your lights turned on or you will be fined.

If driving outside the city, you should not only stick to the speed limit (which varies a lot depending on where you are), but have your identification and driving license with you, as it's possible that you get stopped by traffic control policemen. National routes are in a good state of maintenance, but be careful in province only routes as there may be unexpected and dangerous potholes in the pavement.

There is also the option to do private car tours. One (fun) option is to go for Buenos Aires Vintage Tours, which offers original Citroën 3CVs to do the tour. Check Buenos Aires Vintage for details on available tours.

By bicycle

Buenos Aires is not the most suitable city for cycling. Traffic is dangerous and hardly respectful toward bicycles; the biggest vehicle wins the right of way, and bikes are low on the totem pole.

However recently a bicycling network has been developed and it's constantly expanding. Check the web site for the updated map: http://mejorenbici.buenosaires.gob.ar/

It can be a very hectic experience, but by no means impossible if you have ridden a bike in traffic before.

Some spots call out for two-wheeled exploration, such as Palermo’s parks and the Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur; on weekends and some weekdays you can rent bikes at these places. Here's some tips:

In Buenos Aires, traffic is really good at anticipating the green light: some cars/buses start going when it's still red, knowing that it will turn green in the next second or few.
Indicators and head lights seem to be used randomly, don't be surprised if a car suddenly cuts into you without indicating first.
On one way streets, stick to the left lane to avoid the buses which go really fast and stop all the time as well as the taxis that go at a snail's pace and stop or change direction suddenly to pick up a fare.

source: Wikivoyage

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