Interested in Buenos Aires?
We'll send you updates with the latest deals, reviews and articles for Buenos Aires each week.
Topics include Dining Scene, Argentina: For Foreign Visitors & more!
Terrible traffic is one of the first things you will notice about Buenos Aires but fear not, there are alternatives to driving! For starters, Buenos Aires is very easily walkable city especially the areas of Palermo, La Boca, San Telmo, Recoleta, and Belgrano. Watch out for the heat and thunderstorms in the summer!
One of the best ways to figure out how to get to where you are going by public transportation is by visiting the website: http://comollego.ba.gob.ar/. This website from the Argentine government allows you to enter your starting point and your destination and then it will calculate the various bus (colectivo), subway (subte), or bus/subway routes that you can take. There is also a smartphone app called "Cómo Llego" that does the same thing.
If you want to do things the old fashioned way, you can buy a "Guía T" at virtually any news stand. It is a booklet (which is more confusing than the bus system itself!) with all of the bus routes in the city.
In recent years, Buenos Aires has adopted a unified electronic farecard system (systema único boleto electrónico "SUBE"), which may be used on the hundreds of buses (colectivos) as well as the subway (subte). If you are in Buenos Aires for more than just a few days, it is defintely worth getting your own SUBE card (la tarjeta SUBE). There are three major advantages to using SUBE card: 1) The fare charged for the SUBE card is cheaper (about 35¢ in U.S. Dollars) than the fare charged for cash paying passengers; 2) Cash passengers must pay with coins, which are exceedingly difficult to come by - as of November 2015 it seems to be impossible to pay cash for travel; 3) You can run a deficit on the card of up to 10 Pesos, which is good for two to three rides.
SUBE cards may be purchased at any one of hundreds upon hundreds of kiosks, national lottery outlets, post offices, and shops around the city. Simply look for little "SUBE" signs in the windows. There is an initial charge of 20 Pesos for the card - as of November 2015, the price of an unloaded card is 45 pesos. You then put additional money on the card. When the amount on the card runs low, simply pop into any one of the convient locations to recharge your card. At the time of this writing, some shops and kiosks have automated machines to do all of this, but usually a cashiere will take care of it for you.
Once you have consulted the "Cómo Llego" website or app or the "Guía T" and know which bus you want to take, there is a particular etiquette and process you must follow. Once you locate your the bus stop sign with your bus number:
1. If you are the first person there, simply stand at the sign and wait for your bus.
2. If you are not the first person at the bus stop, the line always forms to the right of the sign. You will be considered quite rude if you do not stand in line to the right of the sign. Milling around is a definite no-no.
3. When you see your bus approach, you must flag it down as if it were a taxi. If no one at the bus stop flags the bus, it will not stop.
4. Once you board the bus, tell the driver your destination. This is necessary because the fare depends upon how far you are traveling. If you are only travelling a mile or so, tell the driver the intersection. If you are traveling a greater distance, for instance: Palermo to San Telmo, simply tell the driver the name of the neighborhood. Different bus lines are operated by different companies and they seem to have different fares - each trip was either 3.25 or 3.5 ARS, regardless of destination.
5. The driver will then program the fare.
6. Assuming you are using a SUBE card, you will see an electronic card reader (either in front of or behind the driver). Once it displays the fare amount due, hold your card up against the reader. Once the display reads "Retire su tarjeta," take the card away and move to the rear.
7. Assuming you are paying cash (coins only), you will see a ticket machine behind the driver. Insert coins until you reach the fare amount (which is more expensive if you aren't using a SUBE card). Once you have inserted the fare amount, the machine will issue a small ticket. Take the ticket and hold onto it until you exit the bus.
8. Most of the buses have three doors. Unless you are elderly or have difficulty walking, do no exit from the front door. Use the middle or back door.
The Subte is South America's first underground railway!
The subway runs from 5am to 11pm Monday-Saturday. On Sundays it opens at 8am and closes 10:30pm.
Your SUBE card may also be used in the subway. Look for the turnstiles with the special card readers.
If you are paying cash, look for a ticket booth. The boleteria (ticket booth) have stored value cards for 5- and 10- rides. There is no discount, but the ride is cheap. It is far easier to buy this ticket that wait on a ticket line.
The Subte has historic ceramic wall tiles on most of the lines that add a thematic and artistic dimension to subway travel. Take some time to read the explanatory panels next to the tiles. Unfortunately, the newer lines and the extensions won't be so beautiful. The Subte has a website for updates.
The Subte is a highly efficient means of travel in the city. However, during rush hour it can be very crowded and should be avoided due to active pickpockets. If people are crowding you, they may be setting you up, so at the next stop, just get off and board the next train.
1) The husband and wife should never carry the same credit cards
2) A third card should be left in the hotel safe with all of your home currency
3) Never carry more than a day's cash need. Leave the rest in the hotel safe
4) Alert your credit card company when you are traveling as to where and when. That way, they won't inadvertantly close your account thinking it might be suspicious activity
5) Travel insurance doesn't cover cash losses
6) Banks in BsAs limit withdrawals up to AR $1,000 (about U.S.$ 250) per day
7) Find a charge card that doesn't charge the common 3% foreign exchange fee.
8) Try not to look like a tourist who is lost or confused. If in doubt, ask a station agent.
9) Keep your credit card numbers and the toll free customer service line phone number in the safe, apart from the wallet.